I’m not sure if an opinion piece is appropriate here, so please let me know if this doesn’t fit the theme of the community, and I’ll avoid sharing such thoughts in the future.

I’m extremely frustrated with the car centric culture in my area. I live about 25 miles west of a quarry. Every day I watch trains go up and down the railroad mostly carrying gravel. This railroad stretches for several hours by car in each direction, connecting several large cities and even passing a few tourist attractions, and despite our traffic congestion problems there is little interest in trying to use this rail for actual people.

One company moved in and started running a new passenger rail service. Within a few weeks, we had protesters at the railroads complaining that drivers don’t understand railroad crossings. I saw posters about how trains were killing residents when drivers park on the tracks and get hit. I don’t understand! Where do you think the train is going to go? They don’t exactly come out of nowhere. They follow the tracks! And we’ve always had trains passing through our town before. At a later local election a candidate ran on the premise that they’re going to protect home values and our children by reducing or eliminating the number of trains passing through our town. This candidate did win our local election and sadly they succeeded in cutting down on rail investment.

Fast-forward a couple years later. Passenger rail stations were built at the endpoints of this rail to ferry tourists. I drive parallel to this rail on the way to work several times per week for almost 45 minutes each way, 20 minutes of which is heavy traffic. I get to enjoy watching people ride the train while there’s no stop anywhere near my house because our local government has sided with homeowners that a passenger rail station is “simply too dangerous.” I would have to drive over an hour to the nearest passenger rail station to ride the train, and I can literally see the tracks from my apartment.

Every time I see that train I feel bitter. I could save so much money if these boneheads would have let them build a train station in our town. Absolutely ridiculous! The train is there. The rail is there. I don’t understand why a train is such a personal, existential threat to your way of life.

  • assassinatedbyCIA@lemmy.world
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    2 months ago

    Frankly if you don’t get that a train is going to come down the rails and hit you if you park there then you deserve to get eliminated from the gene pool.

    • henfredemars@infosec.pubOP
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      2 months ago

      100%! The arguments I heard against building the station were asinine. The logic just doesn’t follow. For example, the train is dangerous to children? Well how about the actual highway that runs next to the track? Clearly that’s not a threat or dangerous to residents in any way. As we all know, cars are perfectly safe. One little girl gets hit by the train and we ignore all the deaths of the children from auto accidents. The rail is overwhelmingly safer.

      I’ve lived in this town for quite a long time and it’s a common occurrence to see cars stopped on the train tracks. While we have plenty of idiots, I can hardly blame the train if a car gets hit. It should always be the fault of the vehicle.

      • sensiblepuffin@lemmy.world
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        2 months ago

        It infuriates me to my bones how Americans specifically think about driving vs. other modes of transportation.

        $34B to repair a quarter-mile long stretch of highway? What the hey, it’s not our money (Narrator: it was, at least partially).
        $10M to add bike lanes to a busy road with one of the highest crash fatality statistics in my city that’s basically a highway? REEEE NOT IN MY BACKYARD!

        • henfredemars@infosec.pubOP
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          2 months ago

          My stupid town hasn’t even succeeded in preventing the train from passing through. They just don’t want a station here so no one can benefit from the train. What a stupid stupid policy.

        • Facebones@reddthat.com
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          1 month ago

          My city had Amtrak back in the 70s or something and it came back a few years ago. The common thread I see around here is “I caught an hour delay one time so never again!”

          Never mind that they get held up for hours every other time they travel on the highway, that’s just part of it, I guess? Enjoy sitting there burning gas I’ll just take a nap 🤷

          • sensiblepuffin@lemmy.world
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            1 month ago

            Even worse, those same people come home from their commute and immediately pour themselves a drink or kvetch to their partners about how bad the commute was. I mean… you cannot convince me that ANYONE likes sitting in traffic, it’s just anathema to the human mind.

          • pingveno@lemmy.ml
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            1 month ago

            Unfortunately the trains are like that, especially under a few circumstances:

            • Long distance
            • Single track
            • Rail congestion
            • Shared with freight
            • Long freight trains that are harder to pass
            • meowMix2525@lemm.ee
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              1 month ago

              Also the fact that the vast majority of our remaining rails are owned by private freight companies that get to make up silly rules like passenger trains having to pull over for ridiculously long and slow freight trains to pass them.

              • pingveno@lemmy.ml
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                1 month ago

                Yeah, passenger trains pretty much have no choice if there is a 2 mile freight train, a single track, and a short siding. The passenger train has to pull off and wait. There really need to be something like financial penalties for the rail carrier every time that happens. Something to make extremely long trains uneconomical.

                One thing they’ve been working on in my neck of the woods on the Amtrak Cascades line is passenger train only track that runs in the same right-of-way. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but I assume that passenger trains run on it by default and switch to the freight rail or sidings when there is a passenger train going the other way. The Seattle-Portland leg is already congested between freight and passenger traffic. Additional track should aid on time performance for the eventual target of 13 round trips per day. They also got the line rerouted off a single track route that was a serious bottleneck.

            • Facebones@reddthat.com
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              1 month ago

              Sure, and all of that should be tended to, but it doesn’t make massive delays an absolute or change that driving can be just as unreliable but gets this mental loophole even though people bitch about it constantly.

              • pingveno@lemmy.ml
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                1 month ago

                Absolutely. I was hearing that Switzerland has excellent on time performance, to the point where 5 minutes is considered late (and that happens infrequently). For comparison, Amtrak uses a 15 minute threshold for lateness. This accuracy, the “integrated timetable” strategy that syncs trains with other trains and transportation modes, and frequent service allow for tight transfer times.

      • originalfrozenbanana@lemm.ee
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        1 month ago

        Because those aren’t the actual arguments they respond to, just the face of the arguments. The real argument is that the car is an extension of the self. They should be able to drive anywhere, park anywhere, drive anything, without fear (Traffic deaths are unavoidable and unremarkable), judgment (I drive a Tesla, I’m saving the earth!), or undue cost (gas and maintenance. Sometimes tolls.) except for that which they’ve already internalized.

        Public transport is by definition collective. The train is not an extension of you. It is a thing we all collectively benefit from. It isn’t tailored to your specific tastes. It doesn’t go 0-60 faster than Joe Nextdoor’s train. Everyone pays the same, you can’t show off how fancy your ticket is.

        Some kid killed on the tracks is the fault of the train, because the driver could have been any of us. We are relatable people. The train is an unrelatable, unaccountable “us” that Americans will never, ever choose over their ideal “me.”

        • henfredemars@infosec.pubOP
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          1 month ago

          I appreciate the thoughtful response. I think I understand that the vehicle is connected deeply with identity, but no one’s threatening to take away their vehicles. I’m surprised that public transportation is taken so personally.

          If you don’t like the train, you don’t have to take the train. But, that’s not enough. They don’t want the train to be available to me either. It’s weird. It’s taken one step further into a fuck you I’ve got mine attitude.

        • FireRetardant@lemmy.world
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          1 month ago

          In places with good transit, you actually can show off a fancy ticket. Some rail offers first class flight type of accommodations which can include more leg/seat room, comfier seating, a meal, and other amenities.

      • Icalasari@fedia.io
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        1 month ago

        My brother at 13 was killed by a train

        What my mother did was start a campaign to get people to practice common sense and safety around trains. Our family doesn’t blame the train at all - We instead got better crossing safety put in place and helped get more awareness that train tracks are stabilized in cities to minimize noise and that horns are directed outwards, so a train is quieter head on than you think, ie look both ways before you cross

        Like, if my own family can get that, then why can’t these anti train fucks?

      • FireRetardant@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        It isn’t about logic, it is about preventing the station which prevents the denser developments that come with it and prevents people from living in those developments. These protesters mostly want to preserve (read increase) their property values while preserving the “character of the neighbourhood” (read if you don’t already live here, you don’t belong).

        • henfredemars@infosec.pubOP
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          1 month ago

          We need those denser deployments: we have a growing population, a homeless problem, and a lack of affordable housing. This is even ignoring the traffic issues on the nearby highways. It’s bad, but the message to me is clearly that we don’t want to solve any of these problems.

    • Telodzrum@lemmy.world
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      2 months ago

      Exactly, it’s like a pedestrian in a crosswalk. There’s a bigger mass coming, gtfo or deal with the consequences of your choices.

      • FireRetardant@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        If a pedestrian is on a cross walk, the bigger mass should be required to stop to let the pedestrian cross safely.

        It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure an intersection is clear before crossing it. A crosswalk is an intersection and a pedestrian is foot traffic.

  • redditron_2000_4@lemmy.world
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    2 months ago

    Does the mayor own a car dealership? For us, it is the county judge and so we have no public transit. Why would people buy from his Lexus dealership if the bus could get them where they needed to go? It’s insanity.

    • henfredemars@infosec.pubOP
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      1 month ago

      A quick search says while the mayor is wealthy, I couldn’t find any information on business assets. I think this comes more from a culture clash or crisis of identity that makes the train look dangerous.

  • ch00f@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    I don’t understand! Where do you think the train is going to go? They don’t exactly come out of nowhere.

    • henfredemars@infosec.pubOP
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      1 month ago

      It’s especially weird because I’m not even confident that building a train station would lower your property values.

      • buckykat [none/use name]@hexbear.net
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        1 month ago

        It wouldn’t. Nor would it be unsafe. These property value fuckers are not just obnoxious but also really stupid.

        There’s a neighborhood in my city right next to a light rail station. Literally, some of the houses are less than 20m from the platform. But when the station was being built the neighborhood association specifically campaigned against having any access to the station from the neighborhood. There’s a huge concrete wall blocking it off now. So if the people living in the houses literally directly next to the station wanted to get to the station they’d have to walk (or realistically, drive) over 2km across a highway, along a major road and through busy parking lots. And then, after getting to the station, they’d have to cross back under the highway to get to the actual train platform, because it’s built on their side of the highway despite being impossible to get to from that side.

        • henfredemars@infosec.pubOP
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          1 month ago

          Ah, it sounds like you understand my rage at the needless inefficiency. The clear and obvious solution, denied because of feelings.

      • @henfredemars @buckykat Nope. Both homebuyers and apartment developers are willing to pay a premium for high quality transit access, especially rail. Unless the rail service is really inconvenient and unreliable, it would substantially raise their precious property values, should they want to sell and move further out in the exurbs because they’re afraid of people who aren’t encased in SUVs.

  • FireRetardant@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    Are they also protesting the frieght trains that are often heavier and noisier? Or just the trains that let “poor people” get around?

    Every rail in an urban area near me has signs saying not to block the track. Every crossing on a busy road has lights and crossing bars. Every low traffic crossing has warning signs and a STOP before crossing.

    These signs are for drivers, drivers are trained to recognize them and they resemble all the other road signs drivers are expected to follow.

    If your area is using similar signage then this is 100% on negligent drivers. If they replace that rail with a road are drivers just going to run the red or gridlock the intersection like they currently treat the rail crossing?

    • henfredemars@infosec.pubOP
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      1 month ago

      I wasn’t aware of any complaints about the trains for years prior to the passenger rail company joining in; it was only when trains carrying people entered the picture that the protesting began claiming that these trains are unsafe and unwanted, but the arguments I’ve seen on signs etc. aren’t related to passenger rail specifically. Perhaps the passenger rail stoked fears that the rail traffic would expand further.

      Every railroad crossing is clearly marked, with multiple redundant flashing signals and moving barriers that get directly in the driver LOS. I’ve seen drivers push through the barriers to squeeze just ahead of or behind a moving train a handful of times in the past five years, but that’s about the same number of blatant red light runners I’ve seen in the same.