Heavy rail on a tiny island at a huge cost
Heavy rail on a tiny island
Heavy rail on a tiny island at a huge cost
Heavy rail on a tiny island

BY PANOS PREVEDOUROS PHD – “Some years back a Greek finance minister, fed up with his country’s waste and extravagance claimed that he could save money by shutting down the national railway and driving around its passengers in taxis.”  The Economist, July 2, 2011, p.8.

Too bad he didn’t execute his plan for the closure of the railways. In 2009 the Greek railways collected $250 million in fares and posted a net loss of $1.4 Billion.  A Billion wasted here, and a Billion wasted there … the rest is history for the Greek economy. Greece is now in a debt crisis.

In 2000 a Greek colleague and I conducted research on Greek railroads and we developed models which predicted that the rail freight service would soon carry nothing [1]. No way, they said. Four years later the freight operations of Greek shut down for good. Unfortunately, investment on Obama-like medium-speed rail passenger service continued unabated in Greece. So the hole budget hole got even bigger.

The lesson here is that public investment in non-performing infrastructure will eventually swamp the budget and saddle current and future generations with a heavy debt burden.

What do you think the future holds for our tiny island that “wants” a five to seven Billion dollar train?

What do you think the future holds for the car-dependent, and highway and airport vested state of California which still plans for a $35 Billion “high speed rail”? A lot of good answers can be found in this article. http://equity.lsnc.net/high-speed-rail-and-social-equity/

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Trains went obsolete for a reason. You can’t solve 21st century mobility problems with 19th century technology.

Those who refuse to do arithmetic are doomed to talk nonsense. One can write a book on this but I will mention only three rail related “math” of Peter Carlisle: (1) He will set Honolulu’s financial house in order by spending over five billion on rail, (2) HART will cost us nothing, and (3) The Ansaldo contract will save Honolulu tens of millions. All of them pure nonsense.

They are taking Honolulu for a (train) ride. Biased politicians, biased government officials and their paid consultants deceive the public in order to get elected, become chief of a new division and make millions, respectively.



[1]  Paravantis, John A. and Panos D. Prevedouros, Railroads in Greece: History, Characteristics and Forecasts.  Transportation Research Record, No. 1742: 34-44, 2001.