Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Eurostar’s next steps

Now that the new HSR link to London is running, Eurostar is planning the next stages of development. MSNBC has the complete report.

Eurostar serves only three destinations regularly from London: Paris Nord, Brussels Midi and the Disneyland Paris resort. It also occasionally runs to other destinations, including Avignon in southern France in summer and French ski resorts in winter.

Expansion of Europe’s high-speed rail network is bringing a widening range of destinations within the four-hour journey time in which high-speed rail can compete with air travel.

This year has already seen the opening of France’s LGV Est from Paris to near Strasbourg. A new stretch of high-speed line between Liege and Aachen on the German border and the Antwerp-Amsterdam high-speed line were also due to open but have been delayed.

Eurostar faces the additional challenge of meeting strict UK government security rules for any service using the Channel Tunnel. It could also prove difficult to adapt the trains for the different electrification and signalling systems in the Netherlands and Germany.

Mr Brown said Eurostar would be setting up a small team next year to examine the issue.

“You have to look at all the border control issues, you have to prove the market, and understand how the operation would work,” he said. “It’s obviously quite a major thing, but we would be foolish not to look at it.”

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

Amtrak provides essential service in North Dakota

If you have lived up north, this is no secret. The Minot Daily News did a lengthy and well researched story demonstrating the specfic impact of rail pasenger service to several towns, including Stanley Rugby and Williston. This is a “must read.”

Here is a small bite.

MacMartin said if Minot were to lose Amtrak service, the city would lose access points to the outside world, which is key to this region.

“Take the transportation option away, more people tend to flock to larger communities where they don’t want to live,” MacMartin said. “By providing transportation links to the outside world, you provide one of the elements that makes Minot a place people want to live.”

Don Sobolik, executive director for the Rugby Chamber of Commerce, said many citizens who are older and don’t have access to any other means of transportation to an airport, catch the Empire Builder in Rugby.

“Amtrak is favorable and wonderful to have in Rugby,” Sobolik said.

Sobolik also said lack of travel competition in North Dakota makes Amtrak appealing.

“The rates are reasonable, (the station) being in Rugby is convenient and they have improved services with an on-time schedule being very good – all of these things put together make Amtrak a good option with higher gas prices,” Sobolik said.

Sobolik said if Amtrak ever considered ending service to Rugby, the community would put up a big fight.

“There would be a lot of letter writers, with the community coming together,” Sobolik said.

Sobolik also said Amtrak has been good about giving back to the community of Rugby by donating travel holiday packages to the Rugby Chamber.

“(The packages) are a nice addition for promotion while at the same time giving Amtrak exposure,” Sobolik said.

Tom Rolfstad, director of the Williston Area Development Foundation, said even though airline services to Denver from Williston is sufficient, it seems to be lacking to the east.

“Amtrak is an alternative to air service with us (Williston) being in a remote location,” Rolfstad said. “Also, with the price of gas, more people use Amtrak.”

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

Boston Globe editorial

Here is a solid factual opinion piece enhanced with a good understanding of history. The editors bring the transportation issues into clear focus.

Bush wants to upend Amtrak, turn over the Northeast corridor run from Boston to Washington to the states it passes through, and force Amtrak to compete with private companies. The federal government would provide some assistance, but the states would essentially be on their own. Given the up-and-down financial conditions of the states, this would probably result in the ruin of the US passenger rail network.

An annual federal subsidy, subject to the vagaries of Congress, is not an ideal financing mechanism. A regional arrangement, with a partial diversion of the gasoline tax, might be better. But regionalization is not a strength of the American system. The federal government has the greatest taxing authority and the constitutional sanction to foster interstate commerce. Just as it supports highway and air travel, it should subsidize rail service.

Congress has been cool to the Bush plan since he proposed it in 2003, and gave Amtrak $1.2 billion last year. The Senate vote this week would authorize $1.9 billion annually for six years to provide Amtrak with financial stability. Even if the bill gets House backing and overcomes Bush’s hostility, Congress has to appropriate the money each year in accord with the authorization formula.

In 1970, when Amtrak began, the interstate highway system was uncrowded, and Americans were just discovering jet travel. Now both systems are fraying and congested, and the train looks better and better. The Senate bill would back up this new promise with greater governmental commitment.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

Note to NARP, take note of rail passenger protest in India

Somehow, I don’t think we could muster much support for this approach.

By Team Mangalorean

MANGALORE, November 12, 2007: About 50 people from Mangalore Rail Hitarakshana Vedike today launched relay hunger strike from dawn to dusk. The strike began with a prayer to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, throughout the day prayers and bhajans filled the air at the hunger strike site.

The protest was inaugurated by P.L. Dharma, Department head of Gandhian Studies at Mangalore University by  handing over the book Nenapina Tere’ to  P.V. Mohan, written by senior Ganadhian H.S. Doreswamy.

The agitators had launched the strike against the government apathy towards commencement of the Mangalore -Bangalore passenger traffic. Speaking to the Presspersons on the spot convenor of the Vedike P.V. Mohan told that the Railway Board’s decision, analysis and logic was not acceptable as they lacked reasoning and cohesiveness.  He said the goods train wieghing at least 5 times the weight of a passenger train was already been in operation smoothly for the last six months on this line. But still the Railway Safety commissioner had not certified the route clearing it for passenger traffic.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

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November 2007