News of Passenger Rail from Here and There

Through the magic of Google Search, I try to keep track of news about passenger trains from here and there and there’s no end to the news stories that pop up on a daily basis and ranging from the tragic to the absurd.

For example, in Turlock, California, a guy driving a truck and trailer, both loaded with tomatoes, drove onto the tracks and stopped with the trailer remaining in the path of an Amtrak train. Bam! No one was seriously hurt although a few people on the train, no doubt after consultation with their lawyers, reported minor injuries. The truck driver is apparently OK … well, physically, anyway.

Then there’s the incident of a train in India carrying 1500 people that somehow managed to travel 600 miles in the wrong direction before railroad officials noticed. The real miracle is that there wasn’t a horrific collision during the five hours that the train was rumbling along where it had no business being.

And, while it’s important to talk about the continuing misguided efforts by House Republicans in particular to gut funding for Amtrak, there are a number of heartening example where cooler and wiser heads have prevailed and actual albeit modest progress is being made.

The State of Connecticut will be spending $30 million to increase frequency of trains running between New Haven and Springfield, Massachusetts. And in the Midwest, a bit over 200 miles of Union Pacific track between Chicago and St. Louis has been upgraded. Testing of trains running at 110 miles per hour will take place next year and the timetable calls for Amtrak’s Lincoln Service trains to run at those speeds bginning in 2014. The bottom line: People want more and better train service!