European Transport Agencies Consolidate Intercity Rail Operations in Face of Competition

» As Veolia closes in on Transdev, Deutsche Bahn completes acquisition of Arriva. All before much real competition has begun.

Compared to Western Europe, the U.S.’s intercity passenger rail system seems positively easy to understand, with exactly one major carrier. The Old Continent has a glut of operators providing services along thousands of miles of travel corridors, representing billions of rides every year. In Western Europe, with serious competition in play in the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands, this makes for a complex system of corporate link-ups and competing systems, as the chart above shows.

With European Union regulations promoting competition in international services across the continent beginning this year and in domestic services over the next few, the system will get a whole lot more complicated. That is likely to benefit most directly three major corporate entities: The German national rail company DB, the French national rail

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U.S. Withdraws Proposed Freight Rail Regulations But Fails to Address Conflict with Future Passenger Service

» Freight companies rejoice now that they won’t have to pay for passenger train delays.

It was inevitable: Distraught by the possibility of having to increasingly open up their tracks to passenger trains, the freight railroad companies have staged an open rebellion against a proposed U.S. policy that would have penalized them if they caused delays.

The rule, which was proposed in May by the Federal Railroad Administration, would have enforced “stakeholder agreements” that went along with funding for new or improved intercity rail routes advanced by state governments. In exchange for a public investment in track, signaling, and the like, freight rail companies would be required to ensure that passenger trains aren’t delayed by oncoming traffic or slowed-down cargo trains.

In the Omaha World-Herald earlier this week, reporter Joe Ruff described some of the opposition to these rules. D.J. Mitchell of BNSF railways, suggested that the situation was stacked against

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The Politics of Mode Choice

» Choice of transportation mode for new transit capital projects is often just as much a reflection of politics as it is a statement of “objective” technological benefits.

Would it be an indictment of the political system to suggest that most political leaders making decisions about what kind of technology to use in new transit corridors simply don’t care about the relative merits of various transportation modes? If someone were to develop a definitive formula that established, once and for all, the most appropriate technology for any possible corridor, would it matter?

I raise these questions because when put it in the context of actual decision-making by politicians in the United States, the seemingly endless debate between proponents of rail and buses can sometimes appear downright irrelevant.

Bus rapid transit may provide the same capacity as light rail or light rail may be more effective in producing ridership increases or busways may be

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For Now, Atlanta Opts to Promote Streetcar Starter Line Over Beltline

» Famed inner-city loop will have to wait on the sidelines as downtown streetcar competes for federal TIGER II funds.

Today is the deadline for applications to the second phase of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER program, which provides multi-million dollar grants to transportation projects around the nation based on merit. Cities are likely to submit several billion dollars of proposed projects to compete for a $600 million pot. Unlike the first round, in which Tucson, Detroit, and Dallas received funding for their streetcar lines without having to allocate local funds, this time municipalities are required to contribute 20% of the estimated cost of the program.

Atlanta has chosen to submit a 2.6-mile streetcar line for consideration this time. Of total estimated costs of $72 million, the city hopes the federal government will chip in $52 million; the city and the downtown development district have each agreed to pay

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Weekend Links

» This week’s big news. Open thread in the comments.

Follow my Twitter account (@ttpolitic) to get news in real time.

On The Transport Politic:

U.S. Announces $8.5 Billion in Requests for High-Speed Funds; $2.3 Billion Available
Can Bike Sharing Work in Cities With Monofunctional Job Centers?
Chicago’s Parking Fiasco Fails to Stem Calls for Privatization of Infrastructure
Chicago’s Plans for a High-Speed Airport Link Revived Thanks to Investor Interest

A note on the last article: In discussing the matter of access between Chicago’s downtown and its airport, I neglected to mention two important issues about such links that generally apply to places throughout the country. One, that they’re too often proposed as elixirs (even “money-makers”) for struggling transportation agencies and thus that they are sometimes prioritized over more important projects; and two, that the City of Chicago would do well if it truly thought over the value of such

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  • by Yonah Freemark
  • Twitter: @yfreemark
  • yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com
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