Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lexington's Future Should Be On Track?

By now everyone has heard the news, the Oracle of Omaha has bought himself a railroad. Warren Buffet has bought the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. I am so jealous that he gets to play train--with real trains.

I have known several model railroaders over the years and many of them have had elaborate set-ups and layouts. Each one had a different goal in mind when they started their design phases. Some wanted be able to run their railroad in a manner best fitting their interests; operating a train using the historical methods and rules of bygone days, bringing their favorite prototype into the present using an alternate reality or using some specialized equipment related to a facility that they were familiar with. The common thread in all of these is a remembrance of days gone by and the thoughts of what might have been.

Mr Buffet is now going to tread where few railroaders have dreamed to go--he is going to march proudly into the future, with the idea of renewing the promise of what rail transportation can do and creating new possibilities of fond memories in younger generations. And he is not going alone, one of our local rail professionals is moving into the future right there with him, R.J. Corman.

Corman, with his recent acquisition of the Railpower Co. and their industry leading GenSet locomotives is working with other railroad companies to make rail transportation services once again the best in the world. Some of us have watched in wonderment as the Corman Railroad group has steadily built a reputation of excellence and said that he is just doing it to please his own ego. His purchase of a steam locomotive and rumors of excursions/dinner trains have fueled dreams of more tourist attractions, but I think that it is much more than that. I am just waiting for the next hint of the wonderful things to come.

With such railroad visionaries as that, why is it that the State of Kentucky and the City of Lexington don't see more possibilities for rail in the future? Why are we finding more ways to remove ourselves from any remote possibility of re-establishing rail service to our downtown. We still herald the removal of the downtown tracks and the redevelopment of rail related industries as though they will no longer be needed as our fossil fuels depletion drives up transportation costs.

Warren Buffet did not buy a railroad on a whim or as a way to play with trains. $34 Billion is a lot of money to play with but Buffet does not like to lose money and if he thinks it is a good bet, then maybe the city, state and the rest of the country should listen. Buffet thinks that this a bet on the country and I'm following him.

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