SEHSR (Southeast High Speed Rail) and the S-Line Corridor

President-Elect Joe Biden is a huge fan of AMTRAK. Are we going to see more funding? I guess we will have to wait and see.


So I’ve heard! The train station in Wilmington, DE, is actually named for him, as he regularly rode the train to Washington. Hopefully this means a bright future for Amtrak

Yeah, it's definitely a matter of time! Specifically...

We’ll have to see who sits in Biden’s cabinet, whether his DoT appointees have their shit together, and how well he works with the incoming class of senators.

I’m still worried though, because…

  1. Democratic senators probably won’t win the majority. This means Mitch McConnell could whip GOP senators into voting against every transit bill the House tries to write. That puts a huge limit on what Biden can do -especially including who he can appoint to his cabinet.

  2. Even if the Senate’s not a problem, Biden doesn’t control everything. At the end of the day, Biden doesn’t make decisions beyond broad strokes about funding mechanisms or specific projects’ grant requests. That’s the job of the Secretary of Transportation, assistant secretaries, and other top-level bureaucrats. Each of these people add more uncertainty and unknown variables into the mix, for better or for worse.

If we’re really going to get real funding for SEHSR and other rail projects, I think we need serious changes in how transportation projects are processed today. Today’s system gives so much more government handouts to drivers than to rail users. I think a good solution has to correct this imbalance won’t just talk about giving enough rail funding, but consider the importance of rail as a ratio to every other transit type.

If you want a transit revolution, you need a watertight ship filled with a competent crew. Biden’s election platform on infrastructure specifically mentions “expand[ing] the Northeast Corridor to the fast-growing South”, but as it stands now, those are just some words on a pretty website.

I won’t believe it until I start seeing evidence that the 46th presidency and 117th Congress are in it for real… I’m too jaded for this, y’all :upside_down_face: :sweat_smile:


I would love to see increased investment in infrastructure. I’m dubious that there will be a huge increase though. I suspect Congress is going to be suddenly very concerned with the deficit…


It will be the senate that is the problem. The same bunch of a…es will still be in charge.


Not if Georgia flips…NC is a long shot. Cunningham is an idiot.


Extra funding for Amtrak is a waste. If they are going to fund trains, then do it right. Europe and Japan provide the blue print, but no boondoggles like in Cali. It has to be high quality and projected to actually be used. Current Amtrak is low grade.


Well, do you have a better idea?

Most rail operators like Japan’s JNR (now JR), France’s SNCF, or UK’s Network Rail expanded as government-owned entities before they privatized and broke up into different business units that can each fund themselves. Amtrak is at a disadvantage because:

  1. They’re screwed into the opposite situation as other rail operators: an unbalanced and incomplete system where the Northeast Corridor makes up for unprofitable services in the rest of the country.

  2. They’re legally a private company with a shitty, rail-only business model. Amtrak has no engineering expertise to export abroad like JR, can’t capitalize on its human resources and IT talents like the SNCF, and doesn’t have lots of developable land to lease for steady incomes like Tokyo or Hong Kong’s metro systems.

If you don’t want to give Amtrak more money to shift its business priorities, what do you suggest instead? The only idea I can think of involves pulling hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air, and give private companies the power to destroy thousands of homes and businesses, and that’s pretty messed up.


Cunningham would’ve won if the sex scandals had not come out!!! But yeah regional rail corridor Raleigh needs to be a major hub in commute corridor cause we don’t have an interstate highways going through downtown, which makes our growth harder so we need some major thoroughfare to spur more growth. We got the Union Station for it!!!

I don’t believe in putting more good money into a crappy system. That is messed up. Amtrak is a joke. You know the way it works. Allot more money, cronies get rich, same crappy system continues with low ridership. That’s why I said either go big (find the money somehow) with a Euro/Japan system or don’t bother. Just my two cents, not trying to convince you.


That’s fair. I agree with you that how Amtrak as it stands today just sucks.

At the same time, though, just because something feels true, that doesn’t mean it is true.

There’s some key things in what you said that are just false, and I just don’t want to be a part of spreading lies and misinformation that happen to feel “true”.


Parts of the Amtrak system are great. I used to regularly ride the Acela between DC and New York because it was IMO by far the best way to get between those two cities.


Amtrak has very high ridership in the northeast. The number of people up there and the closeness of the cities makes it work.


The poor state of American rail systems has less to do with lack of funding, and more to do with poor use of the money we do spend.

For the cost of a couple new stations on the upper east side of Manhattan (the 2nd avenue subway) most other countries can build entire metro systems. For the cost of just what Amtrak is trying to spend on the Gateway project in NYC, other countries can build entire high speed rail lines (complete with trains, stations, and systems) hundreds of miles long.

We actually spend a lot on transit. We just manage it horribly.

I love trains. I think we need lots, lots more of them. But before we spend $1 on any transportation project, road or rail, we need a RESET. These days, even project management is largely outsourced to private contractors. Essentially, the fox is guarding the henhouse. We need a return to competent management of public projects. Need to turn the balance of power away from the engineering firms like Parsons, HNTB, etc etc - and back into the public sector.

This is not socialism. This is actually fully compatible with conservative principles from top to bottom, because while staffing up the public sector with enough expertise to properly manage the contractors that they hire may cost money in terms of the wages paid to those people, it saves money in the long run because you don’t have to take the contractors’ word for it on absolutely everything.


People live in CT and NJ and commute to NYC (or used to - probably will be less of that in the future now that people work remotely). I doubt many people live in Raleigh but work in Charlotte or Greensboro. Most people in the Triangle live 15-20 minutes from the airport. When I lived in southwest CT I had to go to JFK, LGA or BDL - in each case adding hours to the trip just to get to an airport. Driving on 95 to get out of CT?? It’s insane and requires state troopers to modulate the flow of traffic. Of course you’d take a train somewhere instead when it stops right in your town. It’s just not the same here.

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If I am not mistaken the two main trains to and from Raleigh/Charlotte are or were extremely popular and made money? And these trains were mostly based on tourism or people doing business “as well as” wanting to go out for eating/entertainment/etc. But I may be mistaken :thinking:


Yep, ridden that route many times and often found it close to full. The increase in frequency has been a massive help to the CLT-RGH corridor, and I think Charlotte Gateway Station in Uptown will be a same-changer. Make it accessible, affordable, and frequent, and people will ride.


Agreed that the new Charlotte station could be huge for in-state train ridership. The current station is old and more importantly not in a great location, about a mile and a half from downtown/Uptown. The new one will be right downtown and I could see riding down for a day or overnight business trip bc I could work on the way, then walk to my company’s office or a downtown hotel. Just a more pleasant experience than the current setup.


I could be wrong, but I believe I have heard that Raleigh is one of the main hubs for the Southeast for commercial train travel. It would make sense being in between Atlanta/Charlotte and Richmond/DC


It is. Raleigh carries multiple lines…NY-FLA plus NY-ATL. Raleigh has a switch so you can change trains.