Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Politicians Debate California High-Speed Rail Route

 KCBS continues its’ excellent coverage.

Altamont PassSAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)  — High-speed rail supporters are relieved that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reserved $20 million of the state budget for a bullet train, but politicians are now arguing which alignment makes the most sense.

Assemblyman Jim Beall said it would be a mistake to run the high-speed trains through the Altamont Pass rather than the Pacheco Pass.

“If it was built in the Altamont Pass, it would not be high-speed rail,” said Beall. “It would be going at an average speed, from Tracy, at about a hundred miles an hour. And I don’t call that high-speed rail.”

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed agrees.

“The Pacheco Pass alignment creates a high ridership starter service, providing a direct connection between San Francisco, San Jose, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles on a single line,” said Reed.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren said the debate reminds her of a previous decision.

“I remember as a child, when a mistake was made and we decided not to bring BART to the South Bay,” said Lofgren. “The decision on which alignment to take is of that magnitude.”

Several East Bay politicians have used similar arguments to push for the Altamont Pass option.

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

New Hampshire liability shell game

It is late, and this one requires some extra thought. Can some smarter reader sort this issue out? Here is the latest roadblock from New Hampshire as reported by the always outstanding  Union-Leader.

 RAIL SERVICE HITCH

Now that the state has established a rail authority to bring back passenger rail service in the Merrimack River valley, things are looking up, right?

Maybe not.

“I hate to say it, but I don’t think we’re much closer today than we were 15 years ago,” said Rep. Peter Leishman, chairman of a committee studying liability issues on rail service.

The problem is the service will have to operate on freight lines owned by Pan Am Railways, an outgrowth of the Boston and Maine Railroad.

Pan Am sent no one, not even a lobbyist, to a meeting last week that looked at liability issues, including a cap on liability. The committee is ready to grant Pan Am complete immunity from liability.

“The elephant in the room is Pan Am,” said Rep. Bette Lasky, a member of the liability panel.

Meanwhile, Steve Williams, of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, distributed a New York Times piece showing how Amtrak has taken the fall for a series of multi-million damage suits that followed crashes on freight lines caused by rail owners negligence. Passenger rail service across the country grants rail owners like Pan Am immunity from civil suits in exchange for access to the rail.

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

Kansas looks at MHSRA

TFA has no connection with the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, but it is an outstanding organization with exactly the right kind of philosophy to improve transportation. WIBW in Topeka highlights two simultaneous actions to advance rail service. One is the much discussed extension of the Heartland Flyer, which operates between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City, all the way into Kansas City. The other is an alliance with MHSRA.

Kansas is considering two steps that could save you some cash on your next vacation.

Friday the state started the process of considering improving passenger train service. Midwest High Speed Rail Association was in Topeka to talk to the Special Committee on Transportation.

MHSRA is a group of citizens from cities across the midwest, working together for better train service.

The association says having good train service gives citizens a lower cost option for travelling and results in stronger downtown areas.

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

Tulsa – Springfield, Mo. service to be studied

The Oklahoma legislature has apparently funded a transportation study of passenger train service between Tulsa and Springfield, Mo.

It is, indeed a rather odd idea to attempt connecting to completely isolated “dots” on the map. Neither city has Amtrak service, and therefore no connections. It might make sense to connect Tulsa to Oklahoma City, or Oklahoma City to St. Louis or Chicago through Tulsa. I am ignorant of track conditions along this proposed route, but it is probably a difficult situation.

NewsOK.com has the report.

Senator says rail service idea will derail

By John Greiner
Capitol Bureau

Legislation calling for a feasibility study on passenger rail service from Tulsa to Springfield, Mo., became effective Friday, but its Senate author already believes the rail line would be financially infeasible.

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Senate Joint Resolution 14 by Sen. Bill Brown, R-Broken Arrow, and Rep. Dennis Adkins, R-Tulsa, urges the U.S. Department of Transportation to examine the possibility of passenger train service between Tulsa and Springfield.

The resolution was among a handful of bills passed by the Legislature last session that became effective Friday.

“I think it’s a dead horse,” Brown said of the issue.

A passenger train between Tulsa and Springfield would have to be subsidized, and he doubts that can happen, Brown said.

“I would love it personally,” he said of a passenger line between Tulsa and Springfield.

Brown also would like to have an Amtrak service from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, he said.

National passenger rail service to Tulsa ended in the 1980s, according to the resolution.

It said Tulsa is the fifth largest metropolitan region in the United States without Amtrak service.

The Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas, passenger train service has been in operation for several years.

Springfield is an excellent potential market for Amtrak, perhaps between Memphis and Kansas City? It’s right next door to Branson.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, Regional USA Passenger Rail

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