Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rail Investment Touted

Pennsylvania is submitting about 28 million dollars worth of bids for stimulus dollars directed at high-speed rail development. In the first round of bid applications, PennDOT is requesting federal funding for upgrades to the Keystone Corridor East line, as well as money for a study of how to increase Harrisburg to Pittsburgh rail service.
In October, the commonwealth will submit plans for a high-speed line from Scranton to Hoboken New Jersey, as well as a Maglev route from Pittsburgh International Airport to Greensburg.
Appearing with US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at a Lancaster County train station, Senator Arlen Specter said the Maglev investment would be worth the cost.

"Is it expensive? Yes. What will it do for the United States, for Pennsylvania? Once we have it, when you can travel by rail 300 miles an hour, it will revolutionize the state."

MagLev, Inc president Fred Gurney says if federal officials simply build on existing rail lines, trains will be constrained to top speeds around 100 miles per hour.

"But if you really want to do high-speed, if you truly want to do high-speed, you’ve got to have separate dedicated track. And that’s where Maglev is very superior, because of its speeds of up to 300 miles per hour. Just slightly over 300 miles per hour."

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood avoided committing to using Maglev technology in the high-speed lines that will be funded by the stimulus dollars.

"We’re gonna consider all proposals. As I said, we’ve been out around the country. Our people have talked to a lot of different regions of the country. And we’ll see what comes in. and we’re gonna evaluate them and then we’ll let you know."

The federal stimulus package includes eight billion dollars for high-speed rail projects. Specter argues improved rail infrastructure will cut down on gas consumption and traffic congestion.

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