In December 2014, the Trump administration announced that it would spend $3 billion on a project to expand the US’s railways.
The first phase of the $3.6 billion project would include upgrading the rail lines between Washington, D.C., and New York City and constructing additional tracks.
But the new funding would not include any federal investment in the new rail network.
“It was kind of a big surprise to see that the federal government, as of this moment, is not investing in any part of the new railroad,” says Dan Cogdill, who studies the US rail system at George Mason University.
Cogdanil is also the author of a new book, The Great American Rail Trip: How a $3 Billion Investment Built America’s Railroads.
In the book, he and others analyze how the federal investment into the new railway network could have been much better spent.
“There’s a lot of value that could have gone into the rail system in the early 1900s and there’s a huge amount of potential that was missed,” says Cogddill.
“But it’s all been spent, and we haven’t invested in the infrastructure that we need.”
It is this kind of missing investment that Cogdsill says is responsible for the US-Canada border dispute.
Since 2014, a US-Canadian dispute over land ownership has been raging in Canada.
The border dispute stems from the construction of a $2.3 billion rail line across the border between the two countries in 2016.
The line is slated to run from New York’s Hudson River waterfront to the Canadian city of Quebec City, which has the country’s largest oil reserves.
The Trump administration has said it is committed to building a new border crossing, but that project has been delayed by a decade due to the conflict.
COGDILL: The US-Czech border dispute is one of the most consequential international issues of our time.
There’s an important economic benefit that could’ve been realized by the US.
Coggill says that a border crossing could have saved thousands of dollars per year in customs and excise duties that the border crossing is responsible with, while the railroad would have made it easier for American companies to ship goods to Quebec.
But, Cogdiill says, that is not the case.
“The rail line is not needed, because it’s a rail line.
It’s a railway, and it’s not needed in Canada,” he says.
“If the US was going to get rid of the rail line, it would have gotten rid of it in 20 minutes.
So we’ve spent $3B in the last 10 years in building the rail project that’s not necessary for the border, which is the border that’s in dispute with the US.”
In the end, the US ended up paying $1.2 billion for the rail construction, and Canada has said that it will pay $1 billion to repair the line.
CIG: Canada’s railway infrastructure is among the best in the world.
The US government says that Canada has built better railways than the US, but Cogill says the US is not necessarily correct.
“For decades now, Canada has been building better rail infrastructure than the United States,” he said.
“We’re not the only country that’s building better railway infrastructure, but Canada is building better railways in the United State than the American rail infrastructure is.”
Cogdin says that the US should be focusing on the improvements that Canada is making in its railway infrastructure.
“When you’re looking at the rail infrastructure of Canada, you have to realize that Canada’s rail infrastructure isn’t perfect,” he explained.
“And they’re also making great investments.
We’re investing billions in rail, and they’re spending billions on infrastructure to get them up and running.
And Canada’s spending billions to get the rails in the ground, which I think is a good thing.”
CIG and the Thomson Reuters Foundation