Trains For America

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FOX NEWS: Why We Need High-Speed Rail

U.S. High Speed Rail Association President Andy Kunz on the possibility of a nation-wide high speed rail system. FOX is remarkable fair, although they do all hang on to that old “northeast corridor is profitable myth.” My theory is that this item got past the censors because the truck and airline lobbyists have not expressed their wishes to FOX management. Nonetheless, Look for Cato’s paid assassin to appear shortly. THANK YOU FOX NEWS.

Some notes. Florida is in no way prepared for HSR.

High performance rail, trains operating up to 110 mph., may be all that would be necessary on some corridors. The upgrades would assure 90% on time performance. Major improvement. High performance rail is MUCH cheaper to construct than true European-style HSR.

Glad the HSR expert shot down the “American cities are too far apart” argument.

And the whole bunch of ’em could have left the Amtrak whipping boy alone. That gets mighty old after a while. What other government function gets the kind of intense scrutiny and micro-management as Amtrak? (not ignoring the obvious problems)

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

9 Responses

  1. Loren Petrich says:

    I agree about Florida. Why there and not Oregon – Washington or Virginia – North Carolina? All those states have a good record of committing money to HSR initiatives; Florida doesn’t.

  2. Woody says:

    I wasn’t much impressed with this guy. Anybody who thinks that Congress will vote billions for a couple of HSR lines in a couple of states must have flunked high school civics.

    The stimulus bill offered $8 billion, and Obama said he’d get another $1 bil a year for HSR. No wonder False News is talking about Florida. For that kind of money you could build a line from Busch Gardens to Disney World. But you couldn’t link one major metro to another.

    We’ll need tens of billions more from Congress. You know, Congress, two Senators from 50 different states, 435 Members of the House.

    Detractors make fun of Amtrak because its long distance trains just happen to pass through 46 states. Well, in the real world you gotta spread the gravy around. The Transport Politic blog listed some 40 states with preliminary applications for the stimulus funding. That would work out to average $200 mil each. Oh no, let’s give Cali ten times what any other state will get — and see how Congress likes that notion!

    The leading pitchmen for HSR who get themselves on TV better be prepared to advocate for improvements in passenger rail speeds in at least 46 states, and not just two or three demonstration lines, or be prepared to be bitterly disappointed when Congress actually dishes out the funds.

  3. Cal says:

    8biilion is nothing..We spend that every month “freeing” Iran/Iraq..Yes the Foxies had California High speed rail as their backgroud..and it shows what this nation can do without blinking a eye if it wanted to…AND California sends More tax dollars to DC than it gets back..So much for the “paying” for our HSR

  4. Paul says:

    Treasury wrote a check to Goldman Sachs for more than 12 billion (during the AIG bailout) so 8B seems like chump change. How about 80 Billion and start talking real money.

  5. Woody says:

    Paul — Those many. many billions paid to the banksters during the Wall Street crisis should be viewed as dividend payments to the government’s stockholders. When Senator Dick Durbin said that the banks “own” the U.S. Senate he wasn’t joking.

    When they figure out how Goldman Sachs, J P Morgan Chase, and the others can make a few more billion off HSR, that’s when this country will get up to speed.

    Sorry if it seems like cynical Sunday here.

  6. MadPark says:

    We have every right to be cynical – our future has been mortgaged to our wars, our banks and our oil companies and their cronies. We need to stop re-electing incumbents for about 4 election cycles.

  7. Chris G says:

    It wasnt a very good piece. All it did was bash 110, rah rah rah for 220, and trash the national system.

    But Woody, I have to disagree with you. We can not afford to have this money spread too thinly or else we’re going to get what we’ve always had. A bunch of money spent on studies and nothing to show for it. We MUST get a system up and running. It should be California. The Midwest should be next and at least move to 110-125 now. But we can not give each state 200m and let them do what they think is best. That is as stupid as giving each state an equal share of anti terrorism funding. Not every state is equal in every need. Should we give NYC equal farmer subsidy money as Iowa? This false sense of need for equality and balance is what is wrong with this country today. That and those elected to change things haven’t changed a thing yet. (Yes I voted for this change)

  8. Woody says:

    Chris — I agree we’ll regret it if “this money is spread around too thinly.” It’s not enough money now to do much — Busch Gardens to Disney World at 220 mph. We’ll need many billions more.

    To get that kind of money, we’ll need a majority in Congress, so it will be spread around. It won’t all go to California. Not gonna happen.

    But this guy, and many like him, goes off the tracks when he sneers at a 110 mph goal for many routes. For most routes in most states, even getting up to 90 mph over a hundred mile stretch would mean huge improvements. The average Amtrak speed is barely 50 mph.

    Trains going up to 90 mph or 110 mph can easily chop an hour off the current trip time for many city pairs. That’s not true HSR, but it would bring new passengers by the tens and hundreds of thousands, and what’s not to like about that? When drivers see a train whiz past them on the Interstate, that’s when they’ll start thinking about taking the train. That will build momentum for further upgrades on those routes and others, including then more true HSR lines.

    Those improved routes can be spread around almost all states for a fraction of what the designated 220 mph HSR corridors will cost, but they will be the foundation of support for HSR, with the public and with Congress.

  9. MadPark says:

    Here is a cautionary tale, mostly positive but with some important caveats, about the improvements in the “Keystone” corridor in PA from our friend Yonah at Transport Politic:
    http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2009/09/28/learning-from-the-keystone-corridor/

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