The subtitle is admittedly heuristic. Messrs. Southerland and McCleery know very well that railroad passenger service in the...

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THE WAY TO GO: The Coming Revival of U.S. Rail Passenger Service

The subtitle is admittedly heuristic. Messrs. Southerland and McCleery know very well that railroad passenger service in the U.S. has been declining since World War II; they know about the financial plight of Penn Central; they concede that ""we have the worst rail passenger service of all the world's developed nations""; they recognize the ""anti-passenger attitude"" of rail management which makes its money, when it makes money, on freight; they acknowledge that ever since the days of railroad robber barons W. H. Vanderbilt's motto ""The public be damned"" has obtained. But they are unflappable optimists. Passenger trains will prevail bemuse they must: they're safer than autos and planes; the public is rebelling against dogged highways and airports; and trains are less, much less polluting -- environmentalist pressure will speed their comeback. So much of the book is devoted to igniting the enthusiasm of an apathetic and/or cynical public. Hence the rhapsodies about Japan's sleek, lurch-free wonders traveling between Tokyo and Osaka at speeds of 150 m.p.h. and several European beauties which offer happy passengers everything from gourmet restaurants to multilingual stenographers. In America of course such speedy, safe, comfortable and profitable passenger trains only exist in R&D blueprints and utopian visions -- though the authors tout the Metroliner and the Turbo and San Francisco's BART with as much enthusiasm as they can muster. En passant they wax indignant about government neglect of mass transport; about the malevolent powers of the highway-auto-petroleum lobby and various community battles to stop the proliferation of expressways. But they never come out squarely for nationalization nor do they sketch alternatives. In a word they indicate the way to go but there's no practical plan for how to get there from here.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1973