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Amtrak unveils high-speed rail vision

Amtrak is unveiling a $117 billion, 30-year vision for high-speed rail on the East Coast that would drastically reduce travel times along the congested corridor.

At a news conference at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station on Tuesday, Amtrak President Joseph Boardman said the proposal is at the visionary stage, and there's no funding plan in place. It aims for high-speed rail by 2040.

Boardman says the Next-Gen High Speed Rail line would reduce the travel time between Washington, D.C., and New York City from 162 minutes to 96 minutes. The travel time between New York and Boston would go from 215 minutes to 84 minutes.

Last week Amtrak named veteran transportation professional Albrecht "Al" Engel, who serves on the board of directors of the American Public Transportation Association, as vice president of a new high-speed rail department.

"Al has considerable expertise, is a dedicated proponent for public transportation and shares our conviction that Amtrak plays a vital, leading and necessary role in expanding and operating high-speed rail service across the country," Boardman said in a statement.

Albrecht, a current vice president and high-speed rail director with AECOM will pursue the development of high-speed rail corridoers in states such as Florida and California, which are pursuing projects, and will act as and advisor on a study commission by Amtrak on increasing top speeds beyond the current limit of 150 mph.

About 12 million riders a year use Amtrak along the Northeast corridor.

Amtrak says the high-speed trains could accommodate about 33.7 million passengers by 2040.

-- Associated Press and staff reports

By Michael Bolden  | September 28, 2010; 2:07 PM ET
Categories:  Amtrak  
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117 billion dollars? Are you kidding me? For what? Rail service is already the most efficient way to travel between NYC and either Boston or DC. With so many other possible ways to spend infrastructure funds that would have a greater impact, this "vision" must be blinded immediately.

Posted by: slar | September 28, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

@Slar - that's money spent over 30 years, and it works out to about the cost of one NE Regional One-Way ticket per year for each person living in one of the markets that would be served by it. This 450 mile project will come in at about 8x the price of the Big Dig (which was $15B), which is 4 miles long.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | September 28, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

30 years!!! That is crazy. Try proposing half that time and I would consider it a real effort. If you look backward 30 years, do you know how different things were? Essentially no little computers, no cell phones (just one big copper wired phone company), no internet, and a whole bunch of airlines (most of which no longer exist). This is such a lame goal for 30 years out. They need to aim for doing this in 10-15 years or at least have a big chunk of it done.

Posted by: blankspace | September 28, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

30 years just to get the train to run faster than what it is currently!! In the meantime European countries, Japan, and China are zipping past us. I guess I'll continue on the Bolt Bus for the next 30 years!

Posted by: djamesjr | September 28, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Well the last thing we want to do is model the Big Dig, perhaps the biggest boondoggle in US transportation history.

If you take the Bolt Bus now, what would make you switch to the train in the future? The train is already faster and more comfortable now. There are only two reasons for you to take the bus. One is price but faster service isn't going to decrease price, only increase it. The other is that the bus terminal is easier to get to from wherever you live, but that won't change either.

If these guys want to be taken seriously, they need to consider more gradual changes, something like upgrading lines so that you don't have to switch engines at DC to get from Alexandria to Baltimore or connecting Dulles to the Crescent Line at Manassas.

Posted by: slar | September 28, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

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