Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Freight railroads weigh in on high speed passenger rail

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Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger told the the Midwest High-Speed Rail Summit in Chicago Tuesday that "striking the right balance between passenger and freight rail expansion is key to the success of high speed rail in America."

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“America’s freight railroads support the goal of increased passenger rail investment,” Hamberger (pictured at left) said. “It’s good for our economy and the environment when more people and goods move faster by rail.”

He pointed out the privately owned freight rail network is "the literal foundation for high speed rail in America."

“We are critical stakeholders that need to be engaged from the very beginning of project planning and development. Passenger and freight efforts to grow and expand must complement, not compromise one another,” Hamberger said.

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Attending the the summit were Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn, Iowa Gov. Chester Culver, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Missouri Gov. Jeremiah Nixon, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.

Hamberger said each high speed rail project needs to stake into consideration "volume of freight traffic, terrain, number of grade crossings, and track configuration. These issues will help determine the feasibility of operating high speed passenger trains on the freight rail network."

Hamberger stressed that agreements addressing liability,compensation, and increased maintenance need to be approved prior to project planning and development.