Trains For America

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New York editorial reaction to HSR announcement

The Independent, serving  Columbia and Rensselear counties, has a few things to say about yesterday’s announcement. Here is a clip.

     High-speed trains in Europe and France regularly travel at more than 200 mph; high-speed here means about half that fast. And before conjuring up images of weekenders arriving in Hudson 20 minutes after leaving Manhattan, consider that the money trumpeted by the senators will actually help fast trains bypass Hudson.
As it turns out, the Hudson station creates a bottleneck on the line. Whenever a train pulls into the station, other trains may not pass it in either direction. That can cause delays all along the line.
A new set of tracks will mean that express trains can whiz right past Hudson, while slower trains stop to let passengers on and off. The whizzing part explains the need for the overhead walkway and the elevator to reach it: Get too close to the breeze from a train traveling over 100 mph and it can rearrange your dental work.
Senator Bruno wants trains that will cut the travel time between Manhattan and the Rensselaer station down to about two hours from the current two and a half hours. Should government spend millions-perhaps, ultimately, billions-to shave half an hour off the journey between cities less than 150 miles apart? Why not drive?
Most people do drive, but anyone who has hit New York City gridlock or a closed lane on the Thruway knows that cars and buses face delays too. Business travelers like the train because it allows them to get some work done en route. And full trains cost far less to operate and generate much less pollution than cars or airplanes.
Yet for all these advantages, train service won’t grow unless it can deliver passengers on time as fast or faster than cars or planes, and at a competitive cost. And it will take a lot more than $22 million for Amtrak to realize these goals on this line alone. Amtrak, starved for funding by the current administration, doesn’t even own most of the rails; the freight line CSX does. And most freight trains don’t need to travel at high speeds. So government should step in as long as taxpayers also subsidize road construction and air travel.

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

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