Saturday, April 30, 2011

Playing high-stakes dice with high-speed rail at the Washington Casino

Attention Washington Politics watchers.  About what this article says. . . .We can only hope! 

In California, denying the CHSRA further funding will go a long way to bringing this nightmare to an end.  The Northeast corridor qualifies far more as a regional urban mass transit system corridor than any other geography in the US.  Even John Mica, a high-speed rail opposer, acknowledges the benefits of additional rail improvements for that corridor.  

As a high-speed rail opposer, I don't stand with those who object to all matters rail or all public mass transit.  However, I do endorse parsimonious management, and social service benefits to the less well off.  If public mass transit enables employment and commutation for large numbers of those struggling to survive, it's a good investment. That, of course, is not the case with inter-city travel. 

Where HSR is unmistakeably a terrible investment is in California.  The project is perverse, because it does what is not needed, fancy rail connections between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and at the same time it fails to do what is needed, upgrade the urban and regional public mass transit services within those two major population regions.
Amtrak Seeking Florida's Rail Funds

APRIL 28, 2011


Amtrak, previously blocked from receiving federal money for high-speed rail, is now in the running for a big chunk of the $2 billion in funds freed up by Florida's decision to cancel a fast-train project earlier this year.

The federally subsidized railroad, formally the National Railroad Passenger Corp., is lobbying for $1.3 billion in federal money to upgrade service on its Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington so that trains could eventually reach 160 miles an hour. Amtrak's fastest Acela trains now average 85 miles an hour between New York and Washington.

Amtrak also is competing with several states, including California and Illinois, for the remaining $2 billion of uncommitted funds in the Obama administration's high-speed rail program.

The first $8 billion has already been allocated to various projects around the country.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's decision to scrap plans for a fast train linking Tampa to Orlando has sparked an intense lobbying campaign by states and by U.S. and foreign rail firms hoping to grab dwindling federal dollars for intercity passenger rail. Budget battles make future funding uncertain.

Rail advocates say another front runner for funds is a project to upgrade service between Chicago and St. Louis.

Those monies could also benefit rail manufacturers that would provide modern locomotives and cars for the improved segments. Companies such as Siemens AG of Germany, Alstom SA of France, Bombardier Inc. of Canada, and Patentes Talgo SL of Spain could compete for contracts.

California is also looking for more rail money for a plan to build a segment of a planned high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The Federal Railroad Administration is expected to announce awards in coming days or weeks.
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