European Railroads Not a Model for U.S. April 23

RAIL Solution’s David Foster (Letters, April 21) claims Europe’s transport system is increasingly “beyond petroleum” because Europe uses high gas taxes not only to discourage driving but also to “fund” the rail industry. A genuine “alternative” transport system would stand on its own economic feet. That’s not the European rail system.

Despite the rail subsidies Mr. Foster praises, Europe’s roads accounted for more in-land transport in 2005 (76.8%) than in 1995 (72.3%), whereas rail’s share during that period declined from 20.7% to 17.4%. Similarly, European road transport of passengers grew faster during the 1995-2005 period (2.1% per year) than did either railway (1%) or tram and metro (1.8%). It speaks volumes that Mr. Foster’s model for moving America beyond petroleum is Amtrak–a chronically mismanaged enterprise hooked on taxpayer support.