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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.
Riding Amtrak to photograph the faces
San Francisco Chronicle
The California Zephyr starts at 9 am. McNair Evans stashes his bag in his seat and starts working the aisle, meeting people. By the time the train reaches its end in Chicago, three days later, he knows everybody on the long haul and has photographed half of them.
They get off, but he stays. From Chicago he might catch the Empire Builder up and across Montana or the Lake Shore Limited to Boston or the City of New Orleans all the way down the Mississippi, riding on a 15-day pass.
Amid Capitol Hill opposition, high-speed rail gets second wind
The News & Observer
Is President Barack Obama's vision for high-speed rail dead? If so, you couldn't tell it from a group of rail supporters gathered in Washington.
And for the first time, they can point to tangible progress. California's $68 billion system broke ground in January. Efforts are under way to bring high-speed rail projects to Texas, Florida, Minnesota and North Carolina.
Republicans in Congress have cut off additional funding for the president's program, and the California project in particular still has its skeptics, in both parties.
All pets aboard! Small cats, dogs can now ride Amtrak downstate
If the only thing keeping you from visiting Carbondale, Illinois, was worrying about your cat or small dog not being able to make the trip, good news: You can now buy your furry pal an Amtrak ticket to ride — as long as they're under 20 pounds.
Amtrak released a statementto announce the expansion of its pilot pet-traveler program, after a year that saw about 200 pets ride the train line without incident.
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.
Low-speed rail: California's other option
California's controversial high-speed rail project is barely under way, but it's already been beaten by other options. Under the best of assumptions, the (subsidized) cost of a trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles when the bullet train is complete will be $86, plus "last mile" costs of traveling to and from the train station. The journey, door to door, will take about four hours — that is, if the high-speed rail makes the journey in under three hours as originally advertised, which it will not.
Amtrak still getting slammed for crappy Wi-Fi service in Northeast
It looks as though for all intents and purposes, Amtrak still hasn't managed to fix the Wi-Fi problems that have plagued the railroad service provider in the Northeast.
Dan Berman of the National Journal tested it and concluded it's worse than previously thought. In some stretches between Washington, D.C., and New York, "you basically don't have the Internet at all."
Amtrak is up-front about some of its limitations.
Legislature launches review of Oregon Amtrak subsidies
One key legislator says Oregon will continue state-subsidized passenger rail service between Portland and Eugene.
But state Sen. Betsy Johnson also wants Amtrak to change the timing of a weekday morning southbound train that carried barely 5,000 riders in 2014.
The Legislature's budget framework proposes just $5 million in additional state funds, half of the $10.4 million proposed by then-Gov. John Kitzhaber from the state budget back on Dec. 1.
Officials: 2014 a banner year for Metro-North ridership
More riders took Metro-North last year than at any point in the railroad's history.
Officials that nearly 85 million passengers rode Metro-North in 2014. That's makes the railroad the second busiest passenger rail carrier in the country. Long Island Rail Road is No. 1 with nearly 86 million riders last year.
Ridership climbed on Metro-North by 1.3 million last year.
New York's MTA wins $1 billion federal loan for train safety
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority won a $1 billion federal loan for train safety, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a speech in Manhattan.
The money is intended for "positive train control," technology meant to prevent collisions and derailments. The agency will use the system on 1,455 train cars and 588 miles of track, the governor said.
"It is the state-of-the-art safety design system," Cuomo said. "This is a very big development. The MTA worked very hard to do it."
All Aboard Florida agrees to deal with West Palm Beach
All Aboard Florida has reached a new deal with the city of West Palm Beach that clears the way for construction to begin near the downtown train station.
The agreement includes construction of a residential building and a new access road from the station to Clematis Street.
All Aboard Florida will build the road, sidewalks and install all the landscaping. After construction is finished, the property and road will be given back to the city.
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Lew, Foxx say tax overhaul for infrastructure is smart
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx talk about U.S. infrastructure needs, the May 31 expiration of federal highway and mass transit programs, and the value of a funding solution that ties a tax code overhaul to infrastucture spending. They speak at the America on the Move: Investing in U.S. Infrastructure event hosted by Bloomberg Government and the Alliance for American Competitiveness in Washington.
Baton Rouge, New Orleans leaders seek to become 'single metropolitan statistical area'
Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, are a classic case of frenemies, which is to say that they have a surface level friendship and a deep-seated rivalry.
The two cities are 80 miles away, but sometimes feel worlds apart. New Orleans, a liberal-leaning city, is the cultural gem of Louisiana known for some of the best food, music and art in the country. Baton Rouge, a more socially conservative place, is the seat of state government.
Minneapolis' Green line extension to cost more
Test results and project delays have increased the total cost of the Minneapolis area's Southwest light-rail transit project to nearly $2 billion, the Metropolitan Council announced.
The added $341 million in costs are primarily related to poor ground conditions along the Southwest route and soil contamination in St. Louis Park and Hopkins, Minnesota. Additionally, the line's proposed opening has been delayed a year to 2020, council officials said in a press release.
Is HSR posing a clash between rural and big-city Texans?
Claiming that there is a clash between rural and urban Texans over high-sped rail is false.
Just as there are some farmers who don't want high-speed rail running across their land, there are urban dwellers who don't want high-speed rail running next to their neighborhoods. On the whole, high-speed rail will be good for Texas and the majority of Texans.
Any politicians driving high-speed rail to reality would also be driving themselves to national prominence.
Passenger rail route from Las Vegas to Los Angeles gaining momentum
Las Vegas Sun
A group of federal and local leaders gathered in downtown Las Vegas today to discuss something that hasn't been seen in the region for 18 years: a passenger rail service to ferry riders back and forth between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
"I think the market is there. The will is there. The potential partnership is there," said Rep. Dina Titus, who convened the roundtable as part of her continued push to restore passenger rail services to Las Vegas. "We're figuring out how much it would cost."
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Hotline Midweek Brief
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