In the News

July 8th, 2011: Audio clip published on

Jim makes an appearance on Nino Marchetti’s Green Tech Chatter Podcast to discuss high-speed rail and and the current state of developments in the United States (30 mins). [Read/Listen]


March 9th, 2011: Article published in Der Spiegel

“President Barack Obama wants to upgrade America’s transport system using high-speed trains, bringing a taste of what is a part of everyday life in Europe and Asia to the United States. But the car-obsessed nation is divided over the plans. Is the mammoth project doomed to failure?” [Read More]


November 25th, 2010: Article published on AlterNet

“Rail is part of the future. It’s green. It’s high tech. It can be built by Americans in America. And it’s inevitable. What it will take is investment over time. That much we ought to be able to figure out.” [Read More]


November 25th, 2010: Audio clips posted on Maryland in Motion

Maryland in Motion from WYPR Baltimore features three audio clip interviews. James talks about his lessons learned on the
rails, shares a passage from his book, and talks about the future of passenger rail in America. [Listen Here]


November 18th, 2010: Interview with University of Wisconsin’s The Badger Report

James sits down to talk with The Badger Report about the future of passenger rail in Wisconsin following the election of Governor Mark Dayton. [Read More]


November 16th, 2010: Guest on “At Issue with Ben Merens” on Wisconsin Public Radio. Discussion about Wisconsin’s move to return $870 million in high speed rail grants to the federal government.

November 10th, 2010: Featured on 1470 WMBD Peoria while speaking at “The Future of the
Midwest Transportation Symposium” (13 minutes)

October 4th, 2010: Article featured in The State Journal-Register

“Start with planes, trains and automobiles. Add boats and buses and bucks … lots of big bucks.
Then it’s easy to see why government and economic development officials may be headed to central Illinois for a major transportation symposium next month. ….” [Read More]

September 4th, 2010: Article featured in the Star Tribune

“Occasionally, we stopped in a tunnel for the natural air conditioning, but lingered longest out on the sun-drenched trestles, mesmerized by the panorama of mountains and the mossy, emerald creeks running below the supporting ironwork. I sucked in my breath when I dismounted the bike and stepped onto a wooden-plank walkway on either side of the path.

“Some trestles stand more than 200 feet high, well above the crowns of the tallest trees in the valley. And though several strands of thick wire functioned as a robust guardrail, the cables present little visual barrier to what was a dizzying view….” [Read More]

September 2010: Special Section appearing in Aububon Magazine

“Traveling by train might sound old-fashioned, but it remains one of the best, most environment-friendly ways to see some of America’s wildest places.”

Click here to read about 10 trips of a lifetime.


August 18th, 2010: Article featured on the The Intelligence Daily

“In reading this book it helps to have fond memories of train travel for this predisposes you to look carefully for clues about what might be done to improve and expand service. It helps even more if you have occasion to ride Amtrak today as I do to reach Chicago or visit friends in Minnesota via the Empire Builder. But herein lies part of the problem…” [Read More]

May 30th, 2010: Article featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Uncle Sam, for the first time, is investing billions in passenger rail. In a few years, Pittsburghers will be turning to trains for the same reason Norfolk Southern’s business is booming, and the same reason 1.2 million passengers ride between Harrisburg and Philadelphia each year: the price of gasoline makes a train the smarter way to go…” [Read More]

May 27th, 2010: Appearance on Kansas City Public Media’s “up/to/date” program (34 minutes)

Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star talks with James McCommons about his book and introduces us to the historians, railroad executives, transportation officials, politicians, government regulators, railroad lobbyists, and passenger-rail advocates who are rallying around a simple question: Why has the greatest railroad nation in the world turned its back on the very form of transportation that made modern life and mobility possible?

May 18th, 2010: Article featured in the Topeka Capital-Journal

In his book, “Waiting on a Train,” James McCommons uses the term foamer to describe the hard-core railroad buffs who get together at conventions and swap photos and trivia about railroading. Now there is a growing number of nonfoamers becoming interested in passenger rail service as serious, practical transportation.

The book is full of hopeful signs that the public is clamoring for passenger train service, even though some politicians haven’t caught on yet. But the book also is full of the frustrations caused by the federal government’s miserliness in providing adequate funding for Amtrak and for a number of state-supported trains around the country. [Read More]

May 1st, 2010: Article featured in the Saturday Evening Post

“As America tries to resuscitate its passenger rail system and build high-speed networks, it will need the expertise of Europeans who never
abandoned their rail mode and have made 160-mph trains everyday options for travelers.

But there is an important concept
that isn’t so high-tech: connectivity.

This past winter when I rode trains for 50 hours across France, Germany, Britain, and the Low Countries on a frenetic two-week trip (journalistic research for me), I never waited long or walked far to make connections from jets to high-speed and regional trains, subways, trams, ferries, and buses. It was seamless, with one mode just steps away from another…” [read more/download article]

April 26th, 2010: News clip from NBC affiliate WICU12 in Erie, Pennsylvania.

April 26th, 2010: Article featured on

When James McCommons talks about passenger trains tonight at Gannon University, he should have some fresh observations.

More U.S. citizens are experiencing the ups and downs of train travel. The Associated Press reported that Amtrak ridership is up 4.3 percent for the first half of fiscal year 2010, thanks to the economy and fuel prices. If the trend continues, Amtrak will top its best-ever ridership count of 28.7 million passengers for the year… [Read More]

April 4th, 2010: Article featured in the News & Observer

McCommons spent a year riding virtually every one of Amtrak’s routes, from the glorious and customer-friendly to dismal operations routinely hours behind schedule. He reports not only on the variety of people he met on board and the landscapes through which he traveled, but also on the transportation officials and railroad executives he methodically interviewed as he crisscrossed the country. … [Read More]

February 17th, 2010: Article featured in the Orlando Sentinel

Two train systems meant to usher in a new era of transportation in Metro Orlando are slated to run along separate tracks that will intersect west of Orlando International Airport.

But, as it stands, there is no planned connection where passengers from the $1.2 billion SunRail commuter train could transfer to the $2.6 billion high-speed train or vice versa. How is that possible? … [Read More]

February 8th, 2010: Blog featured on The Huffington Post

It’s no surprise that only a handful of states were awarded the $8 billion in stimulus rail grants awarded last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation rail. Thirty-two states applied with requests totaling $50 billion, but the truth is few states are ready for rail money.

Until recently, rail didn’t leverage federal dollars. If a state wanted to add a lane to a freeway … [Read More]

January 31st, 2010: Interview with Arthur Frommer – founder of Frommer’s Travel Guides – on WOR’s “The Travel Show” (12 minutes)

January 26th, 2010: Radio interview on “Airtalk” from Southern California Public Radio (23 minutes)

December 22nd, 2009: Article from The Oakland Press

Holiday travelers stuck in crowded airport terminals or driving on packed freeways often are wishing for a better way. Those who are tired of planes and automobiles may want to pick up former Pontiac resident James McCommons’ newly released book … [Read More]

December 21st, 2009: Radio interview with Joy Cardin of Wisconsin Public Radio (27 minutes)

December 12th, 2009: Podcast from Sierra Club Radio (27 minutes)

December 4th, 2009: Podcast from (71 minutes)

November 27th, 2009: Radio interview on WKAR – Michigan State University (4 minutes)

October 26th, 2009: Interview on, Bellows, Vermont (58 minutes)

October 18th, 2009: Podcast from (21 minutes)

September 2nd, 2009: Book Trailer for “Waiting on a Train”

July 2nd, 2009: Appearance on Fox Business Channel, “Investing in a High-Speed Rail System”

May 15th, 2009: Article on “Stop This Train! Are trains slower now than they were in the 1920s?”

Host Pete Ferrand interviews James McCommons on Racine, Wisconsin’s WRJN News Talk