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With a new administration in D.C., it's time to think outside of the box because passenger rail's survival just may depend on it

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

HSR Announcement Coming Soon

Based on the Wall Street Journal article that the CAHSR blog picked up on, it looks like the feds have finally made up their minds on who will be receiving the high speed rail funds and will let it be know on Thursday. However, it won't stop me from weighing in before.

This is who I think is the most deserving of the stimulus funds:

1. Midwest/Ohio Hubs. Operators: Multiple. This is obvious since it's in the president's backyard, but it is a reflection of all the work the area has done throughout the years.

2. California. Operator: DB, SNCF, or Virgin Trains. They were the leaders until recently, when NIMBY backlash and the state's money woes slightly dented things for the Golden State.

3. Southeast. Operator: Amtrak for existing Piedmont and Newport News routes and for the planned D.C.-Charlotte route. Operators for other legs of the SEHSR system to be determined later. This area like the other two has done enormous work to be in a position to qualify for the money.

4. Cascades. Operator: Amtrak. This is another area that has used conventional rail to its advantage. It's a lesson for anyone jumping on Florida's bandwagon.

Everyone else not listed would have to wait for Round 2 because these four parts of the country are the only ones deserving of President Obama's stimulus money. If anyone thought Florida should be front and center, consider this latest bit of news from the Sunshine State. That's right, Amtrak is threatening to derail--no pun intended--the SunRail commuter project in central Florida. This is reason enough for the president to reconsider his plans and not give one penny to that state. If this is an effort by Amtrak president Joseph Boardman to bid for the HSR route in that state, it shows that Amtrak isn't as dedicated to rail system as it claimed in the stimulus application. If the move against SunRail ends up destroying the HSR project,  it will be a while before Florida even gets considered by the feds for a project this big. Either way, Boardman will end up destroying any good chance the state has to build a productive passenger rail system. 

With all that said, here's how I think where the funds will go based on who will get the most money:

1. Midwest                                                                                                                                                      

2. Florida                                                                                                                                                        

3. California                                                                                                                                                    

4. NEC (even though they were ineligible for stimulus funding, Amtrak still has enough buddies in Congress to back them up, and the vice president also plays a factor since he used to ride the train frequently)      

Round 2                                                                                                                                                          

5. Empire Corridor (because Boardman used to work in NY)                                                                 

6. SEHSR                                                                                                                                                        

7. Cascades                                                                                                                                                     

8. Keystone extension to Pittsburgh                                                                                                              

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