Our City Online

Metro

The Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act

noozer noozer
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

The U.S. House of Reps. this past week introduced HR-6003, the long-awaited House version of Senate Bill 294: The Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act, which would:

1. Create a first-ever, five year funding scenario for Amtrak with a total funding of $14.2 Billion dollars, which would allow them to fiannly expand intercity service and improve aging passenger equipment.

2. Creates a first-ever funding mechanism (80-20% matching system federal/state) that states can draw upon to build their own passenger rail plans such as the Ohio Hub and/or fulfill the Governor’s request to get passenger rail service started up on an interim basis in the 3-C Corridor.

Now is the time to be talking these bills up to your MOC (Member of Congress). Be loud and clear about it. Tell them your tired of having no options to “pain at the pump”.

Related Stories:

- Strickland wants 3-C Passenger Rail Restored

- Support The Ohio Hub – Sign the Petition

- Passenger Trains – Considered Again Today

Print Friendly

Tags:

42 Responses to The Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act

  1. catnfiddle May 15, 2008 9:43 pm at 9:43 pm

    Pain at the pump is one thing, but interstate travel is what I have in mind. I have family on the east coast I can barely afford to visit. If I want to take Amtrak to Philly or NYC, I currently drive three hours to catch a morning train outside of Pittsburgh. Getting passenger rail into Columbus might actually make up for the Skybus debacle.

    I’ll definitely pester my rep on this one. Thanks!

  2. luchobucho May 16, 2008 8:56 am at 8:56 am

    I hope that spend that money on all the defered maintenance on their existing routes in the NEC.

    Amtrak has neglected their infrastructure for years in the NE.

    Since, the NEC is so heavily travelled and actually generates some money for amtrak, I see them putting alot of money into improving the existing service.

    for one thing, perhaps they can purchase more rolling stock, cuz they’ve been borrowing from NJT, SEPTA and MARC…..hahah.

  3. Ashland May 16, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am

    Expanding intercity service as in getting a station in Columbus? I am all for that. Without a station here, I could careless about amtrak service. Does anyone know the figures, how many other metros do not have passenger rail service? We seem to be the only one that I can think of. Toledo even has an amtrak station.

  4. TimFitz May 16, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am

    Any info you need about the projects can be found here:

    http://www.ohiohub.com

  5. Walker Evans
    Walker May 16, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am

    Ashland wrote Does anyone know the figures, how many other metros do not have passenger rail service? We seem to be the only one that I can think of. Toledo even has an amtrak station.

    From here: http://www.gcbl.org/transportation/passenger-rail/ohio-hub-study/gov-strickland-asks-amtrak-to-explore-ohio-passenger-rail

    Columbus is the most populous metro area in the nation without any regularly scheduled passenger trains. The Greater Dayton-Springfield area is in America’s top-10 largest population centers with no passenger trains. Cincinnati has Amtrak trains only three days a week, all in the middle of the night. Cleveland and Toledo have slightly better passenger train services.

  6. gramarye
    gramarye May 16, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm

    Ashland wrote Expanding intercity service as in getting a station in Columbus? I am all for that. Without a station here, I could careless about amtrak service. Does anyone know the figures, how many other metros do not have passenger rail service? We seem to be the only one that I can think of. Toledo even has an amtrak station.

    Toledo has the good fortune to be on the way to Chicago along the Lake Erie corridor, so they got a stop on a good route primarily not because of where they are, but because the route to Chicago naturally went through them.

    Realistically, though, I think many of the new proposals reflect a more realistic perspective regarding how long people are willing to sit on trains on a more routine basis. The East Coast is one of the few places where Amtrak pulls in money, and it’s not people leaving the East Coast to go to New Orleans or Florida, it’s people going to other cities on the East Coast. Keep in mind that most East Coast states are physically smaller than most Midwestern ones, too, which are in turn physically smaller than true Western ones.

    Columbus to Cleveland or Cincinnati is a more realistic length for a train ride, particularly if the regulatory environment is sufficiently friendly (in comparison with what you find at airports now) to let people get on and off fairly simply. Even the trek to Chicago from Cleveland takes longer than many intercontinental airplane flights (7 hr).

  7. luchobucho May 16, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm

    gramarye wrote
    Ashland wrote Expanding intercity service as in getting a station in Columbus? I am all for that. Without a station here, I could careless about amtrak service. Does anyone know the figures, how many other metros do not have passenger rail service? We seem to be the only one that I can think of. Toledo even has an amtrak station.

    Toledo has the good fortune to be on the way to Chicago along the Lake Erie corridor, so they got a stop on a good route primarily not because of where they are, but because the route to Chicago naturally went through them.

    Realistically, though, I think many of the new proposals reflect a more realistic perspective regarding how long people are willing to sit on trains on a more routine basis. The East Coast is one of the few places where Amtrak pulls in money, and it’s not people leaving the East Coast to go to New Orleans or Florida, it’s people going to other cities on the East Coast. Keep in mind that most East Coast states are physically smaller than most Midwestern ones, too, which are in turn physically smaller than true Western ones.

    Columbus to Cleveland or Cincinnati is a more realistic length for a train ride, particularly if the regulatory environment is sufficiently friendly (in comparison with what you find at airports now) to let people get on and off fairly simply. Even the trek to Chicago from Cleveland takes longer than many intercontinental airplane flights (7 hr).

    Which is why I don’t see Amtrak making a huge effort restoring service to columbus.

    I think Columbus’s best chance at getting passenger service is through a statewide/regional rail system. Something run similar to NJTransit that gets funding from the state budget and the feds, but separate from amtrak’s funding. I think the Ohio HUB fills this quite well.

    As Gramarye points out, its a long way from ohio to anywhere……but within Ohio, the train rides would be very reasonable ( a train ride to indy wouldn’t be bad , nor would pittsburgh).

    So yeah

  8. joev
    joev May 16, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm

    luchobucho wrote

    As Gramarye points out, its a long way from ohio to anywhere……but within Ohio, the train rides would be very reasonable ( a train ride to indy wouldn’t be bad , nor would pittsburgh).

    So yeah

    Columbus is within 500 miles (a long but doable train trip) of 50% of the US population. And also 50% of the Canadian population. The distance between Boston and DC is a little under 500 miles. We’re not that far from most places.

  9. Ashland May 16, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm

    I agree, I do not see Columbus as a “gateway” city to other destinations. i see Toledo and Cleveland serving this niche. What we need is a way for people in Columbus to get to Cleveland or Toledo, and then from those 2 cities travel to other cities.

    Gram i also don’t see the problem with Cleveland to Chicago taking 7 hours, unless the price of a ticket is a ridiculous amount. To drive from Cleveland to Chicago I would guess would take about 7 hours. Chicago to Toledo is about 5, and Toledo to Cleveland is roughly about 2. As long as the price is right, and lower than air travel it is a fine route, if air travel is only 20 bucks more, then obviously no one is taking the train.

  10. Ashland May 16, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm

    joev wrote
    luchobucho wrote

    As Gramarye points out, its a long way from ohio to anywhere……but within Ohio, the train rides would be very reasonable ( a train ride to indy wouldn’t be bad , nor would pittsburgh).

    So yeah

    Columbus is within 500 miles (a long but doable train trip) of 50% of the US population. And also 50% of the Canadian population. The distance between Boston and DC is a little under 500 miles. We’re not that far from most places.

    I agree with this 100%. The best thing about Columbus is its proximity to other cities. We have chicago, detroit, louisville, cleveland, pitt, nati, indy, and maybe a few more cities all within around a 5 hour drive or so. Heck, New york is only what, maybe 8 hours? One of Columbus’s best features is being close to other locations. Now, the real question is, how good are these locations, and does anyone actually want to travel there? If you are in nyc, it is 2 hours to Boston, another destiation city. Nyc is close to Philly a destiation city, and not that far from DC. The problem is Chicago is the only destination city that Columbus is decently close too. So in peoples minds Columbus is far from everything.

  11. luchobucho May 16, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm

    Ashland wrote
    joev wrote
    luchobucho wrote

    As Gramarye points out, its a long way from ohio to anywhere……but within Ohio, the train rides would be very reasonable ( a train ride to indy wouldn’t be bad , nor would pittsburgh).

    So yeah

    Columbus is within 500 miles (a long but doable train trip) of 50% of the US population. And also 50% of the Canadian population. The distance between Boston and DC is a little under 500 miles. We’re not that far from most places.

    I agree with this 100%. The best thing about Columbus is its proximity to other cities. We have chicago, detroit, louisville, cleveland, pitt, nati, indy, and maybe a few more cities all within around a 5 hour drive or so. Heck, New york is only what, maybe 8 hours? One of Columbus’s best features is being close to other locations. Now, the real question is, how good are these locations, and does anyone actually want to travel there? If you are in nyc, it is 2 hours to Boston, another destiation city. Nyc is close to Philly a destiation city, and not that far from DC. The problem is Chicago is the only destination city that Columbus is decently close too. So in peoples minds Columbus is far from everything.

    Yeah, thats kinda what I was thinking. I realize we’re close to 50% of the population, but do we really wanna go visit them?

    In reality though, we are sorta close.

    DC to BOSTON is the longest trip on the NEC (well, I think technically, its DC to springfield)……much more common is NYC to DC which is a good deal shorter.

    My oriignal point was that aside from Cleve and Cinci, being geographically centered in the middle of the state just means that we’re kinda far from all things outside of ohio.

  12. Rockmastermike May 16, 2008 1:16 pm at 1:16 pm

    um… If we had rail here train trips to New York, Boston, DC, Chicago, Toronto, and Montreal are all perfectly reasonable.

    You guys seem to forget that 10 hours on a train is NOT the same as 10 hours driving. It’s actually rather relaxing. Bring a book and an mp3 player. A lot of folks bring laptops and watch movies now. Personally, I watch the landscape.

    It takes about 12 hours to get to Manhattan by train, about the same as driving. It’s 10 hours from Huntington to DC through amazingly scenic New River gorge. That’s a lovely trip.

    The trains slow down going over the mountains, but they really speed up on flat ground. I clocked the last amtrak I was on at 126 mph in Jersey.

    No, it’s not as fast as flying, but its not unreasonable given the total lack of effort involved in riding a train.

  13. Ashland May 16, 2008 1:20 pm at 1:20 pm

    Rockmastermike wrote It’s 10 hours from Huntington to DC through amazingly scenic New River gorge. That’s a lovely trip.

    What do you know about huntington? :D

    My avatar is in Huntington.

  14. luchobucho May 16, 2008 1:21 pm at 1:21 pm

    Rockmastermike wrote um… If we had rail here train trips to New York, Boston, DC, Chicago, Toronto, and Montreal are all perfectly reasonable.

    You guys seem to forget that 10 hours on a train is NOT the same as 10 hours driving. It’s actually rather relaxing. Bring a book and an mp3 player. A lot of folks bring laptops and watch movies now. Personally, I watch the landscape.

    It takes about 12 hours to get to Manhattan by train, about the same as driving. It’s 10 hours from Huntington to DC through amazingly scenic New River gorge. That’s a lovely trip.

    The trains slow down going over the mountains, but they really speed up on flat ground. I clocked the last amtrak I was on at 126 mph in Jersey.

    No, it’s not as fast as flying, but its not unreasonable given the total lack of effort involved in riding a train.

    Yeah, 10 hours aint bad……..on the train.

    Its still a good distance away, and certainly not something one would want to do for a day trip to go to the Met or a Sox game or the Smithsonian or something like that.

  15. Rockmastermike May 16, 2008 1:36 pm at 1:36 pm

    Ashland wrote
    Rockmastermike wrote It’s 10 hours from Huntington to DC through amazingly scenic New River gorge. That’s a lovely trip.

    What do you know about huntington? :D

    My avatar is in Huntington.

    I know some people in H, but mostly I know they have a train station there that I have used to get to DC. :)

  16. gramarye
    gramarye May 16, 2008 1:43 pm at 1:43 pm

    Ashland wrote Gram i also don’t see the problem with Cleveland to Chicago taking 7 hours, unless the price of a ticket is a ridiculous amount. To drive from Cleveland to Chicago I would guess would take about 7 hours. Chicago to Toledo is about 5, and Toledo to Cleveland is roughly about 2. As long as the price is right, and lower than air travel it is a fine route, if air travel is only 20 bucks more, then obviously no one is taking the train.

    Standard coach ticket from Cleveland to Chicago is $92.00 each way, so $184.00 round trip.

    You’re right that if your point of reference is driving, then the train may have some advantages, though it also has disadvantages because of the lack of free movement you’ll face in any destination city without a dense public transit network of its own. (Chicago has one; most cities don’t.) However, I was comparing rail to air travel, which is its most direct competitor when it comes to long-distance travel rather than commuter transit. If I want to go to Boston, more than likely, I’m going to fly, not drive; therefore, to get my business, a train would have to offer a superior alternative to flying, not to driving.

    By contrast, if I want to come back to Columbus, or even go to Cincinnati, more than likely, I’m going to drive. To get my business on that front, therefore, a train only has to beat driving, not flying. There are planes that hop from Columbus to Cleveland (generally to ferry passengers to the hub there for their real destination … I stopped there en route to London), but the trip is still short enough by train that I’d strongly consider taking the train to avoid the hassle of airports and the gas of a long car ride.

    Ten hours is still ten hours, and I seriously don’t see a great future in rail transit between Columbus and Washington, Philadelphia, or other cities on the East Coast, nor to Chicago.

  17. Ashland May 16, 2008 1:43 pm at 1:43 pm

    Rockmastermike wrote
    Ashland wrote
    Rockmastermike wrote It’s 10 hours from Huntington to DC through amazingly scenic New River gorge. That’s a lovely trip.

    What do you know about huntington? :D

    My avatar is in Huntington.

    I know some people in H, but mostly I know they have a train station there that I have used to get to DC. :)

    I was hoping you had lived there, because I probably had stolen your bike 14 years ago. :lol: :lol:

    I grew up in Northcott, the jects right on Hal Greer, if you know where that is. Is it not funny though, that a ghetto place like Huntington has an amtrak, and we do not?

  18. Rockmastermike May 16, 2008 1:45 pm at 1:45 pm

    luchobucho wrote

    Yeah, 10 hours aint bad……..on the train.

    Its still a good distance away, and certainly not something one would want to do for a day trip to go to the Met or a Sox game or the Smithsonian or something like that.

    A good 4-day weekend trip is doable. Beyond that I generally ask myself “Is this trip really necessary?”, given what you’re spending time and money no matter what you do to get there. If you’re someone who considers carbon footprints and responsible use of resources it skews the equation even farther.

  19. Ashland May 16, 2008 1:49 pm at 1:49 pm

    gramarye wrote
    Ashland wrote Gram i also don’t see the problem with Cleveland to Chicago taking 7 hours, unless the price of a ticket is a ridiculous amount. To drive from Cleveland to Chicago I would guess would take about 7 hours. Chicago to Toledo is about 5, and Toledo to Cleveland is roughly about 2. As long as the price is right, and lower than air travel it is a fine route, if air travel is only 20 bucks more, then obviously no one is taking the train.

    Standard coach ticket from Cleveland to Chicago is $92.00 each way, so $184.00 round trip.

    You’re right that if your point of reference is driving, then the train may have some advantages, though it also has disadvantages because of the lack of free movement you’ll face in any destination city without a dense public transit network of its own. (Chicago has one; most cities don’t.) However, I was comparing rail to air travel, which is its most direct competitor when it comes to long-distance travel rather than commuter transit. If I want to go to Boston, more than likely, I’m going to fly, not drive; therefore, to get my business, a train would have to offer a superior alternative to flying, not to driving.

    By contrast, if I want to come back to Columbus, or even go to Cincinnati, more than likely, I’m going to drive. To get my business on that front, therefore, a train only has to beat driving, not flying. There are planes that hop from Columbus to Cleveland (generally to ferry passengers to the hub there for their real destination … I stopped there en route to London), but the trip is still short enough by train that I’d strongly consider taking the train to avoid the hassle of airports and the gas of a long car ride.

    Ten hours is still ten hours, and I seriously don’t see a great future in rail transit between Columbus and Washington, Philadelphia, or other cities on the East Coast, nor to Chicago.

    I agree somewhat. I am not going to drive to Boston lets say. However, i have never flown, and will always drive to: NYC, Chicago, DC, Baltimore, etc. I see the future in rail as connecting places all in one area. We could worry about connecting, ohio, illinois, indiana, and michigan. Then Maybe have one line that connects that area to an area composed of say: ny, nj, ct, etc. I think you underestimate the amount of people that do drive long distances. Chicago is about the furthest I am driving to the west, and NYC, is about the furthest I am driving to the East. Having a rail that connects Columbus to Chicago via toledo, or nyc via cleveland, would be great imo.

  20. Rockmastermike May 16, 2008 1:49 pm at 1:49 pm

    gramarye wrote

    Ten hours is still ten hours, and I seriously don’t see a great future in rail transit between Columbus and Washington, Philadelphia, or other cities on the East Coast, nor to Chicago.

    Once the airlines start charging fares to be profitable with projected future fuel prices you might.

    Frankly I don’t see a great future in reasonably priced air transit.

  21. luchobucho May 16, 2008 1:51 pm at 1:51 pm

    Rockmastermike wrote
    luchobucho wrote

    Yeah, 10 hours aint bad……..on the train.

    Its still a good distance away, and certainly not something one would want to do for a day trip to go to the Met or a Sox game or the Smithsonian or something like that.

    A good 4-day weekend trip is doable. Beyond that I generally ask myself “Is this trip really necessary?”, given what you’re spending time and money no matter what you do to get there. If you’re someone who considers carbon footprints and responsible use of resources it skews the equation even farther.

    I regularly take the train to NYC/DC for the weekend. Its not that bad, and I’ve been known to go there for the day if there is an even that I want to go to.

    10 hours is about how long it takes to get to Montreal from NYC, its good for a 4day weeknd, but no less. One time i went up for the Jazz festival over the weekend. You’re just not ready to get back on a train after just 1.5 days.

  22. Rockmastermike May 16, 2008 2:30 pm at 2:30 pm

    gramarye wrote

    Standard coach ticket from Cleveland to Chicago is $92.00 each way, so $184.00 round trip.

    oh, also… try booking more than 2 weeks in advance.

    if I go for my birthday in june from cle to chi it’s $133 round trip

  23. whopper jr May 16, 2008 2:48 pm at 2:48 pm

    Don’t forget that trains are BYOB. Perfect for the long hauls.

    Drink, sleep, repeat.

    We probably looked pretty silly bringing two cases on board for the trek between Denver and San Fran.

    That was in my youth however.

  24. UncommonSense
    UncommonSense May 16, 2008 2:50 pm at 2:50 pm

    I don’t care if we get Amtrak or not, I’m more interested in a regional rail plan (Ohio Hub). I once took Amtrak from Boston to Cleveland and back in college to get home for Christmas break. It was an adventure for a 19-year old, but I can’t see riding a train for 19 hours each way today.

    Anyway, I just e-mailed Tiberi to express my support for H.R 6003. Does anyone know the Senate Bill’s designation?

  25. Rockmastermike May 16, 2008 2:53 pm at 2:53 pm

    Ashland wrote

    Having a rail that connects Columbus to Chicago via toledo, or nyc via cleveland, would be great imo.

    You’ll LOVE the OhioHub plan then!

    C-bus to chicago via LIMA. Straight route + flat ground = 100mph trains. if we’re lucky we’ll get accella service on it which is even faster.

    C-bus to NYC via a choice of going through either Cleveland or a more direct route through Pitt.

    here’s the proposed route map

    http://www.dot.state.oh.us/ohiorail/Ohio%20Hub/Maps/Revised_Maps/OHIO_HUB_Proposed_Corridors_and_Stations.pdf

    the more i think about this the more i want it. IMHO it is a far better use of my taxpayer dollars than 100 other things I can think of.

  26. Ashland May 16, 2008 3:41 pm at 3:41 pm

    Rockmastermike wrote
    Ashland wrote

    Having a rail that connects Columbus to Chicago via toledo, or nyc via cleveland, would be great imo.

    You’ll LOVE the OhioHub plan then!

    C-bus to chicago via LIMA. Straight route + flat ground = 100mph trains. if we’re lucky we’ll get accella service on it which is even faster.

    C-bus to NYC via a choice of going through either Cleveland or a more direct route through Pitt.

    here’s the proposed route map

    http://www.dot.state.oh.us/ohiorail/Ohio%20Hub/Maps/Revised_Maps/OHIO_HUB_Proposed_Corridors_and_Stations.pdf

    the more i think about this the more i want it. IMHO it is a far better use of my taxpayer dollars than 100 other things I can think of.

    God, I am in love with that map. I can only imagine, being able to hop on a train, and go to an indians game for the day, then hop back on and come back to columbus. I agree this might be the single most important issue to me. I have watched movies from England about soccer holligans, and they will just hop on a train to go from London to Manchester. Imagine trains filled with Buckeye fans coming down to Columbus to see the Buckeyes. This is literally my #1 issue, I hope they do have massive subsidies to keep the cost low. I agree on the tax issue, so many stupid things taxes go towards, but an issue like this, I would be for a tax raise. The sad thing is, I think we are in the minority of Ohioans.

  27. noozer
    noozer May 16, 2008 7:46 pm at 7:46 pm

    A few points after readin some of the comments:

    1. Columbus can be a “gateway to places like Chicago and points West and Pittsburgh and points East, as well as connecting the 3-C’s, Dayton, Springfield and Toledo.

    2. Don’t sell the possibility of Amtrak service in the 3-C short. Governor Strickland’s “ask” to Amtrak to get service restored in the 3-C Corridor is being seriously pursued by both the Ohio Rail Development Commission and Amtrak, which sees it as an ideal short-haul, intrastate route. Amtrak will begin its preliminary work this summer.

    3. The Ohio Hub is a long-range plan and can give us control over our own trains and the way they run. If the funding were available today, it could take 7 to 10 years to build the system fully to the goal of 6 to 8 trains daily in each corridor and running at 110 mph. The plan includes start-up service that could get underway in the first two to three years.

    4. All of the above is why we need Congress to pass the Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act. Little or none of it will ever happen without a strong federal funding partner.

    Again… the bill designations are:

    HR-6300

    &

    Senate Bill 294

  28. Rockmastermike May 16, 2008 7:52 pm at 7:52 pm

    noozer wrote A few points after readin some of the comments:

    4. All of the above is why we need Congress to pass the Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act. Little or none of it will ever happen without a strong federal funding partner.

    +3000 (diesel-electric horsepower) on all your bullet points

  29. noozer
    noozer May 16, 2008 7:58 pm at 7:58 pm

    FYI…. Here are links to some very good summaries of both HR 6003 and S-294… courtesy of the National Association of Railroad Passengers website (www.narprail.org )

    http://www.narprail.org/cms/index.php/resources/more/hr_6003/

    http://www.narprail.org/cms/index.php/resources/more/s_294/

    Keep in mind that Senate Bill 294 has already been passed overwhelmingly (93 to 6). Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown,m who is also a co-sponsor, voted for it. Senator George Voinovich voted against it.

    And here is the latest progress report on HR-6003 from the NARP website:

    On Tuesday, May 20, at 2:30 PM, the House T&I Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials will mark up H.R. 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008.

    The mark-up will be web cast on the committee web site. This bill was introduced May 8, and was the subject of a subcommittee hearing on May 14. The video of that hearing, links to witness statements, and “full summary of subject matter” are available here.

    The bill is significant partly because of its co-sponsorship. It was introduced by full committee chairman James Oberstar (D-MN) on behalf of himself and the subcommittee chair Corinne Brown (D-FL) and the ranking members John Mica (R-FL, full committee) and Bill Shuster (R-PA, subcommittee) and 34 other original co-sponsors.

    During the hearing, Amtrak President and CEO Alex Kummant gave a forthright, pull-no-punches answer when Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) observed, “There is a lot of talk about construction of a new ARC [Hudson River rail] tunnel going into the City, and I just want to know what impact it’s going to have on Amtrak. And are you going to be able to work with New Jersey Transit when this is done?”

    Kummant: “Our biggest concern is the total capacity on a north-south basis through New York. And so, I think a legitimate question to ask is, ‘Is there going to be a tunnel that reaches into Penn Station and allows the total Northeast Corridor capacity to expand? Or is it only something for New Jersey going into the City?’ I think that’s something we continue to have fairly strong feelings about and would like to continue a dialogue on…If there is an overall design and structure that precludes any capacity expansion on north-south, I would say that’s an issue for the entire region. It’s not just Amtrak’s issue, and that’s something we need to be talking about.”

    Shortly after the above exchange, Chairwoman Corinne Brown (D-FL) asked, “Mr. Kummant, the intercity passenger rail opportunities that are present along the Southeast Corridor to improve connections and improve our economics along the East Coast, do you want to respond to that?”

    Kummant said that, for example, if he was given $10 or $20 billion, “one of the first things I would look at, actually, is going South, rather than necessarily changing things in the North. We obviously want to do all the state of good repair [NEC and existing system], but we all know that DC to Richmond is one of the most congested corridors in all modes in the country, and would be a very natural place to put capital in. And then, you frankly imagine an electrified system from DC down to Atlanta. North Carolina has a wonderful rail program and I’m sure would embrace that. I think of it in tranches from DC to Richmond, Richmond to Charlotte, Charlotte to Atlanta. But I think that would be an enormous opportunity for the whole region and tie these high-growth population centers. And then we truly have an Eastern Corridor, not [just] a Northeast Corridor. So, I think that would be an enormous opportunity.”

    As we reported last week, Oberstar also introduced H.R. 6004, again on behalf of himself and Brown/Mica/Shuster. This bill is known as RIDE-21 (the Rail Infrastructure Development and Expansion Act for the 21st Century). It would provide for bonds for high speed rail (including Maglev) and for the Alaska Railroad to be issued by a state, group of states or interstate compact. For each year from FY2009 to FY2018, there would be $1.2 billion in tax exempt bonds and $1.2 billion in tax credit bonds. H.R. 6004 will not be marked up on May 20.

    Towards the end of Wednesday’s hearing, Chairman Oberstar reported that he had met with House Ways & Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), who “is very supportive” of the tax credit bonds (for HSR) but reported that the Congressional Budget Office requires offsets of at least $4 billion. Said Oberstar, “Our two committees will have to work on that. That wasn’t the answer I was hoping for.”

  30. bremkat May 19, 2008 3:52 pm at 3:52 pm

    It’s great to see this topic come alive on the Underground. I’m surprised this hasn’t been posted yet:

    Interested in a way to free up money for travel in your personal budget? Would you like an alternate mode of transportation to choose from to get you to Cincinnati, Cleveland, other Great Lakes cities or even Toronto?

    Come to the Columbus Chamber’s YP Exchange, a free, issue-oriented forum for the young and talented, to learn about a transportation plan to move our city and state forward! The YP Exchange on May 20th will focus on the Ohio Hub Plan (passenger rail).

    YP Exchange: Ohio Hub

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

    Station 67, Columbus Fire Fighters Hall

    379 W. Broad Street (next to Spaghetti Warehouse)

    Columbus, OH 43215

    Presentation by Stu Nicholson, Public Information Officer, Ohio Rail Development Commission

    Free to attend!

    http://www.columbus.org/members/networking-yp.aspx

  31. Walker Evans
    Walker May 19, 2008 7:22 pm at 7:22 pm

    bremkat wrote I’m surprised this hasn’t been posted yet:

    It has:

    http://www.columbusunderground.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=14062

    8)

  32. bremkat May 19, 2008 7:28 pm at 7:28 pm

    Walker wrote
    bremkat wrote I’m surprised this hasn’t been posted yet:

    It has:

    http://www.columbusunderground.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=14062

    8)

    Boy is my face red.

    Oh, wait, there’s an icon for that. :oops:

  33. gmcsoccer
    gmcsoccer May 19, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm

    the biggest problem with passenger rail in this country is that the tracks are all owned and maintained by the rail freight companies, so the usage is regulated by them, and it both reduces the possibilties to expand service and it slows the movement across the tracks. until Amtrak controls their own rails where they can move with true high speed trains this isn’t going to make sense across much of the country.

    all this having been said, the 3 C idea would be great and i’m sure i would use that. outside of ohio, i would probably never use this. southwest to chicago and philly have served me well for a very low cost. i don’t see rail competing with that, and i am unlikely to pay much for rail service where i can drive in the same amount of time unless i can get around without my car, so forget indy, louisville, etc. maybe dc or new york…maybe.

  34. lifeontwowheels May 19, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm

    When you consider the airlines that have struggled :COUGH:skybus:COUGH: with, amongst other issues, rising fuel costs, then one of these days cheap flights are going to come to a wall. The day when airlines are priced away from affordability due to these issues may be 2 years or 20 years, but there will be a day when rail is very competitive with other travel options.

  35. gramarye
    gramarye May 20, 2008 8:18 am at 8:18 am

    There’s something to be said for that, but unfortunately, every mode of transportation in this country gets some kind of support from the federal government, and is politically sensitive overall, which precludes one from basing predictions purely off of competitive market supply and demand. Both the absolute and the relative levels of public support for various modes of transportation are going to have a substantial impact on what stays “viable” and what doesn’t.

  36. luchobucho May 20, 2008 8:52 am at 8:52 am

    gmcsoccer wrote the biggest problem with passenger rail in this country is that the tracks are all owned and maintained by the rail freight companies, so the usage is regulated by them, and it both reduces the possibilties to expand service and it slows the movement across the tracks. until Amtrak controls their own rails where they can move with true high speed trains this isn’t going to make sense across much of the country.

    all this having been said, the 3 C idea would be great and i’m sure i would use that. outside of ohio, i would probably never use this. southwest to chicago and philly have served me well for a very low cost. i don’t see rail competing with that, and i am unlikely to pay much for rail service where i can drive in the same amount of time unless i can get around without my car, so forget indy, louisville, etc. maybe dc or new york…maybe.

    Amtrak does own the NEC between CT and DC — a small part of the reason their service is better there…….the other part is based on extremely high density and relatively short distances between cities.

  37. noozer
    noozer May 22, 2008 8:26 pm at 8:26 pm

    NEWS from the T&I Committee

    :D Huge news from Congress…. the next step is a full vote by the House…hopefully by a vfeto-proof majority….NOW is the time to be calling / e-mailing Cong. Tiberi, Pryce, Hobson and the rest of the Ohio delegation to support this.

    Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

    U.S. House of Representatives, 2165 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC 20515

    http://www.house.gov/transportation

    Hon. James L. Oberstar (Minn.), Chairman

    For Immediate Release, Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Contact: Mary Kerr, (202)225-6260

    T&I Approves Historic Amtrak Legislation

    Bill authorizes $14.4 billion for passenger rail[/b]

    WASHINGTON—A bill to reauthorize Amtrak and improve intercity passenger rail was approved and reported out by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today. H.R. 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, authorizes $14.4 billion for Amtrak capital and operating grants, state intercity passenger grants, and high-speed rail over the next five years.

    “Today’s markup is a historic milestone, because the legislation we approved today is a truly significant and long overdue investment in the nation’s passenger rail system. We can address many of the nation’s most pressing transportation problems by improving Amtrak’s service and operations, because increased passenger rail ridership will alleviate growing highway and airport congestion,” said Rep. James L. Oberstar (Minn.), Chairman of the Committee. “The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, a bipartisan commission created by Congress, found that we should invest at least $66.3 billion through 2015 in our passenger rail infrastructure, stations, and rolling stock. This investment is essential to make passenger rail stronger, and in turn, to make our national transportation systems safer, less congested, and more environmentally friendly.”

    The bill helps Amtrak bring its assets to a state-of-good-repair, improves service reliability and increases train speed; helps Amtrak replace its aging rail fleet; provides grants to pay salaries, overtime, and benefits to Amtrak employees; provides grants to alleviate “choke points” across the nation where lack of rail capacity is hampering ridership growth; and provides grants to enable states and Amtrak to develop and construct high-speed rail corridors throughout the country.

    “Amtrak’s improved physical state and recent focus on customer service, along with increasing highway and airport congestion and rising gas prices, have made intercity passenger rail more popular and necessary than ever,” said Rep. Corrine Brown (Fla.), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. “Passage of H.R. 6003 will be the first major step in bringing our nation’s intercity passenger rail system into the 21st Century. The American people deserve the best passenger rail system in the world, and I believe this Amtrak Reauthorization will go a long way to raise the United States to its rightful place as a world leader in passenger rail.”

    In the 108th and 109th Congresses, the T&I Committee reported out bills to reauthorize Amtrak. Despite strong bipartisan support in the Committee, Republican leadership did not allow the legislation to receive floor consideration. Since 2002, Amtrak has continued to operate under minimal annual appropriations, despite the Bush Administration’s repeated attempts to dissolve Amtrak.

    “We ought to at least do in America what has been done in France to promote passenger rail service,” said Oberstar. “Our bill provides significant funding for state grants, giving states greater leverage to develop their passenger rail networks by partnering with the Federal Government to help fund up to 80 percent of the cost of developing state passenger rail networks. These grants will help develop rail systems in the emerging ‘mega-regions,’ bringing greater mobility to the fastest growing regions of the country. H.R. 6003 ensures the continued success and growth of our safe, efficient, and essential national passenger rail system, and through this legislation, we have created a lasting legacy for America.”

    Major provisions of the bill include:

    Ø Increases Capital and Operating Grants to Amtrak. The bill authorizes $4.2 billion (an average of $840 million per year) to Amtrak for capital grants and $3.0 billion (an average of $606 million per year) for operating grants. Past inconsistent Federal support has hampered Amtrak’s ability to replace catenaries, passenger cars, bridges, ties, and other equipment necessary for Amtrak to provide service. These capital grants will help Amtrak bring the Northeast Corridor to a State of Good Repair, procure new rolling stock, rehabilitate existing bridges, as well as make additional capital improvements and maintenance over its entire network. In addition, the operating grants authorized under the bill will help Amtrak pay salaries, health costs, overtime pay, fuel costs, facilities, and train maintenance and operations. These operating grants will also ensure that Amtrak can meet its obligations under its recently negotiated labor contract.

    Ø Develops State Passenger Corridors. In an effort to encourage the development of new and improved intercity passenger rail services, the bill creates a new State Capital Grant program for intercity passenger rail capital projects, and based on the New Starts transit capital program administered by the Federal Transit Administration. The bill provides $2.5 billion ($500 million per year) for grants to States to pay for the capital costs of facilities and equipment necessary to provide new or improved intercity passenger rail. The Federal share of the grants is up to 80 percent. The Secretary of Transportation would award these grants on a competitive basis for projects based on economic performance, expected ridership, and other factors.

    Ø Provides Funding for High-Speed Rail Corridors. The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, established to develop a national transportation vision to address surface transportation needs for the next 50 years, recommends that the United States establish a high-speed rail network that spans the entire country. The bill authorizes $1.75 billion ($350 million per year) for grants to States and/or Amtrak to finance the construction and equipment for 11 authorized high-speed rail corridors. The Federal share of the grants is up to 80 percent. The Secretary of Transportation would award these grants on a competitive basis for projects based on economic performance, expected ridership, and other factors.

    Ø Alleviates Rail “Choke Points.” Many of Amtrak’s service routes outside the Northeast Corridor suffer from poor service reliability and on-time performance because of freight traffic congestion. This congestion prevents Amtrak from retaining and attracting new ridership, and increases Amtrak’s operating costs. The Department of Transportation Inspector General recently reported that if Amtrak achieved an 85 percent on-time performance outside the Northeast Corridor in fiscal year 2006, it would have saved Amtrak $136.6 million, or almost one-third of its operating budget. Amtrak is required by law to have preferred access on freight corridors; however, freight railroads do not always comply with Amtrak’s access rights. The bill addresses this problem by providing congestion grants to Amtrak and the States for high-priority rail corridors in order to reduce congestion and facilitate ridership growth.

    Ø Reduces Amtrak’s Debt. Federal support of Amtrak was cut drastically in fiscal year 2000 and 2001, forcing Amtrak to assume a large amount of debt to stay in operation. Amtrak has aggressively targeted this debt, paying down $600 million from 2002 through 2007. Our bill helps Amtrak to take further steps to reduce its debt, authorizing $345 million each year for debt service through FY2013. This funding will allow Amtrak to focus its resources on improving existing services and making additional capital and operational improvements.

    Ø Establishes an RFP for High-Speed Rail Service. A provision of H.R. 6003 directs the Secretary of Transportation to issue a request for proposals for projects for the financing, design, construction, and operation of an initial high-speed rail system operating between Washington, DC, and New York City. Proposals would need to meet certain financial, labor, and planning criteria, as well as a detailed description to account for any impacts on existing passenger, commuter, and freight rail traffic to be considered. If the Secretary receives a qualifying proposal, she would be directed to form a Commission to study any proposals received. Finally, the Secretary would issue a report to the Congress on the Commission’s findings. Any further action on a proposal would need legislative approval by Congress.

    Ø Resolves Disputes between Commuter and Freight Railroads. Currently, no Federal guidelines exist to mediate disputes between commuter rail providers and freight railroads over use of freight rail tracks or rights-of-way, nor is there a standard forum for negotiating commuter rail operating agreements. The bill establishes a forum at the STB to help complete stalled commuter rail negotiations, helping our rail network operate as efficiently as possible. This section is identical to what was included in H.R. 2701, the “Transportation Energy Security and Climate Change Mitigation Act of 2007”, as ordered reported by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on June 20, 2007.

    ###

  38. michaelcoyote May 22, 2008 8:44 pm at 8:44 pm

    bremkat wrote

    Come to the Columbus Chamber’s YP Exchange, a free, issue-oriented forum for the young and talented, to learn about a transportation plan to move our city and state forward! The YP Exchange on May 20th will focus on the Ohio Hub Plan (passenger rail).

    YP Exchange: Ohio Hub

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

    Did anyone go to this? I didn’t see anything on the announcement thread.

  39. Walker Evans
    Walker May 22, 2008 9:34 pm at 9:34 pm

    noozer wrote A bill to reauthorize Amtrak and improve intercity passenger rail was approved and reported out by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today. H.R. 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, authorizes $14.4 billion for Amtrak capital and operating grants, state intercity passenger grants, and high-speed rail over the next five years.

    Wow, that’s great news! :D

  40. noozer
    noozer June 3, 2008 4:22 pm at 4:22 pm

    Just got this via e-mail:

    National Association of Railroad Passengers http://www.narprail.org

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

    Washington, DC 20002-3557

    Telephone 202-408-8362

    For Immediate Release (#08-13)

    June 3, 2008

    OIL PRICES UNDERLINE NEED FOR MORE PASSENGER TRAINS

    Statement of Ross B. Capon

    Executive Director

    National Association of Railroad Passengers

    June 3, 2008

    Transit ridership is at its highest level in 50 years, as reported last night on NBC Nightly News. There have been many other news reports about growing Amtrak and transit ridership. Most stories also have highlighted the historical underinvestment that prevents Amtrak and transit authorities from dealing with much more growth in the near term, and the budgetary problems that are forcing transit service reductions even as more people want to climb on board.

    Today’s GM announcement about the closure of four more plants should send a clear message to Washington: we need a rapid and long-overdue ramping up of investment in Amtrak and transit to give people jobs when other parts of the transportation industry are retrenching and to let Americans leave their cars at home when they want to-—which they increasingly do. The time to invest in trains is now.

    Nationwide, Amtrak ridership is up 11% for October-April, the first seven months of FY 2008, compared with the same period a year earlier.

    American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reports that transit trips rose 3.3% in the January-March quarter, compared with a year earlier, with light rail up 10.3% and commuter railroad trips up 5.7%. Preliminary data indicate an even bigger increase in April.

    Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) says March vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on the nation’s highways fell 4.3% from a year earlier, “the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history…The estimated data show that VMT on all U.S. public roads have dropped since 2006.” In addition, some small airlines have shut down, many small cities are losing air service, and major airlines plan big service reductions.

    Last year, NARP released its Grow Trains Campaign to bring intercity passenger rail service to over 300 cities nationwide. In our June 25, 2007 news release, we correctly predicted the current days’ events when we said that “the average price of gas [is] expected to top $4 per gallon in the near future.”

    The Grow Trains Campaign is needed now more than ever. Congress and the Administration need to make it happen.

    For more on NARP’s Grow Trains Campaign, go to http://www.narprail.org/vision

    The FHWA release, “Americans Driving At Historic Lows” is at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/fhwa0811.htm

    APTA’s June 2 ridership growth release is at http://www.apta.com/media/releases/080602_ridership_report.cfm

    APTA’s one-page first quarter ridership summary is at

    http://www.apta.com/media/releases/080602_ridership_report.cfm

    About NARP

    NARP is the largest citizen-based organization advocating for train and rail transit passengers. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by over 24,000 individual members.

  41. noozer
    noozer June 5, 2008 2:10 pm at 2:10 pm

    Want my vote? Get me a train…. light rail… streetcars…. bikeways…. anything that let’s me ditch my car keys.

    Consider this current cnn/money.com on-line poll:

    What’s your key economic issue this election year?

    Gas prices 58%

    Health care 16%

    Jobs 16%

    Housing 10%

    Total responses to this question: 29427

    http://money.cnn.com/POLLSERVER/results/39955.html

    “Pain at the pump” is the game-changer. But what are you ready to do to make change happen?

    I hear it from people all the time:

    “How soon will we get passenger trains?…. light rail…. streetcars…. more and better bus service…. bikeways?….. pick your mode.

    My answer? Make it an issue in every campaign and with every candidate that is seeking your vote. Don’t let a candidate leave the room without letting them know how you feel AND getting an answer from them about what they will do to address it.

    Unfortunately, many advocates fall into the trap of what is called “preachin’ to the choir”. We banter back and forth on blogs like this and then log off, satisfied that we’ve sufficiently vented and that the world will now know how we feel. It doesn’t work that way.

    As useful and well done as X-ing Columbus or any of a dozen other Ohio-connected blogs I know of are, most decision-makers (especially legislators) are either unaware they exist or don’t have enough time to log on to each and everyone to check the pulse of the voting public. Ya gotta reach out to them directly.

    And what a great year to do it. We’re voting on what will be the first new President we’ve had in 8 years. We will be voting for members of Congress…. both Deb Pryce and Dave Hobson’s seats are up for grabs. There are state legislators that will be out there as well looking for our votes…. and candidates for everything from County Commissioner to whatever.

    And our message to them needs to be direct:

    You want MY voite…. get me a train. Pass a bill…. get it funded….and get something rolling.

    I love my car (A Honda Civic / 34 MPG) as much as some of you. But I don’t want to be forced to drive it. How can there be the so-called “freedom of the open road” when we have no other choice but to drive a car…. and our other options are either limited or non-existant.

    Ya wanna make that change? Ask your MOC (Member of Congress) or MOGA (Member of the Ohio General Assembly: You want my vote? Get me a train. If they don’t give you a good answer….tell them you’re voting for the other guy.

  42. lifeontwowheels June 5, 2008 2:24 pm at 2:24 pm

    To follow up on noozers plea:

    Avg. cost yearly for a car: 7-10k

    Avg. cost yearly for transit: 800-900

Want to comment?

Login or register first.

Lost your password?

metro categories