Trains For America

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Scott Walker Seeking Federal Stimulus Funds For Rail Line Improvements, After Campaigning On Rejecting Them

Some things are just beyond explaining.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won election in 2010, in large part by campaigning fiercely on limited government. One of his signature promises was a rejection of $810 million in federal stimulus dollars for high-speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison.

Walker followed through on turning those dollars down. But now, he is joining several other Midwestern states in asking for $150 million in federal funds to pay for upgrades to an Amtrak line.


Scott Walker Seeking Federal Stimulus Funds For Rail Line Improvements, After Campaigning On Rejecting Them.


Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Regional USA Passenger Rail

High-Speed Rail Critics Imperil Economic Growth, Bombardier President Says – Jeff McMahon – The Ingenuity of the Commons – Forbes

OK, the guy runs a corporation that sells high speed rail equipment, so there is a bias. Nonetheless, none of the countries that use HSR seem to be imploding because of it.

Opposition to high-speed rail imperils U.S. economic growth, the North America president of a leading train manufacturer said in Chicago Tuesday.

“Although some may be of the opinion that we can’t afford passenger rail investment at this time, I can assure you from Bombardier’s experience around the world that the opposite is true,” said Raymond Bachant of Bombardier Transportation, a Canadian firm that built 95 percent of Europe’s high-speed trains.

“Investment in passenger rail infrastructure is a decision that will create long-term jobs and strengthen the economy,” Bachant told several hundred corporate executives, trade officials, and rail enthusiasts gathered at the Mid-America Club on the 80th floor of Chicago’s Aon building.

High-speed rail was a favorite target of the Tea Party movement that seized the House of Representatives and several governor’s mansions last November. Newly elected governors in Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio have turned down funding for high-speed rail 

High-Speed Rail Critics Imperil Economic Growth, Bombardier President Says – Jeff McMahon – The Ingenuity of the Commons – Forbes.

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

Making Sense of Amtrak’s Vision for the Northeast « The Transport Politic

Let it be known: Amtrak’s focus is on the Northeast Corridor. While Congress may require it to provide long-distance, cross-country services, the public company owns most of the rail corridor between Boston and Washington and it intends to exploit it fully… If it gathers sufficient resources to do so.


Making Sense of Amtrak’s Vision for the Northeast « The Transport Politic.

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

Mica & Shuster Call for Larger Private Sector Role in Passenger Rail

Yada. Yada.

Mica & Shuster Call for Larger Private Sector Role in Passenger Rail

Washington, DC – Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) and Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) conducted a congressional hearing today on encouraging and increasing private sector participation in passenger rail service.

Both Mica and Shuster noted that the Administration’s passenger rail program has been an absolute disaster.

“With Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida rejecting funds, and the California project also looking troubled, I don’t think the Administration’s so-called high-speed and expanded passenger rail program could have had a worse launch,” said Mica.  “The only chance of success for high-speed rail is to rely on the private sector and focus on a project that makes sense, particularly the Northeast Corridor.  The questions now are how do we regain our credibility after so much damage has been done, and how can we find a better opportunity to bring true high-speed rail to the congested Northeast Corridor with significant private sector involvement?”

Mica also highlighted Amtrak’s inability to provide true high-speed service or operate with efficiency.  “Amtrak’s plan doesn’t cut it.  Amtrak operates a Soviet-style passenger rail service, with a high rate of subsidization by the taxpayers.  Last year, every single Amtrak ticket was underwritten by $54.48,” Mica said.

“Chairman Shuster and I have proposed letting the private sector compete with Amtrak on its money-losing routes, but this has yet to happen.  Internationally, the private sector successfully operates passenger rail and can turn a profit.  There’s no reason we shouldn’t be attracting private sector capital and expertise to operate intercity passenger rail in the United States.  In the next surface transportation reauthorization bill, we will ensure that we improve provisions to encourage private sector investment and participation in providing passenger rail service in this country,” Mica concluded.

Shuster and Mica concurred on the need for private sector competition to improve passenger rail service.  “This is an issue that is extremely important to me and to Chairman Mica, and that the Chairman and I have worked on for a number of years,” Shuster said.  “I firmly believe that we can make intercity passenger rail more effective and more affordable by partnering with the private sector and by bringing competition to the marketplace.

Shuster continued, “Two and a half years ago, President George W. Bush signed the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, the first rail authorization bill in 11 years.  That bill included important reforms in the operations of Amtrak, America’s intercity passenger railroad.  The Act also opened the door for the private sector to participate in providing passenger rail service in a number of important new ways.  For the first time, rail capital investment programs were established that give states primary control to improve and expand intercity passenger rail services.

“A pilot program was authorized to allow private sector entities to operate current Amtrak intercity routes, in much the same way that private sector companies now compete with Amtrak to provide commuter rail service.

“While we required the Federal Railroad Administration to develop a rule to implement the pilot program within one year of PRIIA’s enactment, FRA has yet to act.  I am disappointed by the delay in implementing this important provision and have raised my concerns to the FRA on numerous occasions.

“The Section 502 program established a public-private partnership opportunity for high-speed rail development.  Under this program, FRA solicited proposals to finance, design, construct, operate, and maintain high-speed intercity passenger rail systems within one of 11 specified corridors (including the Northeast Corridor).  Over 100 expressions of interest were submitted, and from these FRA received 8 substantive and credible proposals for development of high-speed rail corridor projects.

“This RFP process was kept completely separate from the Department of Transportation’s high-speed and intercity passenger rail grant funds that came through the 2009 Stimulus bill. In my view, this was a big mistake. Private sector participation can leverage federal funds and make projects less expensive, get them built faster, and help keep operating costs down.  I will be looking for ways to encourage private sector participation in passenger rail projects,” Shuster said.

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Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Makes $2.4 Billion Available for High-Speed Rail Projects Across America


WASHINGTON U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that he is making available approximately $2.4 billion, through a competitive process, to states eager to develop high-speed rail corridors across the United States.

“The Obama Administration’s bold high-speed rail plan will create jobs, reinvigorate our manufacturing sector and spur economic development for years to come,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “States across the country have been banging down our door for the opportunity to receive additional high-speed rail dollars and to deliver all of its economic benefits to their citizens.”

President Obama’s vision is to connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail within the next 25 years.  To put America on track towards that goal, the Obama Administration has proposed a six-year, $53 billion plan that will provide rail access to new communities; improve the reliability, speed and frequency of existing lines; and, where it makes economic sense, build new corridors where trains will travel at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour.

The Obama Administration’s investments in high-speed rail are also projected to create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs in the United States. Jobs will be created both directly on manufacturing, construction and operation of rail lines, and indirectly, as the result of economic developments along rail corridors. A report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, projected that high-speed rail would create tens of thousands of jobs in cities and along rail corridors across the United States.

A one-hundred percent ‘Buy America’ requirement for high-speed rail projects also ensures that U.S. manufacturers and workers will receive the maximum economic benefits from this federal investment. And, in 2009, Secretary LaHood secured a commitment from 30 foreign and domestic rail manufacturers to employ American workers and locate or expand their base of operations in the U.S. if they are selected for high-speed-rail contracts.

A merit-driven process will be used to award the newly available high-speed rail dollars to projects that can deliver public and economic benefits quickly. A project’s ability to reduce energy consumption, improve the efficiency of a region’s overall transportation network, and generate sustained economic activity along the corridor are among the selection criteria. Applications for the additional high-speed rail money will be due on April 4, 2011.

Information about the Notice of Funding Availability can be found here:



U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Makes $2.4 Billion Available for High-Speed Rail Projects Across America.

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

Mad Men on High Speed Rail

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

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March 2011