Florida's High Speed Rail on track for 2015
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10/11/10 Sarah Curran
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:

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This isn't your average choo-choo train.

“Not only is it a better way to get from point A to point B, it is safe, reliable, and comfortable, and you know you are going to arrive at your destination on time.”

High-speed rail will connect Tampa to Orlando by 2015 and would run on speeds up to 200-mph. A bullet train would cut the drive time nearly in half and could even beat airplanes to their destination. Siemens Spokesperson, Becky Johnson says that’s not all the new rail would offer.

“We’ve found that transit oriented development happens around high speed rail station. So that includes everything from retail and restaurants, to city centers with business parks and housing developments, too. So huge opportunity for billions of dollars in revenue and also tens of thousands of jobs.”

Multinational corporation Siemens hosted a demonstration over the weekend of what they hope will be the train of the future. Siemens is one of the many-interested cooperation’s hoping to build America’s first high-speed rail in Florida. If Siemens is chosen by Florida to build the rail, Skanska would be the company in charge of laying tracks for the new railways, joined by FCC Construction and Veolia Transportation. Skanska’s Spokesperson Marie Humphreys says Florida is ideal for high-speed rail due its flat landscape.

“Through the construction of the train you decrease sound and impact to the environment, And you know surprisingly high-speed rail uses less gas and gets about 700-plus miles to the gallon. You know people tend to envision this high-speed rail it must use jet fuel it must be so inefficient, but its actually not. Its really conducive here in Florida”

However not everyone who attended the event at Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry was sold on Siemens' plans for high-speed rail. Don O'Neil and Ed Parker say the plan still needs some work.

“it’s a great concept, we’ve needed it for years, you cant keep widening I-4 to accommodate all the different people. The downside is it’s going to dump everyone done in downtown Tampa were the old sheriffs department jail is and from there how are they gonna to the cruise terminals, how are they gonna get to the airport, it hasn’t been thought through ”

“Well, I think it is something we should look into. As far as infrastructure for new rail its always a big problem for the state, for anywhere. But over all the country itself had a good things and they lost it. Commuter rails should be back in full swing the way it was in the hay day of rails.”

However one thing most people can agree on, is that bringing innovation like this to Florida wont just benefit this generation.

Reporter: "Are you guys excited to see the train today?" Kids: "Yes ma'am!" Reporter: "And do you know how fast it goes?" Kids: "Very, very fast!”

You can learn more about the bullet train on the website floridahighspeedrail.org .

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Comments

Great Idea

High speed rail is an idea whose time has come. It is a disgrace that the most developed economy in the world does not have it. That being said, the high speed rail system should be well-integrated with the rest of our transportation infrastructure. I traveled to Europe on business a few times, and each airport I visited was seamlessly integrated with a railroad station. I'd get off the plane, get my bags, go through customs and immediately catch a train to my hotel. No having to take a taxi or a bus from one transportation hub to another. In fact, on one of my trips, the pilots were on strike, so my connecting flight from Frankfurt to Brussels was canceled. No problem: I simply handed my connecting plane ticket to a waiting attendant in exchange for a train ticket and I was in Brussels a few hours later, in plenty of time to get rested and prepare for my meeting the following day.

Railroaded

Observations: A.) Doesn't Siemens make bullet trains for a profit? I'm not against a bullet train nearly as much as I am against a Siemens press release disguised as a news story. B.) "speeds up to 200-mph" also includes speeds of 0-50 and 50-51, and so on. Just sayin' C.) Why didn't the reporter ask the kids, "Do you want to live in a crappier house than the one in which you grew up so that Siemens could build a big, fast train that in which a lot of people may or may not not ride?"

Worst Idea Ever

The example cited above forgets to mention the extensive interconnected network of buses, trains, and subways in Germany that make trains a practical option. Plus the Germans pay one of the highest income taxes in Europe, plus sales taxes of 28%. Please get all the facts before you support wasteful and impractical projects.

RETIRED RAILROAD CONDUCTOR

There is a vast need for infrastructure rebuilding in America. The collapse of Interstate bridges, the pounding and breakup of roads from monster truck weights and the simple factor that nothing last forever. American rail service is largely a joke ... no one wants to ride that old train that only goes 79 MPH at maximum speed. It takes Amtrak hours and sometimes days longer to make a train trip that in the 1950's was almost never late. Why? Because Amtrak uses borrowed space on the freight railroads to go long distances away from their track in the North East Corridor. Amtrak pays "rent" called trackage to use these freight railroad lines and since they share the tracks with much slower freight trains the FRA Federal Railroad Administration limits Passenger train speeds to 79 MPH for safety. If Amtrak or another Passenger service were to attempt to run true High Speed service (Up to 400 MPH design track speed ) they would have to have seperate tracks from the freight trains to be used exclusively for those High Speed trains. For those of you who have been to France the T.G.V. service has had such tracks for decades now and the T.G.V. holds the on rail train speed records now at 356 MPH. Other countries (14)all around the world are building and operational with train moving in excess of 225 MPH. China, Japan, Russia and even Taiwan are working and building true High Speed trains to link the Airports and major cities with smaller cities all over ... America has as yet no master plan nor a true vision of what is or will be built. If we design and build now for little and limited projects we waste Billions because those projects may not work in the very near future and have to be torn down and rebuilt to better designs. We should build for at least 400 MPH trains and if we do not now have such trains the tracks will be there and waiting when we do. In todays world of true High Speed trains 160 MPH is a joke and a very bad one at that.

downtown a problem?

The Marion Transit Center is diagonally across the street from the old police station so that seems like an excellent fit to the rail head. What I have reservations about is the cost of a trip, which I suppose, cannot be computed at this point. I also wonder where it fits with the proposed light rail system since that's supposed to connect downtown with USF. It seems like a lot of investment for tourist dollars when we can't have an affordable bus fare for local residents.

High speed rail is right for Florida, Tampa

I visited the Siemens exhibit at MOSI last week and was impressed with the company's displays and exhibition of the train engine and car. I think that Florida and the U.S. are long overdue for some decent land-based alternatives to cars, and the new high speed rail system will fulfill some of this need. Siemens highlighted their success in building high speed systems in Russia, Spain, and Germany. Why is the U.S. so behind the times? As Earl Pitts says, "WAKE UP, AMERICA!"

I hope this writer wasn't paid

"Siemens is one of the many-interested cooperation’s hoping to build America’s first high-speed rail in Florida"

I Vote NO!

I listened to the debate between the No Tax for Tracks and Big Business today and I was impressed by Sharon. She made a lot of good points. David, the spokesman for Florida big business was rude and condescending. I plan to vote no on the additional sales tax. I never thought I'd see the day when WMNF backed big business. I guess their elitest nature and character has been exposed. They've traveled all over Europe and know what's best for us, the car driving public. Bull! BTW, these entries belittling Florida citizens for refusing light rail aren't helpful to your cause, Obubba.

why we need rail

You can talk about rail being "big business", but the truth is, sooner or later, we will simply be unable to continue using cars the way we have been. Even if they could make all cars clean, there is simply not enough oil to keep the cars running in the future; we are running out, and the only reserves are outside the country. We need rail on the national level to keep mobile, to make the most out of what we have, and if Tampa winds up behind, other places will wind up leaving us in the dust. Do we want to see jobs go to other cities because our transportation system is outdated?

Et tu Brutus

Your post is full of untruths: Whether we will be unable to use cars in the future is debatable. What if cars become electric? Oil reserves are in the U.S. as well as outside the country. Tampa winds up behind? This is not a huge contest. A locality's charm rests in its unique circumstances. Every city doesn't need a rail system. Go to the No Tax for Tracks website and you will learn that in no instance has rail been successful in this country. The argument that this will bring jobs is just too shrill. Get a real job, pal, and stop being s shill for big business.

Chief Bottle Washer

I have just one thing to say: MONORAIL! Shelbyville has had monorail for years! What are we? A bunch of hicks?!

Just Say NO!

No to wasteful, impractical spending. Don't let big business and their paid commentators fool you. The only people who will benefit from light rail are the corporations who win the contracts. Didn't we learn ANYTHING from that trolley fiasco? It runs day after day with no passengers. Or maybe one or two. But it's certainly not utilized to the extent that the council claimed it would be. And we haven't seen any increase in downtown tourism as they council promised. Learn from our mistakes and just SAY NO!

Vote Yes for the future or No for Third World Tamp

Either you want the Tampa Bay area to be able to attract jobs or not. Either you want us to prosper or not. It's really quite simple. Yes for future prosperity and environmental stewardship, or no for a Third World Tampa.

VOTE NO!

MAKE NO MISTAKE. THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS LARGEST OF ALL TAX PAYER-FUNDED PROJECTS IN FLORIDA HISTORY IS BIG BUSINESS, LAWYERS, AND ACCOUNTANTS. IT IS QUITE SIMPLE: EITHER YOU WANT YOUR TAX MONEY MANAGED AND SPENT SENSIBLY OR YOU WANT IT WASTED ON A PROJECT THAT WON'T HELP ANYONE. A LOT OF PEOPLE LIKE TO SARCASTICALLY COMMENT THAT TAMPA (AND THE U.S. IN GENERAL) IS BEHIND THE TIMES COMPARED TO EUROPE. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. YOU CAN'T FIND A DRIVE-THROUGH ATM IN EUROPE. EVERY TIME I VISIT EUROPE, MY NEW FRIENDS GUSH OVER THE CONVENIENCES THEY ENCOUNTERED WHEN VISITING THE U.S. THAT THEY DON'T HAVE IN THEIR OWN COUNTRIES. WAKE UP, FRIENDS. THINK FOR YOURSELVES. AMERICA RULES!

You want what???

NATIONAL HIGH SPEED RAIL… you want me, my wife and 7yr old daughter to give up that 12hr road trip up I-95 to visit family and friends…. in our compact??? No more head calls in whatever “clean” facility we can find??? No more “nutritious” meals in restaurants that happen to mysteriously appear in the middle of nowhere??? No more random radio stations along way??? No 18 wheelers… no 45mph blue hairs in the fast lane… no smokies… no more “what’s that noise”??? Wait a minute, wait a minute,… HIGH SPEED RAIL is starting to sound pretty good.

I WANT FREEDOM!!!

UMMM.. ARE THE ABOVE STATEMENTS SUPPOSED TO BE ARGUMENTS FOR HIGH SPEED RAIL? YOU CONSIDER IT TOO MUCH TROUBLE TO CHOOSE YOUR OWN ROUTE, YOUR OWN RESTAURANT, YOUR OWN MENU? WHAT DO YOU WANT? A SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT THAT TELLS YOU WHERE TO GO, WHAT TO RIDE, WHERE TO STOP, AND WHAT TO EAT? NO THANKS. I'LL CHOOSE FREEDOM AND ADVENTURE. THAT'S WHAT AMERICANS ARE FAMOUS FOR. P.S. IF ALL YOU CAN AFFORD TO TRAVEL IN IS A COMPACT, THAT'S YOUR FAILURE. DON'T EXPECT THE REST OF US TO PAY FOR YOUR FAILURE TO ACHIEVE.

Ouch...

Ouch… you hurt my wittle feewins…

INSULT WAS NOT INTENTIONAL

I MEANT THAT IN AN ABSTRACT SENSE. THE CITIZENS SHOULD NOT HAVE TO SUBSIDIZE THE FAILURE OF OTHERS. EVEN SO, IT'S SOMEWHAT OFF-TOPIC. THE PROPOSED RAIL SYSTEM WILL NOT RELIEVE ALL YOUR IMAGINED DIFFICULTIES. YOU WILL STILL NEED TO DRIVE TO THE VERY FEW TRAIN STATIONS. AND WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT THE DISTANT END, YOU WILL HAVE TO DRIVE AGAIN. IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE SENSE FOR FLORIDA.

Traffic is not that bad

Traffic in Tampa can be bad during rush hour but it's not bad at all compared to other major cities. I don't see a need for a train. I vote no.

I Agree

I also don't think the rail project should be approved. Why does it have to be a huge, all or nothing deal? Why can't we vote and finance a single link at a time? Identify a traffic shortfall and a proposed fix. And then vote on it. This beauracratic ball of wax that involves 20 years of unlimited building just smacks of a spiraling loss of control. For that reason, I think we should show restraint and have the deal repackaged into acceptable bites.

I Vote Yes

I won't be to blame for Tampa clinging to the stone age. We're overdue for something cool like this and anyway, it's ONLY A PENNY, GUYS!!!!

Don't Forget To Vote NO!

SAVE TAMPA from Big Business! Vote NO!

TRANSIT TAX DEFEATED

ha ha -you lose, Glenn! Get behind my SUV and choke on my dust! :)

sigh

It must have been because your argument was written in all caps.. Sad to think this is what adults act like..

Light in the tunnel...

Only light-rail failed... high speed rail is still on track... how's the view back there.