Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hopes for New and Better Rail Service in the News

I’ve written here a couple of times about efforts to restore the New Orleans-Orlando portion of the Sunset Limited’s route. Large sections of track in Mississippi and the Florida panhandle were torn up by Hurricane Katrina and, although the track has long since restored, Amtrak has never reinstated that part of the Sunset’s schedule. There is a federal mandate to study the possibility and it may yet happen.

Elsewhere, the City Council in Boulder, Colorado, has gone on record asking Amtrak to have the Pioneer stop in their town if and when that train is restored. The Pioneer, which was discontinued in 1997 as a cost-cutting move, left Chicago as part of the California Zephyr consist, splitting off in Denver and heading up through Wyoming, eventually terminating in Seattle. Like the Sunset, Amtrak has been asked to look into the possibility of restoring that service. If they do, it would make sense to add a stop in Boulder, which is where the University of Colorado is located.

And the County Commissioners in Bunnell, Florida, voted unanimously on a resolution urging the restoration of train service between Jacksonville and Miami. One commissioner, Alan Peterson, voted for the resolution, but said he thought a JAX-MIA train would be “a waste of public money.” Huh??

And Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has asked that state’s legislative body to add state funding to federal stimulus dollars that will be used to improve rail service between Chicago and St. Louis. That route has often been mentioned as a prime prospect for high-speed rail, but an initial upgrading of existing track would increase speeds to 110 mph and reduce travel time to less than it can now be driven.

And there are more examples popping up from all across the country. Bodes well for rail, eh?

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