Private funds sought for high-speed train
Calling the nations existing rail service a Third World transportation system, federal officials today said they are seeking a private operator to run a high-speed train between New York and Washington.
At a news conference at Penn Station, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said a request for proposals was sent out yesterday to build and operate a line that would make the trip in two hours by averaging a speed of 120 to 150 miles per hour.
Amtraks Acela service currently averages 83 miles per hour and shuttles passengers between New York and Washington in just under three hours.
We used to lead the world in mass transit, now we are far behind, said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan).
The feds are asking for similar proposals in nine other regions, including California, Chicago, and the Gulf Coast.No details were released on what the service might cost or when it would be ready, though a timeline shows final recommendations going to Congress in April 2010.
Developing the service would mostly involve fixing and expanding bridges and straightening tracks along the Northeast Corridor but would not require new technology, officials said.
Amtrak, which could play some role in the new system, does not currently have the money to do what the feds are asking, said railroad spokesman Cliff Cole. He added that the entire project would cost billions of dollars.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a supporter of the idea, said he envisions a public-private partnership.