7061 East Pleasant Valley Road, Independence, Ohio 44131 • (216) 241-2630 / Fax: (216) 241-6516

Membership
Benefits
News and Issues
Departments
Information
Secretary-Treasurer
Merchandise
Communications
FELA
Events
Links
User Info

Editorial: Faster trains, for real

(The following editorial appeared on the Philadelphia Inquirer website on September 30, 2010.)

PHILADELPHIA — The ambitious plan unveiled Tuesday by Amtrak for true high-speed service along the Northeast Corridor has something going for it that no other U.S. rail project can boast: millions of riders already lined up to buy train tickets.

As the nation’s busiest rail corridor, the route from Boston to Washington, through Philadelphia, has a built-in base of customers. In the event that Amtrak realizes its vision for superfast service, the demand for faster trains in the Northeast seems almost assured - even if the fares, as expected, will not be cheap.

Beyond the pull of tradition, the Northeast is a critical region that faces travel gridlock on the ground along I-95 and, increasingly, in the air. Plans for upgrades to the decades-old interstate can only do so much by way of alleviating congestion. Backups at airports in the Northeast also ripple across the country, as connecting flights are delayed.

As the region’s population grows - and with the need to fight smog and reduce dependence on foreign oil - it makes sense to maximize use of Amtrak’s network not merely to boost the region, but as a national priority.

With talk of a 38-minute trip from Center City to New York - or halving the time to travel the entire 426 miles from Boston to Washington - the proposed high-speed rail route along new tracks would indeed revolutionize mass transit across the Northeast.

On the jobs front, thousands of people would be needed to construct such a massive public-works project. Amtrak officials also calculate that the long-term economic boost to the region would mean 120,000 new permanent jobs.

No wonder a key congressman, reacting to Amtrak’s announcement at a presentation in Philadelphia, talked of the "critical need for true high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor."

U.S. Rep. John Mica (R., Fla.), minority leader of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called for moving ahead with planning for the $117 billion initiative as quickly as possible.

Until now, President Obama’s high-speed rail efforts have been focused on 10 other corridors with the potential to be transformed by fast train travel. One is a link between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which probably bears closer scrutiny to determine if it’s actually viable.

But while high-speed projects being planned from scratch - such as a route to Orlando, Fla. - may prove feasible, the Northeast Corridor would appear to be an assured investment.

Can the nation afford it, and will high-speed rail be cost-effective? Certainly, there is a great deal of work yet to be done on plans to pay for high-speed rail lines, including possible public-private schemes. But it’s appropriate to view the launch of high-speed rail as the equivalent of the nation’s push in the 1950s to build the interstate highway system and develop air travel.

The federal government has spent more than $450 billion and $200 billion on highways and aviation, respectively, over the last three decades. It’s time to invest wisely in the rail system, and there’s no better place to begin than in the Northeast.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Like us on Facebook at
Facebook.com/BLETNational

Sign up for BLET News Flash Alerts

© 1997-2019 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen

 


Decertification Helpline
(216) 694-0240

Sign up for BLET
News Flash Alerts

DAILY HEADLINES

AAR reports rail traffic for week ending Feb. 9, 2019
DOT issues final rule requiring railroads to develop oil spill response plans
Many companies, including Union Pacific, get waivers for steel tariffs amid tough trade talk
NJ Transit claims “legal precedent” shields it from federal safety lawsuits; Unions seek to set the record straight
Single mom with breast cancer speaks about struggles after being laid off by Union Pacific
California high-speed rail’s Central Valley segment is not stranded
BNSF bumps up spending on expansion projects this year as intermodal business grows
DOT-105 rail tank car safety the focus of 5 NTSB safety recommendations
Rail expansion through Port of Vancouver aimed at hiking imports from Asia
Amtrak, NJ Transit reach joint infrastructure spending deal
Metra seeking $5 billion from state to modernize “oldest passenger fleet in the country”
BRS announces Elvey elected Vice President of NRAB
Man convicted in Chicago gun case tied to NS train theft
Q&A: RRB reports performance under customer service plan
Get the latest labor news from the Teamsters

More Headlines