Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Iowa looks at fast trains

Another good story.

So it costs $7 billion to provide 3,000 miles of improved passenger rail capacity throughout the Midwest. That provides service at probably 110 mph. Not bad. California is looking at $20 billion for a single true HSR line. This Midwest proposal is really good. We ought to start working on the already existing rail lines tomorrow.

Here is what Channel 5 in Des Moines reports.

The surge in gas prices may spark more interest in expanding passenger rail service across the Midwest, including service here in Iowa.

The topic came to light at Thursday’s meeting of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission here in Des Moines. Officials there said the federal government has been slow in providing financial help to the proposed Midwest rail network, which covers 3,000 miles and costs 7.7 billion dollars.

Some states, however,are forging ahead with smaller passenger lines and proposals. One study of passenger rail service has been completed to upgrade a 182-mile link from Chicago to Dubuque, which would provide Amtrak service into Chicago’s Union Station.

Another study on possible service from Chicago to the Quad Cities is expected before the end of this year. Additional studies are also being done, looking at the feasibility of expanding that line into Iowa City and then into Des Moines.

Iowa currently has Amtrak service across the southern half of the state. The stop closest to Des Moines is about a half hour south in Osceola.

And there is more from the Globe-Gazette in Mason City

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

Salt Lake Tribune climbs on board

It was not so long ago that Salt Lake City was an important Amtrak hub. Trains bound for Portland-Seattle, Oakland, and Los Angeles were combined and split up there. All of this was before a round of incomprehensible cuts. Today, only the Zephyr visits.

There is discussion about restoring service through Idaho and on to Portland and Washington State, but that is just talk. Without new equipment, there will be no new service. Amtrak has been just plain starved and this new bill, good as it is, provides nothing for rolling stock. It does not even provide for essential work on the northeast corridor.

Here is part of a solid opinion piece.

The U.S. government spent just $1.3 billion last year on Amtrak, the same amount as in 1971, the year the national passenger rail network was born, cobbled out of the remnants of a once-proud industry. But equipment is aging, routes have disappeared, and short-sighted Bush administration officials, who proposed just $800 million for Amtrak in fiscal 2008, would kill it if they could. But they can’t.
Amtrak, which serves 500 destinations in 46 states, is experiencing a comeback, especially as an alternative to short-haul air travel in the Northeast corridors. Last year, a record 24.3 million passengers rode the rails. People are tired of sitting in traffic and sitting on runways. Where the option exists, they’re taking the train. And Congress appears poised to help them aboard.
Last week the Senate approved legislation – the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2007 – to bring our passenger rail system into the 21st century. The bill, which was sent to the House, would provide $11.4 billion for infrastructure improvements and expansion of rail routes to serve more cities over the next six years. That includes nearly $1.4 billion in grants to help states alleviate traffic congestion by establishing passenger rail service between cities.
We need reliable passenger rail service, and we need it fast. Congress should approve the bill.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

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November 2007