Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Politician For Passenger Rail

We are going to go out on a limb and post an email we received from Illinois U. S. Senate Candidate Andy Martin. Please note that this is copyright material, and we are taking his forwarding of this to us as permission to reprint it without change or further comment.

(CHICAGO)(January 22, 2008) The newly-released “Report of the National Surface Transportation policy and Revenue Study Commission” strongly supports U. S. Senate candidate Andy Martin’s high-speed dedicated rail “One Illinois” passenger train proposal.,1,1446677.column “Last month I proposed the ‘One Illinois’ Plan to link Illinois’s cities and the Midwest region with high-speed dedicated rail service,” Martin stated. “I am very pleased that the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission has essentially endorsed the same goals. “The year 2009 is critical for every Illinoisan. That is when federal transportation legislation will be reviewed and revamped. If Illinois does not have a strong voice in Washington, we will be losers again. “We need to create an integrated transportation system for Illinois and the Midwest. High-speed trains would run from Milwaukee to St. Louis and Carbondale, from the Quad Cities and Peoria to Indianapolis, all connecting through the Chicago area. We would tie our state together and the region’s economy closer together. High-speed rail to Rockford would allow both Rockford and O’Hare to grow and save billions of dollars in wasted spending for An unnecessary third airport. People from Southern Illinois could get to major cities. Real estate values would be revived. “It is no secret that our economy and the world economy are under strain. These strains are not going to disappear overnight. A public works program based on productive investment in transportation infrastructure would help revitalize Illinois’ economy as well as the region’s economic base. “Dick Durbin has been an embarrassing failure on transportation issues and rail issues. His promises of new Toonerville Trolleys for Illinois, slow “Durbin Mule Trains,” are a disgrace and a manifestation of his incompetence. The rest of the world is moving forward with high-speed rail. We are falling behind. Our leaders in Washington have failed us. It is time for a change. It is time for Dick Durbin to ride one of his mule trains back home, although given Durbin’s ‘Potomac Fever’ he will probably stay in Washington after he is defeated.”------------------------------------------© Copyright by Andy Martin 2008. Chicago-based Martin holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. Comments? E-mail: Media contact: (312) 440-4124. Web site: Also:;

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More Front Runners

And we are not referring to the commuter rail service in Utah.

As of this writing, Sens. Clinton and McCain appear to be in a primary winning mode. How do they fare on Passenger Rail?

Sen. McCain has been not voting for most critical Amtrak legislation. He is not vocally for any form of Passenger Rail. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to find one of his speeches that even mentions rail tranportation. We do not think that a President McCain would be a friend of Amtrak or of Passenger Rail.

On the other hand, Sen. Clinton is quite vocal about Passenger Rail and has strongly advocated spending that would improve - not just New York - but national long-distance Passenger Rail. Her voting record on Amtrak does leave something to be desired, but she has supported major initiatives that would fund a modern rail passenger transportation system. She doesn't flinch at the prospect of spending billions.

Of the front-running candidates we have looked at so far, Hillary Clinton seems to be one of our best hopes for the expansion and improvement of Passenger Rail in this country.

In future blogs, we will look at the Passenger Rail records of other presidential candidates that may still have a chance at their party's nomination.

© 2008 - C. A. Turek -

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Big One Down

The only presidential candidate with a real, hands-on record pro-Passenger Rail is out of the race. Bill Richardson is no longer a candidate and has refused to say who he will endorse. You can bet he's still on the menu for VP, however.

We have roundly criticized Mr. Richardson for his approach to NM Rail Runner and for his approach to presidential candidacy. Nonetheless, his record pro-Passenger Rail is astounding. The basic commuter rail system was up and running in record time. He devoted time and money to get it done and it was done. We see this as a greater accomplishment than what Congress has done with Amtrak in a whole decade.

Not only is the basic system done, but it WILL go to Santa Fe, the state capitol, and it will do it riding down the median of Interstate 25, a busy commuter stretch. It can only be good for ridership when, one day, commuters in their stop-and-go traffic watch the Rail Runner speeding by and note how much more pleasant and convenient that could be.

We criticized the choice of the median, but now that it IS the choice and is underway, we support anything that keeps the train rolling.

Had Mr. Richardson been given the chance to implement just one Amtrak improvement as significant as this (proportionately for the entire US), we would be looking at a better national system than we have had since Amtrak day one and for long before.

We are not supporting Mr. Richardson's party, and we are not fond of his other politics. Bring 'em home no matter what particularly stinks, particularly. But none of the remaining candidates have this much success and progress, pro-Passenger Rail, under their belts.

A Big One is down.

© 2008 - C. A. Turek -

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Is It Too Soon To Start Weeping?

We do not think it is ever too soon. So, in the spirit of the new Presidential Primary season, we are going to give readers of this post something to think about when it comes to the most recent Primary/Caucus results.

At this writing, those results are in Iowa only, where Sen. Obama came out ahead on the Democrat side and Gov. Huckabee on the Republican.

First Obama: As a US Senator, Mr. Obama has not recently voted on any legislation that would have helped or hurt Amtrak or Passenger Rail. As a matter of fact, on most legislation of a transportation issue, Mr. Obama has not voted. Despite his high profile in Illinois with respect to additional Passenger Rail routes from Chicago to downstate Illinois, he is reported to have only supported the interests of road builders and auto dealers while in that state. He is rated very highly by interest groups that support road construction.

By the way, Mr. Obama's major thrust in supporting the reorganization of Chicago's rail map was so that motorists didn't have to idle so long at grade crossings.

Mike Huckabee has absolutely no record on transportation and/or Passenger Rail, one way or the other. Well, let's put it this way, unless you know him, you can't find out his position one way or the other by doing any reasonable on-line research. So that might as well be none. The only reference we can find in his speeches are to intermodal rail facilities, which he seems to think are good for business.

Both candidates have refused to answer questions posed on transportation and specific other issues by nationally recognized political Internet sites.

Opinion: We would say that neither of these two early front-runners will be good for Passenger Rail from an administrative point of view. (On balance, neither would do any good for it as a Senator or Congressman.) With this kind of narrow focus in our presidential candidates, is it any wonder that Passenger Rail in this country is alway in trouble?

As other candidates get jerked to the forefront by the votes of unsuspecting citizens, we will cover the positions/records of others.

© 2008 - C. A. Turek -