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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.
Panel calls for sweeping leadership, budget changes at MBTA
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority could become bankrupt without enacting sweeping changes in leadership, budget planning and general workplace practices, according to a 50-page panel report released recently.
Commissioned by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, the report called out the agency for failures on several fronts, including an unsustainable operating budget. The state of Massachusetts has implicitly assumed responsibility for funding MBTA operating deficits, which the panel decried as an "unacceptable long-term situation."
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Albuquerque mayor thanks Amtrak for keeping Southwest Chief
The Associated press via KOB-TV
The mayor of New Mexico's largest city has thanked Amtrak for keeping it existing New Mexico route of the Southwest Chief passenger train.
Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry wrote Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman last week and said Albuquerque and other New Mexico cities appreciated the company's recent decision.
Amtrak announced last month that the Southwest Chief would continue to make stops in New Mexico towns of Raton, Las Vegas, Lamy and Albuquerque.
Senators announce $3 million in funding for PTC, rail safety improvements
Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator for New York
U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced $3 million in federal funding for New York through the U.S. Department of Transportation for the Intercity Passenger Rail Grade Crossing Improvements, Positive Train Control Implementation, and Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan Grant Program. Specifically, these federal funds will advance safety precautions on railways and provide engineering assistance to implement the Positive Train Control system on the Hudson Line from Poughkeepsie to Hoffmann's and from west of Schenectady for the Empire and Adirondack Corridors.
Combine a remote mountain excursion with a mountain music special event or Mother’ Day and Father’s Day Special Vacation Package. The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad operates historic steam-driven locomotives and vintage diesel-powered passenger trains departing three historic depots – Elkins, Durbin and Cass, West Virginia – April thru December.
Officials in Illinois call for increase in federal transit spending
The leaders of Chicago-area public transit agencies and Illinois elected officials from both political parties rallied for Congress to pass a robust, long-term federal spending plan to rebuild rail infrastructure used by commuter and intercity trains, update bus fleets and rehab roads and bridges.
The "Stand Up 4 Transportation" event at Union Station was among many similar activities held across the nation to urge the federal government to provide sustainable funding.
State lawmakers ask Texans in Congress to stop high-speed rail
Texas lawmakers from the Brazos Valley are among the legislators who have asked the Texas delegation in Washington D.C. to fight to stop the proposed high-speed rail from Houston to Dallas in its tracks.
Senators Lois Kolkhorst and Charles Schwertner and State Representatives Trent Ashby, Kyle Kacal, Will Metcalf, John Raney and Leighton Schubert signed a letter asking Texans in Congress to oppose any application by Texas Central Railway to the Surface Transportation Board.
20 years later, sabotage Of Amtrak's Sunset Limited still a mystery
The mystery goes back 20 years.
It was an ordinary, cross-country train trip back in 1995: Amtrak's Sunset Limited passenger train, bound for Los Angeles from Miami.
The train never reached its destination: It was sabotaged, derailed in the Arizona desert.
The investigation continues to this day: At the FBI field office in Phoenix, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mark Cwynar announced a $310,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who derailed the Sunset Limited.
Senate bill targeting bullet train project advances
A bill that would hobble a private company's plan to build a $12 billion high-speed rail line from Dallas to Houston, Texas, passed out of a Senate committee recently, spurred by concerns that private landowners would see their land taken against their will for the project.
The Senate Transportation Committee voted 5-4 to pass out Senate Bill 1601, from state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst which would strip firms developing high-speed rail projects from eminent domain authority.
Illinois governor's budget could mean big Amtrak cuts
Illinois Gov. Rauner's proposed cuts to Amtrak would lead to significant service reductions across the state, potentially leaving some cities with no Amtrak service at all.
Rauner's FY16 budget includes a 40 percent cut in state funding for Amtrak. According to testimony at the House Appropriations Public Safety Committee hearing in Springfield, under the "worst-case scenario," these cuts would result in the cancellation of Southern Illinois' two state-funded daily trains: the Illini and the Saluki. In this case, only one, federally-funded train would serve the Chicago-Carbondale route each day.
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How to build a railroad: Plan events, passengers will come
Lafayette Journal & Courier
Ed Ellis has emerged from background observer to key player in Indiana's 2 1/2 year search for a way to fund and improve the Hoosier State passenger rail line.
His company, Iowa Pacific Holdings, was tapped in November by the Indiana Department of Transportation to provide and maintain rail cars, food and beverage service, and marketing for the 196-mile short line that lost federal funding in October 2013.
Senator: Oregon will find money for Amtrak, but schedule must change
Blue Mountain Eagle
One key legislator says Oregon will continue state-supported passenger rail service between Portland and Eugene, despite press reports suggesting otherwise.
Sen. Betsy Johnson says lawmakers will come up with enough money to continue twice-daily runs in the Willamette Valley.
"There is no story here," says Johnson, who's the Senate co-chairwoman of the Legislature's joint budget subcommittee on transportation and economic development.
Working on the railroad: High-speed rail sparks new career interest
Valley Public Radio
With work on California's High-Speed rail about to take off, interest in the trades that the rail will need appears to be increasing. That's according to groups that run pre-apprenticeship programs that teach people the skills necessary to work on building the train. Talk of the project is driving interest in programs intended to train the men and women that will be needed to build it.
One of those programs is the five week high-speed rail pre-apprenticeship run by Chuck Riojas with the union Building Trades.
Minot Daily News
A former Parshall, North Dakota, resident is among Amtrak passengers who are in the film, "In Transit," that will be in the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City later.
"Our son Chuck happened to be on the train coming to North Dakota to visit and was interviewed by the film crew," said Marilyn Hudson. Charles "Chuck" Hudson's parents, Kent and Marilyn Hudson live in Parshall. Their son, a graduate of Parshall High School, now lives in Portland, Oregon.
Group calls for Amtrak passenger service extension to New River Valley
The Roanoke Times
A new public campaign to expand passenger train service, this time to the New River Valley, Virginia, is underway.
Diverse public and private groups from the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford metro area formed a task force 17 months ago and that committee launched its public campaign.
"We are convinced that our region is primed for rail and will support it," said campaign co-chair Wally Nelson of insurance services provider SIA Group in Blacksburg, in a prepared release.
Feds announce $7 million for Chicago's Union Station
Federal, state and local officials late announced an additional $7 million in federal funds to help improve rail service at Chicago's Union Station.
The funds will be used to conduct a terminal planning study and create a service development plan to increase capacity at the 90-year-old station. The funds build on the January announcement that Amtrak would commit $12 million to continue station renovations this year, according to a press release issued by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin's office.
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