Tag Archive: Steel Interstates

Jul 15 2013

Sunday Train: Why Does Congressman Mica Lie About Amtrak?

cross-posted from Voices on the Square

Congressman John Mica, Republican from the Florida 7th district and member (former chair) of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has been on the attack against Amtrak again. During the testimony to the committee by John Robert Smith, head of Transportation for America and Reconnecting America, and former Republican mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, faced aggressive questioning by Congressman Mica promoting his desired defunding of Amtrak:

… But Mica spared his real invective for the next part, where he let Smith know he’s seen “your little memo that you sent to my mayor.” Something about the belittling, eyes-in-the-back-of-my-head tone there was just chilling, like he’s saying he found the love notes Smith was writing to his wife. “House of Representatives slash Amtrak funding, putting the future of the national system in jeopardy!” Mica read the line in a high-pitched tone, mocking the hysteria Smith was clearly exhibiting when calling Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley’s attention to the House cuts.

 

Does Smith really think a cut of $1.4 billion to $950 million is such a big deal? Well, yeah, actually. “Don’t you think the United States is under threat when you’re in debt up to your eyeballs, when you’re borrowing 40 cents on the dollar to underwrite your service?” Mica exploded. “You’re aware that every ticket on Amtrak last year was underwritten more than $40 per passenger ticket? You’re aware of that?”

 

Mica railed against Amtrak’s “Soviet-style operations” and the money losses on food service aboard the trains and asked Smith if he should “go back and tell that mother [of the soldier not getting hot breakfasts], ‘You know, we need to put this money into Amtrak; we can’t take any cuts out of Amtrak.'”

 

To which John Robert Smith firmly replied: “That’s a false choice, Congressman.”

Indeed, you don’t have to take the word of DC Streetsblog about the exchange, as it has been put up on youtube:

Jun 10 2013

Sunday Train: All Aboard for the Cross Illinois Line

While browsing the Midwest HSR Association site recently, I came across this story:

Midwest High Speed Rail Association Lauds Rep. Moffit’s Proposal for New Midwestern Amtrak Link

CHICAGO (May 23, 2013) — Midwest High Speed Rail Association Executive Director Richard Harnish released the following statement Thursday in response to Illinois State Rep. Donald Moffitt’s (74th District) proposal of a new bill proposing a study leading to the creation of a new east-west Amtrak line in Illinois:

“Rep. Moffitt has identified a missing link in our state’s mass transportation system.

“The addition of a new Amtrak route linking population and commercial centers would be a major enhancement of our rail system, and a stepping-stone to further expansion and improvement of the system.

“Today, if you need to travel between Chicago and Springfield, Galesburg, Peoria, Normal and Urbana-Champaign or over to the Quad Cities, you are most likely to drive.

… “This addition and the public’s utilization of it will help to lay the solid foundation for future modernization–especially for the full implementation of high-speed rail between Chicago and St. Louis and other major midwest destinations.

Aug 27 2012

Sunday Train: Neil Armstrong and an America that can do Great Things

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

crossposted from Voices on the Square

By now, you would likely have seen the headline  that Neil Armstrong dies: First man on the moon passes away at 82, or something akin to it.

Among those who follow the space program more closely, many are aware that there are few pictures of Neil Armstrong on the Moon. Neil Armstrong had two and a half hours of moonwalks, and Neil Armstrong operated the main camera. The camera that Buzz Aldrin operated was used for technical assignments.

 This fuzzy picture was take by enhancing a picture Neil took of Buzz Aldrin, and zooming in on the reflective visor, where Neil Armstrong appears in reflection as the photographer. And the small blue dot near the top?

That’s Earth.

The passing of Neil Armstrong brought my mind back to the topic of An America that Can Do Great Things, and so I thought I would reprint my piece from 11 March, 2011, for this week’s Sunday Train, on the connection between HSR and an America That Can Do Great Things.

Jun 11 2012

Sunday Train: Putting Steel into the Amtrak Long Distance Backbone

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Express HSR is sexy. Indeed, its sexy enough that when Big Oil propagandizes against it, they have to paint it as too expensive or something that America is too incompetent to handle, since the idea of sitting in an actually comfortable rail seat, watching a movie on a laptop or snacking on a sandwich while flying along at two to three times highway speeds, “just like in France or Japan or Spain”, that’s too appealing to convince a big majority of people that it would be anything but nice to have. So they have to con people into thinking of it as an unrealistic pipe dream that the US can do what Spain has been doing for a decade, France for three decades, and Japan for half a century.

Rapid Rail is not as sexy as Express HSR, but at least it is as fast as driving for most drivers on most corridors, and appreciably faster than driving on the corridor with the “best bones”, like either Cleveland / Columbus or Davenport / Des Moines / Iowa wold be at 110mph top passenger speed. And it is much cheaper than Express HSR, with lots of potential corridors that local residents will start lobbying for once the first of the Rapid Passenger Rail services come into service.

But conventional long haul rail? Surely plodding along at 50mph to as slow as 30mph on heavy freight rail corridors is an obsolete holdover from an earlier time?

Well, no. Conventional long haul rail has a 21st century role to play, if the United States should declare Economic Independence and start working to regain the economic freedom that we surrendered to the Big Oil and the oil exporting regions in the 70’s and 80’s.

And so, in this evening’s Sunday Train, we look at the “PRIIA Section 210” plans that Amtrak has developed for the five weakest of its fifteen long distance corridors: the California Zephyr, the Capitol Limited, the Cardinal, the Sunset Limited, and the Texas Eagle.

Jun 04 2012

Sunday Train: Steel Interstates & An America That Can Do Big Things

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Steel Interstate (noun): A Network of Electrified Heavy and Rapid Rail corridors that will allow the United States to remain a sovereign national economy.

Integrated into the Steel Interstates are Electricity Superhighways to connect Renewable Energy Resource areas to each other, to substantially increase the stability of the available Renewable Energy Supply, and to Energy Consumers, to ensure that no rich Renewable Electricity Resource goes untapped for lack of access to a electricity markets.

This is something that the United States should do. Depending on the twists and turns of international energy markets in the coming decades, it may be something the United States must do, to remain a coherent national economy.

If the efforts of Big Oil and Big Coal are successful, it is the kind of thing that America will not be able to do.

Yet, I believe it is something that the United States actually can do.

Jul 04 2011

Sunday Train: Steel Interstates, Fast Freight, and Brawny Recovery

Burning the Midnight Oil

(Right: Liberty Line) The Steel Interstate proposal is an effort to build Rapid Electric Freight Rail Tollways across the country ~ east to west and north to south ~ to:

  • Take a substantial slice our of our oil imports
  • Insure our national economy and national defense against disruptions of our oil supply
  • Increase the productivity of our manufacturing and logistics sectors,
  • Overcome decades of neglect of our national electricity transmission infrastructure, and
  • Protect our legacy investment in our Interstate Highway system from the battering it receives at the hands of long haul trucks.

The point of the Steel Interstate system is that it is a system: it consists of several parts that work together to give more bang for the buck than any one could provide on its own.