Hotline #869 -- July 3, 2014

[Due to the 4th of July holiday, NARP will be presenting an abbreviated version of the Hotline this week. You can look forward to regularly scheduled programming next week. Safe travels!]

 

The California High Speed Rail Authority announced it will accelerate planning and construction for the Los Angeles County segment of the statewide bullet train to accelerate the delivery of benefits to Southern Californian residents.  

The decision to move more quickly on the Burbank to Palmdale segment of the San Francisco – Los Angeles train will also increase the project’s visibility.

"It is a huge game-changer," Richard Katz, Metrolink board member and former leader of the California State Assembly, told the Los Angeles Times. "The visibility will make it real and people can see where their tax dollars are being spent."

 

The Indiana Department of Transportation has chosen Corridor Capital, LLC as its “preferred vendor” for the Hoosier State. The train is currently operated four times a week by Amtrak. Indiana issued a Request For Proposals in response to last year’s funding crisis. The state is looking to maximize the value of public investment.

Negotiations are still ongoing, with a number of sizable hurdles to clear before Capitol Corridor would be able to step into Amtrak’s shoes. INDOT, however, has targeted an October 1st transition date.

 

Amtrak issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for 28 new trainsets for the Acela Express line, the railroad’s premier high-speed service on the Northeast Corridor.

"The Northeast Corridor needs more high speed rail capacity to help move the American economy forward," said President and CEO Joseph Boardman. "More and more people are choosing Amtrak for travel between Washington, New York, and Boston. New equipment means more seats and more frequent departures to help meet that growing demand."

 

The Texas Department of Transportation approved a $50 million grant to help expand the fleet of Austin’s MetroRail fleet and build a new downtown rail station.

TxDOT voted last week to authorize the grant for the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which will use the funds to upgrade commuter-rail service between downtown Austin and suburban Leander. $28 million will go to procure four new railcars, allowing the Authority to expand capacity by up to 2,400 passenger trips for peak travel periods. CMTA will also build a new downtown rail station, replacing a temporary structure and upgrading capacity and operational efficiency.

 

New York State transportation officials announced that they’ve selected a contractor to build a second track between Albany and Schenectady, eliminating a major rail capacity chokepoint in the region.

"Representing the passengers of the state, this is terrific news in that it will address the longest-standing bottleneck that has hindered on-time performance for many years," said Bruce Becker, NARP Board Member and President of the Empire State Passenger Association.

 

India set a new passenger train speed record this week, with a test train hitting 100 mph between the city of Agra and the Taj Mahal.

Modernizing India’s passenger rail network was a key campaign promise for the newly-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

 

Travelers Advisory

—The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officiated over the opening of the Cape Flyer’s Wareham Village Station. Although it only began operations in Summer 2013, the Cape Flyer (Boston - Cape Cod) has proved extremely popular with the public.

—The AirTrain station that link passengers to New Jersey Transit and Amtrak trains resumed service today at 4:30 AM. AirTrain and the rail link station have been closed since May 1 for repairs to the system.

—Las Vegas Railway Express, Inc. announced this week that passengers can now purchase tickets for the Santa Fe Southern Railway via www.SFSR.com, a new website that showcases the beauty and culinary traditions of America’s Southwest.