A Billion Here and a Billion There . . .
There are plans underway for spending as much as $20 billion in New York and New Jersey on the Gateway Project, which includes two new railroad tunnels under the Hudson River.
The rail line from Springfield, Massachusetts, through Hartford to New Haven is going to be upgraded with the State of Connecticut picking up most of the cost. Many more millions.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced plans to renovate Penn Station in New York City and expand the capacity of the Long Island Railroad. No idea at all what the Penn Station project will cost, but the tab for the commuter railroad is estimated at a cool billion-with-a-B dollars.
A restoration plan for the railroad station in Syracuse, New York, has just been announced. That’s another million and a half tax dollars.
Work has been underway for more than a year to improve the track between Chicago and St. Louis to permit trains to increase top speed on that route from 79 to 110 miles-per-hour.
In Roanoke, Virginia, as well as other cities in that state, platforms are going to be added in the railway stations. Lots of concrete. Lots of bucks.
Track repairs and improvements are underway along the route of the Southwest Chief at a total estimated cost of something like $200 million over ten years.
Truthfully, I have no idea how many of these and similar projects there are, but literally dozens of railroad stations are being built or expanded or renovated all over the country.
I hope NARP will be able to compile an up-to-date list of all the capital projects around the country that are being undertaken to improve our passenger rail infrastructure. I can promise you that it will be a very long list and the bottom line will be many billions of dollars. And note, please, that these are real projects, not just pie-in-the-sky items on a lot of wish lists.
So here’s my point: If, collectively, we’re going to spend several hundred billion dollars on improving passenger rail’s infrastructure . . .
. . . it’s absolutely irresponsible not to find a few billion more for new rail cars and locomotives and other new equipment so we can get rid of the junk and increase frequencies!
Your mentioning of higher speed rail between St. Louis and Chicago reminded me that some proponents of higher speed on this route want to route Amtrak traffic away from the current and very convenient downtown location in Springfield, IL near the state capitol in the historic Gulf, Mobile & Ohio red brick station to a potential newer facility several block east of downtown that is in or adjacent to a high crime area of the capital city.
I’m wondering if you – or any of your readers – know if this proposal is still active or not. I don’t know if city of Springfield voters would be involved in this decision or not.
But as a former resident of historic Springfield, IL (and current Amtrak visitor) I would hate to see this happen.
The current depot has the character that only a historic depot can possess, the current route and track is itself very historic,
the current location is much more convenient for both Statehouse and downtown business, and for tourism such as the Old State Capitol.
The proposed location east of downtown borders the ghetto. Plus I just like the old stations that were built well enough decades ago to still function as attractive train stations.
For most rail fans and commuters to downtown Springfield, I would guess they much prefer the current station, even if it might add
5-10 minutes or so to a St. Louis-Chicago run.
Althoug I’m not familiar with the situation in Springfield, I agree on the principle. I don’t mind a new station that much if it’s an improvement, although I love the historic ones, but location is key in a successful train service, and a downtown location close to where people want to or need to be is very important, both for the city and for the railway. Too often, new stations are build as if they were airports, far away from downtown to avoid ‘nuisances’ for the neighbourhood. In Canada, I can think of Saskatoon, Edmonton and Sudbury Junction, in Spain Burgos and Zaragoza Delicias are sad examples, and France too has its share of ‘gare betteraves’.
High Speed Trains, as all trains, need good interconnectability with other modes of transport and non-transport, like pedestrian access. Speed is of course important, but as an end-to-end journey, as few people need to be in an industrial zoning on the outskirts of town. If all the time and money gained by travelling to an out-of-town station is waisted again because you need to take the subway, bus, or worse, a taxi to your final destination, you haven’t gained anything.
Sadly Charles, even the new governor’s administration (Rauner-R) has fallen in lock-step with the prior governor (Quinn-D), Senator Durbin (D-IL), Springfield mayor and other politicos catering to the NIMBYs along the ex-GM&O line thru the heart of downtown Springfield, IL. Today, people cannot accept air horns and grade crossings in their area.
Although I met with Governor Rauner’s (R-IL) representative, and have written several stories pointing out the obvious foibles on this issue, it is evident they intend to spend $35+ Million to make “temporary” changes at the current depot site; than spend another $330+ Million at the proposed new site 7 blocks away from the convenience-and safety- of downtown, museums, and governmental buildings. Nobody is interested in considering how the Union Pacific solved a similar issue in downtown Reno, NV, when it dropped the tracks carrying its freight and Amtrak into a trench to prevent interrupting traffic and air horn blasts. Ironically, veering off the UP to and from the Norfolk Southern at Springfield will cost precious time for this alleged HSR schedule.
The incessant political battles waged to waste such an extreme amount of funds as evidenced on the Chicago-St. Louis HSR line is a gift to the lobbyists representing the one dimensional powers against high speed rail and the public interest. But let us not forget the other fiasco planned by the state of Illinois–unable to negotiate with the CN a reasonable cost for adding an additional track to the current route between Chicago Union Station-Joliet, the grandiose answer is to build a flyover out of Chicago to connect with Metra’s commuter Rock Island line, and another flyover before Joliet to connect with the UP line to St. Louis. As well, the ex-Rock Island line traverses over 35 grade crossings on angled streets. We have lost our ability to properly plan and economically build major infrastructure!
Nippon Sharyo, the firm that re-engineered The Budd Company’s bi-level commuter car and put that firm out of business, miserably failed late fall, 2015, to re-engineer those bi-levels for intercity operation.
This has not only seriously delayed acquisition of this sorely needed rolling stock by Midwest states (IL, MI, WI, MO) and California, but threatens funding by Congress of the entire project if not completed by its imposed deadline of 2017.
Sadly, when we discuss the overall need for more passenger rolling stock and power, we no longer have the U.S. firms once so familiar in our industry, I.e., Budd, Pullman, ACF, St. Louis Car, Electric Motive Division, and ALCO.
Jim, as you know I live in Syracuse. The $1.5M you are referring to is to refurbish an ancient unused abandoned NY Central passenger station platform which is along an interstate highway which was built on top of old NYC right of way. There is no track there, it is just an interesting historical curiosity from when the NYC went through the center of the city. The Amtrak station and current mainline is several miles away from it. It is a pretty cool thing, though, and I’m glad they are restoring it.
Thanks for the clarification. Stay warm!
The state of Michigan, in partnership with Illinois, has new Siemens locomotives and railcars fron Nippon-Sharyo on order to replace the P42s used on the Wolverine corridor.
Just before Christmas Michigan opened a passenger only bypass/flyover for passenger trains into Detroit; $15.8M, eliminates freight intereference at a congested interchange.
The new inter-modal station opened in Lansing, Michigan last week. $6.3M. New stations have recently opened in Grand Rapids, MI and Troy, MI.
2016 is the final year for upgrades on the easter Wolverine corridor. We will see 110MPH service between Battle Creek and Deerborne/Detroit. Additional double track, sidings, cross-overs, curve banking. Dispatch and train control should be cut-over from Norfolf-Souther to Amtrack/Union Station soon.