The Atlanta Journal Constitution has an interview with Senator Jonny Isakson (R-GA) about new legislation sponsored by Senator John Kerry called the “High Speed Rail for America Act.” Apparently Kerry has sent a letter to his congressional colleauges about the proposal, which the AJC quotes:
Kerry’s office wouldn’t answer questions about the measure, dubbed the High Speed Rail for America Act, but a letter he sent to colleagues talks big: “$200 million per year in grants, $8 billion in tax-exempt bonds, $10 billion in tax-credit bonds for high-speed intercity rail facilities, and $5.4 billion in tax-credit bonds for rail infrastructure.”
I can’t find much more information about the proposed legislation, but I’ll be working to get the full text of the letter tomorrow. A high-speed rail initiative in this country would be great if executed well, but we don’t want any nascent project to siphon funds and support away from our already functioning Amtrak system.
I won’t be passing judgement until we get more details.
Edit after some more thinking: From the article I get the impression that the bill might involve all new track.. but I’m not sure. The way Isakson talks seems to point to a European-style system where a public entity owns the infrastructure, which private-ish operators then rent. Again, hard to make any assessments until we get some more details.