Friday, May 30, 2008

Good AP story on congested freight rail network and th

We want to dramatically increase the number of passenger trains running every day.

That means we need more tracks built. Because, as this excellent AP story explains, the existing tracks are all jammed up, particularly in Chicago.

With jammed up tracks comes late Amtrak trains.

Amtrak, which shares the rails with freight trains, is also feeling the pinch. Its long-distance trains were on time just 42 percent of the time last year, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation's inspector general.

The problem on the shared tracks has worsened in recent years as freight traffic has soared. Passenger trains move much faster than most freight trains, and in many areas there is only a single track, forcing trains to pull over onto side tracks and wait while trains coming in the other direction pass.

So while it's easy to blame the host railroads for Amtrak's low on-time performance, the reality is that the host railroads are our partners, not our enemies. We need to figure out how to get more track capacity built.


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