Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama budget plan: More money for ‘high speed’ rail

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The Obama Administration Thursday unveiled a budget plan that identifies $5 billion in funding over a five-year period for “high speed” passenger rail projects in the U.S., supplementing the $8 billion it provided in its stimulus package for a two-year period.

In describing the outlay, officials said the funding would help states or groups of states create "several high-speed rail corridors" linking "regional population centers" across the country, as opposed to targeting existing infrastructure needs.

As generally defined in the U.S., “high speed” refers to train operations capable of 110 mph or better, a measure that falls short of a broader international definition of HSR, which often sets the initial HSR mark at 186 mph or better. Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor offers top speeds of 150 mph in New England, but only 135 mph in other locations (mostly south of New York).

The Administration is recommending a FY10 budget for the Department of Transportation of $72.5 billion, up from the FY09 level of $70.5 billion.