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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, April 7, 2013

Tackling the Headlines 49

Take: This series of botches makes the entire concept of franchising look bad. True Believers and others competition-averse rail watchers are watching, and could use the British government's blunders as reasons to stifle competition on this side of the Atlantic. Given Amtrak management's stated goals to primarily focus on the Northeast Corridor in the long term and the upcoming PRIIA guidelines for states, travelers need more options, not less.

Take: Hopefully by 2016, Maine Eastern will have solved its financial issues so some guaranteed connectivity can be in place as part of a future Maine passenger rail system that provides seamless transfers between operators.

Take #1: That’s great and all, but what about Houston and College Station? As a matter of fact, the entire concept of the Texas Triangle is ignored when it should be part of the discussion. The Texas DOT should not be punting the Dallas-Houston segment to JR Central because the proposed 220 mph route will serve a different constituency. 

Take #2: Despite its shortcomings, the proposed Texas-Oklahoma plan seriously looks at expansion to cities that either lost Amtrak service in the carrier's early days or haven't had any passenger service since the 1960s. Since Texas politicians nowadays talk about how much of a hindrance the government is, this expansion of rail service is the perfect opportunity for them to use the private sector to its advantage if and when these routes are implemented. Finally, the long-term expansions to Mexico are a nice touch.

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