More and Better and Faster Trains? Here’s How to Get Them.
As mentioned here a few posts back, the Highway Trust Fund is about to run out of money and, as a result, an effort is being mounted to come up with a comprehensive bill to fund all modes of transportation. The question then becomes which mode gets how much?
NARP is part of a new effort to provide an answer to that: Five billion a year for rail. Click HERE to visit the web site.
Truly, that is what’s needed. Amtrak has been bumping along with federal support of roughly $1.4 to $1.5 billion a year. That works … but only if some maintenance on infrastructure is deferred, if no orders for new equipment are placed, and if coffee pots in sleeping cars are turned off at 9:30 in the morning instead of going all day. (Indulge me a little sarcasm, will you?)
But five billion a year would make a huge difference! For one thing, Amtrak would know what was coming in and could actually plan ahead. For the past 40 years, Amtrak has had to go before Congress every year and ask for funds for the following year. Putting that another way, our national passenger rail system never has any idea of how much money they will have to operate on for the following year. That’s just ridiculous!
But if Amtrak knew that they would get five billion this year … and next year … and the year after that … Well! Order new equipment, including locomotives. Then add a second daily train on the Lakeshore Limited’s route, run the Cardinal seven days a week, and reinstate the New Orleans-Orlando segment for the Sunset Limited. And that would be just for openers.
Make the mouth water? If we’re believers in train travel, it should. It should also make us angry, because $5 billion a year, in the grand scheme of things, is still a pitifully small amount of money.
It’s up to Congress to provide meaningful support for passenger rail. Check out this web site for good information and to learn how you can help. Thanks!
Jim has made it real easy to send a brief message to your congressional delegation thru the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. Just fill in a few blanks and away you go!
I couldn’t agree more about the need for frequency. The problem, of course, is lack of equipment. And that’s a shame because the old railroad adage, proven true over many years, is “double the frequency, triple the ridership”.
I frankly don’t know if there is anything yet that specifies how the money would be allocated. But you’re right again about there being a lot more bang for any of the bucks going to improve the L/D trains.
I support this bill, I’ve written letters, etc…
But I do have a few questions I cannot seem to find answers to.
(1) The advocates of the bill talk a lot about train speeds. Trains speeds are certainly important – but even more important than speeds is frequency. A daily train is NOT a really viable form of transportation for most uses, it is too inflexible. What about increasing frequencies?
(2) Is there some provision in the bill to prevent all, or the majority of, that money being dumped down a hole in the North East? You can spend $2-3 Billion digging one tunnel in the North East; enough money to complete my states entire rail master plan. They need new stations, new tunnels under the Hudson… those needs are real… but – they are also flush with cash, I don’t want to pay for them; we can get a lot more for a $1 spending it elsewhere, at least make them pay the location premium part of their price tag.