Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
For every investment in HSR there is also an alternative use of the money. In order to become a fast, safe and affordable alternative to car travel, local and regional public transport is in desperate need of funding.

This is clean BS, and the worst kind of zero-sum thinking. In the USA, local, regional and intercity public transport is in desperate need of funding. Public transport functions best if modes for different distances and capacities, which are in effect different levels of a hierarchic system, are linked up at hubs. The accessibility via the other levels increases the utility of each mode (you get more HSR passengers with a subway link to the station resp. you get more light rail passengers with a link to a HSR station). It doesn't make sense to pick out one level of public transport, even less to make them run for the same money.

What is debatable is the ratio of funds earmarked for the different modes. However, given the severe underfunding on all public transport fronts and the hundreds of billions given to road construction, it is silly to look for a re-division of funds already earmarked for public transport rather than a re-division between road and rail.

A tragic example is the terrible commuter-train accident in Belgium earlier this year. Belgium is investing millions of euro in HSR, and at the same time the safety standard of local trains has deteriorated to a point where lives are placed at risk.

Gah. No, the safety system did not deteriorate, it was outdated and its upgrade was very sluggish.  But that doesn't mean that there was no investment at all: new trains are purchased (and already have the new Belgian safety system -- including one of the collided trains!), and Brussels's and Antwerp's suburban rail system was expanded resp. its lines were upgraded and partly quadruple-tracked in parallel with high-speed line construction.

Of course, again, Belgium could do a lot more in terms of rail investment. (In particular, more new suburban trains.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 8th, 2010 at 02:05:48 PM EST

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