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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

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tackling the Headlines 38

FEC study: Green light to operate trains

Take: That was done in no time. Now, that's how you do a feasibility study. Congratulations, FEC, and I hope to take one of your trains in three years' time. As for the Miami-Cocoa overlap in which FEC (initial segment to Orlando) and Amtrak (Miami-Jacksonville service via Silver Service split) trains will operate, the Class II is planning to develop separate stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando. As a result, travelers will be need to be careful to identify the stations along the line.

Feds give a grant to Housatonic for final study

If all goes well, the Berkshires will see train service between 2017 and 2020. Grand Central needs as much quality train service as possible. I also liked how the article mentions that the station at the route's northern terminus could be upgraded to handle more trains.

Take: After all of the backlash, the Class III perseveres.

Yet another feasibility study--this one from Indiana

Take: Given past talk about how anti-rail Hoosier State politicians are, this one just came out of left field. The interesting thing is that there is zero mention of Amtrak in the study. Upon further review, this should be of no surprise since Amtrak left the city in 1990.

Amtrak to redo its own feasibility study on Treasure Coast service
Cities are in various planning stages, funding from Tallahassee is an apparent issue, and Amtrak needs to update its numbers. The earliest launch date has now been pushed back to 2015-16.

Take: I am willing to bet with anybody that FEC will extend its All Aboard Florida service to Jacksonville before Amtrak is able to get a single train on the East Coast line. Funding issues could come up at the state, federal level, or both and Amtrak could have a new president in the next 3-5 years who could change course.

Amtrak-Trinity Railway Express conflict could force Texas to return stimulus money

Take: The liability issue rears its ugly head again. Texas didn't really get that much stimulus money in 2009 because its governor rejected it. My guess is that Amtrak is waiting for the TIGER II money dedicated to relieve Tower 55 congestion so it can have use new tracks on the UP line between Dallas and Fort Worth. Another problem is that Amtrak has $200 million in liability insurance while TRE is limited to $250,000.

Referendum to repeal CAHSR withdrawn, lawsuits may be new strategy by foes

Take: It's great news-potentially bad news. Once construction on the first segment begins, the lawsuits may become moot.

Southern Oregonians want passenger service to be restored

Take: Someone needs to urge the CORP to realize the potential to provide local residents alternative transportation.

A new station in Petersburg, VA?
The state is clearly doing the one-for-all-all-for-one routine here: Either both stations will be in Ettrick or everything will be moved to downtown Petersburg.

Take: Sigh, I guess that's the nature of working with an operator that isn't willing to place more than one station in a metropolitan area on a consistent basis. I have no objections about the DRPT building a separate high speed rail station right next to the existing Amtrak station, but it's the mentality that is irking me.

Instead of quotes like these
[A]reas with populations comparable to the Tri-Cities region "typically have only one train station. Richmond is a rarity because it has Main Street and Staples Mill (stations), even though they don't offer the same level of service at both locations.
the state should be more creative and use a downtown Petersburg station as a facility for special passengers who value their time. Another use for a downtown station could provide passengers who will travel on east-west services in the future easy access.

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