tv [untitled] CSPAN June 25, 2009 9:00am-9:30am EDT
spain first opened up, ms. fleming talked about how they began with one trunk line, they did, running one 25 miles an hour, incrementally made the improvement to get them to roughly 20 trains a day. .. buildout, you know, a buildout much like the construction of the interstate highway system. and, again, we need to understand, the it v.g. system in france today, if you ride from paris to strawsburg, if you come out of paris you are going 200 miles an hour. 2/3 along the way you flow on to what they call traditional track and you're doing speeds of about 125 miles an hour. so it's not this either or proposition.
>> mr. chairman, my time has expired. i thank you all very much. >> i'm called elsewhere. senator udall can going to take over and senator boxer will be next. senator hutchinson and then it's all up to senator udall from new mexico. he's going to fix the whole problem. >> senator lautenberg, on your way out the door, i just want >> on your way out the door i just want to thank you very much for this hearing, sir. and high-speed rail is critical. it was just really critical. i want to pick up on senator thune's comment about the funding. senator tim, i just want to pick up on your point about the funding. it is very critical. this $13 billion standing alone just endoscope far, but in my state we had an election about putting a $9 billion funding package and people voted by
which is kind of remarkable given the latest notes that we had. so the people there really understand it, and our system i think most everybody in this room has been to my state. it will eventually connect to sacramento, our state capitol to san diego in the south. that is the first phase will be between los angeles and san francisco and points in between. i also want to point out the private sector has to be leveraged into this to. and california, we are working with the private sector so you take the 13 billion, you had the 9 billion from my state. hopefully billions from other states, and hopefully billions from the private sector that you can get involved in it. and it starts to look like something on the scale, not quite what governor rendell wants, i don't think, because i think he even has a bigger plan. but i think you start to leverage and you start to see some real things happening.
and i wanted to just point out that our studies, and if i am saying something that has been disproven leading no, show that our high-speed rail in california predict 12.7 million barrels of oil a year by 2030 and reduce the co2 emissions by 12 billion pounds per year, supposed to be 160,000 construction jobs and a literally they are saying in california hundreds of thousands of permanent jobs by for the 35. so i think as we look at a lot of the problems facing us in this great recession, the co2 problem, they need to be energy independent, the need to make people feel comfortable getting out of their car, this seems to be one place. and so i have two questions. the first one, both of them actually to mr. szabo.
what is your long term plan for development of high-speed rail nationally? and what factors do you consider the most important when it comes to funding? will a state contribution bear some weight here? >> gas, and the guidance we issued, that is one of the elements that while not mandatory in most of the tracks, you know, the funding tracks that we provide, it certainly is something that is weighted and certainly is something that is encouraged. you know, our vision, frankly, matches what they have done in europe. and i think it's important to note, you can compare it a little bit to the road system where you have local roads, you have county roads, you have state highways, you have u.s. highways and you have an interstate system. and all play a very, very important role and they all interconnect with each other to provide hopefully a first class
road system. our approach will need to be the same on rail, just like it is in europe. in europe, in japan, not every train is going to hundred miles an hour. many of them are, but there continues to be a niche in the market for 110-mile. there continues to be a niche in the market for traditional 79 miles an hour check my main point is to does that matter? >> absolutely yes critical element. >> i said i have to question but i have three. that's one. the second one is to mr. under mr. skancke. this has been very important in the advising us in the dpw committee on how to proceed with the next highway bill, etc. and i have the last question to mr. szabo. mr. skancke, do you believe the deity has a realistic and workable plan to implement
high-speed rail nationally, and what steps must we take to ensure that we have a sustainable system in the u.s.? >> senator boxer, i don't think the nation as a whole has a plan for high-speed rail. you know me very well to know me that i am very candid when i answer questions so i will try to be as candid. >> that's why i asked it be mac i think our nation lacks a vision on how we are going to move our american public out to 2050. it's why does congress in safety lu created the safety commission. and i think the way we get there is we have to sell the american public, particularly on rail, as we get people out of their own horse and buggy which we have forced them into. it is a cultural shift. we have got to convince the american public that high speed passenger rail is going to be predictable, that it's going to be on time and it's going to be reliable. and we do that in two ways. one, we just make the
investment. we don't talk about what the programs going to look like or how it's going to -- we've done that. we have studied corridors. we know what the alignment should look like. i believe that we just need to do it. we need to step up, fund it, find the funding mechanisms that are needed and make the necessary investment. i think it's that simple. >> so my last question, you said predictable, reliable and you had another word. >> dependable i think is what i sent. >> and he didn't say safe. so my last question deals with this tragedy that just occurred in the metroliner here. we just wrote a letter, senator rockefeller and i come to talk about the need to move forward with positive train control and other life-saving measures
because we really are going to have to address this. this was awful, and we have seen these things happen in my state. so my question to you, and my last question is do you intend to move forward with a positive train control and do it quickly so that we can let people know we are moving forward on the safety question? spec absolutely. first off, we have a congressional mandate to insure that positive train control is implemented by the year 2015 and it's our intent to make sure that that deadline is met. secondly, it's impossible to talk about high-speed rail without at the same time talking about positive train control. again, using the european models, you know, they have their european train control. you can't have trains going 200 miles an hour if you don't have some element of positive train control. >> we've got to fix it for the ones we got going now, so i hope you will move quicker than 2015. that was someplace i have to compromise but i think it has to
be swifter than that. thank you so much, mr. chairman. >> senator hutchison? >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me start with judge echols untenanted mr. eckels. let me first say that i hope there will be funding for projects other than those that are maybe further along than the texas t-bone. and if you could apply right now for federal funding in part of the stimulus, what would you ask for it to do? >> today our biggest need is the market rout and environmental studies. before we go on the ground with the system we want to make sure it's a system that will be viable, we will have the market that will support the system. i like the east coast we don't have regular service between houston and dallas today so to develop one we need to make sure we are building a system which can be priced so we can compete with automobiles and aircraft
and also to keep them operational system. i do think bringing the discipline of the marketplace to the system can help set up their schedule and construction, you know, the technology that will make sense and would be viable for the long term of the state. >> let me ask mr. szabo. i'm looking at a map basically and track system with a high speed corridors that have been designated, the 11 that have been designated in the darker red. is this the beginning of a planned system that those are investments that are already being made? and do you favor the ones that are already in the amtrak system being upgraded to high speed, or are you looking at other factors like a new high-speed rail
project that might feed into amtrak, and therefore enhance amtrak's capabilities? >> one of the next steps that we absolutely must take is the development of a national rail plan. when i say that i mean it from a most comprehensive standpoint. we have to understand how high-speed rail is going to overlay on traditional intercity rail amah how commuter rail is going to overlay on top of that. and frankly, we have to understand how it's going to interact with the freight rail network. so there are all these components that need to be looked at to ensure that we have a comprehensive strategy when it comes to rail. you can't talk about high-speed rail without talking about the impact on the brakes. freights. that document happens to exist today, but certainly there is the need for a much bolder,
clearer vision and a national strategy on how to get their. >> if you ever talk or even put on the table with the amtrak corridors that do share freight rail lines, which make for problems of on-time service, which then cause problems at the fare box, have you ever put on the table sharing the space and adding a line on the same corridor as the freight rail, which if you could get a reasonable deal like maybe for use of that space in exchange for getting out of the freight rail system which they would certainly benefit them because they don't like dealing with amtrak.
have you ever thought about trying to get a second rail on the same right-of-way as one of the ways for higher-speed rail service and highly congested corridors? >> i think clearly there is multiple options. the key is that whatever we do, and clearly if we are going to have high-speed rail, to high-speed rail, it has to be on a dedicated corridor. but whatever we do we're going to to have to make sure that we achieve a win-win relationship with the freight industry. we have an obligation to make sure that if the passenger trains are operating, that they are operating on-time, you know, clearly reliability is a very critical component of ensuring a high quality passenger rail operation and growing ridership. >> have you looked at having a separate track though to make that happen? you can talk about it, but in
reality, at least on the sunset limited on the texas eagle that i know so well, the experience has not been good. >> again, any of these options can be considered. >> well, i would ask that if in the parameters of the spending of this stimulus money, if that is a factor. if looking at those congested areas where you might be able to get a more streamlined service for high-speed rail, if that might be an option. >> certainly that could be a component that could be measured in a state's application to us. you know, there are clear advantages to that as far as reliability which is one of the components we measure safety which is one of the components. we measure, so again if that was part of an application is a criterion that could be viewed very favorably. >> so a state effort is one
criteria that would be very important for matching funds. and then possibly if you could ease congestion for better service and higher-speed rail in a state application, that that would also be a good factor. >> that's right. yes. judge eckels, let me just ask you obviously the texas t-bone is not going to be looking at and amtrak route, but are there options on the texas t-bone that might provide a dual rail with freight line, or are you looking at a different all new right-of-way? >> senator, and the very fasttrack portion of the system, and again as mr. szabo pointed out, the system would have to have its own tracks and anything else should be a separate track anyway.
but as you describe within the urban quarters particularly as we're working in the cities, we die in an part of the harris county toll road department, the union pacific railroad, the houston harris county metropolitan authority, and the high-speed rail and right-of-way and share a common quarter. any idea where it's appropriate to lay a track and jason to the freight railroads and there are a number of places where it makes a lot of sense, particularly in those urban corridors where you have a constricted right-of-way to get in to the city to its population centers, it makes a lot of sense for us. as we move out it depends on the demand that we get from the freight side with the increased capacity in the future that we have found them to be very reluctant to give up that right-of-way claiming that they need that for future development and into theirs. it's a continuous problem, but we think it makes great sense. we are not taking a new right-of-way but we would like to consolidate a lot with texas
dot and the railways to the extent we can meet the requirements and technical requirements. >> that's what i think coming to some realistic terms with the freight rail, it's going to be in everyone's interest because they have a business to run and you can understand their wanting to keep control of their tracks. that's why i think getting sort of separated out where we can, but not having the huge expense of eminent domain spec there are many places where it's cheaper for us to relocate the freight rail and buy them a new right-of-way and a new freeway corridor in new york and take over their right-of-way and try to condemn the new right-of-way. there's places where that make sense for the freight rail as well and were working on that index is. >> thank you very much. my time is up but i appreciate all of you coming in and helping us get through this because it is a very important, new
capability for america to have true multimodal planning for transportation. thank you. >> thank you, senator hutchison. as the senator boxer was leaving, she mentioned a letter between she and senator rockefeller, and asked that it be put as part of the record. that was a letter on positive train control. if there is no objection, it will be ordered to be part of the official record. governor rendell, appreciate your enthusiasm for capital budgets and also for high-speed rail. i can see you're obviously very knowledgeable supporter of these. i wish in a way we could get the same kind of enthusiasm in the west. and one of my questions here was why no high speed rail quarter in the southwest. we have good sized population centers in el paso, albuquerque, denver. as i look at the map here, it
looks like that would make sense. and so i'm wondering, congress, we have a designated or haven't authorized this 11th day should we have authorized 11 high-speed rail quarters get the department of transportation has only designated 10. i hope you are reserving that last one for the southwest. could you kill me a little bit of the thinking on the 11th and where you are, what your thoughts are on an el paso, albuquerque, denver quarter? >> i'm assuming that's two main. >> yes, it is, mr. szabo. >> frankly, there is no position to announce at this time relative to any 11 high-speed rail corridor, but the important news is that it's not necessary in order to be an applicant under the grand guidance that we have issued.
i think most of this gets addressed again as we start taking a look at a national rail plan. quite frankly it's possible that there's a need for more than 11. we need to take a look at where are those markets where there's good potential. what is the interest from those states, and historically there has not been a strong interest from the southwest. but it sounds like the level of enthusiasm quite frankly nationwide is changing considerably. so i think the issues of whether there's an 11th corridor, a 12 corridor, 13, whatever will get flushed out as we put together a national rail but. >> senator, can i take a shot at that? >> governor rendell. >> i think the way this is going to happen is to do it. i think that's what mr. skancke said and it's up to congress and the president to find the funding to do this and the
scale, and the state and local governments should chip in. but i think it comes incrementally. so for example, and i thought and thought and i have had wall street people in to try to see how i could finance high-speed rail from philadelphia to pittsburgh, 200-mile an hour rail. because if we built that, there's no doubt in my mind that the seller would then be 200 miles an hour, and in pittsburgh into detroit and chicago it would come. so the texas t-bone may be your best shot. if they can build a texas t-bone and prove that it works, then how tough is it to take it, i don't know if el paso is on. >> el paso is not. el paso is one of our strongest supporters of the high-speed rail, not that they expect to see the 900 miles from houston to el paso built as a high-speed rail. it's the line from el paso to albuquerque to denver that you talk about, and they see that as a real possibility and they see the proof in the system on the t-bone that the houston to
dallas would be the next debt to provide the capacity to move forward and build the el paso route to albuquerque and onto other points in the west. >> one of the things that's been fascinating in new mexico, governor richardson stepped up and did commuter rail, and there were a lot of doubts. an earlier governor had talked about doing it and was ridiculed by the press, but he stepped up and did it. and on time, on schedule. and ended up, it's been going about nine months now. it's past the 2 millionth passenger. and in a very short period of time. and one of you, i think it was mr. skancke mentioned reliable, you used the term reliable ridership and predictions. i don't think anybody would have predicted in new mexico. now, granted, this is the same period where we hit the $4 gasoline and we're a terrible
rule state and people are known to travel 120, 150 miles a day to work just to commute. it sounds a little bit like, governor rendell, you build and people are going to come. i think looking at art energy future. i don't know if any of you have comments on that, but it may be very hard to predict what reliable ridership is right now. please, governor rendell. >> if only be, cbo and gdl work predicting the success of columbia's adage that if they were advising queen isabella we would all be speaking italian. i guarantee you. you hit it right on ahead, senator. some of this we have to do because we know it works in other parts of the world, and some of this we have got to do on faith. when i invested the $74 million of commonwealth money, that's a lot of money down here, vice president mondale once said we
spend that sum of money before breakfast and lunch. but for the commonwealth that still a nice chunk of change. there wasn't any study that said we're going to jump up ridership that much. i knew we had to try. this was our best shot. if you look at the topography of pennsylvania. this was our best shot to prove that there was a high speed for best market for high-speed rail. it worked. it worked. as mr. skancke said you just have to do it. >> senator, and a texas new mexico connection there it's not just about the train system. we spent a lot of time talking about moving passengers but it's also about the trans atlantic development. that comes in that metropolis as we refer to in these urban areas that would grow as a result of that infrastructure being in place and that is one of those things. it's hard to measure until it is in place. keymac mr. skancke, did you want to talk about reliable ridership
issue or comment on this? >> i think we have studied ridership in this country for hundreds of millions of dollars. i didn't say years. i said hundreds of millions of dollars. and as i said, we have to stop studying. we know on all of the amtrak borders throughout the country that there is a need and a demand. and as fuel prices go up, ridership of the. as congestion goes up, ridership goes at. we don't have to guess. the problem that we have is we are afraid to do it because it may fail. what we need to do is not set up our high-speed rail and transit systems to fail. let's set them up to succeed. create systems that work, not pieces. so as we have all said instead of doing hundred mile segments, let's try a 500-mile segment.
let's actually, i'll be a little partisan for a second, let's build a line from los angeles to las vegas. let's build a line from phoenix to las vegas. let's go from albuquerque to denver. let's try it. what do we have to lose? nothing. if we fail, then we fail. but we don't even know what failure is yet because we haven't gotten there. >> senator udall, from amtrak. as a good governor was saying to me, who was that guy there that build our hundred and 10-mile an hour service, i said david gunn. it's the only good thing he did for amtrak. but that's not true and i want to say that because david and i are friends and i talked to him a couple days ago and i accused him of using the money from the turbo project in new york to get that done. but i know he also got pennsylvania money. i think what tom is talking about is absolutely true. with an exception. and that is that the culture in this country is not a train
writing culture. in the northeast corridor, about 43 million people live within about 40 miles of where we operate a solid. a cell is a success. in 2000 we had about 37%. this was before that started of the air rail market was with rail. today, in 2008, we have just the opposite of that. we have 63% of the rail, air market and that's with service that is two hours and 45 minutes from new york to washington. and on north end from new york to boston, it was at about 20% and is now -- or 22%. it's now at about 49% in the same way. so we are demonstrating success. but the piece that we can't miss, and i think mr. szabo really pointed out is that we need to do both. we need to talk about having
very high speed, and it needs to connect. tivo needs, and listen carefully, judge, i didn't hear it connecting to amtrak. and it might. but amtrak is the only connected intercity service coast-to-coast, border to border in the united states. and we need incremental improvements to the 90 to 110 so that people build a culture of riding the train, so they fill up the high speed trains that are connected in some fashion, and it might even be in an airport but it could be somewhere else, where you connect our system. people want to be seamless. they don't want to go to the border of pennsylvania and new york at root 15 where we had to build the connection if you remember, governor, to make sure that new york kept up with the leadership that was coming out of pennsylvania to make that interstate connection. and that's the difficult that we
have with railroads. we don't always connect. >> if i may clarify, the texas t-bone does connect and track houston metro, in downtown houston. >> great. it's a good way to finish. and we very much appreciate this panel. it's very informative and thank you very much. and i will adjourn. >> [inaudible conversations]
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