By the end of the week the House and Senate must submit their annual appropriations request. We are asking Congress to include two new passenger railroad programs that were authorized in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Strong investments in these programs are needed to strengthen our national rail network.
The Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program covers a broad range of projects. Funding could be used for rail planning, capital construction, grade crossing improvements, PTC and more.
We have great news from Michigan as a recent study on passenger rail service between Detroit and Holland found that 110 mph service would generate a surplus. The potential new line would directly connect the major cities of Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids with the terminus in Holland.
Two recent Surface Transportation Board proposals, with far-reaching consequences, are being reviewed at this time. The proposals introduce a revised definition to passenger train on-time performance (OTP) and ‘preference’ over freight trains.
This past week the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) released their 2016 Draft Business Plan that demonstrates the path forward for California’s high-speed rail network.
Proposals similar to MHSRA’s CrossRail Chicago project are popping up everywhere! Metrolinx, Toronto’s transportation authority, is in the process of transforming their network by establishing Regional Express Rail (RER). This project involves electrification and 15-minute interval service throughout the day on 5 of the 7 GO transit lines. Similarly CrossRail Chicago proposes electrifying certain Metra lines in order to provide fast, frequent and dependable service.
On February 9, President Barack Obama unveiled the last budget of his presidency, a $4.1 trillion plan that outlines spending for the next decade. This proposal is exciting because it lays out a $320 billion plan for investments in a clean transportation system including mass transit, high-speed rail and other modes that reduce congestion and carbon emissions. The president is reaffirming his administration’s commitment to high-speed rail by including $7 billion per year in funding for a high-performance railroad network.
We have long advocated for rail connections to airports throughout the Midwest in cities such as Indianapolis, Saint Paul, Milwaukee and others. Today we are sharing a new opportunity for a transformative project at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. On Saturday, January 30, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a deal with American and United Airlines for the addition of a sixth runway at O’Hare Airport. This is the first step in the city’s plan to add new terminals and modernize existing ones, creating an opportunity to incorporate a modern train station.
German rail operator Deutsche Bahn’s (DB) newest train the ICE 4, formerly known as the ICx, recently completed a 12-week comprehensive testing program at Rail Tec Arsenal in Vienna. The Siemens-built trainsets were subjected to testing in the world’s largest climatic wind tunnel where they experienced extreme weather conditions. With temperatures ranging from -13 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit they had to perform at speeds of up to 200km/h. The tests were designed to ensure the train’s heating, air conditioning and ventilation work properly in severe conditions.
Today we are encouraged by news that the Chicago Union Station Master Plan is moving forward. On January 13 City Council passed an ordinance authorizing an agreement between the Chicago Department of Transportation, Metra, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and Amtrak to jointly fund preliminary design and engineering work for the first phase of projects at the station.
On January 6th New York Governor Cuomo presented a plan to transform Penn Station and the adjacent Farley Post Office into a world-class transportation hub. The project is being called the Empire Station Complex and is estimated to cost $3 billion.
Over the years many proposals have been put forth that would transform Penn Station but little progress has been made. Development has been stagnant this past decade due to the logistical nightmare of moving Madison Square Garden, which sits on top of Penn Station.