Trains For America

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Mixed news about Amtrak

Although the House version of a funding bill that would increase money for both Amtrak and high speed rail has recently passed committee, the organization has been troubled by other issues this week.

First, the “American Financial Group,” an owner of Amtrak shares, has sued the company, claiming that it has failed to follow a congressional order to buy back its stock from them at a reasonable price and has made itself “worthless” through its policies. I won’t pretend to be a stock expert or anything close, but considering its resources, I find it hard to blame Amtrak for its “worthlessness.” If anyone was responsible for Amtrak’s woes, all signs point to the Bush administration’s shameful rail policy.

In news that’s of more concern to Amtrak riders, transportation advocate James P. RePass points out that Amtrak will be closing the Northeast Corridor from New Haven to Boston on June 14-17 for repairs. What’s distressing about this, he says, is that the company is not providing buses or any other alternatives for its passengers and has failed to contact the governors of the affected states. He corrently points out that this is not what Amtrak or rail needs right now, and I agree. A PR disaster in the middle of the busy summer months do not happy riders (or voters) make.

Filed under: Amtrak, , , ,

Even oil baron countries working on high speed rail

Though American drivers may be feeling the pressure of high fuel prices, in the oil exporting Gulf countries, gas is still stupendously cheap due to government subsidies (yes, subsidies). Hence it’s not surprising to hear that cities like Dubai are plagued with automobile congestion issues. Yet apparently planners in the UAE are realizing that just building more roads isn’t going to solve this issue. They’ve committed to building not just a high speed rail network (beginning with a connection between Abu Dhabi and Dubai), but also light rail and metro systems in the two cities.

Of course, the UAE is a much smaller country than the United States, but it’s disheartening to see that even such an oil addicted nation is pulling ahead of us in terms of rail infrastructure development, both on the regional and national level.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail, , , , ,

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