Trains For America

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European rail blog begins publicaiton

Of course, the entire staff, management, sales reps, editors, photographers, receptionists, and bartenders at Trans for America, warmly welcome the internet’s latest transportation contributor.

European Train Travel Maven Starts Europass 365 Blog

With the Europass 365 Blog readers can keep up with the latest European train travel issues and Europass news. Blog covers topics like finding European rail travel news, European train travel routes or obtaining the right Europass travel rate.

Phoenix, AZ — (SBWIRE) — 12/28/2007 — European train travel and Europass advocate, Merilyn Dwornik, has partnered with Neekam company to create the Europass 365 Blog. This blog will act as a source of information and networking for finding Europass news, Europass rates, Europass supersaver, European train travel, European train stations, European train timetables, European train railways, Eurail pass, Eurail passes and more!

Ms. Dwornik says, “There is no wrong place to travel with a Europass. It’s not that you should completely forego seeing the wonders of Europe, but you don’t have to play connect the dots with them either. Go somewhere for what you are looking for, whether it’s to see tourist attractions, make friends or find the cheapest wine. With a Eurorail pass you can push yourself out of your comfort zone. Meet people and put yourself out there. Immerse yourself in the culture directly; get under the skin of place. The more you learn, the more enriching your experience will be.”

This blog seeks to add to the publicity surrounding the choosing the right Eurorail pass, locating a good European train travel route, and seeking the best Europass rates, as well as help focus awareness on European train travel issues that exist.

According to Ms. Dwornik the Blog also stresses ease of use, “The Eurorail pass makes travel on the continent even easier and at prices much, much more attractive as those offered by the airlines. Another advantage for rail passengers is brief check-in times for Europass services and no problems about baggage reclaim at the other end because you take your luggage with you.”

With the United Kingdom at last joining the high-speed rail club with its almost 200-mile-an-hour link from the Channel Tunnel to St. Pancras, European rail travel is enjoying something of a rebirth in Europe. Long queues at airports, irritating baggage restrictions and sheer overcrowding are making the flight experience a truly miserable one these days.

The Europass 365 Blog helps interested people stay abreast of the latest news Europass issues, European train travel and more.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

China sees private investment

Of course, it would never work here. Financial has the complete outlook.

A group of insurance companies led by Ping An Insurance, China’s second-largest life assurer, will invest more than $2bn in a high-speed railway line connecting Shanghai and Beijing, the company said on Friday.

The consortium of insurers, including Italy’s Generali and five other large Chinese firms, will take a stake of nearly 14 per cent in the company established to build the high-speed line.

Construction begins next month and is expected to cost Rmb220bn ($30bn) by the time the line is completed in 2013.

The consortium will be the second largest shareholder after the Ministry of Railways, which will hold 78.9 per cent.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Europe is sitll light years ahead

 La Manga Resort in Spain is mighty proud of those new Eurostar trains.

Spanish holiday spots ‘opened up by rail’ 28th December 2007
Top Spanish holiday spots are likely to become even more popular in the near future as access to them is opened up by new rail links.

According to Rail Europe, there will soon be new high-speed rail links between London and Spain which will offer a “realistic” alternative to air travel to destinations in the country.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the company added that the high-speed rail network in Europe is “improving and increasing” all the time.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

More California developments

Here is a peculiar item.

Are those of us out here in middle America to presume that the route for the California high speed route has been settled? All of this is rather tentative at this stage, but that is the implication of the story.

Surely the California High Speed Rail Authority plans to offer service faster than Metroliner speeds.

Anyway, here is the latest report from the Pala Alto online news. Your comments and reaction are always invited.

After selecting the Pacheco Pass, by default, at a mid-December meeting, the authority’s governing board said the train route, if constructed, would use the Peninsula to reach San Francisco.

That means trains zipping at speeds reaching 125 miles per hour along the current Caltrain tracks, an authority staff report states.

The authority envisions four parallel tracks along the current Caltrain route — the center two shared by the high-speed trains and the exterior tracks used solely by Caltrain.

And the San Joaquin paper is not on board. Part of that is understandable from the perspective of local politics, but they do make a few points.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and proponents might think twice about even putting the issue before voters in November.

That’s because the statewide ballot could be overloaded with other multibillion-dollar infrastructure measures. A $14 billion health care reform initiative and a $10 billion water infrastructure bond are still possible.

The final chapter for a bullet train connecting Los Angeles with Northern California might well have been written during a four-hour meeting of the authority’s board of directors in Sacramento.

Ignoring population trends, Interstate 205 gridlock, the capital and commuting patterns, the board accepted a staff proposal to run the rails across Pacheco Pass roughly following Highway 52 into San Jose.

Choosing the southern entry point, while disappointing, is no surprise. That recommendation was clear at previous meetings.

 The San Francisco Bay Guardian put this spin on the story.

The California High Speed Rail Authority was faced with a difficult choice for the system’s Bay Area alignment at its Dec. 19 meeting. Staff recommended laying track through the Pacheco Pass, which would make it easier for the trains to move up the Peninsula, but many environmentalists preferred the Altamont Pass option.

Political leaders in the South Bay and San Francisco strongly favor Pacheco, but the Sierra Club threatened to sue if Altamont (which would require a bay crossing to get to San Francisco) wasn’t chosen, concerned about Pacheco’s potential to induce sprawl and impact the Henry Coe State Park.

“If people want to be destructive instead of constructive, people can try to sink this project,” CHSRA chair Quentin Kopp, who created the project as a legislator from San Francisco in the mid-1990s, warned before the meeting.



Filed under: United States High Speed Rail

A landmark event in Boston

You can com eout now! The AP reports the end of an era.

When the clock runs out on 2007, Boston will quietly mark the end of one of the most tumultuous eras in the city’s history: The Big Dig, the nation’s most complex and costliest highway project, will officially come to an end.

Don’t expect any champagne toasts.

Engineering feats

Engineering feats associated with the Big Dig:

Tunnel Jacking

Part of the project called for a tunnel extension under an active Amtrak railroad. Project managers realized the soil was so unstable that the rail lines could collapse. Engineers built a gigantic concrete box open on both ends, froze the soil using hundreds of rods and nudged — or jacked — the box under the railroad a few feet at a time. The top of the box supported the rail lines, the inside became part of the tunnel.

Slurry Wall Construction

The Big Dig featured the most extensive use of slurry wall construction in North America. To create the tunnel walls in downtown Boston, excavators dug a narrow trench, sometimes more than 100 feet down. To keep the trench walls from collapsing, a thick slurry mixture was pumped into it. The slurry was then displaced as the trench was filled with concrete.

Supporting the Old Elevated Highway

To keep the old six-lane elevated highway running as they built an eight- to 10-lane tunnel directly underneath, project officials had to devise a way to remove the old support columns without the elevated highway collapsing. The solution? Build wider horizontal supports, then cut away the bottom parts of the original struts and lower them onto the new horizontal braces, shifting the entire weight of the overhead highway onto the new horizontal braces.

Casting Basin

Building a tunnel under Fort Point Channel, an extension of Boston Harbor into South Boston, proved to be another challenge. The channel was too narrow to float in tunnel sections, so engineers built a massive casting basin or dry dock to build the concrete sections on site. The basin was then flooded and the section floated and sunk exactly into place — no second attempts possible.

Source: Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and Associated Press news reports

After a history marked by engineering triumphs, tunnel leaks, epic traffic jams, last year’s death of a motorist crushed by falling concrete panels and a price tag that soared from $2.6 billion to a staggering $14.8 billion, there’s little appetite for celebration.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

Iowa vision

The latest developments in the Quad Cities are woth note. Even more interesting is the regional backing for expanding rail services. Jim Bohnsack is the regional coalition organizing the initial stages. The Quad Cities Times carries a lengthy report on a groundswell that could develop into a Chicago – Des Moines – Lincoln corridor.

Although the outcome is not yet known, Bohnsack said the Iowa Interstate Railroad likely would be the rail line used. He also said the Chicago-to-Quad-Cities route would take about 3 hours and 15 minutes, would be non-stop and the train would travel at 79 mph.

The coalition estimates it will take about $45 million in capital funding from the State of Illinois to begin work on the route.

Keller said the Iowa DOT is behind the effort more than ever before.

“Illinois has a long-standing history of supporting rail passenger trains. Iowa has not had a long-standing support of rail passenger trains. It is as simple as that,” he said.

Last month, some Iowa leaders in Des Moines said they are ready to explore new passenger rail options, including the possibility of a route from the Quad-Cities to Lincoln, Neb.

Keller said the priority is Chicago to the Quad-Cities. After that, an extension to Iowa City will be studied. If that occurs, extending the route to Des Moines would be the next goal. Eventually, he said Nebraska officials would like the Chicago route to go to Lincoln.

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

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December 2007