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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, July 3, 2012

Tackling the Headlines 35


The DesertXpress is now XpressWest
Last month, DesertXpress renamed itself XpressWest and announced that the route would be extended from Victorville to Palmdale.

Take: A great start and a way to dispel critics who claim that XpressWest is "a train to nowhere." Now, if they could only extend the route southward to Los Angeles, then everything would be complete

New owners to run landmark
St. Louis Union Station is about to change owners. The station has had mixed results--the Marriott thrives but the mall is hemorrhaging tenants--and the current owner faced lawsuits over a failed effort to expand the hotel.

Take: One can only hope that the new owners will be open to the idea of letting trains stop at St. Louis Union Station once again. STLUS should be a multi-function facility that includes train service. Given all of the changes that have taken place since 1978, the historic landmark should try a different tack in handling passenger service.

Commuter train service is a likely nonstarter since the plan is to use Gateway station for the two planned lines to Alton, IL and Pacific, MO. When Missouri is able to build a separate HSR route between St. Louis and Kansas City, that route should be allowed to connect to Express HSR routes to Chicago at STLUS. Once the politicians in D.C. and the Class I railroads get with the program, the station can provide other types of trains--including short excursions. Trains to Florida, the Northeast, and the West via the Consortium idea as well as specialty trains would complement HSR trains. As far as transfers go, the city and the state would jointly work out a free transfer that would likely result in passengers using Metrolink light rail since the two stations are only a minute away.

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