‘High-speed rail is well on its way, and it is not turning back’, according to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
Addressing delegates at the Transportation Research Board’s Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, LaHood said high-speed rail projects were gaining momentum in the country and aiding a re-emerging U.S. manufacturing sector.
“My message to workshop participants was straightforward: high-speed rail is well on its way, and it is not turning back,” said LaHood on his Department of Transportation (DOT) blog.
“In just four years, we have made significant progress transforming President Obama’s vision of American high-speed rail into reality. Rail passengers on many routes are already enjoying some of the benefits of track and equipment upgrades, and every day brings us closer to true high speed.
“Between Chicago and St. Louis and Chicago and Detroit rail passengers have begun to experience speeds of 110 miles per hour along segments of both routes. And just a few weeks ago, the FRA issued two Records of Decision on rail routes between Chicago and St. Louis; these make the corridor eligible to compete for future federal funding, which will help more of the corridor’s segments reach higher speeds.
“Even faster top speeds are planned for the Northeast Corridor, the country’s most popular rail route.
“DOT has already provided a down payment of more than $3 billion to improve service reliability, boost speeds, and reduce travel times.
“On the West Coast, one of America’s most ambitious plans – California high-speed rail – is preparing to break ground later this year.
“Last year, the FRA signed a Record of Decision allowing construction to begin on the Merced-Fresno segment. And the FRA expects to finish the environmental review of the Fresno-Bakersfield segment six months early.
“The tremendous momentum in the Northeast, Midwest, and West has not gone unnoticed. In the Southeast, ongoing station and service upgrades will help Virginia and North Carolina connect more effectively with the Northeast Corridor. Passenger rail plans are also gathering steam in several other states, like Texas and Oklahoma.”
Amtrak has released its full agenda of infrastructure works for 2013, including the expansion of its Acela Express high-speed service on the East Coast and planned acquisition of next-generation high-speed train sets.
Another major project in 2013 will be the Gateway Project, which aims to increase tunnel, track and station capacity into Manhattan for intercity, commuter and next-generation high-speed rail services.
LaHood added: “You don’t need to be a transportation professional to read the writing on the wall.
“In the past four years, we have moved the ball significantly down field.
“Americans have embraced passenger rail, and DOT and the rail community are working hard to ensure that people have a convenient, affordable, and safe option for inter-city travel.”
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