Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

More northern California happenings

The Daily Journal of San Mateo county carries a significant news item.

Regional rail plan calls for expanded service
By Dana Yates
High speed and expanded Peninsula train service are part of a 50-year regional rail plan to completely overhaul regional rail in Northern California, according to a report released by the Metropolitan Transportation Committee.
The plan calls for expanded rails for more trains between San Francisco and San Jose while promoting high-speed rail from Los Angeles to the Central Valley that could connect to the Peninsula by way of the Dumbarton Bridge. The grand plans carry heavy price tags and a lack of funding remains the biggest obstacle in making the idea a reality, according to the MTC report.

Oh, darn. Well there you go again! It’s going to cost something to improve inter-city transportation, and highways are free. The nice guys who build highways don’t charge us anything for them. They do it out of the kindness of their hearts.

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

Little known Arkansas project looks toward high speed freight rail network

This one almost got past me, and it may turn out to be very important. The entire story, headlined “Safety Inspection,” runs in the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas and concerns a somewhat mundane federal appropriation to keep transportation facilities safe from terrorists.

A center at the University of Arkansas studying rural transportation will be one of six institutions receiving millions in federal aid to study ways to protect the nation’s transportation system.

The Mack-Blackwell Rural Transportation Center will split with five other centers an annual appropriation of $ 18 million for four years as part of the Improving America’s Security Act of 2007, signed by President George W. Bush on Aug. 3. The purpose of the act is to put recommendations of the 9-11 Commission into law that would protect the nation’s highways, bridges and railroads from terrorists attacks.

So far, so good.

It must be noted, however, that this facility falls within the congressional district of Rep. John Boozman (R-Wal Mart). He is the same Boozman who believes that Amtrak might cause air pollution, and that Amtrak should not have priority rights to use the trackage of existing “host” railroads, most of which were organized and built as public-private cooperation enterprises.

A few paragraphs down comes something of a surprise. At least I was a bit taken back. Does anybody else know about this thing?

Some new projects that address rural issues include researching a nationwide high-speed rail network for freight distribution and developing rural transportation emergency preparedness plans.

Did I miss something? There is research, presumably subsidized by the federal government, for high a speed freight rail system in the United States? Is this going to use the facilities of rail carriers that have already been constructed for the public purpose of transporting cargo and people?

Is this one of Boozman’s sources for Amtrak misinformation?

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

California takes a baby step toward high speed trains

The California legislature has been working on a budget 50 days in to the fiscal year, and it has not been easy. This observer from the glass house of Arkansas will refrain from any rock tossing. Besides, those new highways are free. They don’t cost anybody anything, and the truckers only want what’s best for us.

Here is the first news in capsule form.

High Speed Railroad: $15.5 million for the High Speed Rail Authority to continue preparation work for a $35 billion bullet train that would carry passengers through the San Joaquin Valley between north and south California at speeds faster than 200 mph.

OK. It’s a beginning.

An earlier California Chronicle story notes that lawmakers backing high speed rail were calling for a minimum $20 million to keep the California High Speed Rail Authority rolling.

KGO TV in San Francisco provides excellent coverage, which is a shocker for a television station. Here is the link and there is also a video on the story site. Very cool. Highlights are worth your attention.

“We have a route between Sacramento and Los Angeles, one down to San Diego, we have a route from San Francisco to San Jose to Oakland, but we don’t have a connecting route between the Bay Area and the Central Valley,” said Rod Diridon from the California Speed Rail Authority.

Rod Diridon is chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority. He says even after a route is chosen, the project will not move forward without passage of a $10 billion dollar bond slated for the November 2008 ballot.

So far the state has spent more than $30 million dollars on studies.

“To spend $30 million dollars to study 750 miles of right of way and alternatives is not very much compared to other projects,” said Diridon.

The just-passed budget includes $20-million dollars for high speed rail, but supporters fear the governor will take it out before he signs.

The total projected cost for the San Francisco-Los Angeles line is more than $30 billion dollars alone, making next year’s $10 billion dollar bond just a start.

“That’s a down payment. The last time I looked the price tag for the high speed rail system is somethinh like $35 billion dollars, so this is clearly a down payment,” said Doug Kimsey from MTC.

The federal government and private investment would make up the difference.

“The 30-billion we’re talking about spending for the starter line from San Francisco to Los Angeles really is a minimal investment compared to what other countries are doing,” said Diridon.

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

Scotland fights for high speed rail connection

(MUSIC: Cue Proclaimers, Cap in Hand)

There is, within the United Kingdom, a certain tension, and it is far from creative. The Scots have felt rather left out of recent plans to upgrade ground transportation, which by American standards is already fairly luxurious. The Scottish faction seems to be using the Robert Byrd technique: when all else fails, pass a law to get your darned train.

The is a tricky political question which Scottish proponents have joined to the contentious issue of adding a third runway at Heathrow. They observe, probably with some justification, that improving domestic ground transportation would take some of the load off the big airport.

Here is the latest from Scotsman.com.

MSP calls for fast London railway link

A LIBERAL Democrat MSP has lodged a parliamentary motion calling for a high-speed rail link between Scotland and London.

A number of proposals have been launched in recent months for a new rail line between Edinburgh, Glasgow and the UK capital – travelling either down the east or west coast.

It could reduce journey times from almost five hours to around three hours. Glasgow MSP Robert Brown said: “A high-speed rail link between Scotland and London, offering a journey time of less than three hours, would be genuinely competitive with domestic flights from Scotland to London.”

Mr Brown said the UK Government’s plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport had run into protests from the environmental lobby and local residents.

A high-speed rail connection, slashing journey times between London, the north of England and Scotland, offered “a sustainable alternative” to many short-haul flights within Britain.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

South Africa HSR growth considered

Engineering News keeps track of the development of transportation on the African continent. Here is the latest talk in South Africa, where a Durban to Johannesburg HSR link is already starting to be developed.

SA urged to ‘seriously consider’ cross-country high-speed rail routes

 

Building high-speed railways between Johannesburg, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy, and other major South African cities, was again mooted as a viable solution to some of the country’s transport problems.

Ian Thoms
, an international expert in mass transit systems, suggested on Wednesday that the South African government should “seriously consider” integrating high-speed railways into its transport plans.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of IST South Africa, in Pretoria, he highlighted the links between Johannesburg and Durban, and Johannesburg and Cape Town, as the routes likely to attract such rail links, should they be proven feasible to build and operate.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

That pesky First Amendment

This could never happen in the United States. The UK government watchdog has banned a no-frills airline’s ads as being “deceptive.” The thrust of the commercials was that the airline was faster and cheaper than Eurostar between London and Brussels. The entire story is reported here, but the  outcome is:

But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that Ryanair’s claims were “misleading” because they ignored the time and cost of travelling to and from airports and the longer check-in times for flights.

The watchdog also said the punctuality claim was based on a two-year-old report on the BBC news website, when more Eurostar had failed to run on time due to bad weather.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

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