The Opponents of California High Speed Rail are Losers!


By Noel T. Braymer

This is not an opinion. The fact is every attempt by those trying to stop or defund the California High Speed Rail Project has failed. The most recent pair of losers are State Senator Bob Huff and George Runner of the State Board of Equalization. They raised $2 million dollars from rich corporate farm owners to try to put a measure on the November ballot which would switch the remaining money for High Speed Rail for the construction of dams. This proposed measure would have also stripped the water rights of most family farms as well as eliminate all water reserves needed to preserve the State’s ecology to go instead to farms with water rights. Huff and Runner recently announced that they won’t be able to get enough signatures in time to place this measure on this year’s ballot. But they claim they be will trying…

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Washington state DOT seeks input on rail-car program revival

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is seeking information from railroads and intermodal logistics companies to help determine if the department should revive the the former Washington Produce Rail Car program.

The department last week issued a request for information seeking proposals from parties interested in restoring the program. The deadline for submissions is May 2.

Federal funding may be available to support the program, but input from the freight community will help the department determine if it should pursue such funding, WSDOT officials said in a press release.

“Both the number and quality of submissions is important to this process,” said WSDOT Freight Rail Policy and Program Manager Chris Herman. “We’ll be looking at the level of demand, as well as assessing the experience of each submitter in managing temperature-controlled fleets and meeting strict service requirements for perishable shipments.”

The Produce Rail Car program originally launched in 2006 with federal and state funding. The program was suspended in 2012 when several private companies were expanding in the market.

Jon Irabagon Trio @Bimhuis radio

Jazz You Too

Even if only for the period of one year, these Bimhuis radio programmes are really killing me! Barry Altschul was since my early experiences on this improvised music one of the best, Jon Irabagon is a supreme musician, Mark Helias is the third element of the trio, its balance and guide.

Listen to the pre-concert | first set @ 29:50 | second set @ 1:40:20

jon irabagon trio

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Officials Optimistic About Expanding Amtrak Service In Illinois

CHICAGO (CBS) — Proponents of expanded Amtrak service in Illinois are meeting today in Chicago and despite the state’s budget woes, they’re talking expansion.

It’s a far cry from a year ago, when Gov. Bruce Rauner threatened to cut the state’s Amtrak subsidy by 40 percent — and service by half. After months of negotiation and pressure from downstate officials, the Illinois Dept. of Transportation in February agreed to hold the line on funding.

Now, Midwest High Speed Rail Association Executive Director Rick Harnish has a renewed goal.

“We should be talking about expanding, and I am satisfied that the state is continuing to talk about expanding,” he said. “We’re going to expand Amtrak and we need to do it sooner, rather than later.”

Expansion could bring Amtrak to the Quad Cities and Peoria, neither of which has had direct passenger rail service since the early 1980s, when the old Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific R.R. collapsed. The Rock Island was never a part of Amtrak.

The top priority is one already in the works. Harnish has a commitment from the Rauner administration to provide 110-mile-an-hour service between Chicago and St. Louis — or, more properly, between Joliet and Alton — next year.

Harnish said the widely-held belief that passenger rail is Democratic issue and opposed by Republicans is a “misconception.”

“It isn’t really that clear-cut,” he said.

He said Republicans including Rauner, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and even Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — who killed high-speed Amtrak expansion between Milwaukee and Madison upon taking office — are all “moving forward important passenger rail expansion programs” in their states.

At the meeting, Amtrak outlined how it is attempting to transform Chicago Union Station into a multi-level shopping arcade while moving its ticketing and passenger lounge to the station’s Great Hall, in an attempt to eliminate crowding at Amtrak and Metra gates. And Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she remains supportive of a plan to run CTA express trains between the Loop and O’Hare Airport, utilizing the mothballed “Superstation” beneath Block 37. Preckwinkle voted to finance the project as an alderman. The half-finished station was mothballed because of huge cost overruns, and indications are that it will not be revived unless a private partner can be found to finish the project. More recent discussions of an O’Hare express service have focused on the use of existing, but upgraded, commuter and freight rail lines.