Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Carmichael Conference on the Future of Transportation

Our friends at Virginians for High Speed Rail were kind enough to pass this note along concerning a major upcoming transportation conference. Gil Carmichael is(if my memory holds right) a former president of Amtrak and has a distinguished political and transportation career. While his proposals are of great importance to “host” railroad operators of Amtrak passenger trains, those concepts would also make much new infrastructure available for rail passenger at a critical time.

Recently, an arm of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, the Passenger Rail Working Group recommended $357 billion of investment in passenger rail over the next 50 years. This study was the most forward thinking study that we have seen and it will be reviewed and discussed at the Carmichael Conference on the Future of Transportation, which is meeting in St. Louis, Missouri on January 28-29. We hope this conference will help set the agenda for American transportation for the next few decades.

If you would like to attend, click here for more information.


Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

2008 Virginia legislative session proposals

Virginians for High Speed Rail are preparing for the New Year.

2008 General Assembly Legislation:

Senator Yvonne Miller, Chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee and Delegate Adam Ebbin, Member of the House Transportation Committee have introduced legislation that would amend the Rail Enhancement Fund (REF). This legislation would give the Director of the Department of Rail & Public Transportation the authority to waive or reduce the 30 percent match requirement and will make the REF compatible with a federal-state passenger rail partnership grant in S.294, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2007 that recently passed the US Senate and is currently in the House of Representatives.

Please contact your State Senator and State Delegate and tell them you support the Rail Enhancement Fund amendments.

Click here to find out who your elected officials are.

Petition Drive:

We are doing a petition drive urging our elected officials to support rail in Virginia. We currently have 681 signatures. If you have not already done so, please sign it. If you have already signed it, please forward it on. The more signatures we have the louder our voice will be.

Click here to sign it online

Click here to print the petition and mail back to us.

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

Subsidized air service

I post this item for no other reason than to remind folks of the existence of a federally subsidized program to provide air service to small communities. It is useful and necessary and we at TFA are pleased that small towns in Montana will have essential air service.

We also believe that Billings, Great Falls, Helena and Missoula deserve daily service as well.

Replacement airline welcomed
News that a Cheyenne, Wyo.-based airline will take over federally subsidized rural flights in Montana from Big Sky Airlines is good new for seven small Montana communities.

Big Sky Airlines’ parent company, MAIR Holdings, an-nounced on Dec. 17 that it will cease its East Coast operations on Jan. 7 and work to find another carrier for Montana’s Essential Air Service flights.

The federal EAS program subsidizes flights to rural communities. Big Sky Airlines was awarded the contract to provide EAS flights to Glasgow, Glendive, Havre, Lewistown, Miles City, Sidney and Wolf Point.

“We don’t know when the transition will take place, but we can confirm that Great Lakes Airlines will be providing service to the seven EAS Montana destinations,” said Monica Taylor, spokeswoman for Great Lakes Airlines. “We will use the same type of 19-passenger planes that Big Sky is using now.”

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

Japan plans Maglev project

An attentive reader nudged me on this story, which I somehow missed. It is important too. Among the better reports is this one from the Wall Street Journal.

Central Japan Railway Plans
$44.7 Billion Maglev Project

December 27, 2007; Page B2

TOKYO — Japanese rail travelers may soon be riding one of the fastest trains in the world: a maglev that would zoom between Tokyo and the Nagoya area at double the speed of the current rail link.

But investors weren’t exactly ecstatic over Central Japan Railway Co.’s announcement that it will spend about 5.1 trillion yen ($44.7 billion) on a magnetically levitating train project over the next two decades. The railway’s share price tumbled 8.8% yesterday amid concern that the company will be saddled with heavy debt for a rail line that won’t generate much profit.

The bullet-train operator, known as JR Tokai, said late Tuesday it plans to begin operating the line in 2025.

The company expects pretax profit to fall to about 70 billion yen in fiscal 2026 because of operating costs and depreciation charges, compared with 237 billion yen in the fiscal year that ended in March. Profit would then gradually rise to an average of about 140 billion yen over the next 10 years, starting in 2027.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

Maglev advancements

Some of these stories are rather technical. The following is being offered in the “for what it’s worth” department.

USA/INNER MONGOLIA:  Bedford, Mass.- based Magplane Technology Inc. (MTI) completed the registration of its joint venture in Inner Mongolia, and work is under way to establish the joint venture operations.

The joint venture aims to address the need for an efficient and environmentally-friendly way for coal to be transported from Inner Mongolia (IM) to China.  Magplane has developed a magnetic levitation system that has been adapted for use in a pipeline application for the movement of bulk commodities such as coal.  In addition, Magplane claims its technology offers significant advancements over other high-speed trains and light-rail transit systems.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

TFA urges caution on California financing scheme

It looks  good on paper, but ….

Here is a bit of background from the Imperial Valley News on a  plan to find private dollars for public projects. It is not a completely bad idea.

PBI is not privatization, which means transferring an existing public service or facility to the private sector, but instead a way of introducing private management into public service in order to improve the value citizens get from their infrastructure. That value can take many forms, including lower upfront or all-in costs, better service, greater efficiency, faster delivery, full cost accounting or lower risk.
The Governor is calling on the state to pass legislation to:
  • Expand the types of projects, services and government entities that can enter into PBI arrangements.
  • Increase contracting flexibility so the state can better negotiate with potential contractors.
  • Establish “PBI California,” a center for excellence to help determine which projects can benefit from PBI, represent the state in negotiations with PBI participants, ensure transparency and monitor performance.
PBI has been widely used around the world for infrastructure projects in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Canada and elsewhere with great success.
In the United States, the federal government has used PBI to construct or rebuild over 150,000 military housing units, attracting up to $25 billion in private capital and resulting in faster delivery and higher customer satisfaction.
At the Little Rock Air Force Base, the use of private companies to build military housing has been worse than a boondoggle. Construction has come to a complete halt and taxpayers are out a ton. Our congressional delegation has been working on this and California would be smart to go VERY slowly.

Filed under: Uncategorized

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December 2007