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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 29, 2009 4:00am-4:30am EDT

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first off we wait and see what is applied for. you know, obviously i can't essentially they begin with one trunk line. they did. they began with their one trunk line. essentially it was six to eight trains a day running about 125 miles an hour. and from that they were so
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successful that they incrementally made the improvements that got them to roughly 20 trains a day at speeds of 200 miles an hour. so this is going to take a 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
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from new mexico. he's going to fix the whole problem. >> senator lautenberg, 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's just really critical. i want to pick up on senator thune's comments about the funding. senator thune, i just wanted to pick up on your points about the funding because it's very critical. this $13 billion standing alone just can go so far. but in my state we had an election about putting in $9 billion funding package, and the people voted aye which was kind of remarkable given the latest votes that we had. so, you know, the people there really understand it. and our system, and i think -- i bet most everybody in this room has been to my state. it will eventually connect sacramento, our state capital,
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to san diego in the south. that is the first phase will be between los angeles and san francisco, points in between. i also want to point out the private sector has to be leveraged into this too. in california we're working with the private sector so you take the $13 billion, you add 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's been disproven, let me know, show that our high-speed rail in california save 12.7 million barrels a year by 2030 and
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reduce co-2 emissions by 12 billion pounds per year. supposed to be 160,000 construction jobs and literally they're saying california hundreds of thousands of permanent jobs by 2035. so i think as we look at a lot of the problems facing us, this great recession, the co-2 problem, the need to be energy independent, the need to make people feel comfortable getting out of their car, this seems to be one place. so i have two questions. the first one, both of them, actually, is to administer -- administrator szabo. what is your development for high-speed rail nationally, and what do you consider most important for funding? will a state contribution bear some weight here? >> yes, that is one of the
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elements that while not mandatory in most of the tracks that, you know, the funding tracks that we provide, it's certainly that is something that is weighted, and something certainly 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. in all -- 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. you know, in europe, in japan, not every train is going 200 miles an hour. many of them are, but there continues to be a niche in the market for 110-mile service.
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there seems to be a niche in the market for traditional 79-mile-an-hour service. >> will state effort matter? >> absolutely. critical element. yes, absolutely. >> i said i had two questions. i have three. that's one. the second one is to mr. skancke who served as commissioner on the national surface transportation policy and revenue study commission. he's been very important in advising us in the e.p.w. committee on how to proceed with the next highway bill, etc. then i have the last question to mr. szabo. so, mr. skancke, do you believe d.o.t. has a realistic and workable plan to implement high-speed rail nationally? and what steps must they take to ensure 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 that i am very candid to answer
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the questions. >> that's why i asked it. >> i think our nation lacks a vision on how we are going to move our american public out to 2050. it's why this congress in safety lieu created the transportation -- in safetlu created the transportation bill. as we get people out of our own horse and buggy, that it is a cultural sift. we have to convince the american public that high-speed passenger rail is going to be predictable, that it's going to be ontime and it's going to be reliable. and we do that two ways. one, we just make the investment. we don't talk about what the programs are going to look like. we've done that. we 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,
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find the funding mechanisms that are needed and make the necessary investment. >> ok. >> i think it's just that simple. >> ok. so my last question. you said predictable, reliable and you had another word. >> dependable. >> you didn't say safe. of course, it's obvious. >> yes, obviously. >> safe, it's got to be safe. my last question deals with the tragedy that happened on the metro line here. we just wrote a letter -- senator rockefeller and i -- 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've seen these things happen in my state. so my question to you, and my last question is, do you intend to move forward with positive train control and do it quickly so we can let people know we're moving forward on the safety
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question? >> yes, absolutely. first off, we have a congressional mandate to ensure 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 have to fix it for the ones we have got going now. i hope you move quicker than 2015. that's some place that i have to compromise. i think it needs to be swifter than that. thank you. >> senator hutchinson. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me start with judge eckels and just ask that -- well, let me first state that i hope there will be funding tore
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projects other than those that may be further along than the texas t-bone, and if you could apply right now for federal funding in part of this stimulus, what would you ask for it to do? >> today, our biggest need is the market and environmental engineering studies. before we go on the ground with a system we want to make sure that it's a system that will be viable, will have the market that will support the system. unlike the east coast, we don't have regular service between houston and dallas today. so to develop one we need to make sure that we are building a system which can be priced so we can compete with the automobiles, with the aircraft and also to keep an operational system. i do think bringing the discipline of the marketplace to the system can help set a fair schedule and construction, you know, of the technology that will make sense and would be viable for the long term for the state.
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>> let me ask mr. szabo, i'm looking at a map, basically the amtrak system with the high speed corridors that have been designated, the 11 that have been designated in the darker red, and 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 we absolutely must take is the development of a national rail plan. when i say that, i mean it from
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a most comprehensive standpoint. we have to understand how high-speed rail is going to overlay on traditional intler city rail, 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 we have a comprehensive strategy when it comes to rail. you can't talk about high speed rail without talking about the impact on freights. you know that map is a document that happens to exist today, but certainly there's the need for a much bolder, clearer vision. and a national strategy on how to get there. >> have you ever talked or even put on the table with the amtrak corridors that do share freight rail lines, which make for problems of on time
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service, which then cause problems at the fare box, have you 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 free 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 in highly congested corridors? >> i think clearly there's multiple options.
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the key is that whatever we do, and clearly if we're going to have true high speed rail, it has to be on a dedicated corridor, but whatever we do,  we have to make sure 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're 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 and the texas eagle i know so well, the experience has not been good. >> yeah. i mean, any of these options can be considered. >> well, i would ask if, in the
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parameters of the spending of this stimulus money, that is a r 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 state application, that
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would be a good factor. >> that's right, yes. >> judge exels, let me ask you -- eckels, let me ask you, obviously the texas t-bone is not going to be looking at an amtrak route, but are there options on the texas t-bone that might provide duel-rail with freight line, are or you looking at a different, all-new right of way. >> senator, the very fast track portion of the system, as mr. szabo pointed out, the system would have to have its own tracks. we think the whole system should be a separate track anyway. but as you described, in the urban corridors, the highway 290 corridor coming into houston we partner with the harris county toll authority, the yube pacific railroad, the
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houston met reauthority and the high speed rail and right of way and share a common corridor. the idea where it's appropriate to lay a track adjacent to freight railroads, and there's a number of places where that makes a lot of place, particularly in the urban areas where you have a limited right of way. as we move out, it depends on the demand we get from the freight side. we have found them to be reluctant to give up the right of way, claiming they need it for future development and it's theirs. it's a continuous problem. we're not for taking a lot of new right of way, we'd like to consolidate as much as possible with txdot as much as possible. >> that's what -- i just think coming to some realistic terms with the freight rail is going to be in everyone's interest. because they have a business to
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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 and those issues. >> there are many places where it cheaper for us to relocate the freight rail and buy them a new area than for us to try to condemn a new right of way. >> thank you very much. my time is up, i appreciate all of your coming in and helping us get through this it is a very important new capability for america to have true multimodal planning for transportation. thank you. >> thank you, senator hutchison. as senator boxer was leave she mentioned the letter between she and senator rockefeller and
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asked that it be put as part of the record, there's no objection, it will be ordered to be part of the official record. governor rendell, i appreciate your enthusiasm for capital budgets and also high speed rail. 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 corridor 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. i'm wondering, congress, we haven't designated or haven't authorized its 11th -- we have authorized 11 high speed rail corridor, yet the department of transportation has only designated 10.
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i hope you're reserving that last one for the southwest. but could you tell me a little bit of the thinking on the 11th and where you are and what's the -- what your thoughts are on an el paso-albuquerque-denver corridor? >> i'm assuming that's to me. >> yes. yes it is, mr. szabo. >> frankly there's no position to announce at this time relative to any 11th high speed rail corridor, but the important thing is it's not necessary to be an applicant under the grant guidance we've 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 the need for more than 11. we need to take a look at where are those markets where there's
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good potential, what is the interest from those states? and historically, there's not been a strong interest from the southwest, but it sounds like the level of enthusiasm frankly nationwide is changing considerably. so i think the issues of whether there's an 11th corridor a 12th corridor a 13th whatever will get fleshed out as we put together a national rail plan. >> senator, could i take a shot at that? >> yes. >> i think the way this is going to happen is to do it. i think that's what mr. skancke said, it's up to us to find a way to do it to scale. i think it comes incrementally. if i could, and i've thought and thought and i've had wall street people in to try to see how i could finance high speed rail from philadelphia to pittsburgh, 200-mile-per-hour rail. if we built that, there's no
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doubt in my mind that others would be 200 miles per hour and from pittsburgh to detroit to chicago, the texas t-bone may be your best shot. if they can build it and prove it work, how tough is it to take it -- i don't know if el paso is on the t-bone -- >> el paso isn't, but el paso is one of the strongest supporters of high speed rail, not that they expect to see the line to houston, but the line from el paso to albuquerque to denver, and they see the proof in the system on t-bone, this would be the next step to provide the capacity to build the el paso route to albuquerque and on to other points in the west. >> the -- one of the things that's been fascinating in new mexico, governor richardson stepped up and did commuter
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rail and there were a lot of doubts, an earlier governor talked about doing it, was ridiculed by the press but he stepped up and did it, on time, on schedule, 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. 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 $4 gasoline and we're a terribly rural state and people are known to travel 120, 150 miles a day to work. just to commute. but that -- it sounds a little bit like governor rendell you build it and the people are going to come.
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i think, looking at our energy future, i don't know if any of you have comments on that, it may be very hard to predict what reliable ridership is right now. please, governor rendell. >> if o.m.b., c.b.o. and the g.a.o. were predicted the success of columbus' venture if they were advising queen isabel lark we'd all be speaking italian. i garne tee you. you hit it right on the head, senator. some of this we've got to do because a we know it works in other parts of the world, and some of this we've got to do on faith. when i invested $7 million dollars in commonwealth, that's not a lot of money down here we spend that sum of money before breakfast in washington but for the commonwealth that's a nice hunk of change. i wasn't sure. there wasn't a study that said we'd jump up ridership that much. but i knew we had to try.
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this was our best shot. if you look at the topography of pennsylvania, this was our best shot to prove there was a market for high speed rail and it work. it worked. so times -- so sometimes as mr. skancke said, you have to do it. >> senator, in the 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 about the transit oriented development and the additional demand in thesing me on liss that would grow -- the megopolis we refer to and it's hard to measure until it's in place. >> 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. hundreds of millions of dollars. and as i said, we have to stop
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studying. we know on all the amtrak corridors throughout the country that there's a need and demand. as fuel prices go up, ridership goes up. as congestion goes up, ridership goes up. we don't have to guess. the problem we have is, we're 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've all said, instead of doing 100 mile segments, let's try a 500 mile segment, let's actually, i'll be 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. ife fail, then we fail, but
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we don't even know what failure is yet, because we haven't gotten there. >> senator udall. as the good governor was saying to me, who was that guy that built our 110-mile-per-hour service, i said david gunn, it's the only good thing he did for amtrak. but that's not true, i want to say that because david and i are friends, i talked to him a couple of days ago, i accused him from using the turbo money from the project in new york to get that done. but i know he got pennsylvania money. i think what tom is talking about is sab lutely true, with an exception. that is that the culture in this country is not a train riding culture. in the northeast corridor, about 43 million people live within 40 miles of where we operate ocela. it is a success. in 2000, we had about 37%, this was before it started, of the
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air-rail market was with rail. today, in 2008, we have just the opposite of that. we have 63% of the rail-air market. that's with service that's 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 system of we are demonstrating success. but the piece that we can't miss, and i think administrator szabo pointed it out, is that we need to do both. we need to talk about having very high speed and it needs to connect. t-bone needs, i listened carefully, i didn't hear it connecting to amtrak, it might. but amtrak is the only connected intercity service coast to coast, border to
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border in the united states. and we need the incremental improvements knot 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 at 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 route 15, when 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. that's the difficult -- difficulty we have today with railroads. we don't always connect. >> senator, if i may, the texas t-bone does connect into the amtrak houston metro


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