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Passenger trains gain favor with public, Congress
San Francisco Chronicle ^ | October 31, 2008 | Joan Lowy

Posted on 11/05/2008 7:20:49 PM PST by Lorianne

After half a century as more of a curiosity than a convenience, passenger trains are getting back on track in some parts of the country.

The high cost of energy, coupled with congestion on highways and at airports, is drawing travelers back to trains not only for commuting but also for travel between cities as much as 500 miles apart.

Californians are considering selling billions of dollars worth of bonds to get going on an 800-mile system of bullet trains that could zip along at 200 miles per hour, linking San Francisco and San Diego and the cities in between.

In the Midwest, transportation officials are pushing a plan to connect cities in nine states in a hub-and-spoke system centered in Chicago. The nine states included in the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative are: Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska.

The public is way ahead of policymakers in recognizing trains as an attractive alternative to cars and planes, said Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

"I think we're at a transformational point in intercity passenger rail service," said Oberstar, D-Minn.

Amtrak, the passenger rail service that struggled for years to attract riders, drew a record 28.7 million in the year ending Sept. 30. That is 11 percent more than the year before and the sixth straight year that ridership has increased. Ticket revenue hit a record $1.7 billion, a $200 million increase from a year earlier.

(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...


TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: transportation
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1 posted on 11/05/2008 7:20:50 PM PST by Lorianne
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To: Lorianne

Wouldn’t mind trains if they were safer to ride, they seem to be plagued with safety issues.


2 posted on 11/05/2008 7:24:12 PM PST by madison10
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To: madison10

Huh?


3 posted on 11/05/2008 7:24:46 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: Lorianne

Personally I like train travel. That said, I like privately funded train travel even more.


4 posted on 11/05/2008 7:24:57 PM PST by cripplecreek (The poor bastards have us surrounded.)
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To: Lorianne
As long as the government funds roads, they should fund trades, preferably at the lowest cost to the taxpayer.

I actually think the Europeans are ahead of us in terms of infrastructure privatization. It sickens me to see otherwise conservative folks coming out against allowing private companies to manage our highways, especially when said companies are controlled by "foreigners."

5 posted on 11/05/2008 7:27:18 PM PST by Clemenza (Red is the Color of Virility, Blue is the Color of Impotence)
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To: madison10

Trains generally only work in very limited markets . . . as a practical alternative to airline travel in highly-congested “mega-regions” where cities are close enough together that their overlapping exurban areas (Boston-NYC-Washington, for example) make auto travel difficult and time-consuming.


6 posted on 11/05/2008 7:27:26 PM PST by Alberta's Child (I'm out on the outskirts of nowhere . . . with ghosts on my trail, chasing me there.)
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To: the OlLine Rebel

Huh, what? Passenger trains seem to have many safety issues...falling off tracks, bridges, I’ve heard of others, but don’t recall them. Wasn’t there an incident recently where the engineer was texting and caused an accident?

Amtrak isn’t safe.


7 posted on 11/05/2008 7:28:33 PM PST by madison10
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To: Lorianne

The dumbest thing that the US ever did was to let passenger trains get away from really mass transit.


8 posted on 11/05/2008 7:29:37 PM PST by oldtimer
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To: Lorianne

Socialists LOVE public transportation.


9 posted on 11/05/2008 7:29:56 PM PST by Red6
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To: Clemenza

I’m 100% in favor of these initiatives to lease toll roads to private companies. And if it makes you feel any better, I can almost guarantee that these arrangements will become more common in the future — starting with the next Federal highway bill and the recognition on the part of leaders in both parties that this is the only way the U.S. can effectively rebuild our interstate highway system as it reaches the end of its useful life (it turned 50 years old in 2006).


10 posted on 11/05/2008 7:29:56 PM PST by Alberta's Child (I'm out on the outskirts of nowhere . . . with ghosts on my trail, chasing me there.)
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To: Lorianne

I will only be in favor of these if they give illegals free lifetime passes to ride on them. /do I need to put the ‘s’?


11 posted on 11/05/2008 7:30:54 PM PST by Right Wing Assault ("..this administration is planning a 'Right Wing Assault' on values and ideals.." - John Kerry)
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To: Lorianne
I like toll roads. once they sell the idea to the taxpayers, it never gets paid for.

Pay and Pay and Pay and Pay and pay and pay and pay and pay
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Pay and Pay and Pay and Pay and pay and pay and pay and pay

12 posted on 11/05/2008 7:31:11 PM PST by MaxMax (I'll welcome death when God calls me. Until then, the fight is on)
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To: Alberta's Child
One of the reasons I no longer listen to 101.5 is because so many of their amateur "hosts" are militantly against leasing the turnpike.

Most of the airports in Spain have been privitized, and, believe me, Barcelona airport provides a much better experience than Filthy or Newark.

13 posted on 11/05/2008 7:32:02 PM PST by Clemenza (Red is the Color of Virility, Blue is the Color of Impotence)
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To: madison10
When I was a teenager I rode the train from Cleveland to Denver. From Chicago it was The Denver Zephyr, so-called. It hit 100 mph out across the plains of Iowa and Nebraska. From Denver we caught the Texas Zephyr south through the mountainpasses of Colorado, through Pueblo, Durango, and on to Taos NewMexico. A spectacular ride. I recommend it highly for kids of all ages.
14 posted on 11/05/2008 7:32:44 PM PST by hinckley buzzard
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To: madison10

Yes, a recent accident. But that does not “safety issues” make. Give me a break. I’ve ridden local commuters (real trains, not just subways) as well as Amtrak a good deal. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Sounds like you’re simply used to rails being “old-fashioned” and thus, any accident reports - the only times trains are talked about, BTW - go in your head as alarmingly high rates of peril. Look at some stats and see if you can justify it. I’ll bet you can’t.


15 posted on 11/05/2008 7:33:30 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: cripplecreek

Bingo.


16 posted on 11/05/2008 7:34:05 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: Lorianne

What?

Willie Greene is not here to gloat?


17 posted on 11/05/2008 7:34:44 PM PST by Mr. Brightside
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To: Alberta's Child
The higher the density, to say nothing of natural contours (ie river valleys), the better the location for rail. After spending two years in Seattle, I can honestly say that rail would work there, as the metro area lies in a narrow valley with natural barriers that prevent further sprawl (the Sound, the Cascades, and the Olympics).

I don't see rail working in Houston, let alone Oklahoma City.

18 posted on 11/05/2008 7:35:32 PM PST by Clemenza (Red is the Color of Virility, Blue is the Color of Impotence)
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To: the OlLine Rebel

Don’t get me wrong, I would love more train travel. I’m used to cars, period, that’s all.


19 posted on 11/05/2008 7:35:46 PM PST by madison10
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To: Mr. Brightside

MAGLEV!!!


20 posted on 11/05/2008 7:35:52 PM PST by Clemenza (Red is the Color of Virility, Blue is the Color of Impotence)
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To: Lorianne
Amtrak, the passenger rail service that struggled for years to attract riders, drew a record 28.7 million in the year ending Sept. 30. That is 11 percent more than the year before and the sixth straight year that ridership has increased. Ticket revenue hit a record $1.7 billion, a $200 million increase from a year earlier.

Less than 60 bucks per passenger?

21 posted on 11/05/2008 7:36:20 PM PST by aposiopetic
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To: Clemenza

I’d agree. Private tolls wouldn’t be too bad - although I can see it being a “pain”. However, that’s how things used to be done in the old days. Someone had tolls to pay for the upkeep (never mind the building) of their road.


22 posted on 11/05/2008 7:37:25 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: Mr. Brightside

MAGLEV!!!


23 posted on 11/05/2008 7:37:41 PM PST by Clemenza (Red is the Color of Virility, Blue is the Color of Impotence)
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To: Lorianne

Slow trains are cost-effective in Europe. High-speed trains? Generally better to fly.


24 posted on 11/05/2008 7:37:55 PM PST by sionnsar (Iran Azadi|5yst3m 0wn3d-it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY)|http://trad-anglican.faithweb.com/|RCongressIn2Years)
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To: madison10

And cars (and buses) don’t result in nearly as much car-nage! ;-)


25 posted on 11/05/2008 7:38:59 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: the OlLine Rebel

:) Would really have trouble letting someone else drive...not being in control of the “wheel” is scary.


26 posted on 11/05/2008 7:41:21 PM PST by madison10
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To: sionnsar

Are you saying high-speed European trains are not cost-effective?

For passengers, they are. With all the crapola we have to go through to get on plane, never mind the indignity, your time is wasted just as much for close travel that should be quick.


27 posted on 11/05/2008 7:41:59 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: Alberta's Child

I looked at taking a train from Jackson Michigan to Toronto.

I could catch the train in Jackson, then ride it 200 miles west to Chicago, then 550 miles east to buffalo NY where I would get off the train, cross the border and get on another train for the ride to Toronto.

I drove by way of Windsor.


28 posted on 11/05/2008 7:44:50 PM PST by cripplecreek (The poor bastards have us surrounded.)
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To: the OlLine Rebel
The trip from Harrisburg to Philly is a ribbon track. No clickty clack. I miss it but it is so smooth. All track will be that way here if they keep it up. Great move.

One of the greatest songs of all time is "City of New Orleans". It is a true story.

29 posted on 11/05/2008 7:45:04 PM PST by AGreatPer
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To: cripplecreek

One of the things on my Bucket List is to do the Trans-Canada Railroad trip across Canada.


30 posted on 11/05/2008 7:46:12 PM PST by dfwgator (I hate Illinois Marxists)
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To: hinckley buzzard
You can still take the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco. Breathtaking scenery through the Rockies and Sierras. 85mph across the plains. I've never seen this train run late or have any type safety issues.

With sleeping car arrangements there is no finer way to travel. Next to me the biggest long distance rail fan I knew of was Ronald Reagan. Reagan always traveled by train until presidential politics made it unfeasible.

Another plus; you pay half the taxpayer pays the other. This is the only way I've ever been able to elbow my way up to that public teat. Shoot, if its there, why not?

31 posted on 11/05/2008 7:47:34 PM PST by Tail Gunner John
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To: Lorianne

I guess I can understand ridership going up with air travel having become such a PITA. I used to take the train from time to time when I was in college, but needed to take combinations of bus and train to get where I needed to go. More recently (well, ten years ago) we took Amtrack from Dallas to Chicago just to do something different when the kids were small.

Considering that it was more expensive than flying, slower than driving, and the services was worse than the post office, I’m afraid I just don’t see the upside of long distance train travel.

Commuter trains in densely populated areas are different, and I have certainly ridden those in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and other places - and would again.


32 posted on 11/05/2008 7:52:16 PM PST by PhatHead
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To: AGreatPer
The City of New Orleans is still rollin’ down to the sea.

The best rail ride to New Orleans is the Crescent from D.C.

33 posted on 11/05/2008 7:53:08 PM PST by Tail Gunner John
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To: Clemenza
The New Jersey Turnpike will likely be one of the first roads in the Northeast to undergo some kind of operational change (most likely some kind of lease arrangement). The Pennsylvania Turnpike and NY State Thruway will also be among them.

What makes the NJ Turnpike so attractive for this sort of arrangement is that it carries an inordinate amount of two types of vehicles that are ideal sources of revenue: (1) trucks, and (2) long-distance travelers who drive through the entire state.

34 posted on 11/05/2008 7:53:45 PM PST by Alberta's Child (I'm out on the outskirts of nowhere . . . with ghosts on my trail, chasing me there.)
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To: Lorianne

Can it work without my money? If so, then go for it.


35 posted on 11/05/2008 7:57:06 PM PST by Sir Gawain (Dear President Obama, where's my free stuff?)
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To: Clemenza
I think of "rail" as two different things: rail transit and inter-city rail.

Rail transit is seriously flawed in one key respect: its operational costs are prohibitively high when measured in terms of dollars per passenger-miles traveled.

I do a lot of work in transportation planning and design in my profession -- and one of the things that has become obvious to people in my profession over the years is that it's a hell of a lot cheaper to implement bus service on a limited-access alignment (a busway, or along an arterial road with a bus lane and traffic signal pre-emption to optimize the flow of buses) than to run passenger trains.

One of the well-kept secrets in my work is that buses are TOO flexible for long-term planning purposes. A transit agency that implements a new bus service tomorrow may decide to curtail it, re-route it, or shut it down completely in the future. This makes it impossible to effectively manage any kind of residential and office development along the transit lines served by buses. If a rail system is built, on the other hand, it's a lot easier to plan for future development because it's unlikely that the service would ever be substantially reduced in the future (and almost impossible for the service to be re-routed).

36 posted on 11/05/2008 8:00:45 PM PST by Alberta's Child (I'm out on the outskirts of nowhere . . . with ghosts on my trail, chasing me there.)
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To: cripplecreek

Exactly.


37 posted on 11/05/2008 8:01:50 PM PST by Alberta's Child (I'm out on the outskirts of nowhere . . . with ghosts on my trail, chasing me there.)
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To: PhatHead

I have never had trouble with Amtrak service. I’ve heard people are rude for some reason in the west, but Northeast is generally good. I’ve been on that many times Balto to CT; also short hops to western MD, but also out to Indiana and most recently Chicago (and WI through connection). Coach and sleeper.

My view is it has virtually none of the cons of car/bus or plane travel and all of the benefits. As yet, anyway.


38 posted on 11/05/2008 8:11:14 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: Red6
Socialists LOVE public transportation.

Ever notice how socialism is being niftily repackaged for America?

Live in a tiny "housing unit" above a "mixed use" "transit village". Use public (i.e government) transporatation or, if you must, buy a "Smart Car" and feel good about yourself. Ration water. Ration gas. Buy bread from the hippie at the local farmer's market. Turn your thermostat up (or down) and roast (or shiver). Use less. Do less. It's like being a Soviet with the misery replaced with a sense of smug self-satisfaction that you're "doing your part".

39 posted on 11/05/2008 8:23:19 PM PST by itsamelman (Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh. - - Al Swearengen)
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To: Tail Gunner John

I missed my first pickins in life. I would have been a major league baseball player that rode the rails to every city.


40 posted on 11/05/2008 8:29:36 PM PST by AGreatPer
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To: Lorianne
Yeah...trains are fun.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-0YBr-6IxE
41 posted on 11/05/2008 8:54:06 PM PST by Emperor Palpatine ("I love democracy. I love Free Republic")
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To: AGreatPer
Take it past Harrisburg through the Horseshoe Curve - one of the most spectacular examples of civil engineering in the nation.


42 posted on 11/05/2008 9:02:27 PM PST by Emperor Palpatine ("I love democracy. I love Free Republic")
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To: Emperor Palpatine


Take it past Harrisburg through the Horseshoe Curve - one of the
most spectacular examples of civil engineering in the nation.

Sufficiently fantastic to its’ own Wikipedia entry.

That does look like a nice RR ride.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe_Curve_(Pennsylvania)


43 posted on 11/05/2008 9:06:19 PM PST by VOA
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To: VOA

Actually the entry is here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe_Curve_(Pennsylvania)


44 posted on 11/05/2008 9:16:41 PM PST by Emperor Palpatine ("I love democracy. I love Free Republic")
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To: Lorianne
Well, if Obama sets about to get high speed rail funded in his first 100 days, and he wins reëlection in 2012, and then Biden wins twice, they might start building this high speed rail by the end of Biden's second term.

It's called environmental impact statement, and it's a bitch.

As an example, see The High Speed Rail Corridor. What is that, you ask. Well, it's a high speed rail line from Virginia to Charlotte. It was first proposed in 1992. Environmental impact statements were started in 1998. They'll be done in 2010. Then we can start building the damn thing.

45 posted on 11/05/2008 9:21:41 PM PST by Koblenz (The Dem Platform, condensed: 1. Tax and Spend. 2. Cut and Run. 3. Man on Man)
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To: Lorianne

If someone likes trains, let them pay for them and not one taxpayer cent!

Thay are innefficient and go from where you aren’t to where you don’t want to go.

After I crashed my airplane I took Amtrack from L.A. to Oceanside and back twice and hope I never have to ride another one!

As far as their “bullet” from San Diego to the bay are, i’ll drive before I would ever take it, it’s only about 6 hours by car and you have your transportation when you get there and set your own time schedule.


46 posted on 11/05/2008 9:29:57 PM PST by dalereed
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To: Clemenza

“As long as the government funds roads”

Gas taxes and weight fees build the highways, quit stealing the funds for your indigent people movers!


47 posted on 11/05/2008 9:32:41 PM PST by dalereed
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To: Emperor Palpatine


Actually the entry is here:

Thanks for the correction...I guess I mindlessly copied the “diambiguator”
page and just failed to get the URL for the real deal.

I think it’s up by San Luis Obispo in California that they have a
similar horseshoe type turn for a railway. But IIRC, it didn’t look
as scenic as the Pennsylvania curve.


48 posted on 11/05/2008 9:33:17 PM PST by VOA
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To: Emperor Palpatine


Actually the entry is here:

Thanks for the correction...I guess I mindlessly copied the “diambiguator”
page and just failed to get the URL for the real deal.

I think it’s up by San Luis Obispo in California that they have a
similar horseshoe type turn for a railway. But IIRC, it didn’t look
as scenic as the Pennsylvania curve.


49 posted on 11/05/2008 9:33:18 PM PST by VOA
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To: Emperor Palpatine
My dad used to take me on the train from Pittsburgh to Atlantic City years ago. (no gambeling then).

"Places are to be remembered how you experienced them....Ben Franklin."

I have been fortuniate to be on trains in several places in this world. We are not even close to them in service and speed. Such a shame.

Eisenhower decided we needed roads, not trains. As great as he was, that was a mistake. As I take I95 to see my daughter tomorrow I will be reminded of that.

50 posted on 11/05/2008 9:35:51 PM PST by AGreatPer
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