Monday, December 13, 2010

Rail news today from FL, CA and TX

From Florida: The federal government will contribute another $342 million for commuter rail. Here's why: Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) is the incoming chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. On Wednesday, Mica met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, another Republican who served with Mica in the House. Politico reports
...the day after meeting with Mica, LaHood announced that the Transportation Department will kick in an additional $342 million for SunRail, a commuter rail project for central Florida strongly backed by Mica, money that was available after it was rejected by Ohio and Wisconsin officials. The federal commitment to SunRail is already in excess of $2 billion. Florida is expected to be a key battleground in Obama’s 2012 reelection run.
From California: The Wall Street Journal reports on squabbling over the the state's plan for a $4.3 billion, 65-mile bullet train between two small towns in rural Central Valley. Reports the Journal,
Proponents of high speed rail say building this portion of track is a good way to launch a multiyear building program. Critics call the project the "train to nowhere" and are using it to fuel a broader attack on the Obama administration's rail strategy...Congress is signaling it could cut spending for high-speed rail across the board. An independent peer review group recently told the state Legislature that the Central Valley rail project's financing plan is a "critical concern" and the assumption by the project's backers that they will get significant additional federal assistance had an "air of unreality."
From Texas: The Teamsters Rail Conference opposes a request by BNSF and Ferrocarril Mexicano S.A. de C.V. to have trains from Mexico inspected there instead of in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Reports Progressive Railroading,
BNSF estimates it can save millions of dollars by eliminating redundant initial terminal inspections performed on the U.S. side of the border...BNSF hasn’t demonstrated that the inspections in Mexico would meet minimum FRA standards, the unions contend. In addition, it’s unclear if the FRA will have the authority to examine the Mexican facilities where safety inspections would be conducted, according to the unions. Moreover, trains inspected in Mexico have much higher defect rates than trains inspected in the United States, posing a safety risk to railroad workers and the general public, the unions contend.