Posts Tagged ‘High-speed rail’

Texas Central Expects 2019 Groundbreaking

December 5, 2018

A Texas intercity rail firm expects to break ground late in 2019 for a route between Dallas and Houston.

Texas Central said the equipment to be used on the route is likely be an N700I model train, which is a modified version of the N700 bullet train that Central Japan Railways operates.

The letter T in the model designation denotes international use and intention for export.

The N700I is thought to be similar to the recently-released N700S, which is lighter and more efficient than the original N700.

However, the Texas trains will be eight cars rather than 16.

Texas Central plans to seek funding once its proposal has been approved by the Federal Railroad Administration.

It has said it already has plans to acquire a third of the property it needs and is in negotiations to obtain the remaining land that it needs.

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FRA Issues New High-Speed Rail Rules

November 26, 2018

A final rule recent issued by the Federal Railroad Administration is expected to enable high-speed passenger trains to use existing railroad infrastructure.

The agency described the rule as seeking to promote safe and efficient operation of high-speed rail while also alleviating the cost of building new rail lines.

Under the rule, Tier III passenger trains can operate over the shared track at conventional speeds and as fast as 220 mph in areas with exclusive rights of way and without grade crossings.

The rule establishes minimum safety standards for Tier III trains, focusing on core, structural and critical system design criteria.

In a news release FRA officials said the rule will improve safety because of expected improvements made by the railroads to accommodate the operation of high-speed rail equipment in shared rights of way.

It is also expected to save more than $475 million in net regulatory costs.

“These new regulations were made possible by a wealth of FRA research, reinforcing our unwavering commitment to safety,” said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory. “FRA’s safety experts solicited input from industry stakeholders at numerous levels and took those ideas to develop standards supporting a new era in public transportation.”

Previous federal regulation gave U.S. rail companies limited procurement options or forced them to seek waivers from regulations to use newer technologies.

The FRA continues to define Tier I trains as those operating in shared rights-of-way at speeds up to 125 mph.

It also allows “state-of-the-art” alternative designs for equipment operating at those conventional speeds. Tier II trains are defined as those traveling 125-160 mph, an increase from the previous 150 mph limit.

Texas Central Taps Renfe

October 11, 2018

Spanish company Renfe has been chosen to help operate a Texas high-speed rail service under development.

Texas Central said it has established a partnership with Renfe to operate the proposed service between Dallas and Houston.

Renfe will provide technical advice on design and construction and help Texas Central with operation and maintenance plans.

Another Spanish company, Adif, will help Renfe maintain equipment and signals, and oversee ticketing.

Renfe operates 5,000 trains daily on 7,500 miles of track in Spain.

Money Pledged to Washington State High-Speed Rail Study

July 30, 2018

Three entities have pledged $750,000 toward paying for a study of high-speed rail service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.

They are the province of British Columbia, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Microsoft Corporation.

That funding would be in addition to $750,000 that the Washington State Department of Transportation is providing for the study, which seeks to expand upon a 2017 preliminary analysis of prospects for a 250 mph high-speed rail system in the Pacific Northwest.

The newest study will be an “in-depth business case evaluation that WSDOT will undertake over the next year,” the department officials said in a news release.

The goal of the service would be to provide one-hour trips between Seattle and Vancouver as well as promote economic growth in the region and encourage “greater collaboration, deeper economic ties and balanced growth for years to come.”

Sleek Acela

May 15, 2018

Amtrak’s Acela Express equipment doesn’t look anything like what used to operate in the Northeast Corridor.

That is by design. Acela more closely resembles the sleek, streamlined look of European or Japanese high-speed trains than it does the boxy Metroliner of the 1960s and beyond.

The equipment used in Acela service is not, relatively speaking, all that old.

Already Amtrak has plans to replace it and the trainset seen above cruising through the Newark Liberty International Airport station is slated to be replaced by early 2023.

Such are the priorities for Amtrak’s top “glamour” train in its most important corridor in terms of traffic.

FRA Releases Texas High-Speed Report

January 8, 2018

After a four-year process, the Federal Railroad Administration issued a draft environmental impact statement that identifies a preferred route for a Dallas-Houston high-speed rail line.

The line would be developed by Texas Central Partners, which will now be able to begin the process of land acquisition for construction of the line.

The proposed service would link the two cities in less than 90 minutes with trains traveling at better than 200 mph.

“This is the biggest milestone to date that we’ve crossed so far,” said Tim Keith, president of Texas Central Partners.

A public comment period on the draft statement period is open through February 20, 2018.

Comments received will be processed by the FRA before it releases a final environmental impact statement.

Negative comments are expected to be made pertaining to land acquisition, environmental health, and that Houston’s station would be too far north of the city for some.

HSR Could Draw 1.8M to Seattle Route, Consultant Says

November 7, 2017

A study has determined that high-speed rail service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, could draw 1.8 million passengers in a few years.

Trains traveling between the two cities at 250 mph could make the trip in less than an hour.

Amtrak’s Cascades between those cities have a four-hour travel time.

The cost of implementing high-speed rail service is expected to be contained within the final final report when it is issued in December.

Washington state has budgeted $350,000 to study potential alignment, ridership, technology, costs and economic benefits of a high-speed rail line.

MHSRA Seeks Phased Network Approach

September 12, 2017

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association is calling for a “phased network approach” to implementing high-speed rail service in the United States, including the Midwest.

In a 50-page white paper, the group said a combination of high-speed trunk lines and upgraded feeder rail routes coupled with dedicated bus services can increase mobility.

Rather than focusing on a point-to-point fast train systems between major cities, the MHSRA plan would provide a blueprint for systems that serve multiple markets and as many constituencies as possible.

The report cited such existing networks in France, Germany and Japan that provide multiple connections from their main stems.

One example would be Chicago-Cincinnati corridor. The report said a combination of upgraded Metra Electric tracks from O’Hare International Airport through Chicago, a high-speed trunk connecting the Windy City with Indianapolis, and conventional feeders to other communities could reduce Chicago-Indianapolis rail travel times from five hours, ten minutes to 90 minutes.

Upgrading existing track to Cincinnati once used by New York Central’s James Whitcomb Riley could result in a three-hour Chicago-Cincinnati overall travel times.

The running time of the current Amtrak Cardinal is eight hours, thirty minutes.

“The core point is that rather than only trying to keep projects affordable, we should be figuring out how to put more people on trains,” said MHSRA Executive Director Rick Harnish. “We need a new ridership and revenue model that combines commuter, feeder, and intercity trips in a way suited to the geography and demographics to the Midwest.”

FRA Favors DC-Richmond Higher Speeds

September 12, 2017

The Federal Railroad Administration is calling for a higher-speed rail approach to upgrading the Washington- Richmond, Virginia, corridor.

In a draft environmental impact statement issued last week, the FRA said the preferred alternative is increasing maximum train speeds from 69 mph to 79 mph between Washington and Fredericksburg, Virginia, and to 90 mph between Fredericksburg and Richmond.

The report estimated this would cost $5 billion in 2025 dollars.

The FRA and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation are accepting public comments on the report for the next 60 days.

Those comments will be incorporated into the final environmental impact statement.

The 123-mile Washington-Richmond is part of the larger 500-mile Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor that ends in Atlanta.

Anderson Talks Amtrak on NPR

September 7, 2017

Amtrak co-CEO Richard Anderson has been making the rounds of national broadcast outlets this week to talk about the rail passenger carrier that he joined earlier this year.

Richard Anderson

He appeared on a CBS news program and also on National Public Radio where he was interviewed by Robert Siegel, a co-host of the afternoon program All Things Considered.

As he did at CBS, Anderson told Siegel that updating aging infrastructure is a top priority at Amtrak.

At the same time, he contended that Amtrak is not broken. “It provides very reliable service to over 30 million people a year,”

Anderson said the United States has made a choice not to pursue high-speed rail except in a few areas. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t take the infrastructure that we have and improve our track speeds, where we offer a product that’s competitive with cars and buses because that’s really, in some sense, what we compete against.”

In response to a question by Siegel as to whether the “real, long-range intercity train travel is finished,” Anderson said that to Amtrak long-distance means more than 750 miles.

“And where we see the most growth over the last couple of decades has been in routes under 750 miles, like Milwaukee to Chicago, Detroit to Chicago, San Francisco to Los Angeles down the coast,” he said. “When you think about infrastructure in the U.S., we have become a very urbanized society – less reliance on automobiles, more reliance on public transportation. There’s an important role for Amtrak to play. And that’s actually been one of the fastest-growing parts of this business and represents over half of Amtrak’s passenger traffic annually.”