Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Oklahoma City Union Station and regional rail update

Tom Elmore, Executive Director of the North American Transportation Institute in Moore, Oklahoma, sent an update  to an earlier post that demands to be moved to the front page.

Even as it professes interest in the Obama HSR initiative, ODOT continues to press the destruction of the OKC Union Station rail yard at 300 SW 7th to make way for a four-mile relocation of I-40.

On June 9, BNSF destroyed the Union Station yard segment of the beautiful former Frisco line to Will Rogers Airport.

Meanwhile, the state’s largest newspaper, THE OKLAHOMAN, long a lazy floater on the once boundless river of automobile advertising revenues, regularly runs derisive editorials against rail passenger services of any kind, taking an even nastier tone against the relentless citizen effort to save the Union Station rail yard. Even as its editors furiously rant, the Gaylord family mouthpiece inescapably appears down-at-the-head, visibly shipping water as it has now been forced to “share resources” with longtime state competitor THE TULSA WORLD.

The same ODOT leadership that carefully stunted the HEARTLAND FLYER,s route at OKC, denying the original plan to make it Amtrak’s Mail and Express showpiece between Kansas City and Ft. Worth is plainly still working behind the scenes to make the least possible of any new rail development opportunity if it can’t ignore such prospects altogether.

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

Design announced for Anaheim’s new transportation hub

You can see the very impressive drawings and a complete story on the New Civil Engineer site. It is an important signal from Southern California.

HOK and Parsons Brinckerhoff have been selected by the Anaheim City Council and Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) to design phase one of the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC).

The intermodal transportation hub is a sustainable, world-class transportation facility linking commuter and regional rail service as well as intercity bus, taxi and local transit.  Future phases will expand the centre to accommodate California high-speed rail to destinations such as San Francisco and Sacramento and serve as the terminus for the super-speed train between Las Vegas and Southern California.

The 6,100m2 structure features an iconic 55m high archway offering expansive skyline views and will stand out as a landmark throughout the region.

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

High speed rail alliance for ARRA funding includes Midwest governors and operating railroads: Includes Illinois and Michigan developments

There has been coverage of the agreement that eight Midwestern governors and the mayor of Chicago would form a single alliance to apply for ARRA high speed rail funding. We are all aware that the Midwest High Speed Rail Association has been working on this network of fast conventional trains for a decade.

Progressive Railroading has a complete report. One aspect not highlighted much is the inclusion of the operating roads.

The governors and Daley also agreed to establish a multi-state steering group to help coordinate the ARRA funding applications and provide a “single voice” in support of the corridor, Quinn said. The group includes Amtrak Chairman Tom Carper; Union Pacific Railroad Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Young; CSX Corp. Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tony Ingram; BNSF Railway Co. EVP of Law Roger Nober; Norfolk Southern Corp. VP John Friedmann; CN VP of American Government Affairs Karen Phillips; Kansas City Southern Railway Co. Assistant VP of State and Local Affairs Kevin McIntosh; and Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward Hamberger.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the real world. One can not read too much into this development, but we have come a long way. Let the tea leaf reading begin.

Meanwhile back at the Illinois state capitol city, the State Journal-Register details talk of two high speed rail corridors in Illinois. Apparently there is a benefit in operating at higher speeds on a line east of the old GM$O currently operated by UP and home to the Eagle and state supported trains.

Harnish said much of the Springfield-Decatur-Champaign route would travel on lines operated by the Norfolk Southern and CN (formerly Canadian National) railroads. Norfolk Southern operates the 10th Street line in Springfield.

The eastern route actually would cut travel time to two hours between St. Louis and Chicago, compared to a little less than four hours expected along the UP line. Harnish said faster speeds are possible along the eastern route because a wider right-of-way is available and there are fewer connecting bottlenecks.

“Some folks in St. Louis and Chicago wanted to see how you could do a two-hour trip, which I think should be the goal,” he said. “We wanted to show it’s plausible.

WJR Radio in Detroit adds to the discussion with this report (there is audio and more detail if you follow the link),

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm says a commitment to high-speed rail could create a thriving industry in the state.

“If you look at the Buy American provisions of the stimulus act, that means we’re going to have to build the rail cars in the United States, which they are not built in the U.S. now,” Granholm told Steve Courtney this morning on WJR AM-760 in Detroit.

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

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July 2009