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Yes !!!!!  :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

 

This is huge.  Make sure you let Senator's Brown and Voinovich know how you feel about their votes.

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Some background...

 

Positive Train Control

 

Positive train control (PTC) is a system of monitoring and controlling train movements to provide increased safety.

 

The main concept in PTC is that the train receives information about its location and where it is allowed to safely travel. Equipment on board the train then enforces this, preventing unsafe movement. Contrast this with conventional railway signaling in which equipment located along the track provides the information, and the engineer (driver) supplies the enforcement.

 

The basic functions of a PTC system are:

    * manage track occupancies through centralized route and interlocking logic

    * issue movement authorities via wireless data links to trains and work vehicles

    * determine the position of trains

    * enforce permanent and temporary speed limits

    * enforce limits of movement authority (LoMA) for trains

 

Optionally, a PTC system can also include:

    * pacing to optimize fuel economy

    * monitor and control wayside systems

    * report train diagnostics, alarms and operating parameters

    * exchange instructions and messages between dispatcher and train

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More detail:

 

Senate Passes Procedural Vote on Rail Safety / Amtrak Funding Package

 

The Senate has passed a procedural (cloture) motion on a rail safety / Amtrak funding bill (HR 2095) by a vote of 69 to 17.  There were 60 affirmative votes needed for passage.

 

Due to Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) procedural maneuver of “filling the tree,” no amendments will be debated on this bill.  Some provisions within the package follow.

 

A final vote on this legislation will take place on Wednesday.

 

Per the AP:

 

A requirement for the “installation by 2015 of technology that can engage the brakes if a train misses a signal or gets off track.  The so-called positive train control technology would be required on all rail lines that carry passengers and on freight lines that carry hazardous materials.”

A cap on “the monthly hours train crews can work at 276. An outdated law that currently governs train crew hours allows them to work more than 400 hours a month, compared with 100 hours a month for commercial airline pilots.”

Funding authorization per the DPC and RPC policy summaries:

 

$1.6 billion for Federal Railroad Administration, other rail safety programs through FY 2013.

$13 billion for Amtrak program, state and high-speed rail grants through FY 2013.

$9.6 billion for Amtrak

$1.9 billion for state grants aimed at intercity passenger rail service developments

$1.5 billion for high-speed rail initiatives

 

http://senatus.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/senate-passes-procedural-vote-on-rail-safety-amtrak-funding-package/

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So what's next after the Senate floor vote?

 

A presidential signature, which he has indicated he will give.

 

Then comes appropriations prior to the change of each fiscal year. Congress must appropriate, or budget, a dollar amount for each funding category authorized (up to the dollar amounts authorized) for the coming fiscal year. There are many other steps in this, but none of those can happen without the funding authorization that's now near reality.

 

I don't want you all to get an idea that we'll soon have TGVs running around everywhere. This authorizes $3 billion per year over five years. It will stop the death spiral of deferred maintenance, allow Amtrak to reform itself and achieve some significant cost savings, and provide a small amount of funding for expansion.

 

Keep in mind that there's a roughly $50 billion backlog of unfunded passenger rail expansion projects nationwide (including the Ohio Hub). But the pending bill, if approved into law, takes the passenger rail system from survival mode and puts it into growth mode. A fundamental shift is happening -- finally.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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It will be good if Amtrak can get the Beech Grove (Indianapolis) facility back up to operating at capacity. They had built up a world-class repair facility with a capable workforce, and their reputation had brought workers and managers from Europe to observe and be trained, when severe funding cuts reduced their effectiveness to near nothing.

 

Beech Grove is equipped for anything related to cars and locomotives, from refurbishment and repainting to heavy wreck repair.

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Senate Passes Procedural Vote on Rail Safety / Amtrak Funding Package

 

Thank god... now with this financial mess we're entering, let's hope our country has enough money left next year to actually invest in passenger rail.  I'm starting to wonder...

 

 

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It will be good if Amtrak can get the Beech Grove (Indianapolis) facility back up to operating at capacity. They had built up a world-class repair facility with a capable workforce, and their reputation had brought workers and managers from Europe to observe and be trained, when severe funding cuts reduced their effectiveness to near nothing.

 

Beech Grove is equipped for anything related to cars and locomotives, from refurbishment and repainting to heavy wreck repair.

 

According to Dave Randall, a director with the National Association of Railroad Passengers and equipment guru, Beech Grove may be on its way out or scaled back. He seems to think Amtrak is going to contract out a lot of work and that they might move any remaining heavy maintenance to Chicago, which makes sense from a logistical point of view. he also says the state and local elected officials don't seem to care that they may lose the facility.

 

Oh, and in regard to today's cloture vote: Eat my shorts, Tom Coburn!!! Same for all you naysayers who have held us back all these years. Maybe, just maybe there's cause for hope after all...I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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... he also says the state and local elected officials don't seem to care that they may lose the facility...

 

Given the roads-obsessive bias of our governor and the mindless support of his base, I'm not suprised at that.

 

If the US had a decent geographic distribution of passenger rail service, Indianapolis would be near-perfect logistically. But we don't, and it isn't.

 

Indiana brought itself to financial near-ruin in the mid-nineteenth century by investing in a canal when canals in the eastern states were already being driven into bankruptcy by railroads. The nicest thing about living here is that most other places seem progressive by comparison.

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But what's interesting is that both of Indiana's Senators (Lugar & Bayh) voted FOR the cloture in support of HR 2095.  Maybe there's hope?

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If it passes (and it probably will), Congress will have the authorization to provide some decent money for passenger rail. There's still some steps to go.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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The Senate authorizes.... and the House funds.  Making it all the more important that passenger rail becomes an issue in any Congressional race.  If they're an incumbent who voted against it, vote 'em out.  If they're a challenger who doesn't or won't take a stand, don't vote 'em in.

 

The message:  "Want my vote? Get me a train."

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The Senate authorizes.... and the House funds. Making it all the more important that passenger rail becomes an issue in any Congressional race. If they're an incumbent who voted against it, vote 'em out. If they're a challenger who doesn't or won't take a stand, don't vote 'em in.

 

The message: "Want my vote? Get me a train."

 

We'll have to identify the "nay" votes and start to ratchet up the heat.

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But what's interesting is that both of Indiana's Senators (Lugar & Bayh) voted FOR the cloture in support of HR 2095. Maybe there's hope?

 

I've long been impressed with Dick Lugar. I lean mostly Democrat and have for a long time, and his views on social issues are often more conservative than mine. He's a brilliant individual with a lot of experience, though, and he takes a reasoned, informed approach to dealing with public policy.

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So what's next after the Senate floor vote?

 

A presidential signature, which he has indicated he will give.

 

Then comes appropriations prior to the change of each fiscal year. Congress must appropriate, or budget, a dollar amount for each funding category authorized (up to the dollar amounts authorized) for the coming fiscal year. There are many other steps in this, but none of those can happen without the funding authorization that's now near reality.

 

 

There is some risk that the floor vote won't be scheduled before the end of this congressional session, which would mean that we would have to start over again.  But since the Democrats have the majority and are afraid of Bush recess appointments I suspect that they will not adjourn until the last moment.  We probably will get the floor vote, but I'm not holding my breath -- 'cause we might not.

 

 

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The floor vote is "scheduled" for tomorrow.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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Excellent news for Ohio and a number of other state efforts at improving passenger rail.  Note also the updates USDOT stats on driving habits.

 

DOT 142-08

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Contact: Brian Turmail

Tel.: (202) 366-4570

 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Announces Latest Driving Data, New Funding to Improve Intercity Passenger Rail

 

RICHMOND, VA – As Americans continue a historic cut back on driving and turn to other forms of transportation like rail and transit, a new approach to funding intercity passenger rail projects will lead to improved service and better on-time performance across the country, announced U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters today.

 

The Secretary released new data today indicating that Americans drove 3.6 percent less, or 9.6 billion miles fewer, in July 2008 than July 2007. Since last November, Americans have driven 62.6 billion miles less than they did over the same nine-month period last year. Meanwhile, she said, transit ridership is up 11 percent, and in July, Amtrak carried more passengers than in any single month in its history.

 

“At a time when transit and rail are seeing record growth, the very way we finance these systems is at risk. That is because our transit investments come from the same source as our highway investments – federal gas taxes,” Secretary Peters said. “Federal transportation policies that rely almost exclusively on gas taxes are failing our state and local governments.”

 

So as part of a new plan to improve intercity passenger rail service nationwide, the Secretary announced the Department is providing $30 million to match local investments in 15 rail capacity enhancement projects across the country. These federal-state partnerships will support projects designed to reduce delays and expand capacity on existing intercity passenger rail routes and help establish new services where none exist today.

 

Until now, she said, there has been no way for states to qualify for federal funds to match local investments in rail capacity as all federal funds have gone directly to Amtrak.

 

But, the Secretary warned, comprehensive reform is needed across the transportation system. In July, the Secretary unveiled a new proposal to reform and target transportation investments where they can best reduce congestion and improve infrastructure, while beginning to move away from relying exclusively on unstable gas taxes to finance transportation investments in the future.

 

“A few weeks ago, we saw the folly of our antiquated federal transportation policies when the highway trust fund almost ran out of money. If we don’t evolve our policies, we will leave a sad legacy of old roads, crowded highways, and unfulfilled transit ambitions,” Secretary Peters said.

 

To view more detail on the VMT data, please visit: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/tvtw/08jultvt/index.cfm.

 

The 15 intercity passenger rail grants the Department is awarding will support planning and construction projects in Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Projects include:

 

Arizona: EIS Tucson to Phoenix, $1 million

Description: The planning study would conduct a Phase I EIS for new intercity passenger rail service in the Sun Corridor between Phoenix and Tucson (140 miles). The service would operate trains at speeds up to 125 mph with as many as 15 stations. New track would be needed, existing tracks upgraded, and improved made at many public and private highway-rail grade crossings. The Phase I EIS will complete a majority of the environmental analysis necessary for project development and result in a selection of alternatives for further design and feasibility studies.

Benefits: There is no daily, punctual rail service in this corridor today (the unreliable Amtrak Sunset Limited is tri-weekly). Modern rail service is projected to carry approximately 1.2 million passengers annually. This service could ultimately interlink with commuter rail programs.

 

California: San Joaquin Corridor – 4.5-mile double tracking, Kings Park, $5 million

Description: The project involves the conversion of 4.5 miles of running side track to a second main line, construction of side tracks, the addition of two #24 crossovers and other turnout improvements, as well as related signal and highway crossing improvements. Completion of the project will result in 9.5 miles of continuous double track that will allow trains to pass each other at maximum track speed of 79 mph. This location has been identified as one of the worst congestion points in the corridor and a priority for capacity enhancement on the BNSF sections of the San Joaquin service route operated by Amtrak.

Benefits: The project would connect existing sections of double track. With the recently completed Shirley to Hanford project to the north, the Kings Park project would result in a continuous 9.5 mile section of double main track. Operations analysis indicates that the project would reduce Amtrak train delays by 5 hours per week and increase average speeds of the San Joaquin service by 1.3%.

 

Illinois : Installation of Centralized Traffic Control and Cab Signals from Joliet to Mazonia, $1.55 million

Description: Replace the existing Automatic Block System (ABS) with a Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) and Cab Signal system on a 24.7 mile segment on the Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail corridor from Joliet to Mazonia (Dwight).

Benefits: Project will upgrade train operations from Joliet to Mazonia on the Chicago to Springfield/St. Louis corridor with centralized train control technology and cab signals to improve the safety and reliability of train service between Chicago and Joliet. The upgraded signal system will provide for a 30 minute reduction in delays, currently experienced with operations over the existing signal system. Project will also upgrade circuitry at grade crossings along this route. Ultimately, the installation of CTC and cab signal technology will enable Amtrak to increase train speeds up to 110 mph in sections of this corridor capable of supporting high speed operations.

 

Illinois : Installation of Cab Signal Technology from Mazonia to Ridgeley (Springfield) $1.85 million

Description: Install Cab Signal system and Advance Activation System on 118.4 route miles between Mazonia (Dwight) and Ridgley (Springfield) on the Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail corridor.

Benefits: Enables the State and Amtrak to increase train speeds to 80 and 110 mph in sections of this corridor capable of supporting high speed operations, providing for a 24-minute reduction in travel time through this segment. Includes the installation of an Advance Activation System for safer operation of high speed trains through grade crossings and supports cab signal technology already installed on UP freight locomotives.

 

Maine: Portland Area Track Improvments, $500,000

Description: The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) proposes to undertake a state-of-good-repair track improvement project on rail lines owned by Pan Am Railways in the Portland, ME area. These include tracks extending from the Portland station to the layover facility, including a wye. The only passenger service using these tracks is the State-supported Downeaster service, which currently operates at five freqencies per day. A portion of the track to be improved is not currently used for revenue operations, and the wye is now out of service for turning of passenger train consists.

Benefits: The quantified anticipated benefits relate primarily to the renewed ability to turn locomotives and trainsets on the wye, a procedure which the applicant regards as necessary when locomotives are bad-ordered. The applicant also asserts that the current inability to do this requires that a protect locomotive be held in reserve in Portland, and that the net present value of the cost of the protect locomotive over the 15-year life of the proposed improvements would be $6.5 million. Prior to submitting the application, however, the applicant told the FRA that the long-term intent of the project would be to accommodate an extension of Downeaster service to Brunswick, which would use the improved track for revenue movements.

 

Minnesota: PEIS Twin Cities to Duluth High-Speed Rail, $1.1 million

Description: The planning study is to to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for new passenger rail service from Minneapolis to Duluth where there is currently none. The PEIS would address proposed rail infrastructure improvements to support high speed rail service up to 110 mph along the BNSF line, for a distance of about 150 miles. A feasibility study was completed for the proposed service that describes a range of rail improvements from conventional 79 mph service to 110 mph service requiring a full train control system. Capital improvements are estimated to range from $75 to $400 million (2006 dollars).

Benefits: Completion of the PEIS would advance the project to be ready for implementation steps. A PEIS would set the stage for discrete capital projects that could be completed over time as the service is introduced and expanded. The proposed project would introduce intercity passenger rail service where there is none today. In 2009 a commuter rail service is planned to start along the Minneapolis end of the route and both services would terminate at the same station and connect with transit.

 

Missouri: Siding Extension, St. Louis-Kansas City, $3.3 million

Description: Missouri DOT proposes the construction of one 9,000 ft. passing track (near California, MO), and completion of preliminary engineering for a second (in Knob Noster, MO), on Union Pacific's (UP) Sedalia subdivision between Jefferson City and Kansas City, to be used by the State-supported Mules and Anne Rutledge services (two frequencies per day). These new tracks would eliminate two existing 20+ mile gaps between passing tracks on a primarily unidirectional line.

Benefits: The applicant states that completion of these projects would eliminate up to an average of 6 minutes of delay per train due primarily to freight train interference. These estimates are supported by an extensive simulation study performed by the University of Missouri which identified capital investment projects which would improve OTP on the cross-Missouri route.

 

New York: Albany Station Track and Signal Improvements, $1.25 million

Description: New York State DOT proposes to perform full engineering of a significant multiphased reconfiguration of the interlockings in and around Albany-Rensselaer Station. The station serves the Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited, Ethan Allen Express, and the State-supported (north of Albany) Adirondack. The proposed project includes installing a station track on the currently-unused east face of the east island platform, the addition of pocket tracks, and the reconfiguration of the Post Road connection used by the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.

Benefits: The full implementation of the reconfiguration will allow for improved speeds approaching and departing the station resulting from the improvement of signal aspects through the installation of track circuits and the realignment of tracks to allow for non-diverging moves to and from the inboard island platform faces. The project represents the first comprehensive reconfigurations of one of the busier station interlocking in the U.S. since the time it was first cobbled together in the late 1960s.

 

Ohio:Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati Planning and Alternatives Analysis, $62,500

Description: Ohio has contracted with Amtrak to assess the feasibility of initiating a start-up service of two round trips per day between Cleveland and Columbus and possibly to Cincinnati (which together define the "3C corridor"). The planning project would complement the Amtrak assessment and advance the analysis of alternative 3C routes and station locations that will most effectively serve the corridor - both in the short-term and the long-term. The tasks include: program management, coordination with Amtrak and oversight of Amtrak train operations analysis; drafting purpose and need; and long term alternative route analysis.

Benefits: The planning objectives are to support the state initiative for start-up service in the short term by conducting short-term/long-term planning analysis of 3C corridor requirements. This will help to align any short-term actions with the long-term needs, planning and environmental documentation. It is expected that the project would: 1.) Support a State-supported Amtrak startup service; 2). Advance the conceptual engineering and analysis of alternative routes and station sites and facilities; and 3.) Clarify a long-term corridor development strategy.

 

Vermont: Vermonter Route – One-Mile Rail Replacement/Bridge Redeckings, $450,000

Description: The Vermont Agency of Transportation proposes a state-of-good-repair project to replace one mile of rail and redeck four bridges on the slow-order-laden New England Central Railroad (NECR) route of the State-supported Vermonter, which operates at one frequency per day each way.

Benefits: The applicant states that the proposed project is anticipated to result in the reduction of 12 minutes of slow-order delay per train.

 

Vermont: Ethan Allen Route - 2-Mile Track Reconstruction,$581,775

Description: The Vermont Agency of Transportation proposes a state-of-good-repair project to rebuild 2 miles of slow-order-laden track on the Clarendon and Pittsford Railroad near Rutland, VT, on the route of the State-supported Ethan Allen Express, which operates at one frequency per day each way. The project involves the installation of continuous welded rail, 2000 new ties, and renewal of the roadbed.

Benefits: The applicant states that the proposed project is anticipated to result in the reduction of 10 minutes of slow order delay per train. However, the project location's proximity to the Rutland Yard limits and Rutland station calls into question whether speeds could fully attain the levels projected in the application.

 

Virginia: Third Track south of Fredericksburg, $2 million

Description: Construction of a third track south of Fredericksburg Station in Spotsylvania County. Project includes the rehabilitation of 3.1 miles of existing track (currently used as a siding) to serve as a third track for passing. Components of the project include an upgrade to the subgrade, track structure, and interlockings, as well as the removal an obsolete industrial siding. FRA funding of this project would support an offset project to design the AM interlocking near Richmond Main Street Station, with a potential extension of the design from the Main Street Station through Acca Yard to the Staples Mill Station.

Benefits: Projected improvements include increased reliability, reduced delays and improved OTP (by 4%) to 80%. Project will provide the only location where a passenger train can over-take another train without opposition between Richmond and Alexandria.

 

Washington: Point Defiance Bypass (D-M Street Tacoma), $6 million

Description: This project will provide for preliminary engineering, environmental review, and right of way acquisition for the 1.2 mile D to M street segment of the 19.5 mile Point Defiance Bypass project from Tacoma to Nisqually. The D to M street segment will include new track and signal systems on a realigned right-of-way in Tacoma, including a grade-separated railroad crossing at Pacific Avenue. Ultimately, the Point Defiance Bypass Project will redirect intercity passenger trains between Tacoma and Nisqually from the circuitous BNSF freight line along the coast to a passenger oriented inland route.

Benefits: The new routing will enable WSDOT to operate two additional round trip Cascades trains from Portland to Seattle and SoundTransit’s Sounder to extend service to Lakewood. The project will reduce travel time by 6 minutes between Portland and Seattle as well as avoid freight traffic interference through two single-track tunnels and port activities along the current route. Ultimately, Amtrak services will relocate to the newly constructed Freighthouse Square station in Tacoma providing direct access to SoundTransit’s Sounder commuter rail, and Link light rail to downtown Tacoma.

 

Wisconsin: Chicago-Milwaukee Welded Rail (17.85 mi), $5 million

Description: The project will install 17.85 miles of continuously-welded rail (CWR) in the Canadian Pacific right-of-way between Milwaukee and the IL/WI state line, replacing the last sections of remaining jointed rail on the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor. Project will include replacement of ties and other related track materials, where necessary, as well as the reprogramming of grade crossings for higher speeds.

Benefits: CWR will increase the reliability of passenger trains on the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor by increasing speeds (from 70 to79 mph on downgraded jointed track), reducing travel time (by 1.7 minutes), and eliminating delays and slow orders associated with ongoing maintenance of jointed rail (by up to 70% or 4 minutes per 1000 train miles for jointed track). These improvements will insure a greater on-time arrival into Metra territory, avoiding a potential 10-20 minute delay into Chicago. In addition, CWR will provide enhanced ride quality for Amtrak passengers and equipment.

 

Wisconsin: Midwest Regional Rail Initiative* (MWRRI) Alternatives Analysis and Planning (Phase 7) $297,000

Description: Continued planning for the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI) including alternatives analysis, updating MWRRI system costs, equipment, train control and operational plans, and the preparation of public outreach materials. The project covers some program management, updating South of the Lake alternatives analysis between Chicago, IL and Porter, IN, and preliminary alternatives analysis in other corridors.

Benefits: This planning work is intended continue the MWRRI on a path toward implementation by updating and refining key MWRRI plan elements and public information materials and completing corridor alternatives analysis work called for in the FRA Rail Corridor Transportation Plan Guidance Manual and required to meet the requirements of the federal NEPA process for the preparation of a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for route selection in MWRRI corridors. *MWRRI is a coalition of states and Wisconsin serves as the administer of program funds.

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The rail package, which includes reauthorization of Amtrak and significant funding for state capital projects has passed the Senate on a 74-24 vote. In Ohio, Senator Sherrod Brown voted Yes. Senator George Voinovich voted No. Thank you Senator Brown. Shame on you Senator Voinovich.

 

Next stop: The White House.

 

If Bush signs this bill, Amtrak and/or Ohio could soon have funding for retrofitting existing services through Ohio with new train equipment, for improving or replacing stations, for modernizing signal systems, and for startup of the "3-C Corridor" linking Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati plus other intermediate communities.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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This is Great News!!!!!

 

National Association of Railroad Passengers www.narprail.org

900 Second St. , N.E., Suite 308

Washington, DC 20002-3557

Telephone 202-408-8362 (Capon cell 301-385-6438)

 

For Immediate Release (#08-22)

October 1, 2008

Contacts: Ross Capon , David Johnson, Matthew Melzer

 

Rail Passengers Hail Passage of Combined Rail Safety and Amtrak Reauthorization Bill

 

Statement of Ross B. Capon

Executive Director

National Association of Railroad Passengers

 

" NARP congratulates Congress on passing H.R. 2095, the Rail Safety Improvement Act including the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act. Tonight’s 74-24 vote in the Senate and passage by voice vote September 24 in the House reflect strong, bipartisan, nationwide support for a safer, bigger passenger train network. This support transcends political differences.

 

“It is consistent with what people are doing. In Richmond yesterday, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters said ‘transit and rail are seeing record growth,’ noted that Amtrak carried more riders in July than in any month of its history, and said Americans drove 3.6 percent less, or 9.6 billion miles fewer, in July 2008 than July 2007.

 

"Tonight's vote in the Senate culminates a long process. The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act was first introduced in 2005 as S. 1516.

 

"Reauthorizing Amtrak does not guarantee funding. Passenger train supporters on Capitol Hill and around the nation must continue to work to see that the White House and Amtrak actually request—and Congress provides—the authorized funding so that we can meet growing demand for trains. H.R. 2095 includes increased funding for state partnerships, studies of reinstating the North Coast Hiawatha and Pioneer routes, and a requirement that Amtrak develop a plan to restore service between New Orleans and Florida .

 

"The safety provisions of H.R. 2095 also will provide a significant shot in the arm for the railroad industry, which has also voiced support for the measure. By mandating and assisting with the deployment of Positive Train Control, this legislation will allow a more efficient and safer rail system for both passengers and freight.

 

"We thank all those who worked hard to get this bill passed and urge President Bush to sign H.R. 2095 into law promptly.”

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From:  http://www.passengerrailtoday.com/

 

Senate Passes Amtrak Bill With Veto Proof Margin

Sends Bill To White House

McCain Votes Against Passenger Rail

 

10/02/2008. Lost in the hoopla surrounding the legislation to deal with the financial restructuring proposal being kicked around Congress this week was a little noticed vote on passenger rail in the Senate last night. Congress has passed and sent the Amtrak authorization bill to the president.

 


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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In case you were wondering how Ohio's senators and representatives (and the two presidential candidates) voted on HR2095, the landmark rail legislation, see below.....

 

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2007-980

 

 

Ohio members of the US House of Representatives

 

Aye OH-1 Chabot, Steven [R]

Aye OH-2 Schmidt, Jean [R]

Aye OH-3 Turner, Michael [R]

Nay OH-4 Jordan, Jim [R]

Not Voting OH-6 Wilson, Charles [D]

Aye OH-7 Hobson, David [R]

Aye OH-8 Boehner, John [R]

Aye OH-9 Kaptur, Marcy [D]

Aye OH-10 Kucinich, Dennis [D]

Aye OH-11 Jones, Stephanie [D]

Aye OH-12 Tiberi, Patrick [R]

Aye OH-13 Sutton, Betty [D]

Aye OH-14 LaTourette, Steven [R]

Not Voting OH-15 Pryce, Deborah [R]

Aye OH-16 Regula, Ralph [R]

Aye OH-17 Ryan, Timothy [D]

Aye OH-18 Space, Zachary [D]

 

 

Ohio members of the US Senate

 

Yes -- Brown, Sherrod [D]

No -- Voinovich, George [R]

 

 

Presidential candidates

 

No -- McCain, John [R]

Yes -- Obama, Barack [D]

 

Vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden did not vote.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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Has it struck anyone that Senator's McCain and (our own) Voinovich didn't just vote againt passenger rail when they voted NO on HR-2095?  In doing so, they also voted against rail safety...and barely two weeks after a tragic commuter and freight train collision in California.

 

BTW:  Heard this morning that President Bush will sign HR-2095 into law.  Nothing like a veto-proof majority (74 yes to 24 no) to make a point.

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Note that this comes from a member of President Bush's cabinet...

 

DOT 146-08

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Contact:  Brian Turmail

Tel.: (202) 366-4570

 

Statement from U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters on Rail Legislation

 

“This legislation takes positive steps to further improve rail safety in the U.S. 

 

“We remain committed to working with Congress to implement meaningful changes to improve the performance of our intercity passenger rail system.  Our passenger rail system should be driven by sound economics, competition, and improved management of the Northeast Corridor.  Future reforms should benefit consumers and protect taxpayers.

 

“Given the improvements to rail safety, the President is expected to sign the bill.”

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

 

 

Mica: President to Sign High-Speed Rail Measure

 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Republican Leader, said today that President Bush will sign legislation that allows for private sector involvement in the development, financing, operation and maintenance of true high-speed passenger rail service in the United States.

 

Mica was informed by Administration officials today that the President will sign the legislation.

 

“This bill dramatically increases the potential for high-speed rail and bringing the U.S. into a new era of transportation,” Mica said.

 

Mica immediately urged Department of Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters to issue the high-speed service request for proposals (RFP) upon enactment of the legislation.  The provision requires the RFP within 60 days.

 

“The legislation will allow the private sector to submit proposals for high-speed service nationwide in the 11 high-speed corridors, which have been designated by DOT with Congress’ authorization.

 

“Commissions of all stakeholders – local governors and mayors, freight and commuter railroads, labor, and Amtrak – will evaluate the proposals for each corridor,” Mica continued.  “DOT will then report its recommendations to Congress, beginning with proposals for the underutilized Northeast Corridor.  It will then be up to Congress to take the necessary action to commence work on any selected proposals.

 

“This bill also institutes some dramatic and much-needed reforms for Amtrak, and increases authorized funding for intercity passenger rail.

 

“As gas prices remain high, more congestion chokes our highways, and aviation delays continue to rise, no other transportation alternative is as cost-effective, energy-efficient, or environmentally friendly,” Mica concluded.

 

The measure opens 11 corridors across the nation to private sector high-speed rail proposals.  The 11 high-speed corridors DOT designated with Congress’ authorization are: 

 

- The Northeast Corridor;

- The California Corridor;

- The Empire Corridor (in New York);

- The Pacific Northwest Corridor;

- The South Central Corridor (Texas-Oklahoma-Arkansas);

- The Gulf Coast Corridor;

- The Chicago Hub Network; (SEE BELOW)

- The Florida Corridor;

- The Keystone Corridor (Pennsylvania);

- The Northern New England Corridor; and

- The Southeast Corridor.

# # #

 

There are three routes in the Chicago Hub network that serve Ohio and are thus eligible to receive federal funds under the "high-speed" rail component of the program:

 

> Cleveland - Columbus - Dayton - Cincinnati

> Cleveland - Toledo - Chicago

> Cincinnati - Indianapolis - Chicago


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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Note also that Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan managed to get language in HR-2095 that calls for a feasibility analyasis of extending Pennsylvania's "Keystone Corridor" to Cleveland.  (Sec. 224 / Passenger Rail Service Studies).

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Note also that Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan managed to get language in HR-2095 that calls for a feasibility analyasis of extending Pennsylvania's "Keystone Corridor" to Cleveland. (Sec. 224 / Passenger Rail Service Studies).

 

I wasn't aware. I so want to get involved in that corridor again!


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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If that. Things like $700 billion bailouts and $1 trillion wars are overshadowing it a bit. Then again, with those numbers, a $15 billion Amtrak program no longer seems so expensive.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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I wonder how much media attention this will receive. I'm predicting sixth page?

You're assuming the PD will cover it at all.

 

Indeed, I am, even though I don't know what PD means.  It will be covered somewhere.  I'm sure NYT will, at least.

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Plain Dealer.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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If that. Things like $700 billion bailouts and $1 trillion wars are overshadowing it a bit. Then again, with those numbers, a $15 billion Amtrak program no longer seems so expensive.

 

I've been thinking the exact same thing.  No matter how you feel about the war, at least military spending is a function of the federal government.  Bailing out companies, banks, etc, due to poor business practices, ISN'T.  How about we swap those figures, giving them a $15B bailout and spending $700B on expanding our rail system instead?  :-D

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Well, here's some media coverage of the bill passage:

 

OCTOBER 2, 2008, 11:17 A.M. ET

Senate Approves $13 Billion Amtrak Funding Bill

By JOSH MITCHELL | Dow Jones NewswiresArticle

 

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Congress passed legislation Wednesday to boost funds for Amtrak and expand passenger rail service at a time of record ridership.

Amtrak's Undeveloped Corridors

 

Full story at:

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122291010872896757.html#video%3D

 

And a video: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122291010872896757.html#video%3D83F8BAE8-5FD2-41D0-B2C7-D7B80D556F3A

 

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http://americancity.org/magazine/article/a-new-era-for-train-travel/

 

Transportation

 

A New Era for Train Travel?

With high demand for passenger rail service, is it finally Amtrak’s moment to shine?

By James McCommons

 

On a broiling summer afternoon, passengers jammed the tiny Amtrak station in Longview, Texas. Having run out of chairs, they plopped on suitcases, fingered their tickets and looked glum. Outside, away from the air conditioning, more people stood in the shade of the building, smoking cigarettes and fanning themselves with newspapers. The northbound Texas Eagle was three and a haƒlf hours behind schedule, delayed by Union Pacific freight trains, mostly long “intermodals” of four locomotives and 100 cars carrying steel shipping containers stacked two high. Railroaders call these “Wal-Mart Chinese Doo-Dad Trains” because they carry consumer goods manufactured in Asia. 

 

 


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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"The ambitious project proposed for the Midwest would cover 3,000 miles in nine states. All lines would radiate from a hub in downtown Chicago. The cost of a fully completed Midwest network is estimated at almost $8 billion."

 

About the cost of one month of the Iraq war.  Wow this country has great spending priorities.

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"The ambitious project proposed for the Midwest would cover 3,000 miles in nine states. All lines would radiate from a hub in downtown Chicago. The cost of a fully completed Midwest network is estimated at almost $8 billion."

 

About the cost of one month of the Iraq war. Wow this country has great spending priorities.

 

At this point, $8 billion sounds like chump change.  It *is* very hard to believe now, with all the extraneous government spending that we can't get this to happen NOW.

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http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/News_Release_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1178294225626&ssid=180

 

National Railroad Passenger Corporation

60 Massachusetts Avenue NE

Washington, DC 20002

www.amtrak.com

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ATK-08-072

 

Contact: Media Relations (202) 906-3860

 

October 2, 2008 

Senate Passes Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act

 

Legislation Authorizes Nearly $13 Billion for Amtrak 

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate yesterday passed H.R. 2095, the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act. The bill includes Amtrak reauthorization language and authorizes significant federal funding for intercity passenger rail service and corridor development. The measure authorizes $12.9 billion over five years including: $5.3 billion in capital grants, $2.9 billion in operating grants and $1.9 billion for grants to states for intercity passenger rail development. The House approved the legislation on September 24. The bill must now be signed into law by the President, and Congress will need to pass annual appropriations bills to provide the funding levels authorized in the bill.

 

In addition to authorizing spending for rail expansion, the legislation reauthorizes and toughens rail safety programs, including requiring rail companies to equip cars with "positive train control" systems to help avoid collisions.

 

"The work on this authorization bill spanned nearly three congresses and does change the existing conditions for Amtrak, the rail industry and the states," said Alex Kummant, Amtrak president and CEO. "Apart from safety enhancements, the bill creates for the first time a state and federal funding partnership which places rail passenger service on a more equal footing with other modes, and encourages rail corridor development. Passage of this bill is a significant statement by Congress that will positively affect the traveling public for generations to come."

 

"Provisions in the bill that mandate positive train control across the industry will provide significant safeguards for the traveling public," said Chairman of the Amtrak Board Donna McLean. "Amtrak prides itself as a leader in safety innovations. The Board supports the requirements of the bill and implementing them will be our highest priority."

 

Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and former Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) are to be commended for their tireless efforts on behalf of the passenger rail industry and for their persistence in getting the legislation passed. On the House side, Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN), Ranking Member John Mica (R-FL), Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL)and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) are also to be commended for their hard work and commitment to improving intercity passenger rail service for all Americans.

 

In the fiscal year that ended September 30, Amtrak carried over 28 million riders, a sixth straight year of record ridership, and earned more than $1.7 billion in ticket revenue for the national passenger railroad.

 

About Amtrak

 

Amtrak provides intercity passenger rail service to more than 500 destinations in 46 states on a 21,000-mile route system. For schedules, fares and information, passengers may call 800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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http://www.nationalcorridors.org/df2/df10062008.shtml#Authorization

 

History-Making Legislation For Amtrak

 

Authorization Bill Soars Through Senate;

Bush Drops Amtrak Veto Threat And Will Sign Bill

 

By DF Staff

 

WASHINGTON --- Nearly 40 years after its founding and for the first time in its penurious history, Amtrak this past week received the kind of multi-year broad-ranging authorization it needs to begin building the kind of world-class national passenger rail system long promised to, but never before possible for, the American people.

 

 


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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So, I've been waiting for moment since I was middle school, and now that it's finally happening I feel a bit morose.  The fact that we waited until rock bottom to begin building a decent passenger rail system really has me depressed about the future of our (once) great country.  What the hell happened to our ideals? 

 

***All this is rhetorical, as I wouldn't want to sidetrack the thread***

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McCain misses the train on Amtrak

Thursday, October 09, 2008

By Brian O'Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

As Americans begin figuring out how to wean ourselves from foreign oil, there is some good news.

 

Preliminary numbers from Amtrak show about 28.7 million riders rode the intercity trains in the past fiscal year, nearly 2 million more than the year before.

 

Read more at:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08283/918547-155.stm

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National Railroad Passenger Corporation

60 Massachusetts Avenue NE

Washington, DC 20002

www.amtrak.com

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ATK-08-075

 

Contacts: Media Relations (202) 906-3860

 

October 10, 2008 

Annual Amtrak Ridership Sets All-Time Record; Sixth Straight Year of Increases

 

Ridership Tops 28.7 Million, $1.7 Billion in Ticket Revenue 

 

WASHINGTON - Amtrak ridership in Fiscal Year 2008 increased to 28,716,407, marking the sixth straight year of gains and setting a record for the most passengers using Amtrak trains since the National Railroad Passenger Corporation started operations in 1971. The fiscal year ended September 30, 2008.

 

All Amtrak trains across the system saw increases in ridership. The 28.7 million total for the period October 1, 2007 - September 30, 2008, topped the 25,847,531 for the previous 12 months by 11.1 percent. Total ticket revenue for the fiscal year reached $1.7 billion, a 14.2 percent increase over the $1.5 billion in FY07.

 

"After another record-breaking year, in which the railroad achieved double-digit growth, Amtrak has solidified its role as a leader in the nation's transportation network and proven intercity passenger rail's relevance in today's world," said Alex Kummant, President and CEO of Amtrak. "Highway and airway congestion, volatile fuel prices and increasing environmental awareness all contributed to Amtrak's successful year, as did our continually improving service and on-time performance."

 

Kummant added, "With the recent passage of a reauthorization bill, which includes a significant state and federal capital matching grant program, we also look forward to expanding state partnerships to provide more rail service in growing corridors nationwide."

 

 

East Highlights

 

Revenue growth was the greatest in the Northeast, where ticket receipts reached $863.4 million, a 14.6 percent increase over last year's ticket revenue.

 

The popularity of the Acela Express service continued in FY08 and trips increased by 6.5 percent with 3.3 million passengers and a nearly 16 percent increase in revenue to $468 million.

 

Regional Service was relaunched more than half way through the fiscal year as the Northeast Regional with great success. The refurbished and upgraded trains saw a 9.5 percent increase in ridership by the end of the fiscal year to 7.5 million and a 13.4 percent increase in ticket revenue to $481.6 million.

 

The Keystone Service, which operates between Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and New York City, experienced significant growth with a 19.8 percent increase in ridership, surpassing the one million mark with 1,183,821 passengers in FY08. Moreover, ticket revenue increased by 20 percent, to $24.7 million.

 

New York's Empire Service, which operates daily between New York City, Albany/Rensselaer and other upstate New York destinations, carried 994,293 passengers in FY08, a four percent increase over the same period last year. Ticket revenue topped $ 41 million, a 6.5 percent hike over the previous 12 months.

 

The Downeaster, operating several times daily between Portland, Maine and Boston, Mass., experienced significant growth with a 31 percent increase in ridership, reaching 474,492 in FY08. The Downeaster also earned $5.8 million, which represents a 36.7 percent increase in ticket revenue from a year ago.

 

Central Highlights

 

Steep growth in ridership is also reported from the Amtrak hub in Chicago, with Hiawatha Service ridership up nearly 26 percent on the trains sponsored by the Wisconsin and Illinois state transportation departments. Nearly 750,000 passengers rode the seven daily round-trips between Milwaukee and Chicago last year, an increase of more than 150,000 passengers.

 

The Illinois DOT also supports service between Chicago and Downstate Illinois, with more than one million passengers riding the routes, the first time that milestone has been reached. Ridership on the Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service corridor, via Bloomington-Normal and Springfield, is up 14 percent to total 543,642, while on the Illini and Saluki route to Carbondale, via Champaign and Mattoon, ridership is 304,435, up by 15 percent, inclusive of local passengers on the City of New Orleans trains between Chicago and Carbondale. On the route of the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg to Quincy via Galesburg and Macomb, ridership is up 19 percent and totals 231,701, including local travel on the Southwest Chief and California Zephyr between Chicago and Galesburg.

 

Elsewhere in the Central U.S., Kansas City to St. Louis ridership is up by more than 30 percent on the two daily round-trips sponsored by the Missouri Department of Transportation and Heartland Flyer ridership between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City increased by 18.5 percent on the daily round-trip supported by the Texas and Oklahoma state departments of transportation.

 

West Highlights

 

Western corridor trains achieved record ridership month-after-month throughout the fiscal year. In Southern California, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner service which operates between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, carried more than 2.89 million passengers, a seven percent increase. Ticket revenue was more than $51 million, an increase of nine percent.

 

In the Central Valley, the San Joaquins service, Oakland/Sacramento to Bakersfield, carried nearly a million passengers (949, 611) an 18 percent increase with $2.9 million in ticket revenue, a 21.6 percent increase. July 2008 ridership topped 100,000 passengers for the first time in the history of this service, a 32 percent increase over July 2007.

 

In Northern California, more than 1.69 million passengers rode the Capitol Corridor service, Auburn to San Jose, a 16.8 increase over the same period last year. Ticket revenue was up 23 percent, reaching $22 million.

 

In the Pacific Northwest, ridership on the Amtrak Cascades service, Eugene, Ore. to Vancouver, B.C. was up more than 12 percent (760,323). Ticket revenue exceeded $20 million, an increase of 15 percent. This service has seen double digit increases for the past nine months (January - September 2008).

 

National Highlights

 

Among the trains on the Amtrak national network, the Empire Builder is again the most popular overnight train. With more than 554,000 passengers, the daily Chicago-St. Paul-Seattle/Portland train showed an increase of 9.8 percent. The Texas Eagle (Chicago-San Antonio) had the largest percentage increase among long-distance trains with 15.2 percent — 251,518 passengers for the year.

 

The Silver Service (New York-Miami) trains continued to grow — the Silver Star carried 367,139 passengers (+11.5 percent) and the Silver Meteor reached 319,773 passengers (+9.6 percent). The Capitol Limited (Washington DC-Chicago) had a strong year, increasing ridership by 11.7 percent and the Palmetto (New York-Savannah) and Crescent (New York-New Orleans) both had increases over 10 percent.

 

About Amtrak

 

Amtrak has posted six consecutive years of growth in ridership and revenue, carrying more than 28.7 million passengers in the last fiscal year. Amtrak provides intercity passenger rail service to more than 500 destinations in 46 states on a 21,000-mile route system. For schedules, fares and information, passengers may call 800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com.

 

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/News_Release_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1178294234716&ssid=180

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McCain misses the train on AmtrakThursday, October 09-By Brian O'Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The spokesman said Mr. McCain also objects to the $1.5 billion "earmark" for the Washington Metro system, and doesn't see these expenditures as national priorities.

America is spending hundreds of billions of dollars for a new attack fighter plane that can "go supersonic", although that airplane will soon be obsoleted by pilotless aircraft.  We spend tens of billions/year on spy satellites, although the real need in the intelligence community is to have more translators, data analysts, and covert people in other countries "looking around" to see what is changing in the "problem countries".  That would not cost tens of billions, but it would not enrich Lockheed-Martin, either.

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McCain misses the train on AmtrakThursday, October 09-By Brian O'Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The spokesman said Mr. McCain also objects to the $1.5 billion "earmark" for the Washington Metro system, and doesn't see these expenditures as national priorities.

America is spending hundreds of billions of dollars for a new attack fighter plane that can "go supersonic", although that airplane will soon be obsoleted by pilotless aircraft.  We spend tens of billions/year on spy satellites, although the real need in the intelligence community is to have more translators, data analysts, and covert people in other countries "looking around" to see what is changing in the "problem countries".  That would not cost tens of billions, but it would not enrich Lockheed-Martin, either.

 

I'm not totally sure what sparked this or what it has to do with Amtrak, but I have zero problem with this type of funding.  Our military technological advantage keeps American troops alive.  It may seem like an obscene amount of money going into military R&D, but it is in my opinion, totally worthwhile.  That said, we need to drastically raise the amount of cash that we spend on rail and mass transit, there's no doubt about that.  I just don't see military funding as something that should be cut in the process. 

 

Keep the good news on Amtrak coming!

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I do think it's important to note, however, that this type of funding represents a significant technology transfer for use in commercial aviation. Similar transfers have been occurring since military aviation research began, and represents a significant subsidy to commercial aviation. I'm not saying that this is good or bad. But it needs to be acknowledged when we strive for level playing fields, policy-wise, rather than have less informed people claim that only passenger rail is subsidized.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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