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Wednesday, 16 September 2015 19:13

Trains, public, private and profits

Written by  Compiled news reports

Posted Sept. 16, 2015
Alternative Transportation / Trains cont'd.

Through the 50s and into the 1960s, you could get on the Florida East Coast Railway in Melbourne and ride south or north, could go from Melbourne to Tallahassee and never get off the train. Why not now? Why no Amtrak running up the coast through Melbourne? Why no high speed rail linking Tampa and Orlando, already? Both Jeb Bush and Rick Scott killed high speed rail in Florida, even after contracts were awarded for construction of high speed rail from Tampa to Orlando, even after the people of Florida passed an Amendment requiring high speed rail. Republican-led Congress appears to be deadset against public rail, such as Amtrak. Privatized rail service, such as the currently touted 'All Aboard Florida' scheme? Unquestionably, privately-owned rail will feed at the public trough, however possible. Just wait and see.
-- SCPA Editor

1. Amtrak expands bike access -- between Chicago and D.C.
2. Amtrak offers more bike service on Capitol Limited / News Release
3. Amtrak website with links to track and train map
4. House Republicans' safety plan for Amtrak: Videotape the next derailment…
5. House panel votes to cut Amtrak budget hours after deadly crash
6. No high-speed rail for Florida; court rules for Scott, feds move to give money to someone else
7. Amtrak isn't about profits
8. Florida High Speed Rail
9. Florida's High Speed Rail Network -- proposed, but...


Amtrak expands bike access -- between Chicago and D.C.

Outside, by the editors, Sept. 15, 2015

On Monday, Amtrak announced that it has expanded its “roll-on, roll-off” access for passengers traveling with bicycles along Capitol Limited, the line between Chicago and Washington, DC, according to a press release.

Roll-on, roll-off access costs $20 and allows riders to lock their bikes on a rack in the baggage cars rather than disassembling them to fit into a $15 carrying box, plus a $10 fee, for a total of $25. Easy bike access was already available for short-line travel in Oklahoma, Texas, and the Great Lakes region, but the Capitol Limited line is the first Amtrak overnight route to offer expanded bicycle access. Amtrak officials say it will make it easier to travel the country on two wheels. ...


AMTRAK offers more bike service on the Capitol Limited
Traveling with bikes now more convenient
AMTRAK News Release
Sept. 14, 2015

WASHINGTON – Amtrak is expanding the availability of bike service on the Capitol Limited to allow more passengers the convenience of traveling with their bikes. This enhanced service begins on Sept. 14 and provides passengers with a way to travel with their bicycles without the hassles of driving and parking vehicles.

This service is available at all stations along the Capitol Limited route between Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Passengers will be able to roll their bikes along the platform and onto the train and secure their own bikes on a rack in the baggage cars. Amtrak partnered with Adventure Cycling Association and other bicycle and passenger rail groups to form an advisory bicycle task force to oversee this project to establish walk-on bike service on the Capitol Limited. …


AMTRAK website, with links track and train map:


House Republicans' safety plan for Amtrak: Videotape the next derailment rather than prevent it

New Republic, by Tim Starks, June 20, 2015

… transportation funding measure cuts Amtrak’s budget by $242 million from the last fiscal year, and gives Obama $1.3 billion less than he sought for Amtrak grants. By keeping the Federal Railroad Administration’s safety and operations account flat, the bill is “denying resources for additional safety inspectors and other improvements,” according to the administration. "The requested funding for passenger rail service would help bring Amtrak's Northeast Corridor infrastructure and equipment into a state of good repair.” …


House panel votes to cut Amtrak budget hours after deadly crash

Politico, by Heather Caygle, May 13, 2015

House Republicans voted Wednesday to chop about a fifth of Amtrak’s budget, less than a day after a deadly train crash that Democrats pointed to as a prime example of the dangers of shortchanging the nation’s transportation needs.

They also rebuffed Democrats’ attempts to provide money for an advanced speed-control technology that federal investigators later said would have prevented the crash….


No high-speed rail for Florida; court rules for Scott, feds move to give money to someone else

Tampa Bay Times, by Janet Zink and Alex Leary, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau, March 4, 2011

After the state Supreme Court ruled in his favor and the federal government begrudgingly accepted his refusal, Gov. Rick Scott emerged victorious Friday in his effort to kill high-speed rail in Florida.

The death knell came when the court turned down a last-minute lawsuit from two state senators to save the Tampa-Orlando line and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced he would send $2.4 billion earmarked for Florida to other states.

"I know that states across America are enthusiastic about receiving additional support to help bring America's high-speed rail network to life and deliver all its economic benefits to their citizens," LaHood said shortly after he talked by phone with Scott, who rejected the money for a third time. …

… It's the third time the promise of high-speed rail in Florida has been crushed by a governor.
Six days after taking office in 1999, Gov. Jeb Bush halted construction of a bullet train that already had a contractor.

Five years later, he led a successful campaign to repeal a constitutional amendment passed in 2000 that required construction of high-speed rail.

And then came Scott. …


Amtrak isn't about profits

Baltimore Sun, May 21, 2015

What's good about being older is you lived the history of certain events. One that I witnessed was the reason Amtrak came to exist. Prior to 1971, passenger trains were operated by the private railroad companies. Over time, it was obvious the train could not compete with the convenience and speed of the airplane. Even in the 1950s, the DC-4 and DC-6 airplanes would fly over 300 miles per hour. The train could not come close to matching that performance.

So passenger rail service became a guaranteed money loser and private companies never keep money losing operations going, no matter their importance to society. That's were government stepped in to make sure interstate passenger rail service continued to operate across this country. …

… What makes me laugh is how people in media and Republicans in Congress keep pointing out that Amtrak loses money. Duh, of course it does. Not even God could make money running a passenger rail service covering the U.S. from coast to coast. Amtrak could make money if it only ran trains on the East Coast from Maine to Florida and the West Coast from Washington state to Southern California because that's were 48 percent of total U.S. population lives.

Yes, Amtrak could make money going only where there is huge population concentrations. But the U.S. is a country with a vast area in the center that is sparsely populated. Yet those people are U.S. citizens and taxpayers and need access to passenger train service, too. If it costs the country a subsidy to provide service, so be it. The government doesn't exist to make a profit. Its purpose is stated in the Constitution with the words, "provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare." There's not one word or comment about profit!

Government's reason to exist is take care of problems in the society with whatever assets are needed.


Florida High Speed Rail


In November of 2000, the Florida voters approved an amendment to the State constitution mandating the construction of a High Speed Transportation system for the State. The amendment requires the use of train technologies that operate at speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour and consist of dedicated rails or guideways separated from motor vehicle traffic. The high speed rail system is to link the five largest urban areas in Florida, and construction was mandated to begin by November 1, 2003.

In March 2001, the Florida Legislature enacted the Florida High Speed Rail Authority Act and created the Florida High Speed Rail Authority. The Act set forth that there would be a nine member Board made of three appointments each by the Governor, the Speaker of the Florida House, and the President of the Florida Senate. Since the creation of the Authority, an annual report of their actions, findings and recommendations has been issued to the Governor and the Legislature. Each report can be found in the Resource Library. ...


Florida's High Speed Rail Network -- proposed, but...

Compiled by Team SCPA


Last modified on Saturday, 16 January 2016 08:22
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