Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Schumer pushes for progress on Buffalo to Albany HSR line

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U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) called on CSX, Amtrak, the New York Department of Transportation and Federal Railway Administration to quickly complete a plan for the construction of the high-speed rail line from Buffalo to Albany, N.Y., that is set to begin in Genesee County. Schumer helped secure $58 million in federal funds to construct the first part of the high-speed rail line in Western New York, but the money cannot begin flowing to the project until the parties complete service, construction and maintenance agreements.

With the House of Representatives already having voted several times to rescind high-speed rail money, Schumer plans to push the parties to move quickly so that New York's share of high-speed rail funding is not stripped before construction can begin.

"High-speed rail is going to usher in a new era of economic growth throughout Upstate New York and that project is going to start right here in Genesee County," said Schumer. "But for too long, this project has been stuck at the station and hasn't been rolling down the tracks. We need to get moving and get moving now. CSX, Amtrak, the state and the feds need to get together and come up with all of the necessary agreements so that we can sound the whistle and get this project going. The funds are there, the will is there and the plan is there, let's end this needless delay and put shovels in the ground so we can start on the first phase of this job creating work."

Schumer is pushing the construction forward in order to give Amtrak trains the opportunity to increase top speed from 79 to 110 mph and to eliminate interference from CSX freight trains so that passengers will not be subject to needless delays and can count on having their train arrive on time. The construction will also be a benefit to CSX, which will have full use of its tracks and will not have to compete for track usage with Amtrak.

Schumer noted that similar freight and passenger rail build outs are happening across the U.S. The nation's other long haul freight carriers are completing these types of projects in other states. Specifically, Union Pacific railroad in Illinois is onboard with running their freight trains next to rails carrying 110 mph passenger service. Norfolk Southern Railroad is operating in a similar arrangement in North Carolina, Chicago and Michigan, as is BNSF Railway in California, Oregon and Washington.

"New York can't get left in the dust when it comes to high-speed rail," continued Schumer. "We need to start laying track now and don't have another day to waste."

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