- - Sunday, April 16, 2017


With the recent controversy over United Airlines violently pulling a seated passenger off a flight, it is good to reflect on air travel in general. Passengers are expected to arrive at the terminal two hours before their scheduled flights, then endure security lines, which entail removing shoes and being patted down.

A much better alternative is high-speed rail. When traveling in other countries I really came to appreciate this mode of transport. Most city train stations are easily reachable by taxi or metro. Using high-speed rail, you can travel from Beijing to Shanghai, a distance of 819 miles, in under five hours. For comparison, New York to Chicago is 714 miles, and a quick online search shows that the fastest train between these cities takes more than 17 hours.

This country is way behind Europe, Japan and China with respect to high-speed rail, which is a viable option to flying. If you include the time it takes to travel to and from an airport and the required two-hour, pre-flight arrival time, the train is often faster and always competitive. The journey is more pleasant, the seats are comfortable, there is more leg room and you can get up and visit the dining car or roam around. No one gets bumped and physically hauled out of their seat, either.

This country should be investing in high-speed rail. Let’s get some competition to airlines, create plenty of construction and rail-line jobs and increase the ease of travel for passengers.


Saugerties, N.Y.

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