Did you hear that Amtrak was looking for several billion dollars of the stimulus package to use for its rail upgrades, specifically high-speed rail development?
The idea is to pour money into several projects across the country, which would make high-speed travel possible in routes such as the New York City to Albany corridor. The Federal Railroad Administration website has details of the Empire Corridor, which would allow people to travel between Albany and New York City in two hours.
This would have a profound impact on commuters, home prices and refined gas sales for autos. The prospects are intriguing for someone like me who used to spend five hours a day commuting from Kingston to NYC. If there was a high-speed train that stopped in Poughkeepsie, presumably the halfway point to Albany, the trip would take an hour. Sign me up!
This sort of commute would put us on par with many of the high-speed rail lines in Europe. Then again, the U.S. Feds have been talking about developing high-speed rails since 1965 when the first bits of passenger rail legislation were introduced.
Currently, the outlook without the stimulus money is grim. Amtrak has a plan in place for high-speed travel. But according to the FRA, Amtrak’s commitment to the corridor upgrade plan that’s been sitting idle “is contingent on adequate federal funding of Amtrak’s capital program – which is not being provided – and accordingly all activities to implement the plan are presently deferred.”
— Arthur Zaczkiewicz