BBC BLOGS - Justin Webb's America
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Is rail the answer?

Justin Webb | 22:29 UK time, Tuesday, 8 July 2008

I really was joking about the small towns!

Though not about the isolation people will feel - really for the first time in recent decades - if the cost of driving becomes prohibitively expensive.

My point is that this hits Americans in ways the Britons find difficult to imagine.

A postscript though: a friend of mine who is a director of a British private rail company tells me he is looking for similar companies to buy in the US.

In fact, he is toying currently with buying a major suburban system which is up for sale soon, he tells me, with a view to pouncing if Amtrak is broken up.

Some may see this as an encouraging sign - a realisation in the outside world that there is a real market now for high quality public transport in the US. But the British experience has been - is it fair to say ? - patchy in recent years.

Whether British companies are in a position to provide some minor amelioration of America's transport difficulties, I could not of course possibly comment, since I have not lived in the UK for many years...

And the point remains that if you live in America's glorious interior, my friend the fat controller (that's a British thing) will not and cannot help.


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