....Perhaps to digress: It's been suggested, tongue in cheek, that high-profile Hollywood personalities recently arrested at the White House protesting the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico did not travel cross-country on "electric" airplanes.
President Obama is scheduled once again to address the American people in a few days this time about major job creation initiatives, as the economy of the United-States remains mired in an endless and semingly bottomless recession. Pundits expect he will call on Congress to implement additional tax credits and bolster infrastructure spending to get the U.S. economy out of the doldrums.
Just a few months after Obama's swearing-in as President in 2009 he was in Tampa, Florida annoucing a cornerstone measure of his new administration plans to modernize transportation, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and create badly needed employment opportunities. Mr. Obama had earmarked more than $2-Billion for the construction of a "show piece" bullet train linking Tampa Bay and Orlando which would open a new chapter in modern, efficient rail transportation. The Tea-Party backed State Governor, Rick Scott, elected in the follow-up 2010 (mid-term) Gubernatorial face-off flatly rejected the deal. Some of the Florida money,to be specific $404-Million, is now headed to Amtrak in an effort to increase average speed on its rail service from Detroit to Chicago to about 110-miles per hour from the current 90 MPH.
Regardless of the environmental benefits, the plain reality both in the United-States and in Canada is that high-speed (downtown to downtown) train corridors make sense because they are substantially more efficient and less expensive than airplanes along short to mid-range routes...
...An argument of course which rings familiar to Canadians who have been advocating for a number of years seeking improved, faster and more efficient rail links along VIA Rail's lucrative Windor / Quebec City corridor. In light of the Amtrak project about to get underway thanks to the Obama "jobs" inititatives, some forward thinkers see an opportunity for a direct Chicago to Montreal rail corridor by way of Detroit and Windsor. Really a "no-brainer," for which the potential would be easily recognized both in Europe and in Asia where most developed countries are light-years ahead of the North American model for rail transportation.
Alas! That's not quite the perception at Via Rail which has received almost $925-Million in Federal stimulus funding to upgrade infrastructure and rail stations. It claims to be hamstrung by its "conventional" service because:"Any plan to move forward with high-speed rail would be a government prerogative."
Still, despite the Federal government's faltering initiative towards a "perimeter security" deal with our U. S. neighbour and, along with a deadlocked Michigan Legislative Assembly, 'Transport Canada' remains committed to, and adamant about, advancing funds to the Americans to build a second bridge over the Detroit River. It seems a rail-link could be a seamless logical extension and a substantial opportunity for this proposal. Since Denis Lebel the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities is "The" minister with responsibilities for every element of the file(s), he should be inclined (Nay!Encouraged) to reconsider.