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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

Friday, June 21, 2013

Random thoughts #13

  1. Cap'n Transit makes some good points on why long distance trains are still needed. Anyone in the rail community who wants to get rid of the national network at best has no understanding of how connectivity works  and at worst demonstrates elitism. The moment that the overnight routes are eliminated, small-town communities will lose yet another means of travel and will be forced to drive hundreds of miles to their destinations. The fact is, Greyhound continues cutting service to small towns and niche bus operators like Megabus are not picking up the slack because they cater to major cities and universities. As far as air travel, forget it because Congress wants to reduce or eliminate subsidies for service to small airports altogether.
  2. There's a way for Amtrak to completely avoid having to serve any All Aboard Florida stations between West Palm Beach and Miami and this map is a perspective from a southbound Silver Service train. There are some in the rail community who are devising ways for Amtrak to serve stations on the FEC line but the problem is that the national carrier is usually resistant to have two stations in the same town and given that all four cities are on separate lines the entire time, there is the possibility that Amtrak would not staff anyone at the FEC stations, so that whole approach would be counterproductive.
  3. When it comes to the rail station-real estate relationship, it can work for all kinds of passenger rail as the Housatonic Railroad is also devising a plan to make its stations stand out by providing things like coffee shops, newsstands, rental cars and Zipcars. Japan's JR West builds shopping centers and department stores and is Housatonic's likely model.
  4. To answer Eric Jaffe's question, it all comes back to the feds. If someone in D.C. can get the clue that the current way of doing things is broken, then we could see more private involvement in passenger rail.

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