Tag Archive: passenger rail

Jan 22 2017

Sunday Train: An Ohio Universities Rail System, Part 1 (Southern & Central Ohio)

Well, the 2016 High Speed Rail unlock has been postponed to 2018 or 2020. When transportation policy at the Federal level is grabbed with both hands by the Oil and Gas death lobby, we have to turn to the state level. Now, in Ohio, it might not look like that offers a prospect any better …

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Sep 20 2016

Sunday Train: Sleeping On A Trip, In Transit

Well, as they say, the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglay … and so when you consider the posting plans for The Sunday Train, which quite often fail to qualify among the best laid plans, disruptions should not be a surprise. Last y’all heard from me, I was posting from Northeast …

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Aug 07 2016

Sunday Train: Adventures on the Beijing Subway

I have ridden the Beijing Subway and lived to tell the tale! Click through for scary youtube clip of the Beijing Subway Of course, the youtube clips you might be able to find about incredible overcrowding on the Beijing subway is just part of the story. Indeed, when riding on my “home” subway line, I …

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Mar 09 2015

Sunday Train: On Amtrak, I’ve got some good news, and some bad news.

This last week, there was the surprising start to a headline in the Washington Post that began, “GOP House and White House agree on something” … and that something was: Amtrak funding (and pets on a train).

But its not all good news this week … because if the INDOT has its way, the Hoosier State will be cancelled.

Sep 16 2014

Sunday Train: Reflections on a visit to the East Coast

Cross-posted from The Sunday Train ~ apologies for the jet-lag induced cross-posting delays

Your intrepid sustainable energy and transport reporter was recently required to engage in some official business with an overseas consulate located in New York city, and in order to be able to afford to sit and wait as the wheels of bureaucracy as long as might have been required, obtained lodgings in a relatively cheap motel in New Brunswick and took the NJ Transit Northeast Corridor train back and forth. This week’s Sunday Train is a collection of scattered observations made along the way.

Mar 03 2014

Sunday Train: The Ends of Amtrak

At the beginning of last month, Paul Druce of “Reason & Rail” discussed the possible impact of the pending upgrade of the Amtrak Acela route in Acela II is the path towards Amtrak operational self-sustainability:

The forthcoming Acela II isn’t just supposed to be significantly faster than the current Acela service, cutting 24 minutes from the scheduled time between Washington and New York and 38 minutes between Washington and Boston, but it will also represent a significant boost in capacity. …

With an increase in seating capacity, Amtrak will be able to garner significantly more revenue, even if it lowers the price of Acela seating somewhat. This added revenue comes with no significant increase in operational cost and quite possibly a lowered cost, as there should be a higher rate of availability and lowered mechanical costs for what is essentially an off the shelf train, along with significantly lower energy consumption. With current averages for occupancy and passenger revenue unchanged, an Acela II train service could see $742 million in revenue, with $447 million in operational profit.

This will have an even larger effect upon Amtrak’s financial deficit than initially appears because starting in FY2014, the states bear a greater responsibility for the short distance train corridors. This had the affect of reducing Amtrak’s FY2014 budget request to only $373 million for the operating grant; 2013’s appropriation, by contrast, was $442 million.

Note that what Paul Druce refers to as “operational profit” is what I have been calling “operating surplus” in the Sunday Train, the surplus of revenues from operations over operating costs. This is nothing like an operational profit, at present, since a profit is a financial benefit from a difference between revenue and costs, and there is nothing in the current organization of the Acela services that make a surplus on their operations into a distinctive financial asset for any purpose … whether public or private.

Whether or not all or part of this operating surplus should be made into an operational profit is a question that goes to the heart of what is the purpose of Amtrak. The way that this surplus is spent can be the means to service a range of ends … but what are the ends that are a legitimate use of these means?

Since Amtrak was established, and exists, as a political compromise, this is not a question about what is the proper “End” for Amtrak activities, but what are the proper “Ends” for Amtrak activities.

Dec 02 2013

Sunday Train: ‘the successful communities are going to be the ones who get rail.’

In covering the upcoming vote on the planned North Metro Rail line in Denver, the Denver Post writes:

People and circumstances over the years have tried to change the gritty image of Commerce City. There have been high-end homes on its eastern border and a world-class soccer and concert stadium not far from the city’s oil refineries, and even an attempt to wipe the city’s industrial name off of the map and replace it with the more low-key moniker of Derby. But it may be a stop on the Regional Transportation District’s North Metro Rail Line that brings some shine to the center of the city.

They quote the Commerce City Mayor:

“I’m very optimistic about the commercial opportunities that come with transit-oriented development,” said Commerce City Mayor Sean Ford. “Once rail comes, we can develop around it, and I think it will be highly beneficial.”

… as well as the Adams County Commissioner and Chairman of the North Area Transportation Alliance:

“In our world, the successful communities are going to be the ones who get rail,” said Adams County Commissioner Erik Hansen

And on Tuesday night, the Metro North line was approved, for a 2014 start and 2018 completion, when it had been previously set back to 2044 (an oddly exact date that clearly meant, “not now, but maybe later”):

A spontaneous offer from Graham Contracting in February stepped up the plans for the North Metro line after the company teamed with three other private developers and gave the Regional Transportation District’s board of directors a viable, ambitious construction plan, said RTD spokeswoman Pauletta Tonilas.

Sep 23 2013

Sunday Train: Rapid Rail and Pedal to the Metal Climate Change Policy (pt 2)

cross-posted from Voices on the Square

Last week, I considered the concept of Pedal to the Metal Climate Change policies: the kind of policies that we will now have to pursue if we become serious about Climate Change, because of the 16+ years we will have wasted since 2000 that would have given us the opportunity to pursue a more gradualist approach. At that time, there was a debate that could be characterized as an argument between “incrementalism” and “purism”. However, at present, and therefore by the time the current administration will be completed, we have passed the point of asking “how fast should we go”, and have passed into “how fast can we go” territory. Hence the Pedal to the Metal approach.

Last week, I did not rehash Micheal Hoexter’s overview of a Pedal to the Metal Climate Change policy, but rather looked at the leading edge of that policy package, what I dubbed “front-runner” policies, and looked the Steel Interstate as one example of a front-runner policy for a Pedal to the Metal Climate Change policy package. This week, I am going to turn from Rapid Freight Rail and consider what kind of Rapid Passenger Rail policy would qualify as a front-runner policy for a Pedal to the Metal Climate Change Policy.

Aug 26 2013

Sunday Train: Florida Rapid Rail project moves toward a 2015 ribbon cutting

cross-posted from Voices on the Square

I saw on the twitter feeds of some transit/transport bloggers (twitter list) some interesting news about the ongoing All Aboard Florida project for a 3hr rail service between Miami and Orlando. They are seeking land for their Miami station complex:


Managers for All Aboard Florida, the project to build an Orlando-to-Miami passenger train service, are about to begin negotiations with Miami’s Community Redevelopment Agency to acquire two parcels in downtown Miami as part of the plan to build a massive train station and transportation hub downtown.



He [Michael Reininger, president and chief development officer for the train project] said the two parcels are key to the project, as they are integral to the planned station and transport hub, a project he said will dramatically transform downtown Miami and Overtown, where project managers expect to create jobs and new opportunities for area residents and businesses. “We are not just developing these two blocks,” Reininger said. “In fact, we’re developing a very major infrastructure and development program that will be transformative for the entirety of downtown Miami.”

Besides building the Miami station for the Miami-Orlando train, Reininger said, All Aboard Florida is also planning a transportation hub that would provide links between the intercity train and the Miami-Dade transit services there such as Metrorail, Metromover and Metrobus.

And are also bidding for additional develoment on a neighboring site, which would crosslink the All Aboard Florida Station to the MDM proposals for a new Marriot at Miami Worldcenter:

The company that is planning to build a 3-hour rail link between Miami and Orlando recently responded to an RFP by the Overtown CRA for a plot of land near a station that they are planning to build in downtown Miami.

All Aboard Florida proposes to build office, retail and residential uses, including a 24-story tower on the overtown parcels. It would be linked to a new Marriott at Miami Worldcenter proposed by MDM, as well as the All Aboard Florida station.

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.

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