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[Fwd: [urb-eco] Trains and planes & 400 mile short trips]

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  • Richard Risemberg
    ... Subject: [urb-eco] Trains and planes & 400 mile short trips Date: Sun, 09 Jun 2002 08:10:32 -0400 From: Brian Cummins Reply-To:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 9, 2002
      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: [urb-eco] Trains and planes & 400 mile short trips
      Date: Sun, 09 Jun 2002 08:10:32 -0400
      From: Brian Cummins <plowharp@...>
      Reply-To: urban-ecology@yahoogroups.com
      Organization: Old Brooklyn CDC
      To: "urban-ecology@yahoogroups.com" <urban-ecology@yahoogroups.com>

      High-speed rail networks "bleed the short-haul capacity out of the
      system," freeing airports to do what they do best: handle long-distance
      trips, Mr. Turpen said. Meanwhile, he added, "we must establish airports
      as intermodal transportation points, and not just places to take off and
      land airplanes."....[see article below for more]

      FYI -- In Ohio, the Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati (3-C) Corridor has
      been identified as a potential high speed rail corridor...Ohio has a
      population density greater than the nation of France - which is home to
      some of the world's finest short-haul, high speed trains. Of course
      Amtrak has its share of problems, the cost of rail projects are high,
      but the benefits rail can bring are great and their costs are not so
      high when you do a a full comparison to the costs associated with the
      almighty auto infrastructure.

      Brian Cummins,
      Cleveland, Ohio


      June 4, 2002

      Rail Projects Are Sign of a Quiet Revolution in Short-Haul Trips

      DELTA AIR LINES, for one, is plenty worried about business travelers who
      are so fed up with airport problems that they're switching to the train
      on East Coast routes. In an attempt to portray the train as an inferior
      option to flying, Delta's ads do everything but imply that train
      passengers have to watch out for Jesse James and his gang shooting up
      the lounge car.

      The clear recent success of Amtrak's Northeast corridor rail system, and
      specially of the high-speed Acela trains that share it, is usually
      treated as an incidental consequence of the catastrophe of Sept. 11.

      Hot-air hurricanes rage in Washington and in airline corporate suites
      about the future of an air transport system based on huge, speculative
      passenger-growth projections that some critics contend are unrealistic.
      But a quiet revolution is gathering force, led by business travelers
      who, in numbers now big enough to truly frighten the airlines, have
      either found other ways to get there, or alternatives to going in the
      first place.

      All over the country, ambitious new intercity rail projects are being
      envisioned, often by states in partnership with private industry. In
      California, speedy rail service between San Diego and Los Angeles is
      going to be extended up to San Francisco. In the Midwest, work has
      already begun on a big high-speed rail project that will link Chicago
      and other cities in nine states. In Florida, plans are advancing for a
      high-speed link between Orlando and Miami. In Texas, there's talk of a
      high-speed link between Houston and Dallas.

      At the heart of this new activity is a growing awareness among
      transportation planners that business travel demand in the United
      States is, at least, somewhat similar to Continental Europe, where a
      vast network of national high-speed train systems has nearly eliminated
      air trips between cities less than 400 miles apart.

      "About 60 percent of airline flights in North America are less than 400
      miles in length," Louis A. Turpen, the chief executive of the Greater
      Toronto Airports Authority, told international airport and transport
      officials meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., yesterday at the Airport Summit,
      a gathering sponsored by Marcus Evans, a business information company.

      High-speed rail networks "bleed the short-haul capacity out of the
      system," freeing airports to do what they do best: handle long-distance
      trips, Mr. Turpen said. Meanwhile, he added, "we must establish airports
      as intermodal transportation points, and not just places to take off and
      land airplanes."

      That means airports as modern transportation and business hubs, where
      high-speed and commuter rail links converge to feed into national and
      international air-transport networks.

      That's the kind of airport that Juergen E. Bartels, the chief executive
      of Meridien Hotels and Resorts was showing off the other day as he
      thumbed through illustrations showing what the Frankfurt Airport's new
      AirRail Center will look like once Meridien opens a 680-room luxury
      high-technology hotel that is under construction there. The soaring
      edifice is being built on a platform over the high-speed train terminal
      at the airport.

      A passionate advocate of high-speed rail as a vital component of a
      nation's transportation system, Mr. Bartels noted that planning in
      European nations for the current systems began decades ago, after Japan
      led the way in the mid-1960's with its bullet trains. "It's almost as if
      it is revelation to America that this works," Mr. Bartels said with some

      In Europe, where even track gauges didn't match between some countries
      after World War II, planning has become so coordinated that "they're now
      integrating all of Europe into one train model, encompassing even the
      regional and commuter trains from the inner cities," Mr. Bartels said.

      His native Germany moved aggressively into high-speed rail planning only
      in the early 1980's. "Germany had lost what they call the train
      culture," he said. "The German trains were dirty, they were not on time
      and the employees were surly." Inspired by energetic high-speed rail
      initiatives in France, much of the rest of Europe, Germany included,
      soon developed its own networks. In Germany, "they're spending
      gazillions on new tracks" for expanded high-speed service, he said.

      "They are succeeding at establishing a culture that gets the business
      traveler out of the plane and into the train" for flights within Germany
      and to nearby foreign cities, "thus freeing the air space for
      long-distance flights, which is what it should be used for," he added.

      Putting a five-star hotel at the new kind of air-rail transportation hub
      represented by airports like the one in Frankfurt is a logical,
      necessary refinement in that plan, he said. Typically, airport hotels
      are drab and "utilitarian," Mr. Bartels said, adding: "I want to have
      the best airport hotel in the world. That title is currently vacant, by
      the way."

      Facilities for business conferences and small meetings are a major part
      of the planning for the new Meridien hotel at the Frankfurt AirRail
      Center. This reflects the reality of modern business travel in which
      more business is being conducted right at the airport itself, Mr.
      Bartels said.

      "I would be interested to build this type of hotel at major U.S.
      airports," he said, pointing out that many airports are deeply into
      terminal expansion projects costing billions of dollars. At some
      airports in the United States, airport managers and local and regional
      government and business planners are already designing accommodations
      for various kinds of rail links.

      Like many outside of governmental transportation planning in the United
      States, Mr. Bartels is baffled as to why so little has been done to
      develop rail alternatives to short-distance flying.

      Mr. Turpen, the Toronto airport executive who was previously the chief
      executive of San Francisco International Airport, suggested yesterday at
      the Airport Summit that the time had come to begin more intense work on
      building high-speed rail links tied to the air system. "We've got to
      start to reverse this trend that there is an inalienable right to fly"
      under all circumstances, he said.

      In the United States, where Congress is quibbling about renewing an
      annual budget for Amtrak that would barely pay for a short stretch of
      Interstate highway or a single airport runway, serious advocates of
      intercity rail transport have to share both budget and podium with
      dewy-eyed romantics who want to funnel rail money into maintaining
      long-distance trains that some in the industry say merely subsidize
      "land cruises" for leisure travelers.

      Lose those 20th Century Limited infatuations, Mr. Bartels suggested. "It
      has nothing to do with romance," he said. "It's about business and the
      vaunted American productivity. In the United States, you can simply no
      longer justify the economic costs and lost productivity of traveling
      short distances by air."

      Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

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