Posts Tagged ‘High-speed rail’

Buttigieg Makes Pitch for High-Speed Rail

February 9, 2021

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg called for the United States to invest in high-speed rail during an interview with MSNBC, but stopped short of predicting when or even if that will happen.

Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg spoke in response to a question of when the U.S. would get high speed rail.

In response, Buttigieg said President Joseph Biden is a “big believer in passenger rail” and pointed out that various other nations have invested in fast passenger train services.

“I want the U.S. to be leading the world when it comes to access to high-speed rail, and I think we have an opportunity to do that, especially with the bipartisan appetite for real investments that we have before us this year,” Buttigieg said.

He was referring to an infrastructure development program the Biden administration plans to push later this year.

Details about that proposal have yet to be announced.

“Look, we’ve been asked to settle for less in this country, and I just don’t know why people in other countries ought to have better train service and more investment in high speed train service than Americans do,” Buttigieg said.

New York State to take Another Stab at High-Speed Rail

December 28, 2019

New York State will try another tactic toward implement a high-speed rail service on the Empire Corridor used by Amtrak.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will appoint a panel of engineers to review past high-speed rail plans and recommend a new plan for how to build high-speed rail New York-Albany-Buffalo route.

A statement released by the governor’s office said most of the state’s population lives near the Empire Corridor and the average speed of passenger trains on the route is 51 mph.

Various administrations have sought without success over the past two decades to implement high-speed rail service plans but have been stymied by, among other things, high cost.

Previous proposals have also indicated that it would take decades to create a high-speed line to Buffalo.

Cuomo’s statement said the news panel will “reexamine and rethink strategies to bring high speed rail to New York.”

The Empire Corridor hosts Amtrak trains between New York and Niagara Falls, New York, but also sees the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf.

FRA Wants Guidance on High-Speed Rail Rules

June 3, 2017

The Federal Railroad Administration is seeking guidance from the White House before it issues standards for high-speed rail lines.

The FRA has been working on the rules for several months but has held them back because of a Trump administration requirement that agencies eliminate two regulations for every new regulation that they issue.

A news report this past week published by The Bureau of National Affairs, a division of Bloomberg, quoted the FRA’s chief safety officer, Robert Lauby, as saying that the high-speed regulations are “complete or ready to be issued,” but the agency lacks an appointed administrator or deputy administrator.

“We want to get some new leadership. We want to get some consistency and have some more direction,” Lauby said. “There’s more questions that need to be answered before we will have a firm way forward.”

The proposed high-speed rail rules were released last November and are designed to create a new tier of safety standards that allow passenger rail service at speeds up to 220 mph along lines shared with commuter and other rail.

At the present, the fastest train in America is Amtrak’s Acela Express, which hits 150 mph in some places in the Northeast Corridor.

Lauby said the rail industry wants the regulations released, calling them “well-liked” because they will provide cost-savings and were developed in coordination with rail and affected industries.

“Rather than have a big question mark, this provides predictability,” Lauby said. “They know exactly what they need to build. They can do accurate costs estimates, and they can have good proposals, and they can compete with each other.”

Survey Finds Support for High-Speed Rail

September 26, 2015

The American Public Transportation Association released a survey this week show that 63 percent of Americans say they would use high-speed trains if they were available in the United States.

APTA said that when respondents were informed of the potential costs and time-saving benefits of using high-speed rail, that number increased to 67 percent

The survey was conducted by market research firm TechnoMetrica, which conducted 1,005 random digit-dial phone interviews.

“People want high-speed rail in America and we are seeing support among various ages and in different regions of the country regardless of political party,” said APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Melaniphy. “In addition, the millennial generation and younger adults will lead the way with their preferences to have a multimodal transportation system that supports their lifestyle.”

Campaigning to Expand Cincinnati Rail Service

September 25, 2014

Cincinnati area passenger rail advocates have begun a push to increase passenger rail service between Chicago and the Queen City.

A first step in that direction is to conduct a study to determine how much it would cost to improve the current route used by Amtrak’s Cardinal between the two cities.

Derek Bauman, a regional director for All Aboard Ohio and Cincinnati resident, on Monday appeared before the Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District Board to pitch the idea of daily high-speed train service to Chicago.

“What we’re looking at doing is making passenger rail an actual transportation option, a realistic option to be able to connect to Chicago,” Bauman said. “The first step is to see if we all agree whether this is a good idea.”

Bauman is trying to generate bi-partisan support from federal, state and local leaders in Ohio and Indiana.

“This is without knowing the cost, but just the concept is a great idea,” said Cincinnati City Councilwoman Amy Murray. “With the way airfares are going up and the support we’ve seen for Megabus, high-speed rail on a consistent basis to Chicago could be a game-changer.”

Murray, who once served as a business development manager for Procter & Gamble, said the business leaders she has met with favor the idea of high-speed rail.

The Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation supports those efforts and has awarded All Aboard Ohio a grant to help promote the idea.

“If we improve the frequency and speed of our passenger rail service connections with Chicago, our community – and every community between here and Chicago – will benefit,” said Haile Foundation Vice President Eric Avner.

Federal transportation travel data shows that Chicago was the No. 2 destination from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport between July 2013 and June 2014.

Amtrak’s Cardinal operates tri-weekly between Chicago and New York and calls upon Cincinnati in the middle of the night.

The current schedule has the Cardinal arriving at Cincinnati Union Terminal at 1:13 a.m. westbound on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. The eastbound Cardinal is scheduled to arrive at 3:17 a.m. on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. The travel time between Cincinnati and Chicago is seven hours.

Murray and her husband, Wally, decided to take Amtrak to Sacramento, Calif., for a wedding this past summer.

They rode Megabus from Cincinnati to Chicago before boarding Amtrak because of the limited and inconvenient Amtrak schedules at Cincinnati.

Columbus, Fort Wayne and seven other Ohio and Indiana cities recently agreed to work on launching rail passenger service between Columbus and Chicago.

“We’re being left behind,” Bauman said. “This would be good for job growth in the region.”

Bauman cited the example of the work underway to upgrade Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis route to allow for 110 mph speeds and a four-hour travel time by 2017.

Amtrak currently offers five roundtrips between Chicago and St. Louis, including four Lincoln Service rondtrips funded in part by the State of Illinois and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

“That would be our goal, and so what we want to do is make sure that we are on par with our peer competitor cities that we are staying connected in a way that will drive jobs, drive economic development and attract and retain talent,” he said.

Bauman said improved rail service to Chicago is not a new idea, having been proposed in the 1990s in the form of the Midwest High-Speed Rail Initiative.

Another rail supporter told the board that if the Tri-State doesn’t invest in transportation, it will be left behind, economically.  Pete Witte noted that Columbus and Cleveland are already working on improving rail connections with Chicago.

Witte added that airlines are cutting the number of regional flights, thus increasing the importance of improving intercity rail service.

Erie Group Studying Cleveland-Buffalo Rail Link

June 24, 2014

An Erie, Pa., group has launched a feasibility study of a rail passenger route between Cleveland and Buffalo. The group envisions the rail link to connect with high-speed rail networks proposed for the Northeast and Midwest.

“There is an ambition to build a whole of a network for the Northeast that would include connections to the Midwest and everywhere else, so this is sort of the missing link,” said Alexander Metcalf, the president of Transportation Economics and Managements Systems.

The $100,000 study sponsored by All Aboard Erie is expected to take six months to complete and will examine where a rail line could be developed.

The Cleveland-Buffalo rail line would connect the Northeast to the Midwest, including the Ohio Hub, which Metcalf helped create.

“One of the reasons for building it is it gives us the ability to take a train from New York to Chicago or the Twin Cities by basically traveling the network,” Metcalf said.

Because of the project’s cost and the increasing demand for high-speed rail in the region, Metcalf said that creating a public-private partnership is critical.

“It’s getting increasingly difficult for the U.S. DOT to raise the kind of money that’s needed for major infrastructure investments, so public-private partnerships can help with that,” he said.

Metcalf said it could be many years before a passenger train on the new high-speed network runs through the area.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited operates daily between Buffalo and Cleveland via Erie on tracks owned by CSX.