Trains For America

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New York State get ready!

I have no idea what this is all about, and the state politics gets fairly deep up north. Here is the capsule from a thing called The Politicker in the New York Observer.  The event is set for Sept. 5.

11 a.m. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno will make a major announcement regarding the future of high speed rail at the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak station, 525 East Street in Rensselaer, New York.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, Regional USA Passenger Rail

A note from India

The French are part of this development, but the Japanese have a piece of the action as well. The Economic Times files the report and it’s up to you to translate this into regular English.

NEW DELHI: High speed trains appear to have caught the fancy of states across regions. Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have approached the Railway ministry, expressing interests in having high speed bullet train corridors in their respective states. The Railways are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with the French Railway for sharing technical expertise on high speed rail, a senior Railway official said.

The high-speed corridor comprises four routes and is estimated to cost about Rs 25,000 crore for each route. Trains will run at an average speed of 250-350 km/hour on these corridors. The proposed routes — Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar, Mumbai-Baroda-Ahmedabad, Chennai-Bangalore-Coimbatore and Howrah-Asansol-Patna — were announced in the current Rail Budget.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

St. Louis station taking shape

The mobile homes which became the St. Louis railroad station for over a decade became known as the AmShack. It was a shameful departure from the cavernous and ornate Union Station which is now a hotel and shopping mall.

Finally, the new transportation center is nearing completion. The Post Dispatch has the construction update. Can we hold on till March?

The project includes rebuilding nearby streets and creating a passenger drop-off loop in front of the terminal. A MetroLink station and a Metro bus transfer point are just a few paces away from the new center, providing a link to public transportation.

The new terminal will feature 10 bays for Greyhound’s buses, replacing the existing depot on 13th Street.

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

Three minutes late! Blame the French! Off with zee head!

British and French operators took the new TGV our for a spin yesterday and  set speed record for Paris to London. The Guardian has a fascinating report. Had it not been for a crew working on the track, it would have smashed the 2 hour mark.

Despite a hold-up that, for once, was France’s fault, the train reached speeds of up to 205mph and set a record for the fastest rail journey between the capitals of two hours, three minutes and 39 seconds. Things going faster and getting better is a curiously old-fashioned idea, but this was a genuine taste of the near future: the magnificently restored St Pancras station opens for international passengers on November 14. Eurostar has promised scheduled journey times of 2hr 15 minutes on the 306-mile route to Gare du Nord – 20 minutes quicker than the fastest services currently running from London Waterloo – with basic fares frozen at £59 return.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

Atlanta Journal Constitution columnist backs HSR

There is an idea floating around which might deal with congestion into Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson. It is promoted by Delta Airlines and calls for building a second airport. It is the kind of grand idea which, if proposed by any other pie-in-the-sky daydreamer, would be laughed out of town.

Sit down for the good part. Those brilliant airline executives want that second airport to be constructed in Chattanooga. The good part of the idea is that they have somehow concluded that this satellite airport should be connected to the Atlanta hub by high speed rail.

This idea actually has the seeds of a good European model, except big airports are connected to many other cities by HSR.

Cynthia Tucker, a columnist with the Journal Constitution has it exactly right in a very well thought out opinion piece.

The looming capacity crunch has prompted Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, among others, to promote a Chattanooga connection. “I think many people in the northern areas would consider the Chattanooga possibility, especially with the traffic problems we have in the Atlanta area. It would be a smart concept as opposed to building a new airport,” Mullis said earlier this summer.

The problem with that argument is that it misunderstands the passenger dynamic at Hartsfield-Jackson. Not even half the airport’s flights originate with passengers in the northern arc of the Atlanta region who want to fly to another city. As Anderson noted, 70 to 75 percent of Hartsfield-Jackson’s passengers are simply changing planes. Imagine requiring some of those passengers to ride a train to or from Chattanooga.

But Mullis is onto something with his proposal for high-speed rail. He should get moving on that. As passenger rail becomes faster and more efficient, it will drain off some airline passengers taking shorter trips — say, from Atlanta to Greenville, S.C., or Winston-Salem. Although it’s 600 miles from downtown Atlanta to Washington, D.C., it’s easy to envision a day when that trip, too, is a convenient high-speed train ride.

For reasons that are not altogether clear, Georgia’s political leaders have been slow to embrace passenger rail travel. It gets bogged down in a morass of half-baked ideological notions, conflated with their suspicions of MARTA and poor people as well as liberals and environmentalism, and hamstrung by their provincialism.

But if Mullis can see the value of high-speed rail as a connection between airports in two different cities, surely he can see its value just to connect the two cities. And if high-speed passenger rail can connect Atlanta and Chattanooga, why not Atlanta and Jacksonville or Atlanta and Greenville?

If Mullis can get others on board for his proposal for high-speed rail, he could be the region’s next Hartsfield.

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

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