#Amtrak Appeals to #Millenials in New #Video Touting Glamour of Train Travel

En Route to SXSW.  (Image via screengrab)

En Route to SXSW. (Image via screengrab)

Amtrak is out with a new promotional video, and it’s targeted right at millennials. As UrbanCincy reported, “On the heels of kicking off their new Writers Residency program, where writers can ride intercity passenger rail for free, Amtrak welcomed 30 prominent new media ‘influencers’ on a long-distance train ride from Los Angeles to SXSW in Austin.”

Watch the video after the jump.

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Proposal Pushes California To Look Toward Future of Transportation

West
Friday, August 16, 2013
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Sketches of Hyperloop Alpha's mobile pods (Tesla Motors)

Sketches of Hyperloop Alpha’s transit capsules (Tesla Motors)

When Elon Musk makes plans he makes no little ones. And he feels California shouldn’t either. This is the rationale behind Hyperloop Alpha, a supersonic, solar-powered, air-cushioned transit system (and future “Never Built”?) he views as the bolder alternative to conventional high-speed rail. It’s not a train, exactly. It’s more a hybrid between high-speed rail and the Concord.

Continue reading after the jump.

Illinois Takes Helm of High-Speed Rail Group

Midwest
Thursday, March 21, 2013
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High-speed rail in Taiwan, where trains run at approximately 185 mph. (Image courtesy Flickr user loudtiger.)

High-speed rail in Taiwan, where trains run at approximately 185 mph. (Image courtesy Flickr user loudtiger.)

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today named Illinois’ Department of Transportation the leader of a multi-state effort to advance high-speed rail. Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington will use $808 million from the FRA to build 35 new diesel locomotives and 130 bi-level rail cars. California led the group last year, in which 130 bi-level rail cars were procured for high-speed service.

Read More

High Speed Rail Picks Up Speed Between Chicago and St. Louis

Midwest
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
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An Amtrak train in Niles, Ill. (Courtesy Wayne Senville, Planning Commissioners Journal)

An Amtrak train in Niles, Ill. (Courtesy Wayne Senville, Planning Commissioners Journal)

Midwest train travelers will enjoy a quicker passage, as Amtrak approves a new top speed of 110 mph for a section of its Chicago-St. Louis route. Though trains will only accelerate to the new top speed over a 15-mile segment, officials said another $1.5 billion investment over three years of upgrades will bring the rest of the track up to speed.

The current top speed is 79 mph over most of the route. Instead of 5 and a half hours, future trips could be under 4 hours. Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak tested a new system of triggers for highway crossing gates earlier this year.

Amtrak’s Midwest presence has seen a significant ridership boost, following trends around the country. Transit in general may be enjoying a small renaissance, with the CTA counting 16 months of rail and bus line increases. Despite setting ridership records, Amtrak is losing money and faces an uncertain future.

Illinois To Test High-Speed Rail South of Joliet

Midwest
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
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High-speed rail in Taiwan. (Image courtesy Flickr user loudtiger.)

High-speed rail in Taiwan. (loudtiger/Flickr)

Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak have sought permission from federal regulators to conduct the first test of high-speed rail in Illinois. A 20-mile track between the cities of Dwight and Pontiac could be a proving ground for the 110 mph passenger train starting October 1.

They would be testing a new system of triggers for highway crossing gates — one that uses radio signals to raise gates 80 seconds before a crossing in order to give the faster trains more time to slow down or stop if necessary. The current system uses track circuits to communicate, and allows the normal 79-mph trains 30 to 35 seconds of clearance before a crossing. The Illinois Department of Transportation will conduct a survey to determine whether motorists will tolerate the longer wait times.

Funding for high-speed rail was narrowly approved in California earlier this month, as Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and others continued to build on growing excitement for high-speed rail in the heartland.

Competition Winners Imagine Life at the Speed of Rail

National
Friday, June 24, 2011
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ANIMAL FARMATURES (Courtesy Van Alen)

ANIMAL FARMATURES (Courtesy Van Alen)

Sooner or later, aerodynamic trains will be zipping across the farm fields of the heartland and the Van Alen Institute wondered what cultural, environmental, and economic implications such a novel technology would bring. After revealing ten winners of its Life at the Speed of Rail ideas competition, it appears that high speed rail could one day mean larger-than-life mechanical farm animals roaming around the countryside. At least that’s the vision of Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer of Urbana, IL whose project, Animal Farmatures, reimagines farm implements as entertainment for passing riders.

Winners were announced today at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. and soon, the Van Alen will be taking Life at the Speed of Rail on the road (although unfortunately not yet by train). Stops include St. Louis’ Museum of Contemporary Art at 7:00p.m. on June 28, Houston’s James Baker III Institute at Rice University at 6:00p.m. on July 7, and Los Angeles’ Caltrans District 7 Headquarters at 4:00p.m. on July 12.

Check out the winners after the jump.

Quick Clicks> High Speed Rail Rescued, Buffalo′s Rebirth, Metrocard’s Demise

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
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High Speed Rail Rescued. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $200 million for high speed rail projects in Michigan yesterday, as part of a $400 million package for high speed rail in the Midwest. The money came from funds rejected by Florida governor Rick Scott. Grist reports: “It looks like Scott’s tantrum will mean improved speed and performance in the Northeast Corridor, a high-speed line between Detroit and Chicago, better train cars throughout California and the Midwest, and forward movement on the planned L.A.-to-S.F. high-speed line. Thanks, sucker!”

Over the Hill. And speaking of rail, Grist brings us this infographic showing the dramatic decline of Amtrak‘s coverage since its heyday in the 60s. Maybe it’s time to bring Joe Biden in for a celebrity ad campaign.

Buffalo’s Berkeley Makeover. Can Buffalo, New York become the next hip college town? That’s what administrators at the University of Buffalo are betting on, staking $5 billion to expand the campus from the outskirts of the city to downtown. The city, which lost 1/10 of its population over the last decade, may not have Berkeley’s hippie past, but business leaders and local politicians envision bringing thousands of professors and staffers downtown, with “young researchers living in restored lofts, dining at street-side bistros and walking to work.”

Metrocards Out, Smart Cards In. The country’s oldest subway system foresees a future without the iconic Metrocard. The NY Daily News reports that the New York City MTA plans to replace Metrocards with smart cards in three to four years. Riders would tap the MTA Card, or a debit or credit card, to pay their fares.

QUICK CLICKS> Highway, High Speed, Detroit, Heated Sidewalks and Ikea

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
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Vancouver to consider removing two viaduct bridges. Courtesy Publicola.com

Vancouver Chooses Their Way Over Highway. Vancouver officials are considering permanently closing two viaduct bridges after temporary closures for the 2010 Olympics went smoothly. The city is the latest to join a growing number of places proposing highway removal, including Seattle where the debate is heating up.

High Speed Rail to Slow Down. The government didn’t shut down, but President Obama signed off on a $1.5 billion cut to high speed rail to reach a budget deal. High speed rail has been a top transportation priority for the administration, which had been funded at $2.5 billion per year.

Are US Cities Like Detroit Really Dying? The short answer is no. An infographic at Fast Company Design looks at migration in Detroit and finds that there’s been an influx of residents in the city’s core, surrounded by decline. John Pavlus writes, “The undeniable truth is that downtown is flashing the signs of a comeback.”

Keeping Things Hot. The city of Holland, Michigan heats its sidewalks with waste heat diverted from a local power plant. The system eliminates the need for shoveling and keeping downtown lively all-year round.

Fits? Alan Penn, professor of architecture at University College London, suggests that IKEA deliberately designs its stores to be confusing to encourage impulse buying.

Quick Clicks> Zigzag, Walking, Movies, Retro, Rail

Daily Clicks, East Coast
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
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VDOT's zigzag road striping (Mike Salmon/VDOT via Washington Post)

VDOT's zigzag road striping (Mike Salmon/VDOT via Washington Post)

[ Quick Clicks> AN's guided tour of links from across the web. And beyond. ]

Zigzag. In April 2009, the Virginia Department of Transportation installed a painted zigzag stripe where a road and a bike trail intersect. Wash Cycle reports that VDOT has since studied the effects of the experimental installation and determined the lines have improved safety and reduced speeds at the trail crossing. These zigzags common overseas, but could they be coming to a street corner near you?

More quick clicks just after the jump.

New Routes for High Speed Rail Funds

Midwest
Thursday, December 9, 2010
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It’s hard to imagine turning down $1.2 billion. That is, unless you’re the governors-elect of Wisconsin and Ohio. The New York Times reported today that those two states officially withdrew claim to their shares of federal stimulus money awarded for construction of new rail corridors, citing concerns over subsidies needed to run the trains. Instead the money will be redirected to 13 other states. Ironically, both Wisconsin and Ohio had lobbied aggressively for big hunks of the $8 billion set aside for high-speed rail development in Obama’s stimulus package. Things changed when Republicans won both governorships, partly on the platform of denying the stimulus awards. Read More

High Speed Railing in Anaheim

West
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
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One of China's many High Speed Rail trains

More than 300 architects, planners, and developers had their minds blown and their ambitions frustrated at last week’s California High-Speed Rail TOD Marketplace in Anaheim, produced by the Urban Land Insitute’s California District Councils. Read More

Expedited Boarding in the Loop?

Midwest
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
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Overview_image-1

Block 37 (courtesy Joseph Freed and Associates)

Mayor Daley has announced a plan for a high speed rail line linking O’Hare to the Loop and has appointed a 17 member panel to look into the project. According to the Sun-Times, though, he has a major caveat: the line should be entirely privately financed and run with no city or government money of any kind. He gave this ultimatum to the panel of prominent business and civic leaders. The line would connect O’Hare to the currently unfinished station under Block 37. Is such a plan feasible? The mayor thinks so. “There’s already interest by private investment funds, foreign investment funds,” Daley said, according to the Sun-Times. “They’ve come to see me, I’ll be very frank, talking about this. That’s exciting.”

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