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Bullet train could stop in Manchester, Tenn.

(The Manchester Times posted the following story by Chip Ramsey on its website on January 15.)

MANCHESTER, Tenn. -- Imagine hoping on a train and being in downtown Nashville in under 30 minutes.

Though it sounds like a futuristic fantasy, Manchester could be home to a major depot along a proposed high-speed passenger train route that will link the Tennessee capital and Atlanta.

Georgia and Tennessee are seeking federal funding approval for an Atlanta-Chattanooga-Nashville extension of the previously approved Southeast High Speed Rail (HSR) Corridor.

The trains would whisk nearly 400,000 passengers along the line at speeds up to 150 mph along interstates 24 and 75.

Manchester could be a stopping point along the way prompting obvious excitement among local officials who hope to secure the deal within the next few years.

"We really hope this works out," said Manchester Mayor Johnnie Brown. "This would be a major economic boost to the area if it goes through."

No locations in Coffee County have been targeted for the depot, but Brown says that the City of Manchester is actively pursuing an application to be a part of the line.

Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina have also sought funding for high speed rail lines within their borders.

While the Federal Railroad Administration is dragging its feet on the proposal, several members of Congress, including Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist see the need for such a project.

The recently published American Railroad Revitalization, Investment and Enhancement Act of the 21st Century, however, provides a central federal role in the development of the project.

Gov. Phil Bredesen, in a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said that "the fast growing suburban areas and smaller towns such as Marietta, Ga., and Murfreesboro, Tenn. would also benefit from direct high-speed rail connections to both larger cities and their hub airports."

The line would stop at Hart Field in Atlanta, Nashville International Airport and Lovell Field in Chattanooga.

State and local funding would be required for the project, but until federal money is actually committed, the cost for Tennessee and affected communities is uncertain.

CSX Transportation, and engineering firms STV and Arcadias are involved in the development for the rail line.

It is estimated that 1.67 million annual automobile trips will be diverted when the project is complete.

The trains would be designed after the famous bullet trains of Europe and Japan.

Friday, January 16, 2004

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