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N.Y. bullet train study boosted

(The following article by Warren Woodberry Jr. was posted on the New York Daily News website on July 13.)

NEW YORK -- A second Queens state senator has been appointed to a task force examining the feasibility of linking New York's big cities with high-speed rail service.

State Sen. John Sabini (D,WFP-Jackson Heights) has been named to the state Senate task force on high-speed rail.

Sabini, along with the other members of the panel, will study the best way to link New York State's cities with modern high-speed trains, like those in Europe and Asia.

As a member of the task force, Sabini will review a $5 million feasibility study, currently underway, at the end of this year, and consider its findings while working on next year's state budget.

The study will focus on two main routes: one linking Buffalo and New York City, and another linking Montreal, Albany and New York City.

"Many countries around the world and many other states here in America have recognized the importance of high-speed rail and have committed resources to develop the necessary infrastructure," said Sabini. "The rising cost of gasoline and limited air service to upstate markets makes it very clear New York can't afford to be left behind."

Amtrak's Acela Express, the U.S. version of high-speed rail service, can reach a top speed of 150 mph, a far cry from the top speed of Japan's 275 mph Shinkansen, or even the Chunnel train, which whisks travelers between Paris and London at speeds up to 186 mph.

There "was an attempt ... a number of years ago by the Pataki administration, and it sort of fell on its face because of a lack of federal funding," Sabini said. "There's got to be a federal commitment to this."

This summer, most of Amtrak's high-speed Acela Express trains will be out of service because of delays in getting replacement parts to correct brake problems.

"I rode it; it was pretty good," the senator said of the Acela. "They're supposed to be working on it now and be back on target in the fall. The fact that Amtrak fumbled on that one should be all the more reason we should try to do it right in the New York corridor."

A ranking member of the Senate Transportation Committee and a longtime advocate for mass transit, Sabini was appointed as a transportation expert with extensive transportation experience, according to Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

Sabini, who also sits on the Environmental Conservation Committee, is joined on the task force by fellow Queens state Sen. Frank Padavan (R,C-Queens Village).

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

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