January 25th, 2013
10:35 PM ET

New taxpayer-funded train just 28 min. faster

CNN's Drew Griffin investigates how the federal government used billions of dollars for a high-speed rail plan with next to nothing to show for the investment.

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Ron

    The story stated that Vermont recieved $58 Million dollars. How much does a mile of Interstate Highway (not freeway) cost? Twenty years ago I saw a study that showed it cost $14 Million dollars per mile to build new. $58 Million in goverment spending is not as much as it sounds. The video did not say were the time savings were achieved. I heard from another source that a reverse move on this route has been eliminated with the money.
    I agree with Matt that maybe the reporter should have gone to Dwight, Illinois were trains are running 110 mph. It would be nice to see in a news article why the trains go 79 mph (cab signals required above, Naperville, ILL. crash in 1946). Or why 110 mph is the proposed speed limit ( grade separation is required above 110, ie no more grade crossings). It gets pricy when all the grade crossings have to be removed and overpasses or underpasses put in the place of a lot of them. Maybe Anderson should look at the Midwest Regional Rail Initative before his next segment on this subject.

    January 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  2. Martin

    Shaving half an hour off a trip is a substantial difference on a train that makes a lot of stops. To think that Vermont would be high-speed rail territory is foolishness. Faster rail makes a difference.
    The passenger going to NY only highlights the lack of coordinated schedule, not the problem with this particular rail line.
    I think more trains on this line would increase ridership. People are less likely to use the train if they only have one option a day. Frequent service means more users. Get shorter, more efficient rail cars like the Bombardier Talent 2, with faster acceleration and better braking and you will see ridership skyrocket.

    January 29, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  3. Tom

    Hard to argue with the facts in this case, but seems to me that making shovel-ready the top criterion will naturally lead to the less ambitious projects being the ones that get funded, since they're the easier ones to plan and analyze. No doubt in my mind that high-speed rail is worth the investment but the network effects are such that the initial projects will be money losers. Sustained investment is needed in support of a plan that focuses on high-traffic corridors where trains can compete with short flights in terms of comfort and end-to-end travel times.

    January 28, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  4. jesse

    Walking on , jogging on railroad tracks is never ,ever a good idea!!

    January 28, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  5. Troy

    This is a lopsided view. If one looks at how far behind (Europe/Asia) our basic rail infrastructure is, one would quickly see that massive amounts of money and time are required to bring things up to speed. Speeds of 70-85mph can easily compete with clogged roadways. Let's not forget that freight rail often shares these tracks so they reap the benefits of smoother tracks and less rail congestion too. We cannot look at rail projects as anything more than incremental improvments TOWARD high speed rail. Making imcremental improvements in places where it can happen immediately is worth the investment. We NEVER look twice at building more roads and lanes but we always criticize passenger rail. STOP calling it high speed rail and follow suit with Vermont, it is HIGHER speed rail and that's good for now because it steps us toward the future. We American's (media) are SO blind to benefits of rail. Travel to Europe or Asia and experience what rail can be, with incremental steps (France/Italy)

    January 28, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Jermoney

      Why not make the leap to High-Speed rail? Why waste time and money on this?

      January 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
      • Kevin

        Because 52 million to improve a feeder route is not a waste of money, and because true high speed rail of the sort seen in Europe, Japan and China will take decades to plan and build. Improving our traditional rail connectivity in the mean time will assure that more passengers exist when we finally find the political will to invest in true high speed rail

        January 31, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  6. Sonja

    You should know that this isn't just happening in Vermont, but in upstate NY as well. There is a battle going on over a travel corridor through the heart of the Adirondack mts. The ARTA (Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates) is promoting to do a rail to trail conversation on this beautiful corridor making it a year round multi use trail for hiking, biking, snowmobiling, etc etc. and saving NYS taxpayers MILLIONS of dollars. On the other side you have the train lobby and local politicians who want to invest $40 MILLION to restore a rail line that has CONTINUOUSLY FAILED for lack of ridership since the 1900's. LUNACY!!!

    January 28, 2013 at 8:15 am |
  7. Blair Edwards

    I think it is such a shame that the news media waited until o'bama got elected before we start to see the truth about all of the wasted stimulus money that all the politicians spent. I know he cant watch everything but he is responsible. Millions of dollars for a high speed rail to nowhere or should i say high speed rail that doesnt exist.

    January 28, 2013 at 6:45 am |
  8. Tom, Wyoming

    This story demonstrates how clueless we Americans have become about understanding rail travel. Passenger trains have been out of favor for the past sixty years. Consequently, to rebuild passenger service will take a commitment as huge as building the Interstate Highway System. It will require rebuilding long stretches of trackage, eliminating grade crossings and serving fewer stations – in Vermont, Burlington would probably be the only city served if high-speed rail is developed between New York and Montreal.

    Do we have the will to commit ourselves to a long-term project to improve rail travel in America? Given the state of the economy and the mentality of Congress, I fear we don't.

    January 28, 2013 at 12:08 am |
  9. Lucy CUTLER

    Although the Vermont Amtrak isn't a "bullet train" trains do and can provide even other services. Taking a child is far easier on a train than on a bus or car. Playing and going to the bathroom are far easier. For those of us with leg problems we can walk or put our legs up much more easily than in a car or bus, or on a plane. I'd also like to know how how much it would cost to add a train car to carry personal cars so people would have the convenience of ones own car upon arrival.. (Like New York's Staten Island Ferry.) Pitch to commuters would be comfort, work time on the train, and having one's own car upon arrival. I'm retired now but I would have loved living in lower cost "outdoorsy" home and to have a comfortable, visually esthetic ride every day, getting laptop chores done after enjoying homemade hot chocolate, an egg salad sandwich and a juicy peach.

    January 26, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  10. James

    Continuing the previous post.

    Did you honestly expect to see high speed trains running in California just three years after the stimulus was awarded? The engineering for a high speed rail system is very detailed. How many years do you think it took to develop the Dreamliner?

    Perhaps CNN should consider producing stories that focus more on informing its viewers rather than trying to persuade them.

    January 25, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
  11. Jerry

    I believe this report was short sighted. We have been waiting for improvements to rail service since the Eisenhower administration.( Remember the large spaces between the Interstate highways were for train service!) Now within the span of 3 years you expect states to believe that the Feds are going to do what they say. It will take time and consistent funding before we rebuild a badly deteriorated rail service. And yes small rural states can pull it off quicker...

    January 25, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
  12. Matt Johnson

    I suppose there may be a legitimate point here about calling this "high speed rail" but Vermont got a modest amount of money for modest upgrades to its existing service, and did those upgrades within budget. The more ambitious, expensive projects (such as the one in California, which will in fact deliver true 200+ mph high speed rail) are naturally slated to take longer to complete. Groundbreaking on that project will happen this year. More modest upgrades are well underway in the midwest, where Amtrak is already running trains at 110 mph on recently improved sections of the Chicago – St Louis and Chicago – Detroit routes. Various upgrades are being funded on the northeast corridor, including one project that will have the Acela running at 160 mph through central New Jersey once the constant tension catenary installation is complete. Tea-party backed Republican governors in Florida and Wisconsin did manage to kill high speed rail projects in those states, but a number of other states do have passenger rail improvement projects underway.

    January 25, 2013 at 11:16 pm |