Sunday, April 27, 2008

Real high speed rail? California can vote for it in November

Perhaps the most exciting news for high speed rail in a decade comes from California as it looks almost certain that California voters will have the opportunity this November to build a high speed rail network in the state.

We intend to do everything we can to help pass this referendum as it is a statewide question of national significance.

Nothing would advance the cause of a modern passenger train network more than building one in California with a yes vote this November.

That means the campaign to pass the referendum has already begun.

Tell everyone you know who lives in California to (a) register to vote and (b) vote yes on the high speed rail bond. Start now, because I believe the hidden factor in this election will be the power of word-of-mouth. There will be more than a dozen questions on the ballot and a lot of excitement about the presidential race. It will be easy for the high speed rail question to get lost in the shuffle.

That's where you come in.

You almost certainly know a few people who live in California.

Call them. Or email them.

And ask them, as a personal favor and because it is the right thing to do, to vote yes on the high speed rail bond on the November ballot.

That is the most powerful political weapons ever invented: one person asking another person to vote.

I suspect the election will be very close, and we will need a national mobilization to win this.

Let's make it happen.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Iowa City - Quad Cities - Chicago study released today

The appetite for Amtrak expansion is growing.

Today the Iowa Department of Transportation and Amtrak released a study detailing potential expansion of service from Chicago to the Quad Cities and on to Iowa City.\

The range of services range from as-is service (toddling around at 45 mph or so) to 79 mph, with corresponding capital costs of $6M (cheap!) to almost $60M (much cheaper than repaving a couple dozen miles of highway).

The annual operating cost for two daily round-trips would run around $6M (very cheap).

There's a good presentation that lays out the options.

What is shocking to me is how cheap it is to get as-is service up and running. Six million dollars to get Amtrak service from Iowa City to the Quad Cities and then up to Chicago (largely because two-thirds of the route is on a great BNSF line that currently runs out to Quincy twice a day) is nothing in the land of state budgets.

Now let's get that six million!