Last week we told you how Caltrain modernization is the most important rail project in the U.S, not just for California, but for us in the Midwest, too. The Federal Transit Administration is deferring a decision on the pending $647 million grant until the Administration develops the President’s FY 2018 Budget. This delay will prevent Caltrain from meeting a March 1 deadline to proceed with previously awarded contracts for electrification and new high-performance trainsets.
Caltrain Modernization is the most important project in the U.S., even if it were not being integrated into the high-speed rail network.
They are driving important innovations; such as, high-capacity, lightweight trainsets using safer and more efficient alternate compliant standards. Their operating scheme will include local and express commuter trains with room for high-speed trains later and a transition from low-level platforms to 48” platforms that will allow level boarding. This would make Caltrain the first truly modern passenger rail line in the U.S.
News recently broke that the City of Chicago is in the process of a major redesign and/or replacement of terminals at O’Hare. This is an opportunity to create a true high-speed rail link to the airport from the rest of the region.
The long-term leases with the airlines expire in 2018 and the airlines would like to see a different terminal arrangement to make the connection between international and domestic flights more seamless.
Monday it was announced that Hoosier State service will transition to railcars, locomotives and on-board services supplied by Amtrak beginning March 1, 2017. The previous agreement saw Iowa Pacific provide these services along with marketing, while Amtrak provided ticketing, track access and the crew.
The first trainset for Florida’s new Brightline service began testing on Thursday. The two locomotives and four passenger coaches arrived in West Palm Beach last month and were put on public display January 11.
Additional trainsets will be delivered shortly with the goal of starting revenue service this summer. Brightline will set a new standard for high-frequency service on a heavy-haul railroad. The train will link Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Phase 2 will extend service to Orlando.
The Chicago Union Station (CUS) Redevelopment Plan took an important step forward yesterday.
Happy holidays! This holiday season about 100 million U.S. citizens traveled all over the country to visit family and friends. China’s travel season is just beginning with the Chinese New Year running from January 13 – February 21. The Chinese Railway Corporation is expecting 356 million total trips on China’s railway network during the holidays.
A quick guest blog from Fritz Plous:
Check out the op-ed in "The Hill" of December 23: Don’t double dip in drivers’ pockets to pay for roads
The truckers always hated tolls and delayed the Interstate bill of 1954 because it specified tolls as the revenue source for the new highways. We ended up getting a motor-fuel tax instead, but because the gas tax has never covered the feds' full share of the cost of building and maintaining these highways Congress has bailed out the Interstates since 1960 with transfers from the General Fund (i.e., a subsidy).
We have had a very productive year at the High Speed Rail Association. New and improved stations are being built across the Midwest, CrossRail Chicago is gaining traction and intercity passenger rail was included in a long-term infrastructure bill for the first time ever.
The stage is set for a bigger and better 2017. We are asking our supporters to help us raise $90,000 before the end of the year so we can take advantage of upcoming opportunities.
The effort to return service to the Chicago-Fort Wayne-Lima-Columbus corridor took an important step forward on Monday. Local officials gathered at Baker Street Station in Fort Wayne to announce the next phase of planning.
The local communities have invested $350,000 to begin the Alternative Analysis and Public Input Process. This study will begin in early January 2017 and include preliminary engineering, service planning and measuring environmental impacts.