The San Francisco–Los Angeles high-speed train received two, much-needed pieces of support this week, which should have a positive impact as state legislators deliberate on the next funding steps for the project.
TransForm based its decision on an
analysis of the project’s benefits and risks, which was released
yesterday. The report emphasized the
100,000 new jobs the project would create, providing much needed growth in the
state’s struggling economy—especially in the hard-hit
“Traffic congestion in
Additionally, the San Jose Mercury reported on a study which
found that modernizing the
The Midwest High-Speed Rail Association reported on this positive development:
U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo
(D-Palo Alto) endorsed an economic impact study of Caltrain electrification,
calling Caltrain "the spine" of the
Caltrain is the commuter railroad
The study conducted by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute found that having Caltrain run on electric power rather than diesel fuel would not only be a boon for the environment, but the electrification construction project would also be an economic bonanza for the area.
That doesn’t mean the opposition has died out. The San Jose Mercury also had an op-ed on June 8 that called the project “delusional.” They cited a recent poll that cast public opinion on trains in a negative light, and questioned the project’s lack of secured funding.
Californians for High-Speed Rail Executive Director
A study released this week by the Urban Land Institute found that Boston’s rail transit system will be overwhelmed by ridership demand within a decade unless the city and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts take action.
While the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has been plagued with budget deficits in recent years, from a certain perspective it is experiencing great success. As of April 2012, the T has seen fifteen consecutive months of ridership growth as of April 2012, and it currently serves 1.37 million riders on an average weekday.
ULI projects these ridership trends will continue in the future, but that the MBTA is not doing enough to plan for this growth:
Based on three ridership scenarios developed for this report, the MBTA is likely to serve a minimum of 420 million unlinked trips annually, and potentially as many as 500 million, within a decade. This rate of ridership growth translates to an increase in average weekday ridership from 1.3 million trips currently, to 1.4 - 1.7 million weekday trips by 2021. The MBTA should therefore plan to serve an additional 100,000 to 367,000 more daily riders within ten years.
Congestion relief has long been a priority for highway spending — it is past time to recognize that addressing congestion is equally important for the transit system. Ensuring sufficient capacity to meet ridership demand without unacceptable levels of congestion will require both better planning and more investment.
The study recommends that the Massachusetts DOT and the MBTA create a core congestion assessment and management system. That system would collect information that would allow transportation officials to “put a price tag on the investments needed for congestion relief and increasing core capacity.”
A price tag is just the beginning, however; local, state,
and federal officials will then need to find the resources and make the
investments necessary to ensure that the MBTA can continue to serve a growing
ridership. Meeting these investment
demands will enable transit-oriented development to continue in cities and
towns throughout greater
Work on the Chicago to St. Louis high performance rail corridor is entering its final phase of the 2012 upgrades this month, as the Illinois Department of Transportation (Illinois DOT) and Union Pacific Railroad begin work to enhance tracks with concrete ties and stone ballast, improve bridges, install advanced wayside equipment, and upgrade roadway-rail grade crossing.
These improvements will eventually allow Amtrak trains to reach 110mph on the corridor; in fact, trains will be reaching that speed between Dwight and Pontiac as early as this year. In the meantime, Amtrak is warning passengers to expect disruptions in service while work is being performed:
As of June 16, work will progress
to north of Bloomington-Normal and most days it will lead Amtrak to charter
motorcoaches for Amtrak Lincoln Service (Trains 300-307) passengers at
St. Louis, Alton, Carlinville, Springfield, Lincoln, Normal, Pontiac, Dwight,
Joliet and Summit, Ill. The Amtrak Texas Eagle (Trains 21/321/421 &
22/322/422) will detour between
In order to expedite travel between
There will also be temporary road crossing closures due to the construction. Closings will be updated on a nightly basis on Illinois DOT’s website, www.idothsr.org.
So far VIA Rail has yet to officially comment on rumors, going only so far as to say it was looking at fine-tuning “service, schedules and fares to serve markets more efficiently,” and “better integrating passenger rail with other public transportation services.”
While nothing is official, it appears the Canadian (
“It’s ironic that
Head over to the excellent Transport Action Canada Hotline for more details.
The City of
The station—which Amtrak’s official release described as “a relic of disco-era design”—has been modernized, and features a new entrance/passenger drop-off area, fenced long-term parking lot, improved exterior lighting and landscaping, remodeled office space for Amtrak and other tenants, a new passenger lobby, and a vending area that includes café seating.
The station will serve Amtrak rail passengers, Amtrak Thruway Connection passengers on Indian Trails motorcoaches, and Greyhound intercity bus riders. Amtrak’s statement commemorating the June 12 opening spoke about the station’s renovations being a platform for future growth:
Eight Amtrak trains serve
The station has also been
modernized with an eye toward more Amtrak growth, since the Wolverine Service
is a federally-designated high-speed corridor and Amtrak initiated 110 mph
service earlier this year on a portion of the route in Northwest Indiana and
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published a notice to request comments on FRA’s proposed additions to the list of categorical exclusions (CEs) contained in FRA’s Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (Environmental Procedures).
CEs are actions that FRA has determined do not individually or cumulatively have significant effects on the human or natural environment and thus do not require preparation of an environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). FRA’s Environmental Procedures currently contain twenty CEs, and FRA is proposing to add seven additional CEs. FRA is also making a Categorical Exclusion Substantiation Document (Substantiation Document) available for public review. That document supports the proposed CEs and demonstrates that the actions covered by the proposed CEs are unlikely to have significant impacts on the human or natural environment.
The Substantiation Document is available on FRA’s Web site at http://www.fra.dot.gov/, and comments on this notice are due on or before July 13, 2012. [Docket No. FRA–2012–0016]