Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Oklahoma regional developments

Evan Stair passed this along. His perspective involves the corridor from Kansas City to Fort Worth. The possible “breakthrough” is that Tulsa and Oklahoma City are not seeing each other as competitors. It does not have to be “either-or.”

In fact, it makes a lot of sense to develop both the proposed extension of the Heartland Flyer and a service from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. The latter line extends to Springfield and St. Lous. It adds many additional “dots” to the map and a world of “connectivity.”

Fort Worth provides connections to the Eagle, which connects to the Sunset. St. Louis connects to Illinois. The Heartland Flyer connects to a completely different set of town running to Illinois. The effect of implementing the plan would be to complete a mind-grid. It would be a network of schedules to places people want to go.

Again, this would employ conventional style equipment and existing improved right-of-way. This makes sense.

Anyway, here is the item from Evan.

Inroads or “Inrails” to Tulsa AND Wichita

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the Stimulus Bill, provides Tulsa passenger rail supporters with new hope. This routing was once considered nearly impossible due to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) estimated $110 million infrastructure upgrade cost for the curvaceous rail route from Oklahoma City. If Tulsa area legislators work fast, the stimulus bill could bring passenger rail back to the state’s second largest metropolis sooner than later.

High Speed Rail Plans and funding requests must be filed by the USDOT Secretary by April 18th. This will require Oklahoma state legislators to pressure ODOT quickly to submit their high speed rail plans. Return USDOT guidance, grant terms, conditions, procedures… must be provided to applicants by June 17th.

The numbers are enticing: $850 million will be provided to Amtrak in government grants for capital projects with $8 billion for capital grants for High Speed Rail corridors. This could bring not only a passenger rail route through Wichita to Kansas City but also a route to Tulsa from Oklahoma City. ODOT was out in front during the early portion of this decade, requesting and receiving high speed rail corridor designation between Tulsa – Oklahoma City – Fort Worth. This is one leg of three in the USDOT South Central High Speed Rail Corridor. The other two legs are Fort Worth – Little Rock and Fort Worth – Austin – San Antonio.

The time is now to bring passenger rail back to the state. The question is can lawmakers and ODOT work fast enough to make it happen?

Federal Rail Safety Improvements Public Law 110-432 October 16, 2008
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ432.pdf

Federal Register Solicitation of Applications and Notice of Funding Availability for the Capital Assistance to States — Intercity Passenger Rail Program
http://www.fra.dot.gov/Downloads/Research/E8-3018.pdf

High Speed Rail Request for Expressions of Interest
http://www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/2107

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

A note about northwest Arkansas (and regional rail requirements)

At TFA, we do not consider airlines to be a natural enemy. In fact, Southwest continues to be an icon of good management and passenger service. Airlines are having a hard time in the bleak economic conditions. We know that this is a temporary situation.

The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport announces the loss of its only daily direct service to Los Angeles. While supporters of rail transit have endured 40 years of consistently bad news, this is no cause for gloating. No doubt, suppliers are feeling less of a need to connect with Wal Mart corporate offices in Bentonville.

Ch. 40/29 reports.

Next month, the airport will lose its direct service to Los Angeles. That’s just one flight per day, but it’s the latest in a round of route-cutting at XNA and most other airports across the country.

“January 6th of last year, we lost the last Salt Lake flight that we had. We lost the Reagan flight, the direct to D.C. flight. We’ve also lost the direct Miami flight,” said Kelly Johnson, the airport director at Northwest Arkansas Regional.

Here is the analysis.

Fayetteville-Springdale-Bentonbille-Rogers is,like so many second dary cities (even some larger cities) unserved by Amtrak. The region has no passenger rail service.

My 1956 Official Guide shows a single Frisco train operating through Fayetteville from St. Louis to Fort Smit and on to Oklahoma and Texas. That is not a lot. Regionally, Springfield (about an hour away fron Fayetteville and right next door to Branson) enjoyed two schedules daily between Kansas City and Memphis and St. Louis and Oklahoma on the Frisco.

Lest you think we are drifting into fond reminiscences of the golden days of yesteryear, the purpose of the exercise is to recall a more vibrant and diverse transportation system. My 1956 Official Guide is thick with duplicated and unnecessary trains. It is also full of necessary routes long since abandoned.These trains operated together (or they were intended to anyway) as part of an interconnecting network.

Amtrak is financially unable to provide a necessary transportation alternative to large sections of the nation. It is not as simple as magically providing equipment for new trains between St. Louis and Oklahoma or Kansas City and the southeast. What is required is the commitment to equip and operate a true nationwide web of connecting trains serving towns of all sizes.

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

You want profits? Sit down for this.

The opening of a new London station for HSR has obviously had a major consequence – all the way to the bottom line.

Footnote: if my memory serves me right, Stephens Inc. of Little Rock had a hand in financing the “Chunnel.”

Anyway, here is the story and a link Note that this milestone was 20 years in the making, which is very much contrary to the American corporate policy of  measuring results every Friday..

Dividends At Last For Eurotunnel Shareholders

2:19pm UK, Wednesday March 04, 2009

Eurotunnel is to pay its first dividend since being created in 1986.

Eurotunnel

Many companies are not paying dividends this year

Shareholders will get 0.04 euro cents per share as the Channel Tunnel operator reported its first profit.

The Franco-British company said net profit reached £35m in 2008 compared with a 2007 loss of 12 million euros at constant exchange rates.

“The group has recorded a solid profit which, for the first time in our history, allows us to pay a dividend …,” said Chief Executive Jacques Gounon.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

Wednesday morning NE Corridor snarl at Penn Station

Just about the same thing happened yesterday morning, except with numerous head end power failures tossed into the mix. Those were, if I understand the situation correctly, New Jersey Transit locomotives. Today, there is a bridge failure. All of this points to the almost desperate decline of American infrastructure. We are trying to operate a world class economy on second-world utilities and transportation.

You can follow today’s soap opera here. And this is the head.

Service in and out of New York Penn Station from New Jersey has been restored, but delays are expected after a temporary suspension earlier this morning, according to NJ Transit.

Spokeswoman Penny Bassett Hackett said the problem began when Amtrak was unable to close the portal bridge in Kearny.

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

News from NY: LaHood comments boost upstate HSR prospects, Moynihan Station looks to stimulus

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood met with New York legislators yesterday, and he agreed that the Albany-Buffalo HSR corridor looked like a good prospective place to spend stimulus money. From the Buffalo News:

“This is a very bipartisan effort that includes a project that represents 60 percent of the state,” LaHood said after a meeting with the state’s upstate congressional delegation. “This part of the state is hurting, and obviously this would be an economic engine, and we obviously will take all of that into consideration.”

Upstate lawmakers said they were thrilled with their meeting with LaHood, even while acknowledging that other parts of the country — and the state — could well be competing for the same high-speed rail money.

It’s a modest proposal for 110-150mph diesel service, and much of the ROW is available for purchase from CSX, keeping costs low. Like the Midwest High-Speed rail plan, which, you might have noticed, we’re big fans of here at TFA, it’s an incremental improvement to existing Amtrak service. It’s not flashy, but a brick by brick improvement of our national rail network is what’s necessary to strengthen the image of rail in this country and capitalize on the recent popularity of existing train service. As LaHood says, it’s a reasonable plan that should be able to compete for money with the other very important projects seeking funding.

Of course, any New York State HSR plan would have to connect with the city eventually, and that’s where our next bit of news comes from. Sen. Charles Schumer has long been a major backer of the redevelopment of New York’s Farley Post Office into a new, grander hub to relieve the overcrowded Penn Station. Now he says that the project needs $100 million of rail stimulus money, which he suggests should come out of the $1.3 billion Amtrak pot or the $8 billion HSR fund.

Not that the station doesn’t sound like a great plan, but the HSR money seems like an inappropriate source, and I’m not sure Amtrak will want to invest their precious budget when it may be commuter rail rather than intercity services that are housed there. Any thoughts from New Yorkers?

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

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