To the editor:
I would like to add my own thoughts to a recent letter to the Post from Terry Vaughan in December.
The recent decision taken by the town of Kennebunk to ignore the possibility of opening a train station in Kennebunk is, as Vaughan stated in his letter, shortsighted.
The Downeaster is one of the most successful routes in the Amtrak system. Why shouldn’t Kennebunk try to take advantage of the commuter and tourist traffic on this line?
Aside from the quite obvious economic advantages of having increased tourism and travel to and from Kennebunk via a rail system, with concomitant expansion of taxi and car service, there is the intangible publicity of having our own train station.
In an essay published posthumously in the New York Review of Books, in 2011, the great historian and social critic, Tony Judt, wrote in his essay, “Bring Back The Rails!:”
“If we lose the railways we shall not just have lost a valuable practical asset whose replacement or recovery would be intolerably expensive.
“We shall have acknowledged that we have forgotten how to live collectively. If we throw away the railway stations and the lines leading to them – as we began to do in the 1950s and 1960s – we shall be throwing away our memory of how we live the confident civic life. It is not by chance that Margaret Thatcher – who famously declared that, “There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families” – made a point of never traveling by train.
If we cannot spend our collective resources on trains and travel contentedly in them it is not because we have joined gated communities and need nothing but private cars to move between them.
“It will be because we have become gated individuals who don’t know how to share public space to common advantage. The implications of such a loss would far transcend the demise of one system of transport among others. It would mean we had done with modern life.”