Cover image for New departures : rethinking rail passenger policy in the twenty-first century
New departures : rethinking rail passenger policy in the twenty-first century
Perl, Anthony, 1962-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lexington : University Press of Kentucky, [2002]

Physical Description:
viii, 334 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


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HE2583 .P47 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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North America faces a transportation crisis. Gas-guzzling SUVs clog the highways and air travelers face delays, cancellations, and uncertainty in the wake of unprecedented terrorist attacks. New Departures closely examines the options for improving intercity passenger trains' capacity to move North Americans where they want to go. While Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada face intense pressure to transform themselves into successful commercial enterprises, Anthony Perl demonstrates how public policy changes lie behind the triumphs of European and Japanese high-speed rail passenger innovations. Perl goes beyond merely describing these achievements, translating their implications into a North American institutional and political context and diagnosing the obstacles that have made renewing passenger trains so much more difficult in North America than elsewhere. New Departures links the lessons behind rail passenger revitalization abroad with the opportunity to recast the policies that constrain Amtrak and VIA Rail from providing efficient and effective intercity transportation.

Author Notes

Anthony Perl is associate professor of political science at the University of Calgary

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Well written and timely, New Departures provides excellent background for the current debate over the future of Amtrak and VIA Rail (in Canada). Perl (political science, Univ. of Calgary, Canada) describes publicly subsidized passenger rail in the US and Canada from its beginning in the 1970s to its present very uncertain status. The strongest part of the volume is the description and analysis of "New Model Railroads" (NMR) in Japan, France, Germany, and Britain. The author's bias for high-speed rail (HSR), which can compete with air and auto for riders and passenger revenue and generate public benefits, is revealed in his excellent description of HSR "false starts" in Florida, Ohio, Texas, Canada, and earlier efforts in California, as well as successes in the US Northeast Corridor with Metroliner and possibly with Acela service. After five excellent chapters of history and analysis, however, the book's final chapter presents four rather generic organizational "policy choices" for Amtrak and VIA Rail without analyzing them in any detail or providing recommendations; readers are left to their own hard choices. There is no comparable timely book. The extensive references, bibliography, and index are excellent. Recommended for general readers and upper-division undergraduate through professional audiences. D. Brand formerly, Harvard University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vi
1. Public Policy: The Key to Rail Passenger Renewalp. 1
2. Building on Achievement: A "New Model Railroad" for the Twenty-First Centuryp. 42
3. Sidetrack: How North American Rail Passenger Renewal Got Delayed by the Stalemate Over Public Enterprise Legitimacyp. 76
4. False Starts with High Speed: State and Provincial Efforts to Leapfrog Amtrak's and VIA's Perennial Problemsp. 134
5. Reinventing Amtrak: The Drive for Commercial Self-Sufficiency by 2003p. 188
6. Setting Up the New Model Railroad in North America: Bringing Passenger Trains into a Transportation Policy for the Twenty-First Centuryp. 227
Afterwordp. 262
Notesp. 267
Bibliographyp. 296
Indexp. 316