Friday, May 22, 2009

BNSF’s Rose: Pick one HSR demonstration project

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The $13 billion in federal stimulus money over a five-year period to advance U.S. high speed rail should be focused on one project to best demonstrate HSR’s value, according to BNSF CEO Matthew K. Rose, addressing the Austin (Tex.) Economic Club Thursday.

matt_rose.jpg"I'm concerned (the funding) will be spread like peanut butter," with small amounts doled out to several projects, minimizing any concentrated clout, Rose said. "I'm afraid it'll be a missed opportunity."

Rose noted that while Class I railroads would receive little direct benefit from any HSR development efforts, he supported the effort as a component of a larger move to improve the nation’s rail infrastructure. Rose is an active participant and key player in the recently formed OneRail Coalition, which has united freight and passenger rail interests.

Rose estimated Thursday that it might cost $1 trillion in the next 20 years to fully develop 10 to 15 U.S. HSR routes, far more than what has been identified so far by the Obama Administration. Despite that, “I really do think it's an investment our society ought to make," he said.