November 27, 2015

Rail passenger groups seeks federal aid

The National Association of Railroad Passengers, the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, Californians for High Speed Rail, and the Midwest High Speed Rail Association are urging Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to support XpressWest’s creation of a Los Angeles to Las Vegas high-speed rail line. XpressWest currently has loan application pending with the Federal Railroad [...]

Szabo: Rail investment spurs manufacturers

The following message was sent to the UTU National Legislative Office from Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo: In his State of the Union Address last week, President Obama spoke about the importance of investing in our infrastructure as a path to create new jobs and lay a foundation for America’s economic success. In the last [...]

High-speed rail in Calif., Northeast moving forward

High-speed rail has been given an energy-boosting vitamin B-12 shot by the California legislature and Amtrak for separate projects on the West and East Coasts. In California, the legislature agreed to spend $6 billion to build the first 130-mile leg of a 520-mile high-speed line – with an estimated cost of some $68 billion — that eventually [...]

Passenger rail essential as population grows


By Joe Szabo – Federal Railroad Administrator It seems like just yesterday, as UTU Illinois state legislative director and mayor of Riverdale, Ill., that I joined other mayors to successfully advocate for more frequent rail service from Chicago to downstate Illinois communities.  At the time, even that modest goal seemed daunting, as conventional wisdom said Americans [...]

Toward 150-mph Midwest rail passenger service


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – UTU Missouri State Legislative Director Ken Menges is halfway toward a goal of creating a public rail commission to study means of expanding and financing improved multi-modal passenger transportation in his state and throughout the Midwest, with an emphasis on creating a track network capable of supporting 150-mph rail passenger service. In [...]

Patience, persistence will ensure HSR


In 2008, California voters authorized a $9.95 billion bond measure as a down-payment for a high-speed rail project linking the Sacramento (in northern California), the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles. The projected $98 billion route subsequently won $3.3 billion in federal grants.  But with California in the midst of a severe budget shortfall, [...]

Door reopened slightly on high-speed rail funding

Amtrak Logo

WASHINGTON – Just when federal funding for high-speed rail appeared dead as a rusted rail spike, Senate Democratic Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois exercised his clout and reopened the door – if only slightly. On Sept. 20, the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee voted to zero-out all federal funds for high-speed rail. Coming on the heels [...]

UTU to congressional audience: ‘HSR is jobs machine’

Risch, John; John Risch

Risch WASHINGTON — New jobs building and operating high-speed rail “are American jobs that can’t be shipped overseas and would be a Godsend in this economic downturn,” UTU Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch told a congressionally sponsored forum here Aug. 3. “Railroad operating jobs are not just good paying jobs; they are great careers,” [...]

House bill would slash Amtrak, transit funding

WASHINGTON – The Republican leadership of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will introduce legislation July 8 to slash Amtrak’s federal subsidy by 25 percent, prevent federal funds from being used to create additional rail passenger services unless they are high-speed projects, and cut federal transit funding by 30 percent. Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), and [...]

Safety a victim in China’s high-speed rail effort

China’s effort to lead the world in high-speed rail development appears to be moving forward at the expense of safety, reports The Washington Post. The Chinese government, reports the newspaper, has ordered all high-speed trains to reduce their top speed from some 220 mph to 186 mph, calling safety concerns of those trains “severe.” Reportedly, [...]