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Trains, trains, trains.

April 30, 2021
High speed train in motion on the railway station at sunset

In today’s episode of “my brain erratically spewing words,” I read and write about trains.

Two things have caught my interest in the past week. The first is this episode of Outrage + Optimism. The whole episode is fascinating, and the focus of the episode, “ecocide,” strikes me as a really interesting way to apply legal frameworks to ecological problems in a way that fits directly into our economies and societies. But this post is about trains. And in the podcast, they brought up a story that I hadn’t heard about yet: french lawmakers approved a ban on short-haul flights that could be covered by trains. I think that’s awesome, and I wish we had the train infrastructure to do something similar in North America. Unfortunately, I don’t think that would, pardon the pun… fly. I just checked, and the flight from Vancouver to Portland is just over an hour. But the train? Anywhere between 8 and 17 hours. šŸ˜² I think you could convince people to go from one hour to two or three hours… but 17 is probably a hard sell.

This train of thought (see what I did there?) was sparked by an article in The Logic about some shareholder activism pushing CN and CP to “publicize their carbon footprints, and give shareholders a say in how they can improve them.” I think that’s awesome. I love the possibilities for climate impact in the train industry. From what I understand (though I make no claim to expertise, or even any depth of knowledge on the subject), Canada’s freight rail infrastructure is impressive. But I can tell you from experience that the passenger rail experience in Canada and the United States is pitiful, at least compared to Europe’s. I really wish we would improve the passenger rail infrastructure. I just really want Cascadia Rail to happen.