Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Botswana Railways to terminate passenger service

Here is the story. I think you get it.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

Chicago-Des Moines Amtrak corridor

Here is one from the past weekend that escaped me. It is refreshing to see politicians that “get it.” Congressmen Phil Hare of Illinois and Bruce Braley of Iowa deserve our thanks.

Radio Iowa has the report.

Braley says it may take several years to complete, but he claims Amtrak service to the Quad Cities alone would create as many as 800 jobs. “If we can get the initial funding to make this a reality between Chicago and the Quad Cities, the likelihood of going further to Iowa City, Des Moines, and Omaha is greatly expanded,” Braley said.

Braley estimates annual ridership on a Chicago to Iowa City line at nearly 200,000. Paul Rumler is with the Quad Cities Passenger Rail Coalition. “With the combined population of 2.2 million people between Quad Cities and Omaha, this is the most highly populated corridor without passenger rail service to Chicago,” Rumler said.


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

Beaumont, Texas editorial backs local Amtrak station

Without slipping off into nostalgialand, when I was a young man in the late 60s, MP and SP both stopped in Beaumont and both stations were inadequate. The MP station, while possesed of a certain mystique that that accompanies great age, was appalling.

The Beaumont Enterprise has an editorial in support of the proposed station improvement.

A worthier project for stimulus funds in Beaumont would be spending $750,000 to build a real Amtrak station. Currently, when the Sunset Limited comes through Beaumont three times a week, it drops off and picks up passengers at a non-station – a naked slab of concrete at Hollywood and 11th streets.

With a real depot, Amtrak would attract more passengers in Beaumont. House and Senate members from Texas should remember this priority in any discussions about stimulus money.

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

Gannett: U.S. sets sights on high-speed rail

The Detroit Free Press is running an excellent item on passenger tail developments. It is factual and even=handed. That is why I would like to pick a few nits with the editors.

The story correctly draws the distinction between true European HSR and the kind of improvements proposed by the Midwest High Speed Rail Associaiton.

Peter Gertler, a rail expert with HNTB Corp., a consulting firm, said a solid system of so-called incremental high-speed rail — service of 110-125 m.p.h. — could flourish in the United States under the existing framework.

For a truly high-speed network in which trains go 150 m.p.h. or faster, the United States would have to follow the European and Asian models and buy or build track and make it off-limits to freight trains or slower-speed passenger service, Gertler said.

There are two problems with the story. First, the opening line makes an misinformed reference to “train fans.” This suggests that advocates for modern ground transportation are, at minamum hobbyists, and at worst – well, let’s not go there. It would be better to find a less iflatory expression.

The second item is not the reporter’s fault. Reporters do nt write headlines and this one suggests something that is nowhere in the body of the story. Amtrak is not the sole determining body on how HSR funds will be spent. I may be wrong, but I am wondering if Amtrak has a role at all. The headline suggests, to the benefit of those who spread deliberate misinformation, that a federal agency has some sort of unregulated blank check. Again, the story gives a better report of the actual situation.

Altogether, a fine job.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

Against wheelchair lifts

This had to happen. A column in the Glen Falls, N. Y. station says what many were thinking about the list of proposed Amtrak stimulus projects. Ken Tingley figures 19 people use the Fort Edward station every day.

He also dissects improvements at every small town station in New York state.

But Sen. Schumer seemed to think this is key to reviving our economy.

“This critical funding will ensure that our Amtrak rail systems across the Adirondack/North Country are safe, accessible and up to date for the people who depend on them,” Schumer was quoted in a press release.

You mean all five of them?

This is the type of stuff that drives me crazy.

This is the type of stuff that scares the living hell out of me when I think of all that stimulus money in the hands of people so ridiculously lacking in any common sense.

Some of this money is being spent on wheelchair lifts and disability access to make the train stations compliant with disability access laws, but is that what the stimulus money was intended for? Will it help turn our economy around?

Schumer has been here seemingly dozens of times, but I’m guessing he never arrived by train at Fort Edward.

Who has?

Some thoughts.

The list of Amtrak projects was compiled by Amtrak, so it seems a bit unfair to nail the Senator with it.

Maybe Mr. Tingley is in a wheelchair, maybe not. I am not and can not imagine what it must be like. There is an Americans with Disabilities Act. It was passed by the people’s representative body in the Congress and signed by (if I remember correctly) a Republican president (Busy 41(. ADA is the law of the land and I presume Amtrak was sued by somebody injured getting on or off a train without proper equipment. Hence, I am imagining that Amtrak is “on the hook” for these improvements.

I’ll bet the people who make those lifts think it is a stimulus.

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

Consultant sought for Amtrak Pioneer

And no consultant jokes.Heck, I’m available!

There is a development in Idaho. Channel 6 (Pocatello?) files this report.

A spokesman for Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho says Amtrak has started a search for a consultant as a step in possibly restoring the Pioneer Route.

Lindsay Nothern says the consultant could come to Idaho to meet with state officials about restarting the train route.

This is a fine idea and does not diminish any other route. As I recall, the UP railroad in this area is excellent, but there is now a possible problem getting into Portland Union Station from this route. Maybe some local people know better than me.

This addition connects the Midwest and the mountain region to the northwest. It will be an excellent addition.

Now, to address the elephant in the room. Some of the restored Superliner equipment will go to the Zephyr and it makes sense to put some of that equipment into Salt Lake-Seattle service. This does not “steal” equipment from any proposed Sunset restoration. At least, that is how it looks from an unbiased observer in Arkansas.

Your opinion?

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

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March 2009