Victory for Transportation Activists

Amtrak will soon be getting faster between the Valley and New York City. The trip between Brattleboro and New York City (via stops in Greenfield, Northampton, Holyoke, and Springfield) will be about 30 minutes faster, almost certainly this year. Next year, the trip will get even faster, with trains between Springfield, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut approximately doubling in speed. The New Haven to New York City trip is on the nation's fastest Amtrak route, the Acela line between Boston and Washington, DC. Trains on that route go over 100 mph.

An Amtrak spokeswoman told the Valley Post to ask Jason Johnson of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority when the first change will happen. On August 14, Johnson told the Valley Post, “Because of a very late start this Spring we are not there yet. Officials plan to discuss the schedule next week, and what is needed so that it can be sped up.”

A Vermont Agency of Transportation official referred questions to Amtrak.

Details about the second change are at www.nhhsrail.com.

Oil company lobbyists want to lower the federal gas tax, which is 18 cents per gallon. Environmentalists wants to increase it, and use the money to improve Amtrak.

Train travel is much safer than travel by car. Amtrak has about 0.43 fatalities per billion passenger miles. Drivers or passengers in cars have about 7.3 deaths per billion passenger miles. This data is from:

www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0739885912002156

More than 30,000 people died in car accidents in the USA last year.

In Europe, travel by car is 45 times more expensive than travel by train, when all costs (such as climate change and lung cancer from air pollution) are included, according to this study (page 24): 

http://traintocopenhagen.org/IMG/pdf/railways_and_the_environment09.pdf

In the USA, on average, trains are four times more fuel efficient than trucks, on a ton-of-freight-moved-one-mile per gallon of diesel basis. That's according to a federal government study cited in a May 2015 report at:

https://www.aar.org/BackgroundPapers/Environmental%20Benefits%20of%20Mov...

About 200,000 people in the USA are killed by air pollution every year, according to a 2013 study by MIT:

http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2013/study-air-pollution-causes-200000-early-d...

Cars, SUVs, and trucks are the biggest cause of air pollution, the study said.

Local, state, and federal governments spend far more on subsidies for driving—cheap gas, road construction and maintenance, cheap or free parking—than they do on trains, buses, bicycle paths and sidewalks. Because the gas tax is so much higher in Europe, and because money from the tax is used to lower the cost of train travel, it is often cheaper and faster to travel by train than by car, even in rural Europe (including the cost of a train ticket versus the price of gas, and the cost of owning a car – the purchase, divided by the number of years the car will last, plus car maintenance, repair, parking, and insurance.)

Two group are lobbying for lower Amtrak fares and more frequent Amtrak service within the Valley and between the Valley and New York City. Their web sites are:

www.railvermont.org

www.narprail.org

Comments

Train tracks are no

Train tracks are no playground or place to take a shortcut. The Amtrak engines are quieter than freight locos. Every day I'm out there working I see dozens of trespassers on railroad property. Sometimes walking between the rails, even with "earbuds" on. Fatalities on the rails are at an increase. And it's something I don't want to have to carry with me the rest of my life either. In an average 30 year career, train workers will encounter five fatalities.

Lincoln Sander IV
Coxsackie, New York

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