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Madrid-Barcelona High-Speed Train Traffic +13% In 1st Half

More hot transportation news from the Continent. This report is found on Dow Jones newswire.

MADRID -(Dow Jones)- Passenger numbers on the high-speed Madrid-Barcelona rail corridor increased 13% in the first half of the year, Spanish national rail company RENFE said Thursday.

In a press release, RENFE said 598,300 passengers used the high-speed service between Spain’s most important cities during the period, up from 528,700 a year earlier.

The rail link, that currently joins Madrid and Barcelona in four and a half hours, is a threat to the shuttle service Spanish airlines Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA (IBLA.MC) and Spanair operate between the two cities.

Currently, the air shuttle has the edge over the train, because it is faster and attracts the majority of business travelers that go back and forth between the two cities. However, RENFE expects to slash the travel time between Madrid and Barcelona to just two and a half hours.

Air carriers anticipate a drop in the number of passengers, but they will keep the same number of flights and use smaller aircraft. Sound familiar?


Filed under: International High Speed Rail

California High-Speed Rail Authority Forges Ahead While Adjusting Work Program to Fit Constricted Budget

This just in …

SACRAMENTO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–According to a statement by the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) today, the allocation of $20.7 million in the 2007-08 state budget will maintain progress on the vital project but will restrict much of the engineering and design work that was slated to begin within the next year. The 2007-08 allocation is less than the Legislatures budget provision of nearly $60 million.

Despite the reduced funding for high-speed rail, I am very optimistic about our ability to sustain progress on this vital solution to Californias transportation crisis, said The Honorable Quentin Kopp, Chairman of the Board of the Authority. High-speed 220 mile per hour trains offer the only realistic and comprehensive strategy for alleviating gridlock and improving the ability of our citizens to move quickly and easily from one part of the state to another. Once built, high-speed trains will be an important transportation solution for California.

The proposed $20.7 million budget will keep some essential activities funded, said Mehdi Morshed, HSRA executive director. The budget allows the Authority to complete the Bay Area program level environmental analysis and select a preferred route. With the anticipated $3.5 million contribution from Orange County, this budget will keep the engineering and environmental work going in the LA-Anaheim corridor. And we will also continue the vital engineering and design work needed to receive the regulatory approvals to build the system.

This project has great momentum and we will move the project forward responsibly and quickly so that voters can confidently approve the $9.95 billion bond next year, said Morshed.

Judge Kopp said the high-speed train system has widespread support from state and federal legislators, as well as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wrote an editorial in support of the project in the Fresno Bee earlier this year. Newspapers throughout California that have editorialized in support of budgeting appropriate funds to keep high-speed rail on schedule, includes the Fresno Bee, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, San Jose Mercury News, and San Francisco Chronicle.

Kopp also referenced California mayors who have lined up behind the project, including Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles), Curt Pringle (Anaheim), Alan Autry (Fresno) and Gavin Newsom (San Francisco). The project has received strong support from U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, as well as bipartisan support from the majority of Californias Congressional delegation, which recently signed a letter urging Governor Schwarzenegger and the California Senate to provide adequate funding to keep the high-speed train project on schedule. Other supporters include Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe, and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and State Senate President Pro-Tem Don Perata.


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

Mica’s big plan

One must always give the benefit of the doubt, even to Republicans. TFA says that, if MIca is such a big fan of HSR, he might sponsor some bills and appropriate some money. Let’s actually build one!

The Jacksonville  Times-union has an opinion piece looking into the congressman’s ideas about transportation, some of which we like a lot, and some we like only a little. The editorial gets the “bottom line” part all wrong too. In one sense, the newspaper is worse than Mica. Here is what he proposes. He proposes:

– Fix bridges. Few would oppose that, in the aftermath of a recent bridge collapse that killed several people in Minnesota.

– Expand highways. Another good idea. There is far too much congestion.

Over two decades, in fact, Mica says, car travel has increased 50 percent – highway capacity, just 2 percent.

– Increase air traffic capacity. Another good idea. There are too many delays now, and he forecasts a 66 percent increase in 10 years.

– Encourage passenger rail, to alleviate pressure on both roads and airports.

Mica insists the private sector could offer better service than Amtrak. Maybe. But will the private sector do it without subsidies?

– Make better use of waterways to transport freight.

Highways are, in many cases overbuilt already, and there is no room to build more in the largest urban areas. Rail can be an alternative for commuters, with good planning and management.

High Speed Rail, especially directed to airports, is necessary to relieve airport congestion. Conventional trains also need to be in the mix and that seems to be glaringly absent from the Mica proposals. Perhaps we are wrong.

Airlines need to get back to using larger plans with fewer total flights. That would work wonders for airport congestion.

The Union-Times suggests we pay for all this needed infrastructure with cuts in spending. Great. Cut away. Widows and orphans? Why not, they don’t hire lobbyists. Transportation costs money and the USA is way behind on investment.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

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