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Text Version   RSS   Subscribe   Unsubscribe   Archive   Media Kit            April 08, 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.

USDOT: $500 million available for TIGER's 7th round
Progressive Railroading
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the availability of $500 million for transportation projects through the seventh round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery competitive grant program. The TIGER 2015 discretionary grants will focus on surface transportation infrastructure projects that generate economic development and improve access to transportation, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation press release.
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Short-term deal keeps Amtrak route between Chicago and Indianapolis open
Chicago Tribune
Indiana state and federal agencies announced a short-term deal to keep Amtrak service between Indianapolis and Chicago going and are working on a long-term agreement. A federal Railroad Administration policy announced last month would have effectively deemed Indiana a rail carrier even though it does not own any tracks or trains, which threatened to derail the state plan to keep the four-days-a-week service running. The agreement calls for the Indiana Department of Transportation to write contracts to ensure that Amtrak and Iowa Pacific meet federal safety rules and requirements for the disabled.
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Reader Sound-Off: Are elevated tracks a viable option to avoiding collisions?
By Ryan Clark
This is an installment in an ongoing series titled "Reader Sound-Off" that will focus attention and conversation on readers' and NARP members' opinions on important rail and transportation issues. Railroad collisions between trains and vehicles that have stalled in their paths are tragically common. While it can be the popular knee-jerk reaction to consequently limit train use or the reach of the country's train systems, perhaps there are other options.
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PRODUCT SHOWCASE
  West Virginia Mountain Rail Adventures

The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad operates historic steam-driven locomotives and vintage diesel-powered passenger trains departing three historic depots – Elkins, Durbin and Cass – April thru December. Excursions explore remote mountain regions where even automobiles cannot access! At Cass, experience the world’s largest fleet of geared Shay locomotives and 1900s town.
 


Oregon train route from Seattle to Eugene could be in jeopardy
Statesman Journal
The Oregon Department of Transportation may not have enough money next year to continue providing Amtrak rail service between Portland and Eugene, according to budget discussions in the Oregon Capitol. Gov. John Kitzhaber had set aside $10.4 million to keep the "Cascades" route operating, even as the federal government phases out its funding for routes shorter than 750 miles. However, the legislature's proposed budget includes just $5 million for passenger rail.
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Late and expensive no reason to stop Illinois' Amtrak support
Kankakee Daily Journal
Buy a ticket for an Amtrak train in Illinois, and your chances of being late are one in three. There's also a good chance the train is half empty. But that's no reason to stop the $42 million per year Illinois spends on Amtrak. Or, at least, that's what train advocates like Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, say. "We're on the cusp of a really exciting new day for Amtrak service. But we have to get there," Harnish said. "That means no cutbacks in service now."
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Amtrak's Hoosier State line appears back on track
The Indianapolis Star
The uncertain path of Amtrak's Hoosier State line took another curve recently when state officials said they are close to a deal to keep it running for the long term. The Indiana Department of Transportation said it has reached an "understanding" with federal railway officials to keep the Chicago-to-Indianapolis route running. A disagreement between INDOT and the Federal Railroad Administration about who would be responsible for rail safety had threatened to close down the line.
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SunRail ridership boomed in March
Orlando Business Journal
There's no surprise that free rides on SunRail brought out train riders in droves last month — but Central Florida's commuter rail has had a pretty solid couple of months of ridership interest. The Florida Department of Transportation reported that SunRail averaged 5,052 riders in March, including three days when service was free. Orlando City Soccer Club and the Orlando Magic sponsored free train service to move fans to and from downtown Orlando, during the soccer team's Major League Soccer home opener and a basketball game against the Boston Celtics.
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Amtrak route at risk
The Hill
Oregon state officials may be forced to cut Amtrak service between Portland and Eugene, the Salem Statesman Journal newspaper reports. The service, which is part of Amtrak's Cascades route that runs between Oregon and Canada's Vancouver, British Columbia, is one of the company's "state-supported routes." States typically pick up the tab for the shorter routes, which are usually within their borders. But a budget that is being considered by state lawmakers does not include enough money to keep the trains running south of Portland, according to the report.
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California town pushes for high-speed rail station
Santa Clarita Valley Signal
As the California High-Speed Rail Authority mulls possible ways to route a proposed bullet train between Palmdale and Burbank — potentially avoiding the Santa Clarita Valley — some residents in the Sunland area are pushing to sweeten the deal for their community. A plan submitted to high-speed rail officials would tweak the proposed route from the San Fernando Valley to the Antelope Valley and put a station stop in Sunland. The rationale, according to proponents, is to give additional perks to the area that the train would pass through — at least under some route options being considered.
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Planners want more Amtrak routes from Pittsburgh
New Castle News
Pittsburgh area planners are on board with a proposal for Amtrak to add more trips to its Pennsylvanian passenger service. Lawrence County Commissioner Steve Craig wrote a letter to the acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on behalf of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, expressing support for increased passenger rail service from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and New York City.
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Federal lawsuit challenges All Aboard Florida plan
Palm Beach Post
Indian River County filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the U.S. Department of Transportation's approval of $1.75 billion in tax exempt bonds for All Aboard Florida. The 44-page lawsuit says the approval of the bonds was "plainly unlawful" because the environmental and historical impact of the express passenger rail project has yet to be given a final determination.
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Tri-Rail rolls out service at Miami International Airport transit hub
Miami Herald
Ed Garces doesn't drive. "Obviously, being from New York, I don't know how to drive," Garces said. Splitting time between his Manhattan and South Beach homes, he hops on a train or bus with his 11-year-old Maltese-Yorkie, Bella, to get to wherever he needs to go. His travels are now easier with the opening of a Tri-Rail station at Miami International Airport's new transit hub. Tri-Rail rolled into the station for the first time recently, stopping at the transit center that also houses a Metrorail station and a car-rental complex.
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Examining DOT v. AAR Supreme Court decision regarding Amtrak
RailwayAge
The court held that Amtrak is a governmental entity for purposes of determining the validity of the metrics and standards under Section 207 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion joined by seven other Justices, including Justice Samuel Alito, who concurred with a separate opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas concurred in the result, but not the reasoning and offered a lengthy concurring opinion with a free-ranging separation of powers discussion.
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Amtrak cuts to affect students
The Daily Eastern News
Governor Bruce Rauner proposed a state budget that would include a cut to Illinois' funding for Amtrak trains that would affect those in Illinois, including many students who use the service. The proposed state budget would cut 40 percent from the current funding. The budget proposed $26 million in funding for Amtrak. This is $16 million less than they received the previous year. Mark Magliari, the Amtrak Spokesperson, said this amount of funding would have an impact on Amtrak.
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Hotline Midweek Brief
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