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Author Topic: REVIVING THE ONCE-MIGHTY RAILROAD  (Read 358 times)
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« on: April 24, 2009, 08:50:03 am »

Getting serious

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act sets aside $8bn (5bn) for new high-speed services. That's not huge - lines will cost a minimum of $30m (20.6m) a mile to build from scratch.

But President Obama has spoken of rail with such enthusiasm that some in the industry can barely believe how quickly things are changing.


The Pacific Northwest is one of 11 high-speed corridors identified by the US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). It may be the remotest from Washington DC but the fact Washington State has long been serious about rail means it is optimistic the FRA will hand it some of the money.

That the trains he helps pay for have to run so slowly does not please Andrew Wood, the transplanted Brit who runs Washington State's rail projects.

With British Columbia to the north and Oregon to the south, the state helps fund the route from Vancouver down to Eugene.

But like most US passenger services, Cascades trains currently run at a maximum and federally-mandated 79mph (127km/h). Yet the clean and modern Spanish-built trains could easily travel at 110mph.

Outside the North East Corridor however (from Boston down to Washington DC) Amtrak does not own the track it runs on but "borrows" from freight railways - in the case of Seattle that means the Burlington, Northern, Santa Fe Railway.

Their freight lines were never meant for speed or passenger comfort - something Mr Wood hopes new cash may fix.

"To have the federal government now coming out even with $8bn is great. It lets us look to the future and see what we could really do to develop high-speed," he says.

He believes in this regard America is 50 years behind western Europe or Japan.

"When I was at school in England teachers always said whatever America does Europe will do in 15 years. This is the roles reversed - the Obama plan's the first step."
« Last Edit: April 24, 2009, 08:51:39 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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