Author Topic: North America's Top Rail Projects for 2008  (Read 1011 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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North America's Top Rail Projects for 2008
« on: June 30, 2008, 04:00:00 AM »
North America's Top Rail Projects for 2008



Jacksonville is not on this list, but it does illustrate a major trend taking place in America's largest cities, exluding the First Coast of course.  Rail transit is in the midst of a renaissance.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/830

Lunican

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Re: North America's Top Rail Projects for 2008
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2008, 04:44:21 PM »
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Big Investment In Rail Will Help State's Economy Keep Rolling
The Tampa Tribune (FL)
Editorial
June 29, 2008

The high price of fuel is a huge threat to Florida tourism and the state's overall economic growth.

Airlines are raising prices and cutting flights at the same time families are rethinking vacation plans involving long trips in big cars.

Passenger rail, the most efficient way to travel medium distances, has been neglected for so long in this part of the country that it can scarcely be considered an alternative. You can ride the train from Tampa to Orlando for only $9, but you can't come back the same day.

The covered walkway on Tampa's train platform is decrepit, like something you'd expect to see in an impoverished nation, yet crowds stand there patiently twice a day to wait for the Amtrak train.

Major rail improvements are coming soon in many parts of the country. The change is driven by economic necessity.

More Trains Coming

Congress is reviving Amtrak with a long-overdue investment to improve intercity routes. Florida's major cities are seriously considering local transit improvements to help commuters stung by $4 gasoline. In this area, a new regional transportation authority is taking the lead.

At the state level, Sen. Paula Dockery of Polk County and other far-sighted leaders have met with Amtrak officials to talk about how Florida might contract for more service with the national railroad. Amtrak has federal authority to force freight railroads to give the traveling public a fair deal in sharing or selling their tracks.

Dockery's efforts deserve bipartisan backing, despite ill feelings remaining from the Orlando rail controversy. Last session state lawmakers were right to reject a proposed deal with CSX to buy a section of track for a commuter train for Central Florida. The price was very high -- around $10 million a mile -- and the proposal required taxpayers to assume almost all the risks for private freight traffic that would also use the line.

In 2006 the state Department of Transportation published a Rail Vision Plan that explained how a statewide rail network could be built. It estimated costs of from $3 million to $5 million a mile for track, and predicted that no operating subsidy would be needed.

The state's 2025 transportation plan also mentions rail, saying that the state should "promote more effective use of existing rail and water corridors to move both people and freight." Such vague language won't get anything done.

More decisive action is needed. Tampa's representative in Congress, Kathy Castor, is on the right track in asking the General Accounting Office to find out how other passenger rail services around the country handle liability issues when sharing tracks with freight trains. This information will help taxpayers know if elected leaders are being too generous with their powerful railroad friends.

An honest assessment of the costs and benefits of passenger rail service, along with investments in private tracks that freight railroads are lobbying for, is long overdue. On passenger rail, the White House has shown an irresponsible lack of curiosity.

Gutter Politics

A report completed in January by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission originally included a section on passenger rail. When the report was published, the author of the rail section was stunned to see that the White House had erased the pro-rail part.

"It is the kind of gutter politics that make people hate their government, and Washington in general," said the author, Paul Weyrich, who is a longtime supporter of passenger rail who also happens to be a leading conservative.

Here's what a majority of the commission wanted to say that the White House didn't want you to hear: "It is the view of the commission that public transportation, especially in the form of electric railways, must and will play a significantly larger role in Americans' mobility ... Federal policy should include a clear and unambiguous endorsement of a shift away from the private automobile to public transportation for travel in urban areas."

It should be possible for the White House to disagree without being heavy-handed.

For years the federal policy has been to give the national railroad barely enough to survive. In 36 years, Amtrak received only $30 billion in federal aid. That's about what is spent on the war in Iraq in three months, and what the Federal Reserve is using to bail out one investment bank hit by subprime problems.

Under legislation recently passed by both the House and Senate, Amtrak will get a more substantial $14.4 billion over five years.

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, head of a House subcommittee on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials, says California, Texas and Illinois are already lining up for rail projects.

Unless the governor and Legislature take the lead fast, she warns that Florida "might be left in the dust."

Florida needs a rail network that links every major city and international airport, plus bus lines that tie every mid-sized city to the system. It is essential that it immediately find a way to offer regular rail service between Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami.

The big crowds suddenly showing up at Florida train stations are strong evidence that travelers know something most politicians in Tallahassee don't. For safe, inexpensive travel, you can't beat a train.

thelakelander

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Re: North America's Top Rail Projects for 2008
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2008, 04:55:17 PM »
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U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, head of a House subcommittee on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials, says California, Texas and Illinois are already lining up for rail projects.  Unless the governor and Legislature take the lead fast, she warns that Florida "might be left in the dust."

Why aren't we hearing this locally?

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It is essential that it immediately find a way to offer regular rail service between Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami.

Ain't that the truth. Not 10, 20 or 30 years down the line.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali