May 21, 2015
OFFICIALS ARE still investigating the cause of last week's horrific Amtrak derailment that claimed eight lives and injured hundreds more, and it will take a while before we know the truth. But like most disasters, the incident highlights a tangled complex of issues both large and small. It's actually the smallest that has us worried: that a "projectile" such as a rock was thrown at the train. This has not been confirmed, and reports have been contradictory, but the possibility that someone out there in our rough-and-tumble city might have caused such havoc has us wincing.
November 21, 2014 |
PHILADELPHIA is in the heart of the Northeast rail corridor, where more than 2,000 passenger trains move 75,000 riders daily between Washington,D.C. and Boston on speed-restricted tracks across aging bridges and through ancient tunnels, powered by 1930s-era equipment. The whole system needs an extreme makeover as desperately as the Phillies do. Yesterday, at SEPTA headquarters in Center City, the Federal Railroad Administration's NEC (Northeast Corridor) FUTURE program unveiled a public glimpse of what that makeover might be by 2040.
April 3, 2014 |
TWO QUESTIONS: Why doesn't our nation have more passenger trains? And does the younger generation's declining interest in driving imply an opening for the expansion of public high-speed rail? Last May, the New York Times reported that all of us, and especially the so-called millennials, are driving less. The Times cites a report from U.S. Pirg, a nonprofit advocacy organization, that documents a six-decade increase in miles driven per capita, and then a surprising eight-year decline in total miles driven and a corresponding per-capita decline since 1996.
December 9, 2013 |
Has Amtrak abandoned its vision of 220-mile-per-hour bullet trains speeding up and down the Northeast Corridor? The railroad recently issued draft specifications for new trains to replace its existing Acelas that call for 160 m.p.h. trains, not the 220 m.p.h. versions Amtrak said in January that it was seeking. Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority in January announced they were jointly seeking proposals for trains that could run at 220 miles an hour on the West Coast and the East Coast.
November 29, 2013 |
Last of two articles. High-speed rail in the United States is closest to reality in California, but the nation's busiest rail route - the Northeast Corridor - is struggling just to keep the trains running as Amtrak pleads for money to eventually bring bullet trains to the Northeast. The 457-mile-long corridor between Washington and Boston carries 750,000 riders and 2,000 trains a day on an antiquated system prone to frequent failures and delays. And while California can largely start from scratch to build a high-speed line planned to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco by 2029 - though it must overcome legal and funding challenges, including a ruling this week stopping a bond sale - the corridor faces a daunting retrofit.
November 28, 2013 |
First of two articles. FRESNO, Calif. - After decades of promises, plans, and politics, California has finally reached the construction phase of its high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco. But a judge's ruling this week could derail the $68 billion project, setting new legal and financial hurdles in the path of a proposed 520-mile railroad for 220-mile-an-hour bullet trains. Championed by Gov. Jerry Brown as a transforming project akin to the early freeways and the Golden Gate Bridge, the high-speed rail line would be America's first.
August 27, 2013
MOUNT WOLF, Pa. - He lives in a place named for his family, in an 1850s house built by his family, and runs a company started by his family in 1843. He has an Ivy League (Dartmouth) undergrad degree, a master's from the University of London and a doctorate from MIT. His doctoral dissertation (the bound version is the size of a Manhattan phone book) is titled Congressional Sea Change: Conflict and Organizational Accommodation in the House of Representatives 1878-1921 . I have not read it. But I have spent time with Tom Wolf, chairman/CEO of the Wolf Organization, largest supplier of kitchen and bath cabinetry in the U.S., at his home in this tiny York County borough just west of the Susquehanna River.
July 18, 2013 |
Despite being "desperately underfunded," in one official's words, SEPTA is moving ahead with an environmental impact study to extend the Norristown High Speed Line to King of Prussia and Valley Forge. Officials say the area is badly underserved, with the nearest Regional Rail stops more than two miles away. Six bus routes serve the area, with about 4,000 passengers a day, but they are subject to the same traffic headaches drivers face on the Schuylkill Expressway. "If you don't plan, you never build," said Byron Comati, SEPTA's project director, who alluded to the agency's financial problems.
July 16, 2013 |
WILL THOUSANDS OF workers finally be able to ride high-speed rail to King of Prussia and Valley Forge instead of a bus that relies on the Jekyll/Hyde, highway to heaven/hell, Russian-roulette insanity of I-76 traffic? SEPTA will reveal plans for long-awaited rail service to King of Prussia Mall and Valley Forge at a four-hour public meeting tomorrow. Several alternative extensions of the Norristown High Speed Line to King of Prussia and Valley Forge will be presented. Public comment is invited.
June 6, 2013 |
Philadelphia is in a sweet spot for high-speed rail travel if the United States ever decides to follow European and Asian nations in developing bullet trains. Rail experts from France, Japan, England, and the United States on Tuesday outlined the success formula for high-speed trains: large populations, big job markets, frequent trains, and affordable fares. Among 7,870 American rail routes evaluated as candidates for high-speed rail, the Philadelphia-New York route ranked third, according to the Manhattan-based urban research organization the Regional Plan Association (RPA)