Trains For America

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Illinois rep smacks Union Pacific

This speaks for itself and is fully indicative of the situation in American ground transportation. It is posted on the United Transportation Union website.

UP slapped on Amtrak
The chairperson of the Illinois House of Representatives� Rail Industry Committee, and the committee�s minority spokesman, told Union Pacific Chairman James Young that they are “very concerned with the performance of your company in moving state-supported Amtrak Illinois trains on schedule.”

In an Aug. 15 letter to Young, Chairperson Elaine Nekritz and Rep. Don Moffitt demanded that UP “immediately make running Amtrak Illinois service on-time a priority in your dispatching and to invest your maintenance dollars in Illinois to solve the slow zones that have been crippling our service.

“Particularly between St. Louis and Springfield, Amtrak Illinois trains have suffered through a miserable on-time performance in 2007 due primarily to poor dispatching from your company and a failure to maintain the track to adequate speed standards,” the two Illinois lawmakers told Young. “Your failure to maintain tracks has created too many slow-order zones that delay every trip on the corridor.

“We understand that the Illinois Department of Transportation has been in touch with you since late March detailing the numerous shortcomings that your company has burdened Amtrak Illinois riders with, and to date has received no satisfactory response,” Young was told.

“We value Amtrak Illinois service and we expect this service to run on-time,” the lawmakers said. “We hold Amtrak to a high standard of performance and we also hold our partners, the host railroads, to a high standard of performance.”

When Amtrak was created by Congress in 1970, relieving freight railroads of the costly obligation of providing passenger service, the federal legislation — agreed to by freight railroads — requires Amtrak trains operating on freight railroad track to receive priority handling from the host freight railroad. Nonetheless, Amtrak has been plagued for decades with host-railroad dispatch problems.

August 27, 2007

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

Amtrak responds to weekend’s ticketing meltdown

Austin’s has the entire story, which is absolutely worth your attention.

quiktrak.jpgAmtrak spokeswoman Karina Romero was nice enough to give Cox Newspapers a post-mortem followup to this past weekend’s complete shutdown of Amtrak’s reservations and ticketing systems:

Amtrak expects to identify lost revenue as a result of the system shutdown, but will be looking for a spike in sales toward the beginning of this week from people who are calling back in to book reservations they intended to book over the weekend. That said, Romero suggested that the amount of revenue lost may not have been as substantial compared to what might have happened if the shutdown occurred during peak booking hours.

Here’s the kicker. In many locations Amtrak employees did not properly handle the situation. It certainly may not be their fault. These folks have managers and supervisors whose job it is to train folks for the numerous situations that will arise in the transportation business.

Let’s just consider this a learning opportunity.

Filed under: Amtrak

Washington Post has a good letter

Thank you, Mr. Slaggie, for pointing out the obvious. Airlines are even starting to figure this one out. There is a sensible solution to airline congestion.

Congestion Relief on the Rails

Monday, August 27, 2007; Page A12

As I read through your Aug. 22 editorial on “what can be done about airline flight delays,” I hoped for but, as expected, didn’t see the only obvious long-term answer: trains. Get middle-distance passengers out of the crowded skies and on high-speed rail. Trains in Europe go 200 mph and even faster. Unlike airplanes, which emit greenhouse gases, trains can run on electricity.

Time-wasting and probably ineffective airline “security” isn’t needed for rail transportation. You can’t hijack a train and crash it into the next World Trade Center. Even with Amtrak‘s relatively low-speed Acelas, door-to-door times in the Northeast have been comparable to those of air transportation or even faster, and that was before the present increase in flight delays.



Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

Also in Taiwan

Remember always that airline, trucking and highway special interests have been hindering the development of a sensible and efficient transport system in the United States. It is always a pleasure to open the window on a world enjoying excellent rail service.

The New Zeland Herald files a great travel report.

Taiwan: Bolt from the East

Page 1 of 2 View as a single page 5:13PM Monday August 27, 2007
By Heather Ramsay

Taiwan's new rail service offers visitors a speedy alternative to domestic air travel. Photo / Reuters

Taiwan’s new rail service offers visitors a speedy alternative to domestic air travel. Photo / Reuters

A few decades ago Taiwan was synonymous with cheap goods of questionable quality, but since the 80s the island nation has steadily moved into high-value technology and capital-intensive industries. The country’s infrastructure has developed accordingly, with the transport network in particular undergoing constant modernisation.

One strategic development is the Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR) between the capital Taipei in the north, and the important harbour city of Kaohsiung in the south. This US$18 billion (NZ$26 billion) private sector venture marks the first time that Japanese Shinkansen (Bullet Train) technology has been used outside Japan. The result is Taiwan’s sleek 700T train, which can travel at up to 300kp/h and cover the 345km journey in 90 minutes. Around 40 departures per day in both directions means that it’s feasible to live at one end of the country and work in the other – or comfortably make a day-trip for business.


Filed under: International High Speed Rail

North Carolina “Fast Forward” on rail

The New-Record in Greensboro has a good transportation column, Fast Forward.” Jason Hardin seems like a reasonable guy (TFA can think of a Connecticut paper needing an informed transportation viewpoint) and his latest offering is by now means a love song to Amtrak or high speed rail, which do not necessarily go well together.

The line would connect with an existing high-speed rail line in the Northeast that runs through Philadelphia and New York to Boston at speeds of up to 150 mph , according to Amtrak.

Greensboro, High Point and Burlington would likely all be stops on the line, which would run east to Raleigh before heading north to Richmond and Washington.

The trains in the Southeast would hit speeds of 110 mph, although the average speed would be somewhere in the mid-80s, according to the Web site for the rail corridor.

Currently, trains hit a top speed of just below 80 mph, with average speeds well below that.

That makes it tough for

the train to compete with the speed and convenience of cars, which, after all, take you to the city you want to go to, then let you go wherever you want in that city.

But with a faster train ride, the equation gets adjusted a little bit.

Tickets also will cost less per mile than auto travel typically costs, according to the corridor’s Web site.

So how close is high-speed rail to becoming a reality in the Southeast?

The quick answer: It’s going to take some time. And money.

The east coast from Virginia south into Florida and Atlanta has enough population to support good fast “conventional” trains, but that probably means something approaching 110 mph. The Midwest High Speed Rail Association has a good research paper on the “Ohio Hub” site linked at teh right suggesting that speed brings significantly higher revenue.

In that region, conventional fast trains may be a better option than European HSR. Just a thought.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail

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