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Amtrak “Creative Class” and High Speed Rail

The US Government says it will spend big money to build “high speed rail” connecting cities in Ohio, California, Florida, and possibly other states. In the fine print we see that “high speed rail” means a maximum of 200mph (only in one part of California) and more typically, not much faster than Amtrak travels now.Nothing like the “high speed rail” in Europe and Japan, by the way.

I hate to think that this is another stimulus to big corporations. We’ll be buying new rail cars and hiring shovel leaners of course, which is all good, but will enough of the money actually stimulate the local economies in the areas served? That doesn’t happen until the projects are finished. The initial boon will go to the real estate holders, developers, and those connected enough with the Oblama administration (that’s not a typo) to get the sweet contracts.

My vote is that Amtrak immediately get a tiny fraction of the stimulus pot to create something new called a “Creative Class”. Amtrak already provides trays and power outlets, so laptop use is possible during your ride. What we need now is high quality wireless Internet during the ride, and seating that encourages co-working.

I live in a small city with a “captured economy”. It’s beautiful here, but difficult to find work. Despite having a relatively high concentration of writers, artists, and web technologists, the city doesn’t have corporate residents willing to hire them. The Internet makes telecommuting a reality, of course, which is why they are able to live here, but some face to face is always important. Most of us fly out frequently to meet with clients, customers, and associates. Seattle is 2 hours away by rail, 1.5 hours minimum by car, but only a 25 minute flight.

Put a coworking car on Amtrak between cities and watch as we co-work on the train, happy to spend 2 hours on “slow speed rail”. I bet it would stimulate the economy, and do so in a green way.


  1. Howard wrote:

    On some UK trains, there are facilities for plugging in your laptop. However, the wifi is variable and can be very frustrating when you lose the signal.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink
  2. Pol vanRhee wrote:

    Oh my gosh, this is what I’ve been saying for so long now. Fix what we’ve got already, or else go all out and make new technology. If we’re not going to make it a real high speed train, it’s just an excuse to hand out our money. At least with your idea we’re stimulating some tech and making it better to use.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Permalink
  3. RalfLippold wrote:


    As a rail fan and sustainability passionate, I have a similar idea for about three years now.
    It would be really cool to have such facility on a train, where you can meet new coworkers,
    work on your stuff and being inspired by good conversations, landscape and moving across
    the country;-)

    German Railway in general would be the right place to do such – only you have to find the visionary
    person in charge of budget and bringing the new things into existence.

    Sunday, February 21, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink