Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

A national vision for rail, maybe

It is not an entirely coherent statement, but the federal government (at least some of it) finally realizes that America has been sound asleep since al most 40 years – some of us would say much longer. Large sums of money are in prospect, which would be necessary and appreciated. Still, there are some lingering doubts about whether this is a serious proposal. Here is a link to the full AP story.

The report calls for federal matching funds to help states establish rail corridors. Amtrak, which has contracts with 14 states to provide corridor service, has been pushing for matching funds. The report said the federal government should pay 80 percent of the cost, while the states would pay 20 percent _ the same ratio that is used for highways. Such projects could be funded by a portion of the gas tax that currently pays for highways and transit, the report said.

The plan is broken down into three phases. By 2015, existing service would be upgraded and new service that is already in the pipeline could be added. That would include parts of a high-speed rail corridor in California and a rail link from Milwaukee to Madison, Wis. The estimated cost of the first phase is $66.3 billion.

By 2030, the California high-speed corridor would be completed and new corridors _ such as Los Angeles to Las Vegas; Tulsa, Okla., to St. Louis; and Salt Lake City to Boise, Idaho _ would be added. The second phase is forecast to cost $158.6 billion.

By 2050, even more routes _ such as Louisville, Ky., to Cincinnati and Raleigh, N.C., to Greenville, S.C. _ would be added and existing service would be upgraded in many places. The last phase is projected to cost $132.3 billion.

Let’s see, what’s in the pipeline now? Nothing. Amtrak has been prohibited by law from expanding service.

California has to wait till 2030? We will all die from the smog by then.

Salt Lake to Boise is a high speed corridor? Pass that bong over here.

Cincinnati to New Orleans on the old L&N should go on line in a year, if there were real money and political will.

This is a beginning, and possibly a highway lobby stalking horse to make the public think government is actually doing something. The truckers are powerful in state legislatures and will depend on them to kill passenger train initiatives.

Bloomberg has more coverage. This story pays particular attention to the aspect of Amtrak trains sharing capacity with “host” operating lines. It is a good point, however, if Gil Carmichael’s visionary rail improvements are to be made with taxpayer support, it would seem logical to include facilities for conventional fast passenger trains.


Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

Blog Stats

  • 498,414 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,430 other subscribers
wordpress stat

Top Clicks

  • None
December 2007