Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Positive Train Control: a little light reading from Progressive Railroading

The topic of Positive Train Control has emerged in discussions about renewing Sunset service between New Orleans and Orlando. PTC was also a topic during the recent Intermodal Steering Committee and Texas High Speed Rail Commission joint meeting in Little Rock.

During this conference, representatives of operating rail lines cast PTC as both an unfunded mandate and an opportunity to optimize operations. This innovative system will demand trackside monitors and computers in the cabs. It’s a brave new world.

Progressive Railroading features a good discussion from the locomotive engineer’s viewpoint, with expansion from the FRA and reader’s reactions.

In an optimized train pacing process fuel would be conserved by reducing energy losses due to braking and reduced throttle running position on the paced train. There is no reason to run up to the approach in throttle 8, dump the kinetic energy by braking, pull into the siding and wait 30 minutes when a properly designed train pacing process would allow for a timed meet that would optimize fuel consumption with minimum effect on average train velocity.

It does not answer every question, but you will gain some insight.

Filed under: Uncategorized

VIA Rail Canada trains stopped cold by strike

This note from Paul up north of the border has been moved to the front page because of its urgency. I apologize for not getting on this story quicker, but I have been a student today.

VIA rail engineers on strike – started today. Effectively, all passenger rail shut down in Canada.

“We’re sincerely sorry about what’s going on for the passengers, but we didn’t have any other choice,” said Stephane Lacroix, spokesman for the Teamsters Canada union.
“VIA Rail forced us to go on strike,” he told public broadcaster CBC.

Here are the dramatic effects of ending passenger trains!

Sorry, no cars left

“Well, to rent a car one way from Montreal to Toronto, it’s like $700 in extra fees,” Simoneau said.

Filed under: Travel Woes

Congressional update: House approves $4 billion for HSR

Pat blogged yesterday about Iowa Congressman Tom Latham’s amendment to strip down the high-speed rail funding in the housing and transportation bill to Obama’s original $1 billion rather than the $4 billion that was added in committee. It wasn’t looking good for a while, with HSR advocacy organizations such as the Midwest HSRA and Virginians High-Speed Rail putting out action alerts to their members. Fortunately, thanks to quick responses from those concerned about our nation’s rail infrastructure (or perhaps just the general spirit of the times), the amendment easily failed 136-284.

As The Transport Politic points out, this is a good indicator of the surprisingly high amount of bipartisan support high-speed rail seems to enjoy in the legislature. Maybe this is due to the wide number of states now vying for those funds, or perhaps, pathetically, it’s just the fact that there was no mention of “Amtrak” in the proposal.

If this language makes it through the Senate, that’s a 1/2 increase of the HSR money already allocated in the stimulus package. This runs together with Pat’s anniversary post the other day. If you had told me that the federal government approve $12 billion for high-speed rail with support from a number of likely and unlikely states back when I started in Spring 2008, I wouldn’t have believed you.

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

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July 2009