Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’

Commuter Disaster

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
Cisalpino - High Speed Rail Between Switzerland and Italy

High Speed Rail Between Switzerland and Italy

From time to time we are reminded of the costs of our failure to maintain our public infrastructure. The mass delays on Amtrak and the Long Island Railroad provided another timely reminder. The disaster began on Monday morning when a fire destroyed train switches of the LIRR. The fire was quickly extinguished, but nevertheless crippled the entire commuter train system. One third of the scheduled trains were canceled, but the inconvenience of rebooking and lengthy travel delays is insignificant relative to the risk of passenger or worker injury due to human error. The New York Daily News reports that train workers are manually operating the machinery that keeps the trains on the tracks, working back-t-back shifts until the equipment is fixed. Isn’t that scary? That problem was followed by a major voltage outage affecting the entire Northeast Corridor. Many Long Island commuters had to book hotel rooms to spend the night in the city, as they could not get safely home. As these incidents become more and more frequent, we have to explicitly consider the cost of doing business in major U.S. cities. I took this photograph when I lived in Switzerland. It is the Cisalpino, the high-speed train I used to take between Zurich and Milan. It runs like clockwork.