Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

New Amtrak Service Begins Virginia’s Quest for High-Speed Rail

This came in from Virginians for High Speed Rail.

Richmond, Virginia- Today, Governor Timothy Kaine announced the final agreement with Amtrak to officially launch the first Virginia sponsored Northeast Regional Train connecting Staples-Mill Richmond to the highly traveled Northeast Corridor with destinations such as Washington, New York, and Boston.

According to preliminary guidelines by the Federal Railroad Administration, two key prerequisites for project selection are Stakeholder Agreements and a Financial Plan for operations. The completion of this stakeholder agreement with Amtrak puts Virginia in a strong position of advancing high-speed rail through the Commonwealth having already completed other stakeholder agreements with CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern, and Virginia Railway Express.

While the new Virginia sponsored passenger rail services are three-year demonstrations and a dedicated long-term funding source for operational costs have not been identified, nonetheless, Virginia is one step closer for having launched these new services.

“High-speed rail is on the horizon for Virginia.” stated Daniel L. Plaugher, executive director of Virginians for High Speed Rail, “Having traveled to both Charlotte, NC and Philadelphia, PA for the Federal Railroad Administration’s stakeholder meetings regarding the $8 billion for intercity and high-speed passenger rail, I have noticed that Virginia is in a strong position to take full advantage of these federal resources for passenger rail.” Mr. Plaugher continued “The Northeast is looking to extend to Richmond to relieve congestion on their corridor and the Southeast begins at Washington extending through Virginia.

The stakeholder agreements with the host railroads, Virginia Railway Express, and Amtrak along with the leadership of Governor Kaine, his Secretary of Transportation, and Chip Badger and Kevin Page at the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation have put Virginia in a great position to properly utilize these federal resources to advance high-speed rail in Virginia.” Mr. Plaugher finished “Simply put, the leg work that Governor Kaine and his transportation team have completed will stimulate our economy, create jobs, alleviate congestion on our highways, reduce gas consumption, and promote economic development and smart growth all the while advancing the Commonwealth’s high-speed rail aspirations.”

The next step is for the release of the official Federal Railroad Administration guidelines which is expected before June 17, 2009.


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

Are fast trains in the American transport future?

This is the most provocative interview I have read in a while. There is something in it for everybody to hate. Nancy Kete of the World Resources Institute comments on fast intercity buses, airline fuel consumption, gas taxes, toll roads, and high speed rail

Kete got somewhat on my bad side with her reference to American cities being too far apart for European-style HSR. Her interview did not approach the topic of incremental improvements for existing corridors.

She even takes a poke at the foremost sacred cow of American transportation.

If we made it clearer, like with pay-as-you-drive insurance, and with fuel prices that more accurately reflected the cost of building and maintaining the road system and protecting the fuel supply, which is related to keeping peace in the Middle East and keeping our access to a steady supply of oil and all the environmental costs..if the driver paid all those every time he/she filled the tank, we would be paying much higher costs all the time and would make different decisions about how much we drove our cars.

Your comments on her comments are invited.

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

Bombardier first quarter results

The Canadian manufacturer is not immune from the international recession. You can read the entire report. Of interest here is the international nature of this industry in which the United States has very little participation.

Subsequent to quarter end, Bombardier Transportation received the following new orders worth $1.2 billion. A contract was awarded for 30 four-car ELECTROSTAR EMU trains plus a three-year maintenance contract from National Express in the United Kingdom (U.K.), valued at $249 million. The group also received an order for 83 EMUs from Deutsche Bahn Regio AG for a value of $605 million. Finally, an order for 180 double-deck commuter cars was awarded by the Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) of France for a value of $386 million.

In China, Bombardier Transportation delivered the first high-speed trains featuring its ZEFIRO technology, only 18 months after the notice to proceed.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

White House high speed rail meeting today

Nine governors will reportedly take part. New York Governor Patterson is reportedly not among them. We will update here.

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

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June 2009