Obama: Better trains foster energy independence
By NATASHA METZLER
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama called Thursday for the country to move swiftly to a system of high-speed rail travel, saying it will relieve congestion, help clean the air and save on energy.
Appearing with Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Obama said the country cannot afford not to invest in a major upgrade to rail travel. He said he understands it necessarily will be “a long-term project” but said the time to start is now.
The president allocated $8 billion in the enormous $787 billion economic stimulus spending package for a start on establishing high-speed rail corridors nationwide.
Obama said, “This is not some fanciful, pie-in-the-sky vision of the future. It’s happening now. The problem is, it’s happening elsewhere.” He cited superior high-speed rail travel in countries like China, Japan, France and Spain.