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Text Version   RSS   Subscribe   Unsubscribe   Archive   Media Kit            March 18, 2015


 
The Mid-Week brief is an unfettered look at what the press is saying about passenger rail — if you see something you dislike, or know to be inaccurate, don't hesitate to reach out to those responsible for the article by using the comment board of a linked website, or emailing the publication directly.

New federal policy led Indiana to end Chicago-Indianapolis Amtrak route
Chicago Tribune
The leader of a coalition of states that foots most of the costs of Amtrak's short passenger routes says its members are awaiting answers from a federal agency about a new policy Indiana cited in its decision to end a line between Indianapolis and Chicago. Depending on its final form, the policy being drafted by the Federal Railroad Administration could make it impossible for some states to keep their Amtrak routes running, said Patricia Quinn, who chairs the Portland, Maine-based States for Passenger Rail Coalition.
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GOP senator wants to save Amtrak route
The Hill
Sen. Dan Coats is seeking to protect Amtrak service between Indianapolis and Chicago as state officials consider cutting the rail line because of a recent change to federal regulations that would increase the cost of operating the route. The Indianapolis to Chicago line, which is known as Amtrak's Hoosier State route, is one of Amtrak's "state-supported routes." States pick up the tab for such shorter routes, which are usually within their borders.
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Laying tracks for high-speed rail in the US
CBS News
Compared to Japan, which just opened the newest section of its high-speed rail network, the concept has struggled to catch on in the U.S. The White House unveiled its vision for new train corridors in 2009, but so far there's been little progress. Finally, though, plans to start laying the tracks for a faster future are afoot, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues. The Bullet Train in Japan covers 320 miles in just 2 hours and 25 minutes, traveling at close to 190 mph.
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Maine lawmaker seeks probe of Amtrak Downeaster's finances
Portland Press Herald
A Maine legislator from Brunswick called for an investigation into the finances and operations of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which oversees the Amtrak Downeaster train service that connects Brunswick, Portland and several other communities in southern Maine and New Hamphsire with Boston. Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, a Democrat, said he will ask the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee to authorize a comprehensive audit of the rail authority, which receives about $2 million each year from Maine.
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Amtrak service from New Orleans to Orlando: Return possible
The Times-Picayune
Discontinued after Hurricane Katrina, Amtrak passenger trains could once again rumble along the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Orlando, Fla. But not before it clears a few political hurdles first. A bill working its way through Congress calls for the formation of a working group to consider the ins and outs of restoring that passenger rail route. Its members, selected by the Federal Railroad Administration, would include representatives from Amtrak, the states and cities along the route, members of the Southern Rail Commission and railroad company officials, among others.
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New policy worries states supporting short Amtrak routes
The Associated Press via Dayton Daily News
The leader of a coalition of states that foot most of the costs of Amtrak's short passenger routes says its members are awaiting answers from a federal agency about a new policy Indiana cited in its decision to end a line between Indianapolis and Chicago. Depending on its final form, the policy being drafted by the Federal Railroad Administration could make it impossible for some states to keep their Amtrak routes running, said Patricia Quinn, who chairs the Portland, Maine-based States for Passenger Rail Coalition.
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Review launched for Minnesota high-speed rail
The Associated Press via WCCO-TV
Minnesota government agencies have launched the first phase of an environmental review for the proposed Zip Rail high-speed railroad between the Twin Cities and Rochester. The Minnesota Department of Transportation says the review will look at the social, economic and environmental impacts of eight potential routes, as well of not building the project.
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Property rights battles threaten to slow California's bullet train project
Fox News
California's quest to build a $68 billion high-speed rail system is facing more potential delays and costs as the state haggles over property rights with Central Valley farmers and land investors — and more legal cases are just around the bend. The state broke ground just after New Year's on the first part of the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles/Anaheim bullet train — considered the most expensive public works project in U.S. history. When completed, officials say it is expected to travel between the two cities in under three hours and at speeds up to 200 mph.
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Keolis on schedule to return MBTA commuter trains to full service
Progressive Railroading
Keolis Commuter Service, the operator of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's commuter-rail service, announced that it will restore service on 42 additional trains — a move the company described as a "major milestone" toward restoring full service by March 30. The number of trains in service soon will be the largest number operating since the "recovery schedule" was put in place after record winter storms caused constant breakdowns and delays, Keolis officials said in a press release.
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Operation Lifesaver: Rail crossing and trespass fatalities on the rise
Progressive Railroading
Train-vehicle collisions and deaths at grade crossings and from pedestrians trespassing on railroad tracks rose across the United States last year, Operation Lifesaver Inc. announced. The national nonprofit rail safety education organization cited preliminary 2014 statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration, which showed that U.S. crossing collisions increased 8.8 percent to 2,280 in 2014, while crossing fatalities climbed 15.6 percent to 267, said OLI President and Chief Executive Officer Joyce Rose in a press release.
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London Underground an example for the MBTA
The Boston Globe
The goal of the Forward Funding Financial Plan designed to fix the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in 2000 was "to transform the MBTA from an agency that bills the State for its operating deficits to a system that sustains itself from an identified revenue stream." It was a mandate for "greater cost efficiency and revenue enhancement." What was vastly underestimated is the level of management effort required to achieve an organizational transformation of this scale.
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Vacancies at transport agencies sow angst
The Hill
Vacancies atop several regulatory agencies within the Obama administration are prompting concerns about transportation safety after a series of recent accidents across the nation. Leadership positions at the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, as well as the high-profile Transportation Security Administration, are currently being filled with interim chiefs.
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Google Street View takes you inside Japan's newest high-speed rail
Mashable
A train ride in the United States doesn't even compare to a rail trip in Japan. Now, thanks to Google Street View, you can take a virtual tour of Japan's newest bullet train line, called the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The name designates the region; Hokuriku and the name for Japan's high-speed railway; Shinkansen. The line will be an extension of the Nagano Shinkansen Line. The train features three separate seating options: The luxurious "Grand Class," the "Green Car" and the "Standard Class."
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Editorial: Rep. Costello, others boost Amtrak service
Daily Local News
Rail travel in our region continues to be praiseworthy and largely efficient, two adjectives that we must say have not applied to the folks in Congress over the past several years. But recently, the two sides came to a worthy agreement over the future of Amtrak service in the Northeast Corridor, and one of the area's newest national legislators worked helpfully to get the legislation through the House of Representatives. U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello was one of 132 Republican House members who voted to approve the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act.
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Hotline Midweek Brief
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