Rail travel a good option
As we are approaching Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays, I’m making travel plans and wishing we had more options in Southern Indiana. One option that is not available is rail travel. I would like to see this as an option for more Hoosiers.
As part of a larger infrastructure rebuilding, improving railroad tracks from Indianapolis to Atlanta would be a priority for me. If we had reliable, quick access to rail lines from the Louisville area to Indianapolis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Atlanta, my family and I would be frequent users of this service. These regional routes are long trips by car and airplane. By car, the construction and congestion make the trips long and less safe. By plane, the cost and wait time at the airports are a drawback. Additionally, the airports are inconveniently located outside of the city center.
Regional rail travel on an Indianapolis to Atlanta route would provide convenient access to stations. The routes and stations already exist and are conveniently located in the city centers. For example, Louisville Union Station had rail service within the past 20 years. It is easy to get to, and it is located in the core of downtown Louisville.
As I think about the possibilities of increased tourism and economic benefits, I see this as an avenue that should be pursued. Safe, efficient travel by regional rail is the norm in places like Europe, and could be for us. I could see my family using this for vacations and events like music shows in Nashville, or bowl games or NFL games in Indianapolis, Nashville, and Atlanta.
There are two problems that must be solved first: 1. Upgrades to tracks so that passenger trains can travel at speeds that will be competitive with both driving and flying. I like traveling by train to avoid traffic, especially when I’m visiting cities like Chicago. The same would go for Nashville and Atlanta. When you consider flying, the wait and travel time for airports can be much longer than the actual trip. 2. The law must be enforced to allow passenger trains to have priority over freight trains. People are more important than possessions, so the laws on the books need to be the law of the rails. Amtrak experiences many unnecessary delays because no one is enforcing the current law.
I hope that our state and congressional representatives will consider this option when the next transportation budget comes up. This would bring construction jobs to Indiana and beyond. It will also bring increased tourism and development to communities all along the corridor, and it will reduce congestion and pollution caused by automobiles and airplanes.
— RANDALL T. "RANDY" STUMLER