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Rail industry groups react to Obama's $53 billion high-speed plan


Several passenger-rail and related associations issued statements regarding President Barack Obama’s proposal to invest $53 million over a six-year period to create a nationwide high-speed and intercity rail network.

The proposal, unveiled yesterday in Philadelphia by Vice President Joseph Biden, also calls for committing $8 billion toward HSR in Obama's fiscal-year 2012 budget, which the president is expected to send to Congress on Feb. 14.

Below is a sampling of some associations’ prepared statements:

American High Speed Rail Alliance:
"AHSRA welcomes the integration of an intercity passenger-rail program into the surface transportation re-authorization process and, most importantly, the alliance supports the Administration’s announcement that the 'proposal will open the door to new public-private partnerships (PPP) and attract significant private investment in developing and operating passenger rail corridors.' The alliance will continue its efforts to create a positive climate for PPP-financed HSR projects by launching a new PPP High Speed Rail Council that will work to develop opportunities for private investment and participation in passenger-rail corridors in the United States."

Midwest High Speed Rail Association Executive Director Rick Harnish:
"The president’s plan would put America on the right track to both upgrade current Amtrak service and lay the groundwork for bullet trains in excess of 200 mph like those in Europe, Japan and China. … We urge Congress to approve the president’s proposed funding to create a clean, efficient transportation network that creates jobs right here in America.”

National Association of Railroad Passengers President Ross Capon:
“It is extremely heartening that the White House has the clarity of vision to propose this groundbreaking program in the face of recent narrowly based attacks on high-speed rail in the U.S. If we are to develop a modern transportation system that gives Americans the travel choices that they need and cut our reliance on foreign oil, we need our leaders to show this steadfast determination to get the job done."

Building America's Future President Marcia Hale:
"Building America’s Future continues to support not just President Obama’s high-speed rail vision, but his call for action on smarter infrastructure investment and improvements to our current system. … We are especially pleased to support the Administration’s call for a robust six-year transportation bill that will invest in our roads, bridges and transit systems and help to create thousands of jobs."

American Public Transportation Association President William Millar:
"High-speed rail will create a new industry that will lead to hundreds of thousands of much-needed American jobs. … Investing in our country’s transportation infrastructure is vital for economic growth, competitiveness and quality of life. In addition, the formation of a high-speed rail network that connects to public transportation will relieve both highway and aviation congestion."

Transportation Equity Network Executive Director Laura Barrett:
"America’s infrastructure has fallen far behind the rest of the developed world and there’s no better time to invest than the present. With millions of Americans out of work, especially in the construction industry, investment in transit is an excellent way to invigorate the economy and boost America’s long-term competitiveness."

Associated Pennsylvania Constructors Executive Vice President Robert Latham:
"Investing in rail infrastructure is good and it’s long overdue. And we’re hopeful that it’s part of a comprehensive transportation program to be advanced by the Obama Administration to generate jobs and to create a surface transportation  system worthy of the 21st century."

Reconnecting America President and Chief Executive Officer John Robert Smith:
"A national high-speed rail system is not only an opportunity to redefine how we travel and how our regional economies grow, it represents the type of innovation and progress that can secure a better future for our grandchildren."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/9/2011