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An 'ethical' high-speed rail-based intermodal transportation system needed ASAP, ITI's Carmichael says


An “ethical” high-speed rail-based intermodal transportation system needs to be implemented as soon as possible, according to Gil Carmichael, chairman of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver.

Speaking at the National Transportation Infrastructure & Regulatory Policy Forum at the University of Denver yesterday, Carmichael said several events have occurred in the past 40 years that point to the need for such a transportation system. Those events include the Arab oil embargo in 1973 and skyrocketing oil prices last summer.

“Like President Obama, a growing number of American people have a vision of a high-speed rail, intercity passenger transportation infrastructure system in the U.S.,” Carmichael said in a statement issued Wednesday. “It is a logical and necessary next step forward from General Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System of the 1950s, but proponents have long had a hard time being heard until recently.”  

Carmichael, who served as Federal Rail Administrator under George H.W. Bush, said Congress can’t keep oil prices under control through legislation.

“Global economic chaos would result if just one major oil producing nation has some sort of calamity,” he said.

What’s an “ethical” system in this context? Carmichael defines it as a high-speed rail-based intermodal transportation system that doesn’t injure or kill, doesn’t pollute and is environmentally “benign” — a system that doesn’t waste fuel and which doesn’t cost “too much.”

Although he previously advocated the need for 20,000 miles of high-speed rail, Carmichael said it should actually be 30,000 miles. Public and private entities should work to bring about the system, including private railroads and states, he said.

By Desiree J. Hanford. A Chicago-based free-lance writer, Hanford covered the equities market, including transportation, for Dow Jones & Co. for 10 years.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/4/2009