WASHINGTON – As Amtrak launches a new era of rail, advancing infrastructure improvements on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) remains a key priority. This summer, annual track improvement work continues as part of a long-term effort to ensure the railroad operates at a level of peak performance. While this work may result in occasional temporary inconveniences, the long-term customer benefits are many, including increased reliability and improved on time performance.
“Updating railroad infrastructure is a fundamental component of our plan to deliver a new era of rail by modernizing the Amtrak fleet, building new bridges and tunnels, revitalizing stations and redefining the customer experience for the modern era,” said Amtrak Executive Vice President, Capital Delivery Laura Mason. “We’re grateful to our partners for their cooperation and flexibility as we advance these critical projects to achieve a state of good repair and enhance the overall Amtrak customer experience.”
It’s important to note that Amtrak customers traveling on the Northeast Corridor through September 30 may experience minor delays in various locations throughout the New England and Mid-Atlantic Regions this summer as a result of this track work.
Amtrak has committed approximately $130 million for rail improvements, of which over $124 million will be invested this summer.
This investment is made possible by:
- Amtrak grants and other federal programs
- State and local contributions
- Amtrak revenue
Specifics of the work include:
- Replacing 40 track switches throughout New York and Mid-Atlantic regions
- Updating 25 miles of track in the Mid-Atlantic Region
- Completing over one million feet of surfacing work across the entire NEC for high-speed rail
Newly adjusted train schedules account for this work and avoid conflicts with commuter agencies; however, customers may experience minor delays. For each project, Amtrak crews are working overnight to further minimize impacts to customers.
In addition, customers should be aware that high temperatures in the upcoming warmer summer months can also impact Amtrak operations. Extreme heat can cause rail, bridge and overhead wires to expand. As a safety measure, Amtrak enacts temporary heat restrictions as needed. These restrictions require locomotive engineers to operate trains at lower speeds than under normal operating conditions.
The Flawed Perspective on High-Speed Rail in the United States
High-speed rail: Overcoming obstacles, embracing benefits
In a recent article titled “Why High-Speed Bullet Trains Won’t Work in the U.S. Right Now,” published in Scientific American, the author presents a pessimistic view on the feasibility of high-speed rail in the United States. While the article highlights the need for significant infrastructure upgrades, it fails to acknowledge the potential benefits and long-term value of investing in high-speed rail. This article aims to address the flaws in the argument presented and shed light on the importance of embracing high-speed rail as a transformative transportation solution.
Outdated Infrastructure and its Implications:
The article correctly points out that the existing rail infrastructure in the United States is not designed to handle high-speed trains. The tracks, bridges, tunnels, and power lines were built over a century ago for slower commuter and freight services. However, this observation overlooks the fact that high-speed rail requires dedicated tracks designed for faster speeds, similar to those found in many European and Asian countries.
The Need for Investment and Modernization:
To bring high-speed rail to the United States, significant investments are required to upgrade the aging infrastructure. President Joe Biden has recognized the importance of high-speed rail and has included it as one of the key initiatives to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. While the article highlights the financial challenges involved, it fails to acknowledge the long-term environmental and economic benefits that high-speed rail can bring.
Obstacles to Overcome:
The article outlines four key obstacles that complicate the implementation of high-speed rail in the United States. These include the need for track improvements, adherence to Buy America policies, a lack of domestic rail industry, and the need for adequate funding. While these challenges are indeed significant, they should not discourage the pursuit of high-speed rail. Instead, they should serve as opportunities to address and overcome these obstacles collectively.
Benefits of High-Speed Rail:
High-speed rail offers numerous advantages that can revolutionize transportation in the United States. It provides a greener alternative to driving and flying, reducing carbon emissions and alleviating congestion on highways and in airports. Additionally, high-speed rail enhances accessibility, connecting cities and regions more efficiently, boosting tourism, and stimulating economic growth along the rail corridors.
The Path Forward:
Despite the current limitations, progress is being made in bringing high-speed rail to the United States. Amtrak has plans to introduce new high-speed rail cars on the Northeast Corridor, albeit with speed restrictions due to the outdated infrastructure. The expansion of tracks capable of accommodating high-speed trains is also underway, with a goal of reaching speeds up to 160 mph on 100 additional miles of track in the next 12 years.
While the Scientific American article highlights the challenges and limitations associated with implementing high-speed rail in the United States, it fails to recognize its transformative potential and the long-term benefits it can bring. While significant investments and infrastructure upgrades are necessary, embracing high-speed rail presents an opportunity to revolutionize transportation, reduce carbon emissions, enhance connectivity, and spur economic development. By acknowledging the importance of high-speed rail and working collectively to overcome the obstacles, the United States can pave the way for a more sustainable and efficient transportation future.
Give feedback on proposed transit option for West Phoenix
Residents asked to weigh in on proposed transit type and route for West Phoenix. Public meetings held virtually on Sep. 21 and in person Sept. 27
Phoenix – Valley Metro and the city of Phoenix are seeking community feedback on the recommendation for the West Phoenix High-Capacity Transit Alternatives Analysis. The comprehensive study, initiated in fall 2022, seeks to identify a high-capacity transit option for West Phoenix residents.
The project team will host two public meetings and have an open public comment period to gather input on the recommended transit route and mode for West Phoenix, noted below.
Meetings will be held on the following dates:
Thursday, September 21, 2023 (virtual)
Join online at valley-metro.webex.com
Wednesday, September 27, 2023 (in person)
Desert West Community Center
6501 W. Virginia Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85035
The recommendation is for light rail transit on the route highlighted below:
Both meetings will provide identical presentation materials and be available in English and Spanish. View digital flyer with more information here.
Source: Valley Metro
Amtrak’s Case for Immediate Union Station Takeover: A Turning Point in Pursuit of Modernization
“Amtrak’s urgent court case for Union Station takeover: A pivotal moment for modernization efforts.”
Amtrak made a compelling case in court for the immediate takeover of Union Station in Washington, D.C. The company argued that seizing control of the station’s leasing rights from Union Station Investco (USI), a private company, is necessary to modernize the nation’s second-busiest intercity train hub. The hearing, presided over by Judge Amit P. Mehta, highlighted the growing tension between Amtrak and USI in recent months.
Amtrak had been engaged in settlement discussions with USI but reached an impasse after multiple meetings failed to produce a mutually agreeable purchase price. With increasing vacancies and a decline in ridership at Union Station, Amtrak sees the takeover as a crucial step towards revitalizing the transit hub.
The case represents a turning point in Amtrak’s efforts to assume control over the station’s operations and management, enabling them to pursue multibillion-dollar investments. Union Station is set to undergo a significant makeover in the coming decades, and Amtrak aims to play a central role in its transformation.
As the court proceedings continue, we eagerly await updates on this story. Amtrak’s pursuit of Union Station marks an important development in the future of intercity rail travel and the revitalization of one of the nation’s key transportation hubs. Stay tuned for further developments as this situation unfolds.
To learn more about this story, please read: https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2023/09/11/amtrak-eminent-domain-union-station-dc/
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