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Text Version   RSS   Subscribe   Unsubscribe   Archive   Media Kit            December 17, 2014

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US board: Fed law on HSR trumps state environmental lawsuits
Fresno Bee
A three-member panel of presidential appointees has potentially derailed seven lawsuits challenging the California High-Speed Rail Authority's approval of its Fresno-Bakersfield bullet-train route and raised questions about how California environmental law will apply to other planned rail sections across the state. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board, in a ruling issued recently, declared on a 2-1 vote that the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, "is categorically pre-empted" in connection with the Fresno-Bakersfield route, which the federal panel OK'd for construction earlier this year.
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Amtrak takes a different track in Dallas-Fort Worth
Fort Worth Star Telegram
High-speed rail is likely many years away in Texas' Dallas-Fort Worth area, but local officials have made a deal to improve the slower but well-established Amtrak service by changing tracks. The solution required four years of negotiations, a $7.2 million infusion of federal Recovery Act stimulus funding and an agreement by the Fort Worth Transportation Authority to pay for a roughly $21 million insurance policy that clears Amtrak of liability for injuries and deaths on the line.
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California will finally break ground in Fresno on high-speed rail construction
The Fresno Bee
The California High-Speed Rail Authority will officially break ground next month in Fresno on construction of its statewide bullet-train route. The Jan. 6 groundbreaking ceremony comes about a year and a half after the agency awarded its first construction contract, a $1 billion deal to design and build the first 29-mile section from Madera to the south end of Fresno. Since the contract was signed in August 2013, the construction consortium of Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons has been engineering and designing the work.
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Bullet train's eventual link to Los Angeles rail system far from clear-cut
Los Angeles Times
As California's bullet train officials begin to lay plans for the system's Los Angeles segment, a major technical issue is coming under close scrutiny: incompatibility between the sleek, high-speed electric trains and the region's older, diesel-powered commuter rail network. The state's plan for initial passenger service calls for high-speed trains to shuttle between Merced and Burbank by 2022, a first leg of a $68-billion line that eventually is expected to link Los Angeles and San Francisco.
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Metra, Amtrak to unveil plan to curb Union Station crowding
Chicago Tribune via RedEye Chicago
Metra and Amtrak are scheduled to unveil their plan to prevent crowding at Chicago Union Station by closing direct access to the south concourse during service disruptions. About 120,000 Metra and Amtrak riders pass through Union Station each day. More than half are commuters on the BNSF Line, Metra's busiest, using the platforms on the station's south concourse. When trains are delayed, as they were several times last winter, the concourse and platforms become unsafe with no way to escape in an emergency, passengers say.
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Officials discuss high-speed rail for North Carolina
Could high-speed rail be part of Charlotte, North Carolina's long-term future? North Carolina Rep. Bill Brawley hopes so. Brawley said the state is already in conversations with other southeastern states to form a group to pursue the idea together. "It would be a high-speed rail line from Charlotte to Atlanta," Brawley said. High-speed trains are popular in many countries around the world but so far, not in the U.S. The Charlotte to Atlanta train would make stops in Greenville, South Carolina, and Athens, Georgia.
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Amtrak, INDOT still negotiating the future of Indiana's passenger rail
Purdue Exponent
For months, Amtrak, along with other possible competitors, has been in negotiations with Indiana's Department of Transportation concerning the continued operation of the Hoosier State Line past the current deadline of Jan. 31, 2015. One of the main competitors that was posed to replace Amtrak, Corridor Capital, is now out of negotiations with INDOT and will not be replacing Amtrak. Hopes for the future of Indiana's train line now seem to lie with the proposed partnership between Amtrak and Iowa Pacific.
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PANYNJ approves study for proposed PATH extension to Newark airport
Progressive Railroading
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey awarded a three-year, $6 million contract to HNTB Corp. to study a proposed extension of the PATH rail line to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. The authority estimates the project would cost about $1.5 billion and would take five years to complete. Construction is tentatively slated to begin in 2018, according to a PANYNJ press release. The study would result in a more precise cost estimate for the project after examining various technical and compliance issues, authority officials said.
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Texas high-speed rail plan to Dallas leaves The Woodlands stranded
Dallas Business Journal
Plans for the high-speed rail from Dallas to Houston appear to be moving forward, but proposed routes have The Woodlands feeling a little left out. The routes under consideration through an environmental impact study have the Texas Central High-Speed Railway on a path to Houston from either State Highway 249 or U.S. Highway 290, intersecting with the Interstate 610 loop, and then ending inside the city. That, obviously, does not allow for a stop at The Woodlands, one of Houston's fastest-growing areas.
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DIA must pay $45.2 million for last stretch of RTD's East Rail Line
The Denver Post
A multimillion-dollar contract dispute between Denver International Airport and the Regional Transportation District ended after a Denver judge ruled the airport must pay the bulk of the $53 million needed to bring passenger trains to the terminal. The dispute centers on the last stretch of RTD's East Rail Line, which ends at the airport. DIA and RTD clashed when deciding who should pay how much for construction work, including excavation, roads, bridges, walls and doubling the length of the station platform to 800 feet.
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That winning bid for California's high-speed rail: Is it suspiciously low?
The Atlantic
The two bright spots were that reelected Governor Jerry Brown will spend the first full day of his fourth and final term at a groundbreaking ceremony in Fresno for the first leg of the system, indicating both that the project is getting going and that he remains committed to it; and that the winning bid for construction of the second leg had come in substantially under estimates. The high-speed rail authority's estimate had been $1.5 billion to $2 billion for this leg. The winning bid was $1.2 billion.
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Poland launches 1st high-speed train
Press TV
Poland's first high-speed train service has been launched, with a tilting train manufactured by France's company, Alstom. Constructed in the Italian commune of Savigliano, the Intercity Premium train reached the capital Warsaw station two hours and 32 minutes after leaving the city of Krakow. It has reduced the travel time between the two polish cities by half an hour. Poland ordered 20 of Alstom's Pendolino tilting trains three years ago. The order was part of a contract that also includes the building of a repair workshop in Warsaw.
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