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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

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tackling the Headlines 44

The Maple Leaf will continue to run

After much worrying about Canadian National's plan to abandon a bridge in Niagara Falls, the NFBC will now own the bridge, the Maple Leaf should continue running.

Take: Hopefully, this move will lead to more innovative services.

Revived service to Roanoke by 2018?

Leaders want the service, but funding is an obstacle--not to mention that Virginia will have to deal with the fallout of PRIIA Section 209, which may or not result in the popular and profitable Lynchburg service having to be subsidized.  

Take: The sooner the service can be reinstated, the better.

Additional Vermont service by 2017

The Green Mountain State plans to provide train service to Burlington via Rutland in five years.

Take: Yet another proactive state.

No HSR in FL? No problem

A regional planning group in the Tampa area is exploring the possibility of having commuter service along the I-4 corridor between Orlando and Tampa--by extending SunRail.

Take #1: Whether the end result is truly an extended SunRail route or a Tampa area commuter route that merely connects to SunRail, this innovative thinking may lead to a Florida-wide passenger system that provides Floridians an alternative to crowded Amtrak trains and the upcoming All Aboard Florida service that will skip smaller cities.

Take #2: An extended SunRail should be the template that produces a statewide system for other states because existing tracks would be used, and there would be supporting commuter rail lines in heavily populated areas. I'm thinkg about a statewide SunRail system that is subdivided into Intercity and Commuter/Regional services.

Take #3: This move would solve the "Orlando problem" surrounding AAF's route. As it stands now, FEC's passenger outfit would serve the airport rather than downtown. However, SunRail plans to provide a connection to the airport. The WCFMPO proposal would negate any need by AAF to extend northward into town since this mega SunRail route would already do the trick.

Take #4: Since we are likely talking about existing tracks between Orlando and Tampa, it is very possible that the old Lakeland station could be reopened for commuter use since AAF would more than likely use the pathway that was intended for the failed FL HSR project.

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