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high-speed rail

January 18, 2012 - 10:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in high-speed rail, Charles Schumer, bergen.

Calling high-speed rail "21st Century technology," Sen. Charles Schumer stopped in Bergen on Tuesday to try and prod CSX to make way for a new passenger rail line that would connect Bergen and Chili.

The $58 million demonstration track, Schumer hopes, would lead to perhaps more than $1.5 billion in funding to build a high-speed rail line from Buffalo to New York City.

CSX, Schumer said, is standing in the way of progress by not providing access to the right of way of its current lines.

Meanwhile, the federal government -- it won't cost New York taxpayers anything, Schumer said -- has buckets of money to spend on high-speed rail, and if New York doesn't grab the money, some other state will.

CSX is hampering New York's rightful claim to the money, according to the senator.

"High-speed rail has been shown to work in other countries," Schumer said. "It will work in Upstate New York. It will create jobs and bring companies to Upstate New York."

Upstate, Schumer said, is a lot like Europe.

"We’re a little more closer to Europe where it has worked," Schumer said. "The distance between the French and German cities and the distance between our cities, and the difference in population of the French and German cities and our cities are very similar."

He spoke several times about the benefits to Rochester and Buffalo of high-speed rail, but while standing in Genesee County, he made no mention of how high speed might benefit the local economy.

In an era when business executives can, as a practical matter, get from Buffalo to Manhatten in nano seconds, Schumer said high-speed rail is a business necessity.

"High-speed rail is 21st Century technology," Schumer said. "Just figure out if you have to get from Midtown New York to Midtown Buffalo or Midtown Rochester, you can go 200 mph in a train – it takes an hour to get from downtown New York City to the airport, then you’ve got to wait for the plane. Yes, the actual plane flight is faster, but when you look at it, rail is faster and easier."

Bergen Mayor Ralph Marsocci expressed concern about a 200 mph training passing through his village and Schumer said that is certainly one of the issues that would need to be addressed.

After a round of skeptical questions by reporters and even one or two of the local business leaders in attendance, Schumer said, “We can hear people say ‘No, no, no' and the same people said ‘No, no, no’ to the Erie Canal. Transportion has always been a linchpin of our economy in Upstate New York. Building good strong transportation makes a great deal of sense."

Below, a photo of a sign hung on a building near where Schumer spoke Tuesday. It reads "Choo Choo Chuck / The Track to Nowere (sic)."  

Bottom two pictures, gratuitous photos of trains that passed while the media was waiting for "Choo Choo Chuck" to arrive.

As one of the trains approached during Schumer's remarks, Schumer recalled, as he leaned out from the podium to watch the approaching train, that when he was a child his family couldn't afford nice vacations, so they went to this cabin that was right next to a rail. His parents hated it, he said, "but when I was 5 I used to love to stand there and watch the trains go by."

May 8, 2010 - 10:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron, transportation, high-speed rail.

When New York reached an agreement with CSX for a high-speed rail line from Albany to Buffalo, it signed off on two provisions officials now seem to regret, according to the Buffalo News.

Rather than a rail line with trains reaching top speeds of 110 mph, the state's agreement only calls for speeds of 90 mph.

Also, the state agreed to a 30-foot gap between rail line along the CSX right-of-way.

The problem is, there are portions of the right-of-way that aren't even 30-feet wide, which means property will need to be bought (or seized through eminent domain) or overpasses will need to be reconstructed.

The resulting dispute between the state and CSX threatens to derail the entire upstate high-speed rail project — but to prevent that, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Friday assigned a top federal rail official to try to resolve the issue.

“I promised Congresswoman Slaughter that FRA Deputy Administrator Karen Rae will work with the state and do whatever it takes to make high-speed rail happen for New York,” LaHood said after the meeting.

Slaughter, meanwhile, said she was thrilled that Rae — who was the state’s top rail official before moving to Washington — would be devoted full time to resolving the disagreement.

The rail line will pass through Genesee County, with a demonstration project already funded for a line between Byron and Riga.

November 24, 2009 - 12:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in new york, high-speed rail.

railtrain.jpgA group of Western and Central New York lawmakers continued to push yesterday for up to $4.7 billion in federal aid to construct a high-speed rail system across the state.

The proposed rail system would connect Niagara Falls and New York City.  Moving at 110 mph, it would cut travel time from Buffalo to Albany by nearly two hours.

The rail system would likely bypass Batavia.

Reps. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, and Dan Maffei, D-DeWitt are among those pushing to get the project funded.  Maffei called it "the Erie Canel of the 21st Century."  Slaughter said the track could be laid along an unused CSX line.

The competition is stiff for the announced $8 billion in funding.  California is also seeking $4.7 billion to fund part of its proposed $45 billion project.  Florida and Texas are also seeking funding.

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