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Rooney: A Comeback For Trains?

With People Afraid To Fly, Rails May Return

Weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney:

Some people are afraid of everything. Other people aren't afraid of anything. A lot of Americans are afraid to fly now and it's ridiculous. You're more likely to win the lottery than die in a plane crash.

Fear of flying is bad for the airline business - they've been in financial trouble for years anyway and it got worse on September 11th.

Airlines have treated us so badly over the years, it's hard to feel sorry for them. You feel sorry for the good people who work for airlines.

Congress has voted to give them $15 billion in emergency relief and I don't understand that. Railroads have been in financial trouble for 50 years. Why doesn't Congress give railroads $15 billion?

What ever happened to travel by train anyway?

This country is dotted with abandoned or little used railroad stations. Cute stores have moved in.

In New York, they tore down the magnificent Pennsylvania Station. Michigan Central Station in Detroit, an architectural gem, was abandoned;its idle tracks rust away waiting to be boiled down.

There are thousands of miles of empty railroad tracks running contiguously with crowded highways.

Our heavy loads should be moved on steel rails instead of rubber tires on highways where trucks play accordion with the cars.

There are 1,345,000 railway freight cars in the United States. Each one can carry several times as much cargo as the biggest truck.

Using railroads would reduce our use of oil.

It takes 1,500 gallons of fuel for a plane to fly from New York to Chicago with 100 people on board. A train with 1,000 people can make the same trip on fewer than 300 gallons.

The United States is way behind in train travel as anyone knows who's been to Europe or Japan. Trains everywhere are better, faster and more luxurious.

There's no greater feeling of luxury and satisfaction than being whisked 500 miles closer to your destination while you sleep on a fast-moving train.

Trains are seldom delayed or cancelled. They run in sunshine or in snowstorm, oblivious to wind and water.

If the government is going to give the airlines $15 billion, it ought to run the airlines. Or maybe jump-start travel by giving taxpayers $15 billion worth of tickets to go where they wanted how they wanted.

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