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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

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tackling the Headlines 25

Rail improvements north of the border

Via Rail Canada is focusing on improving speed and travel times. Providing High speed rail service? Not so much.

Take: Canada’s passenger rail system was gutted in 1990 and routes and frequencies have not returned to that year’s levels so Via Rail has to add more frequencies and get back to that year's levels before serious HSR can be considered. Also, a PPP should be used for HSR if it’s to be implemented.

Using some logic on the Left Coast
A new plan would electrify Caltrain.

Take:  It makes sense because you can only build up to a point in metropolitan areas like the Bay Area. The plan will fall in line with how most countries built their HSR systems—build new ROWs in rural areas but share tracks with existing passenger services in urban locales. Caltrain should be electrified by now, so this project should help with that endeavor.

Transaction complete
61-mile stretch of track is now in the hands of the state of Florida in anticipation for SunRail service.

Take: This is what a public-private partnership should look like.

Lone Star State wants $15 mil from feds for route
Texas officials want money but they don’t even know if they’ll even get anything from the HSIPR Program.

Take:  The article stated that the state’s funding request has nothing to do with JR Central’s efforts to privately build a 200+ mph route between Dallas and Houston. How coincidental given that Texas wants public money for HSR service when it should be focusing on restoring passenger service to the existing Dallas-Houston segment that hosted part of the Texas Eagle from 1989 to 1995. How can that be done, you ask? It’s simple; state officials should consult a private operator to run the route, thereby cutting out the middleman that is Amtrak. Perhaps, Union Pacific would be more receptive to the new entity than to Amtrak. Also, more passenger service along the Texas Triangle would also be more productive than chasing that $15 million when a private entity could save taxpayers money by building fast train service with its own money.

New Delaware service?
A study is looking to provide new service in downstate Delaware and east Maryland.

Take:  After the smoke clears with many private operators winning routes, this new service would actually be a smart move by Amtrak.

Atlanta is going to get a new station
On Halloween, Georgia’s DOT signed a deal with a private firm to build a brand new train station in downtown Atlanta that will also provide service for mass transit (MARTA, streetcars, buses) and intercity buses.

Take: I agree with Creative Loafing that Terminal Station like the original Penn Station in NYC should have never been demolished. This new facility will also allow for high speed service. The intercity entities can use the new station to turn around certain cars and to also put on double decker cars for transcontinental routes.




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