Response published by the Financial Times, August 27, 2007

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

Role of railroads too often forgotten

Published: August 27 2007

From Mr Ross B. Capon.

Sir, Thank you for the article “Federal action is needed to rebuild America” (August 23), by Felix Rohatyn and Warren Rudman, and their critical observation that “the nation’s infrastructure crisis is no less serious for being silent”. But they commit the common error of omitting railroads and rail transit from their list of what US infrastructure “comprises”. Their only reference to modern trains is the European “high-speed rail network”, while US railroads get just a historical reference, bracketed with “the canals of upstate New York”.

The Dodd-Hagel bill they justly praise includes transit but not railroads. Most US railroads are privately owned, but public investment must play a big role in upgrading elderly railroad bridges and providing the expanded capacity for a growing economy where energy efficiency and the need to reduce carbon emissions is increasingly recognised. Two 2003 reports by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, supervised by Joseph Boardman (then New York transportation commissioner and now federal railroad administrator), found public investment needs of $53bn for US freight railroads and $60bn for intercity passenger rail over the next 20 years.

Ross B. Capon,
Executive Director,
National Association of Railroad Passengers,
Washington, DC 20002, US

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007