This is why the US still doesn’t have high-speed trains

The FRA should never have been asked to oversee the project, said Thomas Hart Jr, president of the pro-rail consulting group Rail Forward. It was inexperienced, needlessly bureaucratic, and had “neither the experience, the staff, nor the regulations” in place to make high-speed rail work. To Hart’s mind, the largest problems were strategic: The FRA “tried to do too much with too little” by spreading the money across the nation rather than targeting the best possible projects, while simultaneously shutting out small or minority-owned businesses. He also believes the federal government made a fatal misstep in allowing Amtrak to run the projects, rather than opening it up to more experienced foreign competitors. 

…“The question really is, for us as an industry and as a company, in being pragmatic,” he said. All over the country, there are underserved segments of around 300 miles which are ripe for high-quality rail, he added. “We don’t even need to spend money on necessarily expensive high-speed trains—just getting what we have today working well at a hundred miles an hour, which is very feasible, is really viable.” 

Europe might have some of the world’s best high-speed rail, but it also had a great network of slower, 80-mile-per-hour trains, said Harris. “We should aspire to that first. We can deliver that and make a lot of people happy, without spending $100 million.”

This is why the US still doesn’t have high-speed trains — Quartz


Rail or trail? Topsham-Augusta trail proposal could derail the potential future return of passenger train service to Augusta, rail advocates warn.

Advocates for restoring passenger train service to Augusta — and potentially beyond to Waterville and Bangor — fear the Merrymeeting Trail proposal could squash any hopes they have of rail service returning to that corridor. 

…Richard Rudolph and Jack Sutton, directors of the Maine Rail Group, said once the rail corridor is converted to a trail, rail service will never return, due to the difficulty of both restoring the rails and reclaiming the space from those who would be using it as a trail. 

…“There are plenty of places to walk or bike, there aren’t that many places to run a train,” he said. “Common sense will tell you if we lose that rail to a bike or walking trail, it’s not going to be returned.” 

Dale McCormick, a former city councilor, said she loves the Rail Trail and loves the Merrymeeting Trail proposal, but not if it prevents the future development of rail service in Augusta. 

McCormick said if gas prices increase again, rail travel would be more feasible because of its energy efficiency and more popular with passengers. There should be a way to do both the trail project and protect the future of rail, she said. 

Rail or trail? Topsham-Augusta trail proposal could derail the potential future return of passenger train service to Augusta, rail advocates warn. – Portland Press Herald


Amtrak Wanted 2 Wheelchair Users To Pay $25,000 For A Train Ride

A group from his office is headed to Bloomington next Wednesday for a work retreat.

There are 10 of them, and five — including Ballard — use wheelchairs. Their train has three cars. Each car has one space for a wheelchair. That makes three spaces for five people in wheelchairs. In the past, when Access Living gave advance notice that it was sending a large group, Amtrak took out more seats to fit more wheelchairs. Once, it took out seats in the dining car and charged a few hundred dollars extra.

…”The cost is correct,” the agent wrote, citing a new policy for taking out those seats. The agent explained that it’s expensive to take out extra seats and that it means taking a car out of service.

…The ADA, which became law 30 years ago this year, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in jobs, schools, public places and transportation — including trains. It requires companies like Amtrak to make “reasonable accommodations” so that people with disabilities have comparable access to transportation as do people without disabilities.

…”The Americans with Disabilities Act has been the law of the land for 30 years,” she said. “Yet in 2020, @Amtrak believes it would be an unreasonable burden to remove architectural barriers that would enable a group with five wheelchair users to travel together.”

Amtrak Wanted 2 Wheelchair Users To Pay $25,000 For A Train Ride : NPR


TSA apologizes to Native American traveler following ‘unacceptable behavior’ at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

“TSA holds its employees to the highest standards of professional conduct and any type of improper behavior is taken seriously,” the statement continued.

TSA apologizes to Native American traveler following ‘unacceptable behavior’ at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport – The Washington Post

Their apology is weak. Anything other than firing the employee in question means the TSA doesn’t take this behavior very seriously at all and is willing to accept it from their employees.


NAACP’s Sherrilyn Ifill was asked by Amtrak conductor to give up her (unassigned) seat for other passengers

“I’m being asked to leave my seat on train 80 which I just boarded in D.C. There are no assigned seats on this train,” Ifill shared on Twitter Friday, directing her query at Amtrak’s account. “The conductor has asked me to leave my seat because she has ‘other people coming who she wants to give this seat.’ Can you please explain?”

…“What really disturbs me is how someone with this authority can just entirely make up something so ridiculous and approach a customer in this way,” Ifill wrote.

NAACP’s Sherrilyn Ifill says Amtrak conductor asked her to give up her seat for other passengers – The Washington Post

Enough with the “says” headlines, WaPo. By apologizing Amtrak has acknowledged this happened. It’s not alleged. It happened. Stop being such racist/hater apologists and play-acting at being unbiased and start asserting facts when they come up you spineless, corporate hacks.

Also, if Amtrack responds by doing anything other than firing the employee at question they are prioritizing their HR(PR!) practices over not tolerating blatant discrimination. shielding their employee is supporting their action. Name, shame, and terminate or be 100% culpable in overtly bigoted and illegal discrimination.