Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

A Better Way To Travel: Why Isn’t the U.S. Investing In High-Speed Trains? – Harvard Political Review

Usual disclaimers apply. The USA will never construct a single mile of European style high speed rail. This is a well considered and intelligent article. It’s still just pissin’ in the wind, but follow the link anyway.

A Better Way To Travel: Why Isn’t the U.S. Investing In High-Speed Trains? – Harvard Political Review.

Filed under: Amtrak, International High Speed Rail, Passenger Rail Politics, Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

5 Reasons California’s High Speed Rail Is The Best Public Works Project In The United States – Carbonated.TV

California begins construction on a high speed rail line this summer in a project that has survived political battles and budget shortfalls. The rail will shuttle passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in three hours, with stops at various cities in between. This isn’t just the best current public works project in the United States because it will one day make the author’s life a lot easier, there are at least 5 big reasons:
1. 20,000 jobs a year for the next 5 years
The high speed rail project will create 20,000 jobs a year over the next 5 years, according to Inhabitat. That is welcome news to cities like Fresno and Merced, where the first 65 miles of track will be built, which have unemployment rates of 13% and 15% respectively.
Read it all here:

5 Reasons California’s High Speed Rail Is The Best Public Works Project In The United States – Carbonated.TV.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

5 questions on high-speed rail and its U.S. future – CNN.com

It is my opinion (sadly held, I might add) that there will never be one mile of true European-style HSR ever put into commercial operation in the USA.

(CNN) — A train crash in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, that killed at least 80 people and injured 178 more Wednesday poses many questions for investigators, who are homing in on what role the train’s speed may have played in the crash.

The issue of high-speed rail may raise more questions for the public at large, specifically in the United States, where high-speed trains are rare. Here are some basics on this speedy mode of transportation:

 

5 questions on high-speed rail and its U.S. future – CNN.com.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief plan sparks rail passenger lobby response, Arkansas connection here!

This item appeared in my email and I am sure Mr. Evan Stair will not object to my distribution here. While I am pessimistic about the future of almost everything, the 60-year silliness over doing away with intercity passenger trains is simply beyond laughable, even as they become more necessary in an increasingly depressed economy.  This controversy concerning the Southwest Chief will have an impact on Arkansas. Read on.
Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Kansas rail supporters, 
While we are frequently critical of the National Association of Rail Passengers (NARP) the below NARP letter is refreshing.  Kudos go out to George Chilson, Bill Hutchison and Jim Loomis for their work on this critical statement.  We hope this means you, the rail supporter, are finally being heard in the hinterlands.
As we alerted three years ago, the Southwest Chief is the most threatened Long Distance train in the nation.  This train runs daily between Amtrak’s Chicago – Kansas City – Albuquerque – Los Angeles with many intermediate stops.  It is the spine upon which many passenger rail expansions depend.  This expansion list includes the following:
Oklahoma City – Tulsa – Joplin – Kansas City (Oklahoma City – Tulsa Regional Economic and Transportation Authority work is progressing)
Oklahoma City – Wichita (Work remains stalled in the planning stages)
Kansas City to Omaha/ Lincoln (Long term vision to create a connection between Southwest Chief (Chicago-LA) and California Zephyr (Chicago-San Francisco) routes)
Albuquerque – Pueblo – Colorado Springs – Denver (Long term Colorado Regional Transportation District goal)
Amtrak Concerns:  Our concern today is not just with Congress, but also Amtrak.  Amtrak has expressed an interest in expanding state supplemental requirements beyond the 750-mile-or-greater Long Distance definition.  Historically Long Distance trains have been funded 100% from Amtrak’s annual federal appropriation.
Amtrak has approached the states of Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico to provide state supplemental funding for the Southwest Chief. (see the attachment for the Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico joint response to Amtrak’s request for state supplemental funding for a Long Distance train)(e-mail us for a copy if it is not included in your e-mail.)  We expect Amtrak to approach the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico next year to request state supplemental reroute costs with similar results.  We also anticipate, if non-federal funding is not identified, Amtrak will have made a discontinuance case for the Southwest Chief.
This will set equally as dangerous precedent as that offered by Representative Shuster.  State Supplemental Long Distance represents an unworkable model that will doom Amtrak’s Long Distance network.
More than Just a Long Distance Threat:  Amtrak’s caviler approach threatens more than just Long Distance trains.  For example, the state supplemental Oklahoma City – Fort Worth Heartland Flyer depends upon the federally funded Texas Eagle.  A Texas Eagle discontinuance would doom the Heartland Flyer as it daily transfers 30% of its ridership beyond Fort Worth.
Position Statement:  Our position is that Long Distance trains should remain federally funded due to the interstate nature of their service and round-the-clock operation.  Passenger Rail Oklahoma and our affiliates emphatically encourage NARP to protest the proposed Amtrak Southwest Chief state supplemental policy foray.  This policy states that the states of Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico are responsible for funding $100 million in initial capital rehabilitation of the Newton, KS – La Junta, CO – Albuquerque, NM BNSF Railway Southwest Chief route segment.  The request also includes annual state operational requirements.
NARP Letter to US Representative Bill Shuster:
June 11, 2013
The Honorable Bill Shuster
Chairman
Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure
U.S. House of Representatives
2165 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairman Shuster:
As reported by Politico, your June 6 comments about Amtrak’s long distance trains caused anxiety among our members for it understandably raised the concern that these popular, heavily-used trains could be in jeopardy. We appreciate that you are “not committed to” specific shut-downs. In a similar vein, we appreciated Chairman Denham’s comment at the end of his May 21 hearing that his goal is to make the long distance trains more efficient.
Millions of Americans are already facing a loss of their personal mobility. Airlines are reducing the number of flights and have reduced or discontinued service to literally hundreds of smaller cities. Many older citizens are unable or unwilling to drive their personal automobiles for more than just a few miles; this population will grow dramatically over the next few decades in the U.S., and their needs must be accounted for. An increasing number of young people don’t own automobiles, either as a personal choice or because they are unaffordable. Millions more find flying to be too expensive, too inconvenient or simply too unpleasant.
The National Association of Railroad Passengers believes that these people—and indeed all Americans—have the right to choose

how they travel. We also believe it is a fundamental right that they be able to travel.

Some 173 million Americans – more than half of our total population – live within 25 miles of an Amtrak station that is served by long distance trains. Moreover, in 23 of the lower 48 states, long-distance trains are the only intercity passenger trains. The growth in revenues (up 24.4% from FY 2008 to FY 2012) and ridership on the long-distance trains, that has come in spite of unchanged capacity and aged equipment, is one indication of strong public support for these trains.
As your committee begins its work, we urge you to seek a fresh approach, focusing on legislation that will encourage and support improvement and expansion of the long-distance network.
Most of Amtrak’s long-distance trains are currently at or near capacity—and capacity has not been expanded for decades. We are convinced that both ridership and revenues will continue to improve—if capacity is improved, by some combination of expanding existing trains, adding frequencies and adding routes.
We look forward to working with you on the ongoing passenger rail reauthorization.
Sincerely.
Robert Stewart
Chairman
Ross Capon
President and CEO

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

Researchers say high-speed rail could fuel U.S. real-estate, economic booms

This is a very interesting story and much worth your time. Of course, it matters not a dime’s worth what experts, common sense, experience, and respect for human dignity may teach us, regular people have zero say in the nation’s transportation policy so not one mile of true European-style high speed rail will ever be built in the United States. The only people who have a seat at the table are the special interest groups representing commercial highway users, the auto industry and airlines. It is still a good read. You can see it all on the link below.

New high-speed rail lines are credited with sparking a real estate and housing boom, among other economic benefits, in smaller cities in China. Now experts are debating whether rail modernization can have the same effects in the U.S.
A study by researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles and China’s Tsinghua University found that by connecting “second tier” cities to global hubs, more people move to the smaller cities where housing costs are lower, creating a real-estate boom, among other unplanned benefits.

In 2007 China built new, 185-miles-per-hour bullet train lines to connect Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to nearby cities, some of the construction coinciding with the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Based on the real estate appreciation recorded between 2006 and 2010, the researchers estimated that when “market potential,” defined as access to goods, services and labor, is boosted 10 percent by a new bullet train line, housing prices rise 4.5 percent.

Researchers say high-speed rail could fuel U.S. real-estate, economic booms.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

In ‘Keeping Them Honest,’ truth not necessary to ‘report’ on rail – From the Editor’s – METRO Magazine

For your consideration, follow the link below for the entire story.

April 12, 2013

In ‘Keeping Them Honest,’ truth not necessary to ‘report’ on rail

By  Nicole Schlosser

While the typical griping continues in California over its plans for high-speed rail, projects across the U.S. were subject to a recent hatchet job, ironically, by CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360◦” in the segment, “Keeping Them Honest.”

The story, “High-speed rail Boondoggle,” claims to be about how $800 million in federal funds was spent only to take 10 minutes off a rail trip between Portland, Ore. and Seattle, while promising high-speed rail. However, it was really just making out the concept of bullet trains in the U.S. as a waste of money for something nobody wants without sharing any facts.

“Investigative Correspondent” Drew Griffin begins spinning his colorful yarn about how the public is supposedly being cheated with a really premature statement: “The dream, shared by those who stand to make money from high-speed rail, is turning into a pipe dream.”

He goes on to oversimplify the situation with this generalization: “Four years and $12 billion later, scattered projects across the country that slow trains moved just a little faster.” Griffin also implied that there was no other work being done to complete the projects nationwide.

Throughout the story, Griffin gave the false impression that building an entire high-speed rail program, basically from scratch, would or should only take four years, as the U.S. High-Speed Rail Authority pointed out in a release responding to the show.

In ‘Keeping Them Honest,’ truth not necessary to ‘report’ on rail – From the Editor’s – METRO Magazine.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

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