More choices for better transportation
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February 1, 2010 • 10:48 pm
Good editorial. Reality check.
via On board for fast trains / The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com.
Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, United States High Speed Rail
“It has already dedicated $8 billion to them in the 2009 Recovery Act. And it hopes Congress will spend another $5 billion over five years to keep this idea moving.
Together, that would be more than three times the annual budget for Amtrak …”
Wouldn’t it be a better bang for the buck to expand and upgrade the existing rail lines to HPR (High Performance ril – up to 110 mph) for Amtrak rather than create a few HSR lines? I think so.
Isn’t that basically what they’re doing?
Only Florida and California are using the funds for true high-speed rail, and California is using some of the money to improve conventional service.
But the grants for the Chicago hub lines (to St. Louis, Madison, and Detroit) are for 110mph service. Ohio is restoring service to the 3C corridor at conventional 79mph. North Carolina/Virginia and Washington/Oregon are improving the reliability and frequency of existing service. Maine is extending service northwards and (Down)eastward. Pennsylvania and Iowa are making small but concrete improvements (eliminating grade crossings in PA, adding automated crossovers in IA) to improve reliability.
My first thought (and maybe Allan’s too) was that Virginia got the short end in this round.
But on reflection, they were smart to fund the upgrades toward 110-mph service in North Carolina first. Once it’s going, the obvious thing, so simple even a Congresscritter will understand it, will be to link the NEC with the 110-mph section in N.C.
It will make a strong impression to crawl through Virginia at “Amtrak speed”, sprint over a 110-mph stretch in N.C., then slam on the brakes as the train crawls into South Carolina. Public pressure will grow to make it 110 mph all the way from D.C. to Charlotte, then to Atlanta, and maybe to Birmingham/Macon-Florida.
New York also got the short end, but for good reason. Despite having a long history with existing rail and planning HSR, they’ve been painfully slow to get shovels into the ground and get faster track built. Case in point, the Turboliner saga that included NY suing Amtrak.
Ross Capon of NARP said it well: “They’ve been screwing around for years.” Definitely the hardest language, I’ve ever heard from him.
I think NY needed to get its ears boxed by Ray LaHood and will now get things going to avoid future embarrassments. Massachusetts also needs to step things up.
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