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passenger rail

May 4, 2009 - 4:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, passenger rail.

If a high speed rail system is built between Albany and Buffalo as part of President Obama's transportation stimulus package, don't expect a stop in Batavia, according to Tim Hens, county highway superintended.

"They won't stop for us now, so I can't image they will stop for us at double the speed," Hens said.

Hens said its his understanding that the high-speed line will only stop at major cities.

There hasn't been a rail stop in Batavia -- which was part of history when Lincoln's train stopped here -- in his lifetime, which means for at least 35 or 40 years, Hens said.

There currently is an Amtrak route that heads east from Buffalo and the trip to Albany can take seven hours or longer, Hens noted, with stops to yield right-of-way to cargo trains and whether being two factors that can increase the length of the trip.

"You can drive a car there in half the time," Hens said.

Hens advocates a new dedicated line for a high-speed rail, but that would entail a great deal more expense, including new passenger stations and switches. The only place to build a rail without acquiring new right-of-way is along the path of the Thruway, but the Thruway Authority, he noted, has it's own agenda, which includes collecting tolls from drivers who might opt for rail over car travel if it were available.

While a rail stop in Batavia could be beneficial to the city, Hens said, it's just too close to both Buffalo and Rochester to efficiently run a train between spots so close together.

"You would get up to speed about half way from Buffalo and need to slow down to stop in Batavia," he said.

March 5, 2009 - 7:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Chris Lee, passenger rail.

Following the news that the prospects of funding for a high-speed passenger rail line between Albany and Buffalo seem good, I sent an e-mail to Congressman Chris Lee's office asking for a fuller statement about the project.

I asked specifically if Lee would work to ensure Batavia had a train station along the route.

Spokeswoman Andrea Bozek wrote back, "Chris is certainly reviewing Batavia's infrastructural capacity as part of this effort."

She also sent along this statement from Congressman Lee:

High-speed rail presents a great opportunity for advancing the long-term economic development of Western New York. Yesterday (ed. now day before yesterday), we had an excellent meeting between members of the upstate congressional delegation and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. We came to a consensus on the need to move this project forward with the goal to use the existing rail corridor and hit initial top speeds of 110 miles per hour. That will cut two hours off of current travel times. Transportation experts who have analyzed the plan believe the first segment of service can be open in two-to-three years, with its full opening in three-to-five years. The delegation will continue to closely work with the Secretary and New York state transportation officials as the planning turns to stops along the corridor.

March 4, 2009 - 7:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in passenger rail, transportation.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is cited in the Buffalo News as saying the Obama Administration will give serious consideration to construction of a high-speed rail line connecting Buffalo and Albany.

The project could be part of an $8 billion stimulus bill set-aside to modernize passenger rail systems.

“This is a very bipartisan effort that includes a project that represents 60 percent of the state,” LaHood said after a meeting with the state’s upstate congressional delegation. “This part of the state is hurting, and obviously this would be an economic engine, and we obviously will take all of that into consideration.”


Several members of the upstate caucus attended the meeting, including two Republicans: Rep. Chris Lee, R-Clarence, and Rep. John McHugh, R-Watertown.

“We are getting nice bipartisan support here, and the secretary seems to be on board with it,” Lee said.

What Batavians need to be concerned about is whether Batavia is a stop along the route.

March 3, 2009 - 12:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, poll, passenger rail.

Douglas Tuner of the Buffalo News speculates that Western New York could be ideally suited for to receive stimulus funds to build a passenger rail system between Buffalo and Albany (hat tip, Dan Jones for the link).

In one month, Obama has proposed sending $13 billion into the cause. And if Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, has her way, upstate New York should get a good share of it.

Slaughter’s goal is what aides call “a third track” dedicated to passenger rail running 300 miles from Buffalo-Niagara to Albany along the current CSX right of way.

The economic stimulus plan contains $8 billion for engineering, tracks, passenger cars and other infrastructure for intercity rail. This money should be spent in the next three to four years.

Last week, Obama proposed spending an additional $5 billion for high-speed passenger rail in his 2010 federal budget outline.

I don't know my CSX right of ways, but this seems like Batavia would be on the rail line.

That would be good news for commuters who live in Batavia and work in either Buffalo or Rochester, it seems.

It might even encourage more people to call Batavia or the surrounding rural communities home.

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