Posts Tagged: high speed rail

High-speed regional trains zoom into California

Several new trains capable of considerably higher speed should begin plying the rails in California in about four years time, thanks to an infusion of federal cash, reports Tim Sheehan of The Fresno Bee.

California received 68 million dollars from the federal government to buy 15 new American passenger cars and four new U.S.-made locomotives for the state’s three regional rail routes. The funding is a portion of the $336 million worth of Recovery Act funding — economic stimulus money — awarded as federal matching funds to California and outright grants to Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri. (more…)

Los Angeles: a beacon of hope amid high-speed rail fog?

Headwinds  are building against California’s planned high-speed rail system, with congressional opponents attempting to kill funding, and new reports generating ever more negative rhetoric. That’s the  bottom line in Carolyn Lochhead’s piece in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Meanwhile, though significant cuts to transportation funding — both for road construction and maintenance as well as mass-transit are likely in the coming transportation bill, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has introduced an innovative financing scheme aimed at speeding up transit construction.  Villaraigosa’s initiativemay become a nationwide program, according to Rick Orlov of the Torrance Daily Breeze.

Criticisms at the policy end of high-speed rail are hardly new. Here’s a standard sample: (more…)

Scott Walker’s high-speed blunder

When Scott Walker used a balanced budget bill to strip the collective bargaining rights of public employees, it was defensible if you believed — as the Wisconsin governor did — that unionized public employees had destroyed Wisconsin’s finances. Walker’s rejection last November of U.S. Dept. of Transportation money for a high-speed train between Milwaukee and Madison, however, cannot be defended. Not after the governor pushed — and the state legislature will soon approve — an upgrade of the Chicago-to-Milwaukee “Hiawatha” rail line.

As Jason Stein and Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel make clear, the $31.6 million upgrade could have been covered by the $810 million offered by the Obama administration to build the Madison-to-Milwaukee line.


California’s high-speed train project losing steam

Not even a bullet train can outrun a legal avalanche. The chances that California sees a high-speed rail system anytime in the 21st century is dwindling as an abundant crop of legal challenges pop up all along the proposed route.

Various entities are suing over where the train will or won’t go, while others are challenging projections and computer models used as the basis of winning voter approval for the sale of construction bonds. Meanwhile, one of the authority’s key board members has quit as the likelihood of further federal funding grows ever more remote. (more…)

In California, critics not sure it’s the little train that could

Could it be a mirage?

California’s planned 800-mile bullet train system has been dodging flak from administration opponents since President Barack Obama announced his support. While the massive project has generated much skepticism, and many questions have been sloughed off as reflexively political.  But as Lance Williams of CaliforniaWatch reports, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, a prominent state Democratic leader, has some serious reservations — and we don’t mean tickets bought way in advance. (more…)

Plain language about managers at California’s high-speed rail system

More uncertainty is emerging about California’s planned $43 billion bullet train system, after a state report recommended a serious shakeup in the management and spending on the joint federal and state project.

As Dan Weikel of the Los Angeles Times reports, California’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office released a 28-page report raising serious doubts about both the decisions being made and the decision-makers themselves. The report urges that management of the entire project be stripped from its appointed board — the California High Speed Rail Authority — and turned over to the state Department of Transportation, more commonly known as Caltrans. (more…)

Will high-speed rail in California change direction?

Planners promoting California’s high speed rail system are apparently on the hunt for some serious cost savings.

Two recent stories about the ambitious plan to link Los Angeles with San Francisco via 220-mile per hour trains suggest the project may be facing serious financial questions — just as the naysayers have crowed all along. (more…)

Hypothetically faster than a speeding bullet

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association has an ambitious vision of a 220-mph bullet train that would connect major Midwest cities, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch. But 2011 has already been a terrible year for the politics and federal funding of high-speed rail. Do recent setbacks make a bullet train politically unrealistic?

Working with the Siemens Corporation, the non-profit rail association looked at a number of possibilities for a Midwest bullet train and concluded that the 220-mph train would be the most expensive to build but yield the greatest return investment. (more…)

High-speed cuts

The Detroit Free Press’s Todd Spangler reports on how $38 billion worth of cuts in the remaining FY11 budget affect Michigan, with one such cut in high-speed rail programs. “House Republicans cut all of the $1 billion the president originally requested for high-speed rail projects this year,” Spangler writes, “and also slashed $400 million remaining from the previous year’s funding for the program.” The cuts harm a possible rail link between Chicago and Detroit — a corridor between Chicago and St. Louis is already in the works.

High-speed rail network requires networking among states

Taiwan, like Illinois, supports HSR

Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago Business predicts Illinois will get about $1 billion in additional high-speed rail money that Florida forfeited when their governor, Rick Scott, put the brakes on an Orlando to Tampa high-speed rail line. Under Gov. Pat Quinn and a Democratic legislature, Illinois has strongly supported Barack Obama’s high-speed rail ambitions. But the next steps are politically tricky.

Hinz writes that Illinois will get a “decent-sized piece” of high-speed rail money because, “This state, unlike others seems prepared to spend the money without dithering.” But Illinois must rely on the non-dithering of its neighbors. (more…)