As we wrangle with airport security this holiday season, let's all take a moment to give thanks for trains. Here's a map of the US showing recent investments in rail, and the long-term plans for what our train system could someday become. Some of this will be true high-speed travel. Other corridors are simply spots where small (and relatively cheap) upgrades in infrastructure—not to mention increased enforcement of passenger train right of way—can fix a broken system and make trains a viable competitor to increasingly onerous air travel.
Granted, I'm not sure I buy the argument that train travel is somehow immune to the creeping specter of excessive security. But, for now at least, it's got the potential to be a pleasant alternative.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.