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Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Huh, seems me that whatever the state of my various concerns, the agenda of the Sunday Train has been taken over by the White House ... funny how announcing the recipients of a total of $8b will do that.

The Transport Politic (aka Yonah Freeman and the TTP commentariat) has a very complete rundown. The allotments over $200m are:

  • California, $2,344m
  • Florida: $1,250m
  • Illinois: $1,236m
  • Wisconsin: $822m
  • Washington: $590m
  • North Carolina: $545m  
  • Ohio: $400m

So, what's the money for? Join me below the fold.

So, what's the money for?

I'll start with the big ticket items.

California, $2,344m. This includes $1,850m for the California HSR Stage 1 from San Francisco to Anaheim via San Jose, Fresno, Bakersfield, and the LA Basin. This is, in essence, enough to prime the pump for the California project.

California has the advantage of $9b in bonding authority already passed in November 2008, but that bonding authority has strings attached. One of those string is that for any given segment, all funding has to be in place before bonds can be sold, bonds cannot fund more than half the cost of a given segment, and to avoid monkey business in the definition of "segment", it has to have a vetted plan for running services without state operating subsidies.

This ARRA funding will allow the California HSR authority to work through 2010 and its projected start of the segment design and build process in 2011 without having to sell bonds up front. Then if an application for additional Federal funds requires matching funds, it will be possible to bring one or more of the defined segments in line for receiving state bond support, which will provide the matching funds.

Obviously, how fast those funds flow will determine how close the CAHSRA can stay to its project timeline ... but with the ARRA funding to prime the pump, California is well placed to proceed with the project at whatever pace that funding flows permit.

And the flip side of the ARRA announcement is a substantial group of states with a stake in having enough HSR funding so that they are not forced to go toe-to-toe with California's substantial application advantages. Any "transparent process", which are codewords for cost-benefit analysis based decisions, will give heavy weight to California for Express HSR. Just as the Northeast Corridor has a close to ideal population distribution for conventional rail, and the Great Lakes / Eastern Midwest a close to an ideal population distribution for 110mph/125mph Emerging/Regional HSR, California has close to an ideal population distribution for Express HSR.

In addition to the Stage 1 corridor funding, the ARRA funding includes $400m for building the shell of a rail terminal into the foundations of the Transbay Terminal bus station in San Francisco. This is a project that is reputedly "ready to go", although of course the actual design of the TBT train box leaves quite a bit to be desired. Never one to quit working before the whistle, I am hoping that the availability of $400m can be used to persuade the Transbay Joint Power Authority to build a less heavily bottlenecked design for trains entering and leaving this undergound train station.

Finally, while Stage 1 does not go to Vegas (despite what the Replicants were saying this time last year) ... it does go to Disneyland. Which sets the stage for the next allocation.

Florida: $1,250m. This is entirely for Express HSR track from Tampa to Orlando. This is a line that has been criticized for not connecting the two downtowns of the two cities. On the other hand, it does go to Disneyworld, and as an on-again, off-again project that kept getting squashed by lack of local funding, the Florida State Legislature was led to believe that their hopes of HSR funding required a commitment to support complementary local rail service. Support for SunRail passed, and so Florida got their Disneyworld train.

If there is ongoing federal funding available, I expect that sooner or later Florida will bite the bullet and sort out an extension of the service - even if not an extension of the corridor - to allow downtown to downtown service. After all, in France, one of the early pioneers in High Speed Rail, its common for the Express HSR services to only run on Express HSR corridors between major metropolitan areas, and to run into and through major metro areas on express electric urban lines.

Illinois: $1,236m. The main project here is $1,102m to upgrade parts of the Chicago / St. Louis corridor to 110mph service, cutting end-to-end travel time to four hours, and bringing substantial new populations along the corridor within three hours or less of either Chicago or St. Louis or both. Further improvement of this corridor on the same basis can bring the end-to-end time down to three hours.

The second main project is $133m for line and station improvements between Chicago and Michigan, including two suburban and one downtown station for Detroit. This is a line that, like the Chicago / St. Louis, has already has a series of smaller incremental improvements.

Wisconsin: $822m. The bulk of this is $810m to establish a Milwaukee-Madison corridor service. This will extend the already well patronized successful Chicago / Milwaukee corridor, and indeed further build patronage on that corridor, since Madison / Chicago is a substantial transport market in its own right along this corridor.

Washington: $590m. This is mostly for bypass tracks for the Cascade Corridor between Oregon and Washington, with some services continuing to Vancouver. I believe there is also some provision for new rolling stock to support additional Vancouver services.

North Carolina: $545m. The bulk of this is $520m to bring the Raleigh/Charlotte corridor up to 90mph, as a first step to eventually bringing it up to 110mph as part of the Southeast HSR Corridor.

Ohio: $400m. This is all dedicated to establishing the conventional rail starter service for the Triple C route from Cleveland to Columbus and Cincinnati to Columbus. This was a route abandoned in 1971 when Penn Central went bust, and when Columbus was well under half a million in population. However, with the growth of Columbus in the decades since, Columbus is now the second most populous metro area and the corridor the most densely populated corridor in the country without regular rail service.

In terms of HSR, establishing this service is a starter on establishing the 110mph version of the Triple C, which with two hour services to Columbus from either end is when the corridor is projected to be capable of generating a substantial operating surplus. It may take a series of upgrades, to get there, but each upgrade will cut trip speeds and improve patronage on the corridor, trimming the required subsidy until it finally goes away.

Oh, and clever politics too

I've already noted the political intelligence of giving California enough to prime their pump. California Senators and Congressmen will, of course, be pushing for enough further HSR funding to assure that California's HSR system can be constructed more or less on scheduled. And of course, rivals can either try to fight that big House caucus ... or work out a way to ensure there is enough to go around. The politics leans toward the "enough to go around" outcome.

For Florida, people from all over the country go to Disneyworld. In not too long a time from now, many of them will be catching the train from an airport station to Disneyworld, and some of them using the HSR train again for one or another daytrip. This addresses the "if only you had ever been to Europe/Japan and experienced this thing ..." problem.

And of course, Florida is a famous Presidential swing state. Work on the corridor will be progressing before election day in 2012.

Illinois is not  a famous Presidential swing state, but after California is one of the prime examples of states that have invested both capital and operating subsidies into improving Amtrak corridor services in its state, and even if the President and Secretary of Transport were not a Democrat and Republican, respectively, from Illinois, it would be wise politics to reward that behavior with the flagship Emerging HSR corridor. Of course, on the SubsidyScope numbers, even at conventional rail speed, its also the leading Great Lakes / Midwestern regional corridor in operating cost ratio, so its also the safest bet in terms of generating a comfortable operating surplus once raised to 110mph.

Washington (and Oregon, but the bulk of the corridor is in Washington, and that's where the highest priority bottlenecks lie) may not lean as strongly Democratic in Presidential politics as Illinois, but is also an example of rewarding those states that have invested into corridor improvements, as in inducement to additional states to follow the same course.

North Carolina is an example of a state that we didn't expect to be a swing state in Presidential politics, but then in 2008, it swung. And North Carolina is right on the boundary line between states that have been making genuine investments in improved rail service, and the states to its immediate south and west that have been paying lip service at most.

And of course, Ohio is a Presidential swing state in the Florida league. Further, the Ohio Triple-C will be in operation before election day, 2012.

In terms of the politics of rewarding states for supporting rail, Ohio is like Florida in the first half of "new friends are silver, old friends are gold" ... after a very tight fight in the Ohio state legislature, the operating subsidies required by the conventional speed Triple-C service were passed by the Republican State Senate. That was when before Strickland's approval rating was battered by the recession, and unless that subsidy offer was taken up by the DoT, there was every chance that it would not be repeated.

On the other hand, once the service is up and running, the call to apply for federal funds to speed segments of the corridor up to 110mph will be much harder to resist than it was to fight against the idea of starting the service up in the first place. So there is every reason to hope for 110mph service to be in place in Ohio sometime before election day, 2016.

And now, the headliners ...
Midnight Oil: The Power and the Passion

Originally posted to BruceMcF on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 04:00 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Do You Honestly Think - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mother Shipper

    California can do anything with $2.3 billion?
    When the project costs are estimated at $40 billion?
    And where do you think the other money is going to come from?
    California cannot afford to bond another 15 cents -
    even if the voters approved it.

    That is the fundamental problem with a piecemeal, rather than national, HSR program. Each state is in competition with the others. None will get what it needs to truly get HSR off the ground. States like Pennsylvania - and other states that lost out - feel jilted this round. Their representatives are very unlikely to approve additional funding for those projects funded this month until they get "theirs".

    Here's the real rub for people who support revitalized passenger rail - -
    Yet another failure after years of planning and hundreds of millions of dollars, yes, even billions, will create an atmosphere of extreme hostility to future rail proposals. Failure is not an option if we want to have HSR in the U.S. - - but California's project is heading there faster than any of the others. $2.3 billion worth.


    Upgraded standard service - in places like Illinois - is far more likely to produce results. The Chicago-St.Louis Corridor may not end up being true HSR, but it will approach Northeast Corridor speeds.

    •  Can California do anything with ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aeolus, RunawayRose, Sandy on Signal

      ... $1.85b, you mean (I'm thinking you skipped the main section to jump in with the comment) ...

      ... yes, of course I do.

      The other funding will come from the Federal government with state matching funds. 80/20 is a likely match - I don't expect to see the 90% Federal, 10% state match that we see in Interstate Highway funding, but I expect, especially in the political landscape after these funds have been announced and once these projects get underway, that 80/20 is quite achievable.

      California applied for over $4b, but of course California is far better off with the distribution as it stands, because if California had received over half the ARRA funding, it would face a much tougher fight to get a reliable source of longer term rail project funding established as part of the new five year Transportation bill.

      Even before these announcements, the House proposed $4b for annual HSR funding and in Conference with the Senate level of $1.2b, $2.5b was settled on. California is now in a position to apply for that money and the funding they already have in hand for their needs through 2011 can be extended into 2012 before 2010 is over.

      Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 04:31:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do the Math - (0+ / 0-)

        First, there's no legislation, as yet, that puts this funding into place long-term.
        And, of course, it can always be nixed later on.
        But even if it does - -

        Even if there were $2.5 billion annually and California got 25% of it as it did in this round - something likely to ruffle non-California feathers - that would only be $6.25 billion over the next decade. Combined with the present $2.3 billion - that is $8.5 billion - less than 25% of what is CURRENTLY projected to be the cost of CHSR.

        So whatcha gonna do with only $8.5 billion in federal funds over a decade - a rosy estimate - when the project costs are $40 billion and escalating and no significant state funds on the horizon? Do you know what 5% interest is on $30 billion? It's more than $4 million per day. That means that CHRSA would have to generate 40,000 passengers paying $100 each PER DAY just to cover the state interest expense. (Even their rosiest passenger estimates are far below this.) No principal, no operating costs, no labor costs.

        For all the positive talk - the numbers do not even begin to work. The upshot of all this is that it is imperative for CHRSA to develop a system that is radically cheaper - if anything is ever going to get built. Otherwise the $2.3 billion will just go down the rathole - -

        And passenger rail will be dealt a deadly blow.


        Meanwhile, San Francisco asks for $1 billion plus from CHSRA to build its $4+ billion Transbay Center when HSR would be better served by a terminal in Oakland - certainly better served cost-wise - since having a functioning HSR system that can be built with available funds is better than a virtual one that includes everyone's Santa list.

        •  No other state has the same level of bonding ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ... authority in place as California - in an application for funds requiring a state match, I very much doubt that California would end up with 1/4 of the allocation.

          That is, match-free funding tends to bring in a lot of state applications, as we saw. Funding with match requirements will not release the same avalanche of applications.

          And I think it is very much a mistake to view it as some kind of mechanical process in any event. California obtain enough to get started - indeed, almost exactly enough to get started ... and when the smaller project funding, and the project planning funding, is taken into account, the balance of the funding makes the prospects for an ongoing stream of HSR funding much brighter than they were when Prop1a was first passed in November, 2008.

          Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 05:37:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If California Issues Any More Bonds - (0+ / 0-)

            It will risk a downgrade and have massive additional interest costs on its current bonding.


            No California administration - Republican or Democratic - can afford to take on any more bonding debt until there is a long-term solution to California's ongoing fiscal crisis.


            Do you see the surge in General Obligation bond costs?
            Both in actual amount and in percentage?
            Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, interest costs were about 1.5% of the budget.
            Now they are 6%.

            If additional bonds are issues by California, it would very likely result in a further downgrading of their bond ratings - creating a geometric increase in interest expenditures.

            Eventually the well runs dry.
            Even in California.


            So, I ask again - -
            Where is California going to get the $40 billion?

            •  WHere is California going to get $100b ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ... to provide the same transport capacity with road and air infrastructure?

              Its not as if providing intercity transport infrastructure with Express HSR is a luxury or a consumption expenditure in the California setting ... not selling state bonds needed if there is an 80% federal, 20% state match on HSR funds would be making the long term fiscal position worse.

              Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

              by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 06:19:50 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Bruce - (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ILDem, RunawayRose

                I support passenger rail.
                I hate the monopoly of the highway lobby.
                But permanent funding exists for highways.

                Unless you can show me how these funds can be moved - as your comment above suggests - at the federal and/or state level, then you are just venting.

                But if revitalized rail is going to work - it has to exist somewhere within the realm of reality for its OWN funding - even if that is far less than highway funding.

                To create a rail project that has little chance of being fully or even mostly funding and less chance of financial success is irresponsible on the part of CHRSA. I'd love to have a Transbay HSR tunnel. I'd love to have an underground extension from the SP Station to the Ferry Terminal. I'd love to have lines and stations which rebuild urban cores. But if it doesn't get off the drawing board or the simulation because of excessive costs compared to available funds, it doesn't do much good.

                If much of this $8 billion in HSR stimulus is squandered by the various states with little to show for it - we will not see rail initiatives for the rest of our lives.

                That's why it is so important to demand long-term, nationwide funding at the federal level. And also to demand that state planning agencies put away their rose-colored glasses and develop HSR plans that are far less costly and ambitious.


                Of all the plans, Illinois' is the best.
                It makes use of current facilities and technologies to the greatest extent possible. Its service time, cost, and ridership parameters are likely. Ohio's is far more optimistic - especially because there hasn't been any cross-state service for almost 40 years. Florida's is extremely week on the basis of cost and ridership projections on an 84-mile route. And California's - well - you know what they say about California Dreamin'. Cost, service times, equipment, ridership, pricing - all are so out of touch. Each has to exceed even those parameters of the TGV and the Shinkasen even to get the rather modest results in the CHRSA proposal.

                If you think otherwise about California - take a look at the history and costs associated with the new Benicia Martinez I-680 Bridge. It was originally budgeted at $300 million and came in at $1.3 billion.


                This is only one example of large Calif projects that have massive delays and cost overruns. granted that there were geologic and environmental concerns - but the fact remains, the estimate and the final costs were way, way different.


                I believe that it is a disservice for the board of CHSRA to offer all of these sugar plum and glowing projections when it knows that the underlying fundamentals are lacking.

                •  Your talking as if the starting point ... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  ... for highway funding was the Interstate Highway system, but that's not the history. The first national road funding was in the 1930's, and the Interstate Highway trust fund was put through on the back of two decades of experience of national road funding.

                  I'm tempted to say, "it would be nice if a massive dedicated flow of funds could emerge full grown, from the head of Zeus" ... but actually, I think that it would be more likely to be a disaster than a boon, because of the lack of experience informing it.

                  And the claim that "something like the Interstate Highway fund is needed" is, I argue, hyperbole: something like the Interstate Highway fund would be nice for the required capital subsidies for High Speed passenger corridor rail service, but its not any form of absolute pre-requisite.

                  The foundation for getting an initial flow of funding going at the Federal level is laying the political basis for getting initial projects provided with ongoing funding. That's why the political dimension of the current project funding is important in the policy dimension: it sets the stage for the fight over the next Five Year transport bill.

                  As far as the state of the bond market for Californian bonds, which will always be in relatively worse shape by comparison to any state that is not so completely dysfunctional ... don't forget that the state and municipal bond market always dives during recession, because the amount of wealth income from dividends and capital gains in particular that require sheltering from federal income tax always dives during a recession. As I noted, the funding provided is sufficient for carrying California through to the end of 2011.

                  And if the national economy is so bad by the time that bonds would have to be sold in 2012, they still sell at a steep discount ... then California might have to freeze some goddamned road projects to free up some money, because California in its severe and ongoing fiscal crisis cannot afford the luxury of not building the most cost-effective means of expanding its intercity transport to cope with ongoing population growth.

                  Its incredible to me that the highway empire builders in the California Department of Transport did not spend every last dime of road funding in ARRA on repairs but, just like the highway empire builders in the Ohio Department of Transport, they devoted a substantial amount of it to new road construction.

                  Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

                  by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 06:58:48 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Unlike Highways and Unlike Europe - (0+ / 0-)

                    HSR projects must be built up from scratch to a functioning system.

                    It will be harder than the interstate projects, because interstates could be built in 10-mile and 20-mile segments as funding permitted and tied back into the old highway. In France, the TGV expansion has been linked to the older lines - so it could be incrementally developed.

                    But such is not the case for HSR in the U.S. France and other countries already had an effective passenger rail network - that was largely electrified. The U.S. has almost no passenter rail network and electrification only in the Northeast Corridor. Thus, HSR projects almost have to be completed endpoint to endpoint to have any viability. Modesto to Fresno won't do any good except as a demonstration project. Equipment duplication costs and time for switching will make any mixed diesel/electric combination service impractical - especially given that the current tracks can offer on ly low average speeds.

                    So it is NOT hyperbole to say that there has to be some long-term, permanent funding framework in place. Because if these projects peter out because of insufficient funds to complete - even really to do more than get started in many cases - then it will severely damage any future passenger rail initiatives.

                    If CHSRA spends $4 or $5 billion and only has a moderately fast Fresno to Sacramento train on current tracks to show for it - there will be hell to pay.

                    •  A few more subway lines (0+ / 0-)

                      would be a much better use of the money.

                      Last I checked, Fenway Park is not in Afghanistan.

                      by theran on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 07:11:26 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Investment is not consumption ... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        ... if two investments are sound, and the country has the real resources to do both, the solution is to do both.

                        Denying the economy one type of useful investment to do a second type of useful investment, when we have massive unemployed domestic resources, and both investments would be net wins on the external accounts ...

                        ... is insane.

                        Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

                        by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 09:23:22 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Its only Express HSR that needs to be ... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      ... built from scratch ... and given the timeline of a system like the Bay / LA Basin, its quite realistic to expect electrified Emerging HSR corridors to be already in operation when the first segment of Stage One opens.

                      And exactly two of the funding awards were for Express HSR - $1.85b for ROW acquisition and work on California's Bay to LA Basin corridor and $1.5b for ROW acquisition on work on Florida's Tampa / Orlando stage of Tampa / Orlando / Miami.

                      None of the others are the kind of systems that need to be built from scratch.

                      Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

                      by BruceMcF on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 08:10:37 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

    •  This stuff isn't finished (3+ / 0-)

      The Democratic base states in New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions didn't get much in this round, that's true.

      But Amtrak is still working on its proposals for the NorthEast Corridor,  with indications that it could be viewed broadly,   to include the feeder lines.

      Some of the feeders are big: the Keystone Corridor Philly-Harrisburg-maybe Pittsburgh; the Empire Corridor NYC-Albany-Buffalo; and potentially D.C.-Richmond-Norfolk/ Raleigh-Charlotte. Smaller feeder lines could include New Haven-Hartford-Springfield, Boston-Portland, Boston Nashua-Manchester Airport-Concord, and possibly Philly-Atlantic City, NYC-Scranton, and NYC-Allentown.

      The core NorthEast Corridor line could easily absorb $5 billion a year for the next 10 years. The rest of the region could take another $5 B for 10 years. Or more.

      Well, no way you'll see $5 or $10 B a year going to the Yankee states without something similar spread around    the rest of the country.

      •  That's Why - (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We need a comprehensive, nationwide high-speed rail act - modeled on the Interstate Highway Act of 1956. That act provided a 20 year plus funding source and insured that all states would benefit - something essential in the political world.

        For states that would not get actual high speed rail - there would be other modernized transportation inducements - such as a high speed inter-island ferry service for Hawaii and daily passenger/auto train service with faster service times in the Great Plains and Intermountain West.

        When everybody plays - everybody gains.

        •  Its time for real hi speed rail (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Fuckin Pennsy Steamers were hitting 125 mph back in the day. Every major RR had 100 mph steam locos. The hiway and civilian airliner lobby needs to have their gonads cut off.

          LA to NY 2780 miles, think 300 mph trains, 10 hrs express, UPS same day GROUND baby.....

          Sorry rant over.

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 11:10:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Its not the maximum speed ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Woody, Roger Fox

            ... its the trip speed. And the right speed for any HSR system is the speed that offers the best passenger benefits for the resources put into it.

            A 110mph tilt-train in most eastern US rights of way is faster than a 125mph conventional train, and a 125mph electric tilt-train in most eastern US rights of way is faster than a 160mph conventional train.

            Raw speed that can only be used a small fraction of the trip because of the need to slow down for each curve is just a headline number, for impressing the Popular Mechanics types - its not effective performance.

            And a network of Regional HSR corridors offers the opportunity for Express HSR services to run on their expensive to build corridors and then run out onto the Regional HSR network to reach far more final destinations.

            Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

            by BruceMcF on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 08:34:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I know, it does not need explaining to me,,,IMHO (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              the eastern rights of way are horrid, that 45mph curve @ Bridgeport Ct is sick.  HSR needs new rights of way, yes it would have been smarter to do that in the 6o-'s - early 70's, before the spread of the suburbs from coastal areas in land during the 70's thru now.

              There is no way the 4 track main from DC to Bangor Maine is worth a crap in my eyes for HSR. Some of it is actually on the coast or within eye sight of the coast, which was real good in 1878 or even 1944.

              A new right of way... say 50 miles from the eastern coast, X country, start @ Bangor slip thru Ct. North of NYC, stay south of Chicago etc, Maybe I should have looked at a map, LOl.

              There is simply no way in my mind to take advantage of current technology with the current rights of way, they are at odds, period.

              FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

              by Roger Fox on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:59:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  They actually got more than it at first appear .. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, Woody, MCinNH

        ... first, because when you add up disbursements by state, the New England states disbursements tend to fragment, even if they are improvements on a single corridor provide two main corridor-long services ...

        ... and secondly, because HSR was just one of two rail funding streaming in the ARRA. there was also Amtrak funding in the ARRA, and a lot of that went to the Northeast Corridor.

        This Sunday Train focused on the big ticket items, but I will return to look at the smaller projects and the Amtrak funding in the next week or two.

        Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 05:39:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good work (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, BruceMcF, petral, freesia, MCinNH

    Obama, Biden, LaHood, and their entire team on this effort did good work.

    I believe that every single project got enough funding to get going, and if Round I is the first and last round, so be it. Every project is worth doing on its own.

    But as you so well point out, every one of the grants could lead to a greater push for additional funding to take these and some other projects to a higher level.

    Not to forget, this money is coming from the Recovery Act. The idea is to create (mostly) construction jobs in the next two or three years. We will still be dealing with lingering high unemployment rates from The Great Recession.

    Some of us who are pessimistic on the depth, breadth, and speed of the economic recovery see a silver lining in those storms clouds, because we will need a second Jobs and Recovery Act, and possibly a third one. There's likely more money coming down the tracks, and more rail projects will be ready to use it.

    •  And there are indeed more projects that ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, Woody, In her own Voice

      ... could break ground within the next two years among the applications that went in. Some of them were just to shut local rail advocated up by trying to get it all done on the federal dime, but there was also a substantial number of planning projects funded from DoT appropriations outside the ARRA funding stream.

      Not a substantial amount of funding, compared to the big ticket projects described here, but one big delay in the ARRA funding was there were very few projects "on the shelf". In parallel with the funded projects will be a pipeline of further projects being brought much closer to being shovel ready.

      This of course includes the planning funding for the Atlanta / Chicago corridor via Chattanooga, Nashville and Louisville. Hopefully a technology neutral study will lay to bed the notion of a short corridor dedicated maglev between Atlanta and Chattanooga and determine the most attractive improvements to bring the corridor up to speed.

      Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 04:47:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice work, Bruce--and thanks for (5+ / 0-)

    Joan!  Haven't heard that in a long time.  Banks of the Oh hi oooo!

    Find your own voice--the personal is political.

    by In her own Voice on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 04:47:25 PM PST

  •  Hopefully by the time..................... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, BruceMcF, freesia

    the triple C service opens I'll be ready for another trip to Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is just an hour drive from here at home to the Union Terminal in Cincy.  I will be thrilled to leave my car there and get on a train!

    I just hope the schedule for CCC service is more "user friendly" then the current 0-dark-30 hour Amtrak stop in Cincy.

    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation--HDT

    by cazcee on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 05:57:51 PM PST

    •  The inaugural service is, as I mention ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, cazcee

      ... conventional rail, so its a six and a half hour trip from Cincinnati to Cleveland ...

      ... indeed, that's why it was closed down in 1971, before the Cleveland/Columbus and Cincinnati/Columbus transport markets were the size that they are now ... six hours by train did not compete well against I-71.

      While there will certainly be some people taking the full trip, patronage will be dominated by trips to or from Columbus, and then the one hour trips from Dayton to either Columbus or Cincinnati.

      On the bright side, they are not 0hmigoditsearly-O'clock services like the once a day transcontinental route that is trying to get to Chicago by morning.

      There are morning departures from Columbus north and south, and evening returns, and two full length runs per day. The full length runs are:

      • Cincinnati (boathouse) / Columbus / Cleveland (lakefront):
        • 7:15am-10:32am-1:45pm,
        • 12:15am-3:32pm-6:45pm
      • Cleveland / Columbus / Cincinnati:
        • 6:30am-9:53am-1pm,
        • 11:30am-2:53pm-6pm

      Then morning departures and evening returns to Columbus, with a 6:53am-10am CLB/CIN, 4:15pm-7:22pm CIN/CLB; and 6:32am-9:45am CLB/CLE, 3:30pm-6:43pm CLE/CLB.

      That's from the Amtrak final feasibility study (pdf)

      Its the 110mph stage where the end to end trip starts to coming into the frame for "long day" day trips, at 4hrs CLE/CIN, and 3hrs CLE/DAY. OTOH that would be 2 hours CIN/CLB and CLE/CLB, so even then its likely to be the shorter legs that dominate patronage. That's a fast as I-71 CIN/CLB for most people, and faster CLE/CLB.

      Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 06:41:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Being retired and having................ (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, BruceMcF, freesia

        a nostalgic desire to travel by train for the last 40+ years; I will welcome 6.5 hours of watching the world go by, reading, napping, snacking and drinking as opposed to 4 hours behind the wheel.

        Not 110 MPH; not a problem for me but I can see where people under time constraints would want faster service.

        The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation--HDT

        by cazcee on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 07:28:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  An excellent example of the misconception ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ... some people labor under. Some people make "bright line" claims: "if it does not do THIS, NOBODY will ride it".

          That is, of course, widely disproven. Transport markets are in reality a broad range of people with a broad range of needs and wants, and a broad range of door to door origins and destinations.

          The fact that a majority of people will not use "service X" is neither here nor there if "service X" provides useful service to those it serves that justifies the cost.

          Where there are "bumps" is when a train (or other form of transport) comes into the frame for a whole new market niche. That's why there is such a heavy focus on trips of three hours and less and two hours and less ... not that "nobody will ride a train (or bus, or plane) for five hours" ... but because you get those people who will ride the slower train, plus people making day trips.

          For the 110mph max trains, on a reasonable corridor alignment, a train trip is time-competitive with driving, and people choose based on the other things about the trip - do they like driving, would they rather watch a DVD or the scenery, do they need a car at the destination, is the car at the destination a headache finding a place to park, etc. etc.

          For the 125mph max trains, they are appreciably faster than driving, so there are day trips on those trains that are "long day" trips by car.

          And for the 220mph trains, they not only create day trips that are overnight trips by car, but also are competitive with  air travel for train trips of under three hours (and dominate for train trips of under two hours), because while the plane may only be in the air for a short while, there is all the extra travel time of getting to the airport, through check-in, security Kabuki theater, boarding, and at the larger airports waiting for a runway.

          Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 07:55:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  minor typo on CA transbay purpose (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, BruceMcF

    $400m for building the shell of a bus terminal into the foundations of the Transbay Terminal bus station in San Francisco

    I think you mean to say train station in place of bus terminal there. The bus terminal will remain upstairs, as it is now.

  •  Of course nothing for the NEC (0+ / 0-)

    Where it would be most helpful.

    Trains are going nowhere fast, it seems.  Cali has a corridor (sort of) but is like 85B short on cash.  Nimbyism would kill any attempt for the NEC, where it might make financial sense.  Politics make seem to say that spraying to foreclosure-plagued FL is the way to go.


    Last I checked, Fenway Park is not in Afghanistan.

    by theran on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 07:09:57 PM PST

    •  Don't make things up out of whole cloth (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, petral

      The NEC got $500m in the Amtrak stream of ARRA funding, and will receive a substantial share of the $1b in capital funding for Amtrak for 2010.

      Of course the NEC got little from the HSR stream, since the states that the NEC runs through have never bothered to get the NEC designated as a High Speed Rail corridor. NEC state residents may direct complaints on that state of affairs to their local Governor and State Legislature.

      Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 08:08:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As I said (0+ / 0-)

        The nimby factor defeats rail upgrades in the NEC, so instead the money is wasted on a train to Fresno or Tampa.

        Anyway, Amtrak is telling us here that HSR isn't worth it, and that we should just make small upgrades.

        Last I checked, Fenway Park is not in Afghanistan.

        by theran on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 07:27:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Its not just the NIMBY factor ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... there are NIMBYs everywhere, though when building in available margins of an expressway (Florida) or in existing rail corridors (IL, WI, WA, NC, OH etc.), they don't have the same impact.

          It's far more expensive per route mile to provide improvements in such a built out corridor.

          Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 08:39:22 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I live in TN, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, BruceMcF, cazcee

    which is usual, not even a player in HSR. I would be happy with a bus line. Sigh.

  •  This is pretty good. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, BruceMcF

    If the FL does well then perhaps they can extend the network statewide.

  •  I still want a spur that runs from Canton (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, BruceMcF

    to Akron to Cleveland. The Cuyahoga Valley Railroad is operating a partial route.

    "They pour syrup on shit and tell us it's hotcakes." Meteor Blades

    by JugOPunch on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 09:06:21 PM PST

  •  I think you are way too optimistic about OH (0+ / 0-)

    I do not see trains into Columbus for decades...

    I hope I am wrong, I make the Chicago to Columbus trek a few dozen times a year... but you just can not go from 0 to covering a whole state in 6 years....

    •  The planning has been underway for ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... over a decade ... OH is not at "0", like WV, KY and TN ... since some hundred thousand planning funding is a way to announce "work toward" without making a big on-going commitment.

      However, the subsidy is in place in the state transport act, and now the funding is in place to do the work to build the system.

      Its gone from "it could happen" to "it will happen". There will be trains into Columbus in 2012.

      Now, the start is focused on the prime rail corridor, not secondary corridors, so daytime Chicago / Cleveland via Toledo and Detroit West is not until Stage 2, which would make Chicago / Columbus via transfer at Cleveland ...

      ... and Chicago / Columbus via Fort Wayne is Stage 3 ... and of course, if Chicago / Fort Wayne has not been established, Stage 4 Cleveland / Pittsburgh via Youngstown could well leapfrog Stage 3.

      But, there will be trains into Columbus.

      Start 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works, 100% Yuri from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 08:54:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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