Environment

Sunday Train: The Steel Interstate & Sustainable Transport in the Age of Trump

So, we are two weeks into the Trump administration, and we see a runaway rush to promote economic suicide through pandering to oil and coal companies. Because, it would seem, the slogan was really "Make America Great At Propping Up Dead End Industries Again", but #MAGAPUDEIA" had to be edited down, both for length and because too few of Trump's core base supporters were confident they could pronounce it.

One implication is that much work for sustainable transport and Living Energy Independence has to shift down to the state and local level, which was the focus of last week's Sunday Train and the Sunday Train two weeks ago.

We still do not have a firm outline of the promised "$1T infrastructure" policy, but early indications are that it will be (1) a package of tax breaks for private investment in infrastructure, (2) wide open to grabbing tax breaks to spending that would have been done anyway, and (3) at a level too small to back $1T in total spending, even setting aside the tax breaks going to infrastructure spending that would have happened anyway.

It is a $1T infrastructure plan in the same sense that putting a fiberglass body that emulates a Ferrari on a go kart would make me a Ferrari owner. And still, if the Republicans push it through Congress, there is still an opportunity to use such a system to make progress toward sustainable long distance intercity transport ... through the Steel Interstate proposal being advocated by Solutionary Rail.

How and why, below the fold.

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Sunday Train: Is Cuomo Dragging His Feet on the Empire Rapid Rail Corridor?

It's been two and a half years since I started working full time for my University here in Beijing, and in that time, the frequency of the Sunday Train dropped from once a week a week with only the occasional missed week, to a few scattered runs during Semester breaks.

Back in January 2014, more than half a year before I started my job in Beijing, the Draft Tier I Environmental Impact Statement for the New York State Empire Corridor High Speed Rail study was signed off on by Joseph Szabo, then Administrator of the Federal Rail Authority. It was released with a comment period through to March 24, 2014.

So, let's catch up to the current state of play. As Albany's Times Union reported on 8 Oct, 2016:

Although the public comment period on the draft of the study ended April 30, 2014, the final environmental impact statement has yet to be released.

Now, the state Department of Transportation, which led the study, says it hopes to have the final document completed by the end of March, agency spokeswoman Jennifer Post said. The Federal Railroad Administration, at the state DOT's request, has extended the deadline to Sept. 30, 2017.

Well, then, haven't missed much. Join me for a look at what is up with the Empire Corrior, and why the NY DOT has been slow-walking the completion of this report, below the fold.

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Sunday Train: An Ohio Universities Rail System, Part 1 (Southern & Central Ohio)

Well, the 2016 High Speed Rail unlock has been postponed to 2018 or 2020.

When transportation policy at the Federal level is grabbed with both hands by the Oil and Gas death lobby, we have to turn to the state level. Now, in Ohio, it might not look like that offers a prospect any better ... but unlike 2010 and 2014, in 2018 the Gubernatorial cycle will be in an election cycle with a President in the Republican party ... which leads to a predictable midterm backlash.

That midterm backlash tends to be strongest in the first midterm ... and it seems likely to be even stronger, given the character of the Republican who happens to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

And so bringing the focus of sustainable transportation policy from the Federal level to the State and Local level was in my head when I read: Oxford commits to funds, support for Amtrak stop. The City of Oxford, Ohio, the college town that hosts Miami University (not, of course, "the University of Miami") has committed $350,000 toward the construction of an Amtrak station for the Cardinal that runs through town three times a week to Chicago and DC/NYC. This matches the $350,000 committed by Miami University.

More about building up The Cardinal as a Knowledge Corridor, below the fold.

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Sunday Train: Going to Tianjin by Subway and High Speed Rail

OK, so after years of (off and on) writing about High Speed Rail, I've finally been on a High Speed Rail train ... on the Beijing - Tianjin Intercity Railway.

Though I have to say that I went to Tianjin by Subway and High Speed Rail, given that substantially more time was spent en-route on subways than on the HSR ... given that Beijing South Railway Station to Tianjin Station is only 35-41 minutes (depending on whether there is a stop at Wuqing).

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Sunday Train: Sleeping On A Trip, In Transit

Well, as they say, the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglay ... and so when you consider the posting plans for The Sunday Train, which quite often fail to qualify among the best laid plans, disruptions should not be a surprise.

Last y'all heard from me, I was posting from Northeast Ohio, with plans to continue posting from Eastern Tennessee and then Northeast Ohio again before arriving back in China for the new Fall Semester. But computer facilities in my son's rented house in Knoxville, Tennessee were much less than in my previous summer trip to see my young grandson ... as in, no computer and the only internet was WiFi borrowed by my wife from the neighbors next door ... so that put the kabosh on that.

And the return leg to Northeast Ohio before flying off to China was originally planned to be fairly tight ... and it got even tighter (as will be described below as part of this week's topic), leaving no time to post once I returned to the much better blogging infrastructure up there.

This week's topic is Sleeping on a Trip. Americans once took for granted that a long cross country trip might involve sleeping in a Pullman car or in a sleeping cabin. Then we took to the air, and allowed our rail transport corridors to devolve into slow trains hauling bulk cargo as we subsidized truck freight while taxing rail freight.

And I was planning on writing on this topic before leaving for China, but after my Greyhound trip from Knoxville to northeast Ohio, and then my 13 hours flight from Detroit to Beijing, I've got even more to write about now, as I see whether I can hit the fortnightly posting target I've set for the Sunday Train while in China. Since I was here in China (but still jet-lagged) last Sunday, it's this Sunday or Bust.

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Sunday Train: A Cycle Track In Downtown Akron

This past Thursday, thanks to twitter, I learned that just one county to my west, a Cycle Track was being opened: Akron opens new bike trail through downtown:

The path is part of the city’s effort to become more bicycle friendly and to encourage people to leave the Towpath Trail and experience downtown.
“Downtowns that are attractive centers, especially for a young workforce, have amenities like cycle tracks and bike trails,” said Suzie Graham, president and chief executive officer of the Downtown Akron Partnership. “It positions us more as a forward-thinking community.”
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The path is part of the larger iTowpath effort funded by the Knight Foundation. It is one of more than 20 projects attempting to connect the Towpath to local attractions.

{Picture: Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal, follow link for slideshow}

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Sunday Train: Rapid Passenger Rail moving ahead

As you are probably well aware, the US Government is gridlocked, which means that for years and years, nothing has been getting done.

However, because of the appropriations for "High Speed Rail" in 2009 and 2010, things are being done right now. "Bullet train" High Speed Passenger Rail services often grab the headlines (and you can watch a fairly hokey California HSR Authority youtube video on what they did in the first six months since construction started), but much of the actual services that we will see starting up in the final years of this decade will be work on or preparation for the "Rapid Passenger Rail" services that upgrade top speed from the sluggish conventional US corridor speed of 79mph to 110mph or more.

The primary Rapid Passenger Rail project is the Chicago to Saint Louis "HSR", which will cut about an hour from the present five and a half hour trip. The majority of this project will be completed next year, though some work will continue into 2018. Other projects are underway in Michigan, on the Northeast Corridor, and in the Pacific Northwest.

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Sunday Train: Adventures on the Beijing Subway

I have ridden the Beijing Subway and lived to tell the tale!

Of course, the youtube clips you might be able to find about incredible overcrowding on the Beijing subway is just part of the story. Indeed, when riding on my "home" subway line, I often not only find plenty of standing room on the train ... I often get a seat.

So follow me as I wander through the Beijing Subway System, below the fold.

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Sunday Train: Washington State Labor Council support Steel Interstate Feasibility Study

Sunday Train has long supported the Steel Interstate concept ... but Sunday Train is "merely" an online activity composed of my online blogging in various forums and your discussion in various forums.

However, since 2013, I have also been involved in the advocacy of the Steel Interstate concept in a more direct collaboration organized by the Backbone Campaign, under the heading of "Solutionary Rail.

And the Backbone Campaign and Solutionary Rail team were successful in gaining the support of the Washington Labor Council for a feasibility study.

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