In the 20th century, people like Alfred Sloan, the creator of modern General Motors, and Big Oil (not to mention Firestone, Ford, power-mad bureaucrats like New York’s Robert Moses etc.) were extremely successful in getting rid of popular electric trains around the world. It’s time to put ’em back!

Above left. Progress? Ripping out the rails on Cook St., Victoria BC, around 1948. Right, the end of an era in front of the Empress Hotel.

JANE JACOBS (1916-2006)

With thousands of others, prevented freeways destroying neighbourhoods from Vancouver to Baltimore. Jacobs worked in Manhattan and Toronto.


Fought facsism with the Australian Army in North Africa and New Guinea. Saved and expanded Melbourne’s tram system.

JAY QUINBY (1895-1981)

Blew the whistle on General Motors’ anti-streetcar conspiracy. Served on anti-submarine duty in the Gulf of Mexico with the US Navy during WWII.

SHIMA HIDEO (1901-1998)

The technical genius who led Japan’s shinkansen high-speed rail line in 1964. Awarded a string of honours from Japan, US and UK engineering societies.

SOGO SHINJI (1884-1981)

Old man thunder – Prodded relentlessly to build the shinkansen. Worked with moderate politicians before warlord Tojo Hideki (“Razor”) seized power in 1941.

By Louis Guilbault, of Victoria BC. I have no financial connection to any rail manufacturer or consultant. Please contact regarding errors or omissions.

For more background on General Motors’ and others’ roles in destroying electric railways in the US, see Taken for a Ride, an informative 1996 PBS production, on youtube.