Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Washington State heads south on rail development

How suddenly big money special interests strike and state bureaucrats cave. That is the impression I develop of the disturbing mess in Washington State. We expect my home state, Alabama, to be completely backwards on transportation. It is another matter when a supposedly progressive and modern government turns its back on the people.

Brian Boundridge has a couple of new posts of interest. Here is a link to the first and another for the second.

My other observation, from way down in Arkansas, is that Washington State, where I lived (Spokane) from 1979 to 1983 has a vibrant two party system and a highly educated electorate. There is a possibility for reform which does not exist in many locations.


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

Virgina Republican caters to transportation special interests, trashes trains

This item arrives from in Lynchburg.

en. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, has started an online forum to point out wasteful spending by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Although VDOT is not paying for the new rail transportation, Obenshain has called the service a “pet project” that reveals misplaced priorities in the state’s transportation funding.

A Lynchburg-area lawmaker and a business leader countered that the new service, which includes another train between Lynchburg and Washington, is necessary to link multiple cities in the state to rail service for less than the cost of building a road.

They said it is the first piece of a statewide rail system that would be vital to the economy of the regions it serves, helping people and companies call Central and Southwest Virginia home.

Rule one in politics: follow the money.

Developing rail is cheaper than building wasteful and redundant highways.

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

AP story highlights HSR battles

Joe Vranich is still alive?

TFA does not hate Mr. Vranich, we only wish journalists would look around for additional sources. For those of you doing research, may we suggest the Midwest High Speed Rail Association (linked on the right)?

The story appeared in today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution and is rather favorable and, unfortunately, realistic. Funds made available so far for HSR are woefully inadequate.

But this country has never built a high-speed “bullet” train rivaling the successful systems of Europe and Asia, where for decades passenger railcars have blurred by at top speeds nearing 200 mph.

Since the 1980s, every state effort to reproduce such service has failed. Yet President Barack Obama, intent on harnessing new technology to rebuild the devastated economy, made a last-minute allocation of $8 billion for high-speed rail in his mammoth stimulus plan.

It sounds good, but that amount isn’t enough to build a single system, or to dramatically increase existing train speeds, transportation experts say.

The fact is that, in making public policy, the government has taken the historic position of the New York Central; “the public be damned.” Taxpayers have little say in national transportation decisions.

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

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March 2009