September 10, 2009

Rail Nashville rides Amtrak.

It was high time that Rail Nashville caught another train in Tennessee. This time
around we paid the fare and headed down to New Orleans from Memphis. Amtrak
operates a line that stretches 900 miles from Chicago to New Orleans, passing through
Memphis and Newburn-Dyersburg. It's called the City of New Orleans line.

Here are your time schedules for Memphis departures (one each way, each day):

Memphis to Chicago - (10:40pm)
Memphis to New Orleans - (6:50am)

We pulled out of Central station a little after 7:00am. The Cross Country Café is where the hungry people migrate, and feeling that way, we set up shop in a corner booth. Our purpose
was to look around and gather stories. Conversation came easy in the Café. Along the line,
we met Cajuns, Yanks, a gospel singer from The Mighty Voices of Wonder, the Cultural
Queen of Mississippi, a fella who runs Ernie-K Doe's, dancing girls (strippers...), foamers
(train obsessives..), and quite a few folks that survived Katrina and her exotic horrors.

The trip was timely and pleasant, with stunning views of the Delta. By 4pm it was
time to put away the camera and deboard.

The full two-part documentary below awaits your eyes! (please let load fully!!)

City of New Orleans (part 1): HD

City of New Orleans (part 2): HD

May 9, 2009

The Tennessee Central Railway Museum Delivers.

The Tennessee Central Railway Museum ran their second trip to Monterey in the last
forty years! That's a 216 mile roundtrip, running east from Nashville, whistling over
the Caney Fork, onto the Cumberland Plateau, with a grade up Brotherton Mountain.

Allen Hicks and Jay Wilson sat down for a multi-part interview of fascinating depth.
TN passenger rail goes through these men and the TCRM: (POSTING ALL SOON!!)

History of the Tennessee Central Railway (part 1)
History of the Tennessee Central Railway (part 2)
Future of Passenger Rail (PR) in Tennessee
ATL-CHATT (HSR) Corridor / PR Studies
Commuter Rail to Murfreesboro
Role of Freight, Local, and State
Trouble with PR / Future PR Lines
The Floridian / Giving Up Your Car
First Train Rides / Stories from Southern Rail
Steam vs. Diesel
Firemen, Engineers, Conductors, Rules

April 21, 2009

The Root of the Rails. Why the USA is Different.

The High Speed Passenger Rail Study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is telling.

"Federal funding for high speed rail has been derived from general revenues, not from trust
funds or other dedicated funding sources. Consequently high speed rail projects must compete
with other non-transportation demands on federal funds (e.g., national defense or health care)
as opposed to being compared with other alternative transportation investments in a corridor. Available federal loan programs can support only a fraction of potential high speed rail project costs. Without substantial public sector commitment, private sector participation is difficult to secure. The challenge of sustaining public support and stakeholder consensus is compounded by long project lead times, by numerous stakeholders, and by the absence of an established institutional framework." (March 2009)

In contrast, the central governments of France, Spain, and Japan generally funded the majority
of the up-front costs of high speed rail lines (Appendix V - page 84).

April 18, 2009


Vision For High-Speed Rail In America

- This was the picture appearing on stage with President Obama, Vice-Pres.
Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, during Thursday's
call for a high-speed passenger rail network in 100-600 mile corridors
that will connect communities across America: (full video).
Website for initiative here: Federal Railroad Administration.

- Tennessee is not considered viable at this point to be apart of any high-
speed rail corridor. You will notice in the picture, the existing Amtrak line
(TN's sole passenger line apart from the Music City Star) running from
Chicago to New Orleans, called The City of New Orleans, with stops at
stations in Memphis and Newbern-Dyersburg.

- Nashville is one of the largest American cities to have no (major city)
passenger rail service. The purpose of this website is to keep track of
developments, correspondence and news relative to the high-speed rail
initiatives, to share the history of the rails in Nashville (and the surrounding
South), to circulate passenger rail feasibility studies, and to imagine a
prosperous Tennessee connected to itself and the rest of the country by rail.
Like it once was. The Commonwealth of Virginia is trying to do just that:
- In his remarks yesterday (4/16/09), the President said, "I want to be clear -
no decision about where to allocate funds has yet been made. Any region
can step up, present a plan, and be considered."

- As regional enthusiasm grows, it is our responsibility to put pressure on
local and state representatives to answer two fundamental questions:
1) Is there a need and demand for passenger rail travel?
2) How will passenger rail travel be profitable?

April 17, 2009

Correspondence with the Mayor/MTA/Commerce

One of our readers has written to the Mayor's Office, Nashville MTA,
and the Nashville Area
Chamber of Commerce. An excerpt from the letter, with full responses below:

"I am interested in helping with the development of a high speed rail from Atlanta/Nashville
or Atlanta/Nashville Louisville/Chicago. It would be a horrible situation if we get left out
and Memphis and
Charlotte/Raleigh are included."

Click a parchment for responses...

Tennessee responds to Obama High-Speed Rail Plan.

New Tennesseean article:

(18/04/09) Chattanooga point of view from WDEF-TV:
Chattanooga to Atlanta connection not in Obama's High-Speed Rail Plan

"...he's right to make it a priority, but so far we don't have all the money we need to
forward with Atlanta to Chattanooga."

(17/04/09) Timely article from The Tennessean (3-page):
Obama vision for high-speed rail network skips Middle Tennessee.

"Officials had been studying the possibility of high-speed rail lines from Nashville to
Chattanooga and from Chattanooga to Atlanta,
but neither was included in the plan
unveiled Thursday."

(16/04/09) Chattanooga Times Free Press (w/audio from U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn):
No ticket to ride for local mag-lev

Future of Passenger Rail: Roundtable Video

This program asks the question of whether or not we need a national passenger rail service,
and should
our tax dollars be used to subsidize Amtrak?

For 31 consecutive years Amtrak has
lost money, and has returned to
congress seeking millions of federal
dollars just to survive this year ('02).

Click here to view a spirited debate from George
Mason University (10/25/02) between
trainmen, including a Delaware senator, a NARP Director and two Ph.D.'s.

April 16, 2009

Get to Know ARCADIS. Future of HSR in their Hands.

ARCADIS is an international company that delivers consulting, design, engineering,
urban planning....(click to read more)
. As part of a consultant team, ARCADIS is
working to designate a high-speed rail (HSR) corridor for the state of Tennessee.
In 2001, ARCADIS co-prepared the Rail System Inventory for the Tennessee Rail
System Plan.  In May 2003, a revised document was published.

The corridor designation will include two segments: Nashville to Chattanooga and
Chattanooga to Atlanta. This corridor will be an extension of the existing Southeast

High Speed Rail (SEHSR) corridor. In 2003 a successful application was submitted
to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Below, you will see recent corridor designations without Tennessee presence.

"Due to restrictive administration parameters, FRA is currently still
evaluating ARCADIS’ application to extend the SEHSR corridor."

Concerned citizens should contact Arcadis and FRA directly.

Nashville Urban Core Light Rail Analysis: NO-WAY.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority asked Wilbur Smith Associates

to examine the feasibility of a light rail transit from Downtown

Nashville to West End. The Final Report ('99) defines a specific

alignment and configuration and compares a rail to a bus transit


The rail system would be in single track down West End from 17th

to Murphy Road, running one-way with priority control of traffic lights.... (more on route).

The Final Report ('99) makes abundantly clear that a rail transit service for a downtown distribution service is much less attractive than rubber tire alternatives.

(02/16/10) * The Transport Politic has an updated article on Light Rail in Nashville

April 14, 2009

Tennesseans Need To Think About High-Speed Rail.

The City Paper as a futurist. From 2004.

....paired with the December 2008/January 2009 report from the Tennessee Association
of Railroad Passengers (TARP).

"The largest year in Amtrak history also brought results in Tennessee, a state with very
limited Amtrak service.
In Fiscal Year 2008, the number of people boarding/alighting
Amtrak services in Memphis and Newbern, Tennessee was 58,302 - an 11% increase
over Fiscal Year 2007."

A final article, from 2008, titled Bullet Train from Nashville to Atlanta?.

"High-speed trains are the future, say Tennessee and Georgia transportation officials who
have looked at the potential for such service between Nashville and
Atlanta via Chattanooga.
A recent $1 million feasibility study says the Nashville-to-Chattanooga project is doable,
but it would cost an estimated $5.4 billion in public and private dollars."

April 12, 2009

Case Study #1: Chattanooga to Atlanta

The recently published GAO report gives information on the Chattanooga - Atlanta High Speed Rail Project.

contains a Project Description

lists the Table of High Speed Rail Projects in the USA

April 11, 2009

One Rail Region: A United South

Something to remember:

"Tennesseans considered railroads as early as 1827, when a rail
connection between the
Hiawassee and Coosa River was proposed."

"By 1860 Tennessee had completed 1,197 miles of track, which represented
about 13 percent of the South's total of 9,167 miles."

Nashville is still connected to the rest of the South (and North) by rail.
You'll just need to hop a freighter to get anywhere.