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James McCommons On the Joys and Terrors of Passenger Rail In America.

Waiting on a Train; The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service, by James McCommons was selected as one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2009, and is a finalist for Foreword’s Book of the Year award.

McCommons spent a year and traveled 26,000 miles on Amtrak, our country’s struggling passenger rail provider,  while researching and writing his book. Recently he gave a talk about the future of passenger rail, the bright spots as well as the challenges ahead, at Western Illinois University.

Amtrak was tumbled together as a compromise in 1971. Freight rail companies had previously been required to move people in addition to coal, oil, and other commodities–but there’s just no way to get as much money for a box of comfortably seated humans as for a packed shipping container full of corn or whiskey. As McCommons puts it, Amtrak was developed as a private company to take the burden of passenger service off the shoulders of the then-struggling freight companies–without actually nationalizing that service. Part of the idea was to design a failing company, and wean the public off passenger rail over time. It simply wasn’t valued anymore.

Nowadays Amtrak’s problems abound, but in the future, as McCommons emphasized at his recent talk, the energy efficiency of rail, combined with increased populations and stricter environmental regulation will make improving passenger rail infrastructure more affordable than investing in highways and air travel.

With new funding for high-speed rail promised by the Obama Administration, McCommons and other proponents of rail travel are hopeful that things will change for the better.

Read the full article by Elaine Hopkins over at PeoriaStory.


Chelsea Green: In the Media 2016

Oh, 2016. Where did the time go? Each year, Chelsea Green receives hundreds of mentions (well over 1000 in 2016) in the media both big and small. From interviews, to excerpts, to opinion pieces by authors we’re always working to make sure that the mission and message of each book is spread far and wide. […] Read More

Yes, America We Can Make It … Really

Uncertainty got you down? The political world may seem like it’s crumbling around us, but this we know: We can make it, America. Literally, we can make things. Houses. Gardens. Food. Below we’ve selected some of our classic how-to and DIY books (and some new favorites) to help you sustain your self, family, and community. […] Read More

Chelsea Green on Instagram: Our Most Popular Photos of 2016

What a year for Chelsea Green on Instagram! We began the year with 500 followers and are now fast approaching 4,000 photo-loving brewers, gardeners, cheesemakers, permaculturists, foodies, seed-savers, homesteaders, foragers, and more. Our most popular posts of 2016 say a lot about what makes you happy: mushrooms, innovative garden designs and techniques, tiny cabins, and […] Read More

Slack and Taut: Defining a System’s Resilience

A resilient future (or a resilient present, for that matter) needs to be slack, not taut. What do we mean? Core to the concept of a Lean Economy is understanding the need to move toward a “slack” market rather than one that is “taut.” When British economist David Fleming died unexpectedly in 2010, he left […] Read More

What’s a Carbon Sink?

World leaders met in Marrakech this month as part of COP22, to discuss the next steps to reducing global climate emissions. One of the solutions being discussed is carbon farming. Author Eric Toensmeier participated in COP22, in part, because he literally wrote a book on it. First off – what is carbon farming? It’s a […] Read More
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