Tag: passenger rail

Jan 24

Sunday Train: Going on the Attack for Amtrak

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

The Republicans have won one of the established political Power Positions in American Politics, and so they propose to eliminate funding for Amtrak:

The Bush budgets for 2006 and 2007 proposed ending federal support of Amtrak, the only US national passenger rail service.In fiscal 2005, the federal subsidy to Amtrak was $1.2 billion, which is what Bush spends in six days in Iraq.

Now, that was a 2005 fight by Resident George W. Bush, after he won his first Presidential election and his second term in office. So as one of their “new ideas”, the new Republican House proposes the same old same old.

What a big surprise. Really, you could knock me over with a feather  {Legal Disclaimer: Strictly speaking, a bronze plated ostrich feather when I am already in danger of losing my balance}.  

Jan 18

Sunday Train: Quiet Progress Edition One ~ Superelevation & Cant Deficiency

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

I’ve mentioned several times that there are lots of Federal Rail Authority regulations that are impediments to developing sustainable transport in the United States.

One of these is in the area of “superelevation” and “cant deficiency”. Superelevation is the term used in railroading for the degree of banking provided in a turn. Just as banking a turn on a road makes it possible to take the turn at a higher speed more safely, banking the track on a railroad line makes it possible to take a turn at higher speed more safely. In US rail, its measured in the inches of the higher rail above level.

And it might seem minor technical details, but this is really critical for how much new passenger transport we can get out of our existing rail alignments for how much money.

Nov 24

Night Train: Transporting a Lame Duck with the Oil Independence Tariff

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

We are in the Lame Duck Period. We have real unemployment rates of approximately 14% (counting headline unemployment, marginally attached, and involuntary unemployment as roughly 50% employed, 50% unemployed), and if the economy still sucks this bad in November in two years times, all manner of absurdly idiotic reactions could be elicited from an angry electorate by skillful corporate marketers.

And if the the Republicans are willing to sabotage the security on loose nuclear bomb making material for political gain, surely they will sabotage the economy, as they have been doing.

And with transportation from the Recovery Act creating 630,000 direct and indirect jobs ~ a larger share of jobs than share of funding … attacking transport funding is a critical step in sabotaging the economy.

So, an idea on what can be done about it.  

Nov 17

Night Train: Losing HSR Battles while Winning the Transport War

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Last week I raised the certainty that Kasich will return $375m of Ohio’s $400m grant for laying the 110mph 3C corridor track and running 79mph trains on them … and the likelihood that Wisconsin’s Governor-elect Jobs Walkabout will return all or most of Wisconsin’s $810m for the Milwaukee to Madison Emerging HSR corridor.

Thing is, even if the opponents of HSR killed two (or, see inside, three): they had to kill them all. Every HSR line that gets finished will undermine their case, and raise intra-regional and inter-regional jealousies as a force ensuring that HSR funding is provided at the Federal level and matching funds are raised at the state level.

Oct 14

Sunday Train: Northeastern HSR Alignments & The Move to Tuesdays

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

For the Daily Kos edition of this essay, I wrote:

This is a fairly short Sunday Train, but I thought I better get something posted, so I had somewhere to put this scheduling announcement:

  • Due to a new prep on Monday Morning this coming Fall term, the Sunday Train is temporarily moving to Tuesday Evenings until the end of year Holidays, starting next week (19 October)

… but, hell, given the haphazard scheduling of the crossposts (eg, posting on Sunday and crossposting on Wednesday evening), y’all likely won’t notice the change.

The actual Sunday Train portion is about one element of the Amtrak proposal for a High Speed Rail corridor for the Northeast: the alignment. At the preliminary proposal stage, an alignment must be selected for study so that preliminary cost and patronage estimates can be performed. However, if the decision is made to go ahead, a range of alignments will be (and, indeed, must be) studied.

So tonight I take a brief look at the alignment options from the report.

Oct 04

Sunday Train: 1:36 NYC/Boston, 1:23 NYC/DC, $117b, 30yrs

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

As The Transport Politic reported earlier this week: Amtrak Unveils Ambitious Northeast Corridor Plan, But It Would Take 30 Years to be Realized

After months of sitting on the sidelines as states and regional agencies promoted major new high-speed rail investments, Amtrak has finally announced what it hopes to achieve over the next thirty years: A brand-new, 426-mile, two-track corridor running from Boston to Washington, bringing true [Express] high-speed rail to the Northeast Corridor for the first time.

Some questions and answers, over the fold.

Sep 28

Sunday Train: HSR Plan A and Plan B Thinking

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

This last week, I have been staring at The Transport Politic post, Republican Wave Could Spell Trouble for High-Speed Rail Projects from Coast to Coast.

Living in Ohio, that is doubly true: first, adding the impact of the recession on top of the impact of sixteen years of Kasich/Portman style policies is, ironically, the best opportunity for those who helped cause the mess to gain political power from it. Second, because of the blocking position of the Republican Majority in the State Senate in the last two years, the odds are stacked against the project: even as things stand now, we need to flip a Republican for the project to go ahead.

So, is there a Plan B?

Sep 21

Sunday Train: Crowding Out vs Crowding In and Transport

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

I was reading a Grist article critical of the most recent MIT report promoting nuclear power, and one of the arguments made got me thinking about transport:

Another critical omission in the MIT analysis is the fact that large commitments to nuclear construction tends to crowd out alternatives. The financial and managerial resources of the utility are concentrated on bringing these large complex plants online. Policies that reduce demand or promote alternatives are seen as a threat to the viability of the large nuclear project. My analysis of France and the U.S. bears this out. [emphasis in the original]

This got me thinking, because Crowding Out versus Crowding In is an important issue to face when looking for Oil-Independent Tranport in pursuit of Economic Independent for the US.

Sep 06

Sunday Train: Sustaining Our Suburbs

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

As Dean Baker reported on the (bookmark worthy) Real World Economics Review Blog, new home sales figures for July are out, and they are exactly as would have been expected when the Mortgage Brokers Association reported a slump in mortgage applications in May.

The stronger figures earlier in this year, in other words, included more than a normal rebound from a recession:

People who might have bought in the second half of 2010 or even 2011 instead bought their home before the tax credit expired. Now that the credit has expired, there is less demand than ever, leaving the market open for another plunge in prices. The support the tax credit gave to the housing market was only temporary

This does not mean that all policy response is futile: what it does mean is that the policy response must address the problem we are experiencing, not the problem we wish we were experiencing.

Aug 16

Sunday Train: Richard Florida and the End of the Automobile Age

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

This week in The New Republic, Richard Florida presented his vision of High Speed Rail as the central strategic point of leverage in an economic “reset” to get us out of the doldrums resulting from the failure of the 20th century growth model to deliver ongoing, sustained growth any more … though the way he frame it is:

As dismal as housing prices continue to be, they have yet to hit bottom in some places. Unemployment remains frozen at an overall level of nine-plus percent, and job creation has been anemic. If the crisis belonged to George W. Bush, the recovery has been Obama’s-and it has been a fragile and tentative one at best. Along with billions of dollars in stimulus payments, the president has spent down most of his political capital. So what is his next step?

So … what is the next step?

May 28

Thursday Night Express: High Speed Rail, Rapid Streetcars, and Democracy

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Welcome to the Thursday Night Express. This is a new service joining the Sunday Train.

In Sunday Train, I try to dig into some information related to energy independent transport and share what details I can find.

And of course, some people have time to ride the Sunday Train, and some people do not have the time to spare. The Thursday Evening Express is an experiment that will pick three specific topics, primarily from the previous Sunday Train, and present three short arguments in two to three paragraphs.

May 24

Sunday Train: Getting Ohio’s 3C Line Into Cincinnati

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

While EnergyFreedom Transport is an issue that has been brought back onto the “front burner” (so to speak) …



… there has been ongoing work on this front ever since the supply-drive oil price shocks of the 70’s and 80’s.

Ohio won $400m in competitive HSR funding from Stimulus II, to do the first work toward a 110mph Triple-C corridor, supporting a starter Amtrak-speed service at first and then building toward a 110mph.

But it aint 3 C’s without Cincinnati, and getting into Cincinnati is tricky.

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