Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Birmingham ground transportation hub

Although commuter service gets most of the emphasis here, the impact on Amtrak in Alabama’s largest city is obvious. Birmingham is well located as a potential rail center and this only sweetens the deal

The Birmingham News has a complete report.

Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford has uncovered $26 million left from completed or inactive city projects and he has plans on how to spend that money.

The mayor said Thursday evening he intends to use some of that money immediately to complete the city’s intermodal transportation facility on Morris Avenue. And he wants more of the money to be used for street paving and repairs.

The city will need $9 million to match a $30 million federal grant creating the intermodal facility, an expansion of the MAX bus central station that will include Amtrak, Greyhound and airport bus shuttle service.

Let us consider the inter-city rail passenger possibilities.

  • Atlanta – Charlotte – Washington – New York (Crescent)
  • Jackson – New Orleans (Crescent)
  • Montgomery – Mobile
  • Florida by way of Atlanta
  • Nashville – Louisville – Cincinnati (and on to Midwest points)
  • Dallas – El Paso (California on Sunset route)
  • Memphis

Of course, none of this can happen without equipment and track improvements. But I forgot, highways and airports don’t cost anybody anything. Oh, well.

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

Tulsa city council

The proponent of Amtrak service in Tulsa will see reelection, according to the Tulsa World article.

Republican Rick Westcott said he is seeking another term to ensure projects he started don’t lose momentum.

Westcott spearheaded an effort to bring Amtrak to Tulsa, which resulted in a feasibility study by Amtrak and support by area legislators.

“It’s not a done deal and there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said. 

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Regional USA Passenger Rail

Kansas meeting on Heartland Flyer

Of course, it will take an act of divine intervention to get this train rolling. Gas being at 30 cents a gallon, airports operating an peak efficiency, and highways uncongested and maintained to perfection, there is obviously no need for passenger trains.

The Arkansas (pronounced ar-KAN-sas) City paper has the details.

A passenger rail advocate who is working to get Amtrak to come to Arkansas City will speak here Thursday afternoon.

Evan Stair, of the Northern Flyer Alliance, will present information on the proposed expansion of Amtrak north from Oklahoma to Ark City and Wichita from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Earle Wright Room in the Cowley College Brown Center.

The program is sponsored by the Arkansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Amtrak has established service in Oklahoma and Texas, and it would be relatively inexpensive to extend that service north into Kansas, Stair has said.

Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer has made daily runs between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth for the past eight years.

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

A little bad PR

First off, let’s not circle the wagons on this one.

Here is the crux of the report from Channel 3 in New London, Connecticut.

Leave No Soldier Behind: Amtrak Denies Ride

Soldier Forgot Ticket, Told To Buy New One

POSTED: 6:57 pm EST January 7, 2008
UPDATED: 7:52 pm EST January 7, 2008

NEW LONDON, Conn. — A family’s somber farewell to a soldier returning to base turned sour at Union Station in New London last week.Army Pvt. Mathew Andrews, 20, was headed back to his base last Wednesday in Fort Lee, Va., via Amtrak. But when he realized he forgot his reserved tickets at home, the railroad said the soldier dressed in full uniform that he had to repurchase his ticket and file for a refund.Andrews may soon be deployed to Iraq. His father and fiancee thought Amtrak would have some compassion, considering the situation.”The lady that was at the desk was very uncooperative and not willing to help him out. So, we pretty much felt bad because it was our goodbye to him,” said Cynthia Andrews, the soldier’s mother.

  • This is New London, an Acela stop. How many hundred thousand passengers pass through this station every year? This is the best they can do?
  • Aren’t “service” personnel supposed to be helpful, even if they can’t really help?
  • Isn’t a supervisor supposed to handle delicate situations?
  • Yeah, I know.Obstainance is part of modern culture.

Any comments?

Filed under: Amtrak

Quad Cities Update

Amtrak has completed the first study of a proposed Chicago-Quad Cites service. Note the pure “nickle and dime” expenditure involved in infrastructure improvements which will serve for years. The Naperville Sun reports, and the story is also carried in the Kewanee Star Courier. The Iowa City Gazette has it too. If you want to read it in the Quad City Times, here is that link.

In the report, the approximate cost of upgrading the railroad infrastructure to accommodate passenger train speeds is estimated at $14 million to $23 million, not including any capital expenses for railcars and locomotives, or local costs of providing stations. Annual ridership is estimated to be nearly 111,000 based on two daily round-trips.

Amtrak has never operated scheduled trains to the Quad Cities, which lost its Rock Island Railroad passenger rail service in 1978. The report found the most promising route between the Quad Cities and Chicago would be over a portion of the former Rock Island Railroad, now owned by Iowa Interstate Railroad, from the Quad Cities to a proposed track connection to the BNSF Railway near Wyanet.

This route could take advantage of recently improved Amtrak stations at Princeton, Mendota and Naperville. Station stops would be determined by IDOT, which has been working with Quad Cities leaders and their consultant on the best choice for a station location in the Moline-Rock Island area.

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

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January 2008