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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, December 6, 2011

Tackling the Headlines 27

Regional HSR service between Detroit and Chicago by 2015 or 2016
An upgrade is being done on the Wolverine route that will allow faster Amtrak service. To get to that point, however, construction will contribute to more delays.

Take: Short term pain for long term convenience is never a bad tradeoff. Also, with the state of Michigan owning the tracks between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, the upgrades can be done rather quickly since Norfolk Southern never really cared about this particular rail line anyway.

Attention California: DO NOT LET A REVOTE HAPPEN
This poll says it all: Two out of three Californians want a revote on the project and three out of five voters would oppose funding the 800-mile line between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Take: As soon as the $98.5 million figure was released, the vultures--HSR opponents--jumped on this as a reason to have a revote. Now, while nothing is official at this time, this has disaster written all over it. There have been two votes on HSR in California--in 1996 and 2008.

A third vote in perilous economic times would be deadly for the entire concept of European-style high speed rail in this country. The old saying of what happens in California spreads nationally would be in place and future anti-fast train backlash would make the trio of governors returning stimulus money to the president look really mild. Like I said last month, it's time for the Authority to reorganize its system to better coordinate with the existing conventional rail system before the whole thing collapses.

Rick Scott's caught fibbing (part 2)
It now appears that the Florida governor did not even want to meet with any of the foreign operators bidding for that state's now-buried high speed project.

Take: Given this revelation from C.C. Dockery, this is all anyone needs to know about Scott and why his approval ratings have gone into the toilet. If he survives a Republican primary in 2014, he might as well not even show up to the election because he'll be dead meat by then. Scott relied on a Reason Foundation's slanted report that squashed HSR. Given that some of the foreign operators were willing to spend their own money on the route, Scott's cavalier attitude in refusing to let Virgin and others make their case to do so means that he is really a petroleum industry puppet. Now, JR Central has moved on to Texas because of Scott's actions.

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