Can't You Hear the Whistle Blowing?

With highways and skyways dangerously overbuilt, rail travel is the future

On a Thursday in March 1776, James Boswell and Samuel Johnson whizzed through the English countryside in a post chaise at 10 m.p.h. Dr. Johnson said contentedly, "Life has not many things better than this." Transportation has been deteriorating ever since.

That can't be measured exactly. Travel is, in some crucial way, a subjective emotional experience. The delighted Dr. Johnson's carriage jounced along down urban corridors of dust or mud. But the rig was, for its time, a Rolls-Royce. Travel is literally a state of mind. When trains got started in the early 19th century, people thought that moving 20 m.p.h....

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