June 19, 2011

YOU ARE NOW UNFREE TO MOVE ABOUT THE COUNTRY:

How High-Speed Rail Died in Texas, Thrived in Spain: In the late 1980s, both Texas and Spain proposed high-speed rail systems: Texas walked away from the idea, while Spain leapt in a little too exuberantly. (Michael Scott Moore, 6/08/11, Miller-McCune)

The TGV in Texas, meanwhile, folded in 1993. What killed it was not just a lack of private investment but also Southwest Airlines, the Dallas-based carrier, which noticed a threat to its home turf and launched a “sweeping, aggressive public relations campaign throughout the state to discredit TGV and prevent the company from meeting its fundraising deadlines,” according to the Austinist website.

Southwest understood better than most high-speed rail critics just how well the trains could work. AVE has reduced Spanish highway traffic — even for cargo, by freeing up space on the older rail network — and it’s cut dramatically into domestic airline business. “The opening of the Barcelona-Madrid line [in 2008] marked the beginning of the end of the airlines’ dominance,” The Economist wrote in 2009. “Tellingly enough, Iberia [Airlines] is planning to cut domestic flights by 7% this year.”


Posted by at June 19, 2011 7:29 AM
  

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