Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

High speed rail: why should taxpayers pay?

I probably should leave this one alone, but here goes anyway. The Gwinnett Gazette runs an item headlined “Go Slow on High Speed Rail.” The opening line was too good.

With wide-eyed naivete, proponents of high-speed rail are pointing to service in Europe and Asia as reasons that such networks are the next great thing in transportation for the United States. But Americans will travel a lot further on the hype over President Obama’s pledge of $8 billion in economic stimulus funds for high-speed rail than any money will go.

But, at the core of this essay is a rather cogent question.

The first question, however, is, “Why?” Why would the hard-working taxpayers of Georgia and North Carolina – indeed, any taxpayer – want to foot the estimated $1.4 billion bill on a 244-mile project between Atlanta and Charlotte? Georgia already struggles to meet the entire state’s transportation needs with a $2 billion annual budget.

Good question. Let’s see.

  • What does it cost to build 2 lanes of interstate highways and why should motorists pay for truckers and their damage?
  • Why should driving or flying be the only choices?
  • Why not improve rail capacity for freight?
  • Why not do a little something to protect the environment?
  • Why must transportation policy always be directed to automobiles?
  • Why should smaller cities get some of the benefits enjoyed by big cities like Atlanta?

Of all the transportation coridors in a growth area, Atlanta to the northeast is prime country. Faster trains, maybe not European HST, make perfect sense in the transportation mix.


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

Some California high speed rail segments ready by 2015?

This is an important development, reported in a lengthy story from Government Technology

Quentin Kopp, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said some segments of a 200 mph bullet train that’s planned for the length of California — like routes between San Francisco and San Jose, or Los Angeles and Anaheim — could be ready for passengers as early as 2014 or 2015.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

Railroads seek $70 million stimulus to “fix” Fort Worth Tower 55

TFA can only say “Amen” to easing a disastrous rail bottleneck. The Fort Worth Star Telegram files a comprehensive story. This should be good news for shippers, rail operators, Amtrak passengers, and fans of clean air.

Officials from Fort Worth-based BNSF and Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific Railroad say that although the new track would remain private property, the project enjoys wide support from public officials.

The request for funding will likely be made within weeks by the Texas Department of Transportation or another public agency on behalf of the railroads. The project will compete with other nationally strategic rail, port and road projects for $1.5 billion in discretionary funding to be disbursed by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

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

More Amtrak Trains for British Columbia

The Province, A British Columbia publication, takes the side of the region’s tourism industry in a cross-border spat over that second Seattle-Vancouver train. The paper just rips Canadian customs officials and the national government. It is a terrific article.

One aspect concerns Bruce Agnew of the Cascades Centre, a Seattle think tank.

Agnew points to a Washington state Department of Transportation study showing that Amtrak passengers currently spend nearly $16 million Cdn a year in the Vancouver area. With a second train on the Vancouver-Seattle run, that could soar to as much as $49 million.

Then, once there are two daily trains, we could think about four trains . . . and even high-speed trains. In the meantime, our premier should step in and convince Ottawa to get all the trains it can headed down the track.

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

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May 2009