Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

High speed rail gets a boost in Texas

TFA tends to be a bit cautious about throwing around the HSR tag. Amtrak President Boardman has correctly observed the difficulties of instituting true European-style 200 mph. rail service. Environmental, logistical and budgetary hurdles are substantial. We grant tht the payoff can be big and especially between population centers like Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.

In Texas, three of the countries top 10 cities are very close together. Real high speed rail makes a lot of sense in the Lone Star State. The Houston Chronicle agrees and has a fact filled expansive editorial on the subject.

High-speed rail will “shrink Texas,” to borrow Eckels’ words, and that is so in more than just the geographic sense. True, the sheer speed of modern rail, which has become quotidian in Japan and Europe over the past three decades, will do likewise here — erasing our state’s storied distances with stunning ease. But it also stands to have an enormous impact as an economic tool — helping to shape the state into a more coherent economic unit, one with a daunting capacity to compete globally in this high-tech era. As well, the T-bone route would connect the U.S. Army base at Fort Hood in Central Texas with the Port of Houston, adding a security benefit to the others mentioned, and creating the likelihood of a Department of Defense contribution to its construction.


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

Potential Illinois high speed route sees ridership increase

Tim Landis in the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill reports the latest Amtrak numbers. Mostly good news. Landis’ column is an excellent regional business roundup, including some local airline news. One thing that makes conventional fast trains attractive for Springfield is the lack of good air service.

AMTRAK ridership continues to increase on two of three routes in Illinois, but not by the double-digit rates of last year, when gasoline hit $4 per gallon.

Figures for the first seven months of the federal fiscal year October through April show 315,482 passengers on the Chicago-St. Louis route, up 6 percent; 133,486 on the Chicago-Quincy line, up 4 percent; and 172,464 on the Carbondale-Chicago route, down 1 percent.

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

Autotrain Sanford, Florida Amtrak station groundbreaking

This is not exactly news, but the Sanford groundbreaking is Monday, May, 18.

The new station will include a 600-passenger reception hall and terminal facilities to accommodate expansion of auto train operations in the future.

The facility is getting more than $10 million in federal funding, which will be used to improve the auto train station and create construction jobs in Central Florida.

Yes, I caught it too and the idea of “expansion” could conceivably include a service to the  Midwest, but that is pure speculation. Amtrak has a lot on its plate as things stand now.

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

Fast trains in New Hampshire

The story in covers a lot of territory, but the northeast is a population center and full of potential for conventional high speed rail. Among the topics of discussion is improving speed and running time of the Boston-Portland Downeaster.

But did you ever think of Boston-Concord as a corridor? Certainly not at European speeds, but catch this.

Mark Richardson, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Railroad Revitalization Association in Weare, said his group may have a good chance of getting $300 million it needs to complete the New Hampshire Capitol Corridor project, which would link Boston and Concord.

He said his group would like to see a 200 mph train travel between Montreal and Boston in the next five years after initially providing a train that travels between 100 mph and 125 mph.

With a 100 mph train, passengers could travel from Concord to Boston in 1 hour and 10 minutes based on the route and stops involved. The number of daily trains to and from Boston would depend on ridership demand, Richardson said.

If ridership demand is high enough, he said it is conceivable there could be as many as a dozen trains per day that could take commuters and travelers from Concord to Boston and back.

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

UPDATED: Amtrak Pioneer to Fort Collins?

There is an item in the Fort Collins paper about an idea to move the Pioneer off a section of the UP Denver-Salt Lake run. Now, before you start getting all over me; yes, I know that the Pioneer has not run in 10 years and is not running now, and that it is by no means settled that the Seattle section would split at Denver, or that the train will be restored any time soon.

Anyway, a gentleman named C. B. Hall has done a “study” and some local folks have taken notice. This one is going absolutely nowhere, but is reported on TFA so that you know it’s floating around.

Hall noted a series of drawbacks to changing the route, not the least is that it would take more than three hours to travel the 119 miles from Denver to Cheyenne via Fort Collins, compared with about two hours for the Greeley route. Hall’s analysis looks at three station options for Fort Collins.

Marc Magliari, a Chicago-based spokesman for Amtrak, said he doesn’t know whether ongoing study will incorporate suggestions to change the Pioneer route, if the train is brought back at all. Magliari was on the last eastbound Pioneer from Seattle.

The positive here is that Amtrak gets positive public reaction and good press.

UPDATE: My goodness. News certainly travels fast (note I did not say “good news”).

The Denver Colorodan has the above story with a bit lf added detail. A tidbit:

A consultant working on behalf of restoration efforts suggests that routing the trains through Fort Collins would provide greater ridership because local trains may one day connect Loveland to Fort Collins and Longmont.

According to city of Boulder officials, the study will examine whether it makes more sense to use the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks that run on the west side of Interstate 25, rather than the Union Pacific tracks running south from Greeley.

The Boulder city council is set to discuss the issue, and may send a letter of support for routing a restored service through Fort Collins and Boulder, next week.

A consultant, heh?

But seriously, this has “operational nightmare” written all over it. Some of you more familiar with things “on the ground” might help out here, but it seems to me that a Pioneer restoration seems a lot more likely with a train break-up in Salt Lake City.

Hopefully, Amtrak will get things settled on the Sunset soon and move forward on the Cardinal next. Just an opinion. It’s a free country, so disagree if you please.

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

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May 2009