Trains For America

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International roundup

It’s late Saturday night, and I thought “what the heck!” Let’s see what’s happening around the world on the high speed rail beat. Here goes.

From the Times of London.

This week Tom Harris, the Rail Minister, poured cold water on the idea of building more high-speed lines to Scotland and the North. He said the environmental case was weak and argued that Britain’s “economic geography” was unsuitable. His wrongheadedness is matched only by his narrowness of vision. This country may not be able to commit itself to putting anyone in space, but it should commit itself to bringing Glasgow within three hours by train of London – and within five of Paris.

A (perhaps too insightful) clip from, of all places, Sri Lanka.

The alignment of this corridor should be such that it should be capable of laying railway tracks capable of modern TGV speeds of 350 kph or much higher speeds when magnetically elevated trains come into operation in Europe or Japan but never in America where the motor car industry will not permit it.

Patrons along the Sunset route take note, when trains into Paris run late that’s news!

The head of Eurostar promised swift action Friday after a high-speed cross-Channel train carrying British rocker Pete Doherty limped into Paris almost five hours late.

Let’s be fair about this. Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, has been in France and is still on the right side of sensible transportation. If you read the entire story, however, you will see that Texans are held hostage by Southwest Airlines. The Dallas Morning News has the story.

Props to Senator Obama too. Here is the latest from USA TODAY.

“We could connect the Midwest with a high-speed rail system that would provide immediate jobs,” he said, adding that it would also be a “much more energy-efficient” alternative to air transport.

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association has a plan that could be put into effect tomorrow and provide marvelous efficiencies and fast (not European style) trains on existing railroads. By contrast, Senator McCaain promises to destroy Amtrak. The presumed Republican nominee will undoubtedly soften his position between now and the election. He will say anything to get elected. Just watch.

Meanwhile, in Portugal thee is this development.

According to the latest forecasts, the TGV will be up and running on Portuguese territory by 2013.

The projected, but not specified delay, however, would mean that speeds of up to 300kph would only be achieved on the south bank of the River Tejo to Madrid.

Meanwhile, the Spanish government has not yet confirmed when the high speed line between Madrid and Badajoz will be completed.

The Spanish Minister for Public Works, Daniel Salado, has officially said that the government hopes to have the line completed by 2010.

Bringing the high speed train across the 25 de Abril bridge would, claim RAVE, be relatively easy and only involve an interconnecting mechanism on the tracks at Porceirão, adding around 35 minutes onto the journey time from Madrid’s Atocha station to Lisbon’s Oriente station.

Thai officials were in the Netherlands just the other day discussing proposed improvements.

The Government has implemented measures to stimulate the domestic economy, including tax incentives to boost domestic consumption. We are investing in mega-projects to upgrade our infrastructure. These include the mass transit system in Bangkok and its vicinity with plans to build 9 subway lines, the high-speed trains and the double-track rail projects, which will link our rail system with southern China in the North and Dawei Deep Sea Port in the West. We are also in process of studying the Land Bridge project to connect the Andaman Sea and Indian Ocean with the Gulf of Thailand.

Italy? Of course there are new services on the way.

Half of the new high-speed Pendolino tilting trains will be introduced when the timetable changes in December and the rest by the middle of 2009.

They will offer increased comfort and cut travel time – shaving up to 45 minutes off journeys between the Swiss cities of Zurich, Geneva and Basel and the Italian city of Milan, Cisalpino head Alain Barbey told journalists.

You may be suffering at the gas pump, but, according to Forbes, these are good times at Bombardier.

The company attributed the quarter’s strong sales to European rail orders, which continue to chug ahead. Late last May, Sweden’s state railway said it would increase its fleet of high-speed environmentally-friendly trains, placing a contract worth $349.0 million for 20 new four-car trains from Bombardier. The contract included the option to add an additional 20 train

You get the picture, right?



Filed under: Amtrak, International High Speed Rail, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, United States High Speed Rail

Las Vegas Maglev gets its federal dollars for environmental study

President Bush has signed into law the revision of a 2005 transportation bill that authorizes $45 million for the LA-Las Vegas Maglev project. The revision corrects a technical error made in the original draft that prevented the project from getting its money. In the interim, proposals for a more traditional high speed train along the route have garnered attention.

The AP has some background details on the route:

The train is meant to ease traffic on increasingly clogged Interstate 15, the main route for the millions of Southern Californians who make the 250-plus-mile drive to Las Vegas each year. There is no train on the route—Amtrak’s Desert Wind between Los Angeles and Las Vegas was canceled in 1997 because of low ridership.

It’s interesting that Amtrak’s route was done away with in the cheap-gas 1990’s. With any luck, a high speed route could bring these riders back. One of the issues with rail travel in the United States seems to be just getting people to realize that it’s there as a viable option. Hopefully a highly visible hubbub about futuristic train technology will do the trick along this route.

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

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June 2008