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How the USA High Speed Rail Initiatives Benefit Canada

President Obama announced on January 28,2010 funding for high speed and higher speed rail projects in the USA. High Speed Rail Canada would like to evaluate these announcements from a Canadian prospective.

From a macro view these announcements are visonary and begin the process of the modernization of passenger rail in North America. Canadians would benefit greatly by their government also realizing that there is the same need in Canada to improve passenger rail service here by improving existing services and building true high speed lines like the ones announced in Florida.

Specifically this funding will increase on time performance (OTP) and shorten trip duration on three Amtrak trains that serve Canada.

The Cascades - is an Amtak train that runs between Portland,Seattle, and Vancouver. There are currently two trains a day from Seattle to Vancouver. One of these trains goes through to Portland. It is an 8 hour trip and it costs $60.00 one way. OTP was 69% in 2008.

A substantial investment of $590 million dollars has been granted for improvements on this line. Much of this money will go to bypass tracks and rerouting existing rail service to increase train speeds and provide quicker trips.

The Adirondack - Currently the Amtrak Adirondack train provides daily service between Montreal and New York City. The trip takes approximately 10hours and costs $62.00 each way. The on-time average performance of the Adirondack is 60%. Any improvements on this line would be most welcome.

The State of New York had asked for more money as stated in their July 10th, 2009, FRA grant titled, “Adirondack Corridor Service Reliability Initiative”

The Maple Leaf - is an Amtrak Train that runs daily from New York City through Buffalo, Niagara Falls to Toronto.(VIA takes over on the Canada side) It is a 13 hour trip with an on-time performance of 66.8%. It costs $97.00 each way. This train will benefit significantly from the $148 million in grants as part of this money will build a third track to separate freight and passenger rail on a very busy freight portion of this line. This will definitely increase OTP and reduce travel time.

Overall this is great news for people who want to travel by train from Canada to the USA. Unfortunately one major problem was not addressed. That problem is the cross border security issue which in some cases hold up passenger rail travellers for over 90 minutes at the borders. All cross border passenger trains share the same problem. There is a well known solution to this problem and we will outline this solution in a future blog.

High Speed Rail Canada will also be posting video footage from President Obama's Florida High Speed Rail Speech on their highspeedrailcanada youtube channel in the near future.