When you’re stuck in Los Angeles traffic, or bored on a long drive on I-5, you may have asked yourself why we don’t have better passenger train service in this country. Perhaps you have been to Europe and enjoyed its well-developed rail systems. You may have asked, “If they can do it over there, why can’t we do it over here?”
Costs and politics
There are many answers to this question.
The ongoing struggle to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco shows how politics and high costs can get in the way of much-needed passenger train services.
Gulf Coast dispute nears end
Another issue is transportation law litigation. Passenger service along the Gulf Coast has been held up for 17 years, ever since railroad tracks were damaged during Hurricane Katrina. However, for at least the past 6 years, the major issue that has delayed the return of service is not physical damage, but a legal dispute.
This dispute may be finally nearing an end. According to a news report, Amtrak is close to a settlement with two railroad companies whose tracks it needs to provide service between major Gulf Coast cities.
Amtrak said it plans to resume passenger service in the region soon as part of a major expansion of passenger routes in many areas of the country.
One of the quirks of American passenger rail service is that Amtrak does not own most of the tracks it uses. Instead, it relies on tracks owned by railroad companies.Under federal law, railroad companies are supposed to put a priority on passenger service, but still these tracks are used primarily for freight.
As the stories referenced above illustrate, expanding passenger rail service in the United States isn’t as simple as just laying down some track. The issues involved are complex.
Attorneys with experience in transportation law help individuals and businesses work out the issues and get rolling.