On Monday, 16 June 2014, the Train Campaign’s Karen Christensen is moderating an international meeting of an informal group of train activists, officials, and people from the World Car-free Network and Low Tech Magazine. Some believe high-speed rail is ruining the industry by raising prices, and others are, like us, engaged in efforts to bring back train service in their part of the world. We’ll report on the meeting, which the Berkshire-based Train Campaign is hosting online from Great Barrington, MA. (We used a program called “Doodle” for scheduling across many time zones.) Our focus is finding concrete steps that we can all take in our respective parts of the world to get trains “back on track.” Here are just a few of the points we’ll be covering:
— High-speed rail. Several of the participants are saying that the EU is pouring a lot of money into “mega-projects” like high-speed rail, which has had the effect of making most rail trips as expensive as flying in many cases, and (some say) has led to many popular overnight train lines being cancelled.
— Interconnectivity between different countries is suffering.
— Examples of good news that we should share, for inspiration but also for practical know-how. Sweden and the UK have been mentioned as having some good points about their systems.
— Best practice for subsidies, and – in our case –the potential for public-private partnerships.
— How to find a better balance between spending on a few major projects vs many small improvements with greater/more widely distributed cumulative benefits.