Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Illinois activity

The State Journal Register carries the report about a news conference called to advocate $1.3 billion in state capital spending on passenger rail projects over the next five years, and $28 million in operating money in the fiscal year that began July 1. The event was organized by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.

It is worth noting that, in the contest of recent concerns about highway and bridge maintence,improving the rail alternative makes good sense, especially in areas where transportation needs are growing rapidly.

Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin thanked lawmakers for added state money last year that allowed increased Amtrak service between Chicago and St. Louis — added service he said has greatly increased ridership from Springfield.

Davlin said, however, that continued investment is needed, as just a few years ago, in comparison to Europe, Illinois was really in “cavemen days” concerning passenger rail.

“Illinois is still a long, long way ahead of the rest of the country, but we’re still a century or two behind when we compare ourselves to our peers overseas,” Davlin added. “I think they get it and we’re just starting to get that right now.”

Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, who chairs the House railroad safety committee, said ridership has “exploded” on four rail lines that received more state operating money last year. Those routes all have one end point in Chicago and go to Quincy, St. Louis, Carbondale and Milwaukee.

“We are at risk of losing the increased service if we don’t make some capital investment,” Nekritz said, adding that more train equipment also will need to be purchased to serve new areas.

Also note that there is a lot of interesting reader discussion under the newspaper report. It is worth your time to get a “real world” perspective on transportation issues.

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Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, Regional USA Passenger Rail

East Texas corridor developments, and a modest proposal for Dallas – Orlando service

Officials from 75 jurisdictions met at the Mineola, Texas depot to sign a “memorandum of understanding” about developing improved rail transportation in the region. The Longview News-Journal provides a complete report.

The memorandum of understanding resolves that the East Texas and North East Texas regions will coordinate public transportation provisions and plan for transportation systems that connect commuters with urban transportation systems.

High-speed rail is a type of passenger rail transport that operates faster than the normal speed of rail traffic, with speeds reaching between 125 mph and 200 mph, depending on the grade of track.

The signing ceremony was organized by councils of government for both regions, as well as the East Texas Corridor Council and the Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority, others wanting to prepare for passenger and freight transportation needs. The goal is for high-speed rail service along the Interstate 20 corridor from the Dallas/Fort Worth area to Shreveport.

A quibble, please. TFA uses the term “high speed rail” to refer to European style trains operating over 150 mph. Technically, I place Acela in the “conventional” category, since the technology is basically a “tilt” train. Neither is Talgo “high speed” in our vocabulary. Both represent progress from the 19th Century fast trains. Any other opinions? Let ’em fly.

Interestingly, the Shreveport – Dallas corridor provides the west leg of a once-assured extension of the Crescent. If memory serves, the extended service would split at Meridian, Mississippi on the KCS and be called the “Crescent Star.”

That was, and is, an excellent idea. Again, relying on memory, it seems that track conditions and the usual Amtrak delays killed that route before it ever got off the ground. Of course, at this time Amtrak is prohibited by law from expanding the system, a foolish shortsighted transportation policy.

Perhaps it might be worthwhile to consider a service running from Dallas through Atlanta and down to Orlando. This would supplement a restored Sunset and is dependent upon equipment and “host” railroad cooperation. Nonetheless, conventional rail service should be considered part of a national grid designed to improve mobility, provide alternatives, and ease congestion.

I leave this to better minds. Again, discussion would be invited.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail

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