Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Who is Tim Pitsker?

Tim Pitsker, a member of the Dumbarton Rail Corridor Project Citizen Advisory Panel, has been a lawyer for 30 years, and has lived in Fremont, California for 10 years.

Let’s not call them environmental wackos. Nonetheless, it is probably a good idea to approach all such objections to HSR with the skepticism due those who benefit by espousing the views of highway and airline special interests.

America’s transportation is clearly way behind the world standards and the reason is the undue influence of wealthy special interests. They will stop at nothing to advance their selfish agenda.

This may have been sincerely meant, but it rings hollow over here. There is a lot more on The Argus web site. Here is a taste of the commentary.

The high-speed trains will destroy the quality of life in much of Fremont and will be an ecological disaster for Niles Canyon, the wildlife refuge and San Francisco Bay.

The integration of the high-speed train and freight is already in progress. Alameda County already has entered into preliminary discussions to sell the Niles Canyon right-of-way being used by the Niles Historic Train.

Furthermore, an environmental report is being prepared by the Dumbarton Rail Project for a freight only bridge over Alameda Creek in Niles. This freight bridge is designed to take all of the Port of Oakland truck freight off Interstate 580 and ship it through Niles Canyon.

The most dangerous aspect of this freight bridge is that it will be built right above the location where the Alameda County Water District takes water out of Alameda Creek to be used as our drinking water.

The curve in this bridge makes it more dangerous than the curve at the site of the Dunsmuir derailment and chemical spill in far Northern California several years ago. Thus there is an extreme danger of derailment and poisoning of the local water supply.

The high-speed train and its integration with freight must be shut down before disaster strikes.


Filed under: United States High Speed Rail

Heartland Flyer news

The Norman Transcript has a good editorial about the extension of the Heartland Flyer. Pressure is building.

Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer is a pleasant, nostalgic ride through southern Oklahoma and northern Texas. One of the nicer views is coming across the Canadian River into Cleveland County, near the campus and the OU golf course.

But the trip is hardly user friendly for business travelers who want more daily trips. It’s once a day down in the morning and once a night back in the evenings. Connections can be made in Fort Worth but it’s cumbersome. The northern terminus is Oklahoma City. It could be much more useful if there were a northern route.

A passenger rail group is once again promoting such a northern route for the Heartland Flyer. They want lawmakers in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas to fund an extension to Kansas City.

The Flyer’s 68,030 boardings were subsidized by Oklahoma and Texas last year. Some take issue with that, but contrast that to the amount of state and federal money spent on highways and airports.

The tracks are there but what is needed is a survey of ridership demand. How many potential riders would use the train and would the state of Kansas join in the funding?

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail

Increased capacity into NYC

That new Hudson River tunnel is on the way, someday. The Times Herald Record reports on an improvement that will more than double the number of trains that can reach the Big Apple.

Newark — Preliminary engineering for the new Hudson River rail tunnel and Midtown train station has advanced to the point where design modifications are necessary to reflect what’s really above and below ground.

As a result, NJ Transit and the Port Authority said yesterday that they will issue a supplemental environmental impact study on the $7.5 billion project known as Access to the Region’s Core, or ARC, in the coming weeks and schedule another round of public hearings in November.

“We’ve kept every single customer-passenger benefit that was ever thought of as part of this project,” said Art Silber, the project chief, in detailing the changes.

The project’s marquee benefit will be to boost rail capacity to Manhattan to 48 trains an hour from the 23 an hour that can squeeze through Amtrak’s 100-year-old tunnel to Pennsylvania Station. The new tunnel also means a one-seat ride to the city for commuters from Orange, Rockland, Bergen and Passaic counties, eliminating transfers at Secaucus and shaving 15 minutes off the trip.

The most significant design modification involves putting the tunnel and the new station another 40 to 50 feet beneath Manhattan to circumvent a virtual obstacle course: sensitive dredging and filling at the river’s edge, removing and reassembling a historic bulkhead, plowing through the Hudson River Park and the West Side Highway and running into the new tunnel for the extension of the No. 7 subway line.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail

Dubuque questions

Iowa folks are smart and tough. In Dubuque last week, they got more of the same old state highway department he-haw. Of course they don’t have any money for rail. That would get in the way of their trucking company owners.

OK. I am being a bit presumptions. Perhaps they are fine public servants. Anyway, the Telegraph-Herald provided excellent coverage of a proposal to get a train to Chicago.

Sen. Mike Connolly, D-Dubuque, spoke candidly

about the funding situation for passenger train service.

“I’ve been down this road on these issues before, and while all this support is good, we are back in the situation where the Iowa Department of Transportation is short of money and there is no revenue source dedicated for rail,” said Connolly, who fondly recalled same-day train rides into Chicago for shopping excursions.

The senator suggested supporters lobby their state lawmakers to raise the gasoline tax, which would swell state transportation coffers.

“If the DOT knows that you all helped get the additional money, maybe they would set aside a pot for rail,” Connolly said.

Nearly everyone at the meeting took a petition to gather signatures in support of the passenger train campaign and a compact disc with a Power Point presentation about the project.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail, Uncategorized

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September 2007