Coles Takes Controls of New High-Speed Acela Train Meets with Amtrak President on Mayors' Rail Agenda
By Kevin McCarty
Conference President and Boise Mayor H. Brent Coles met July 14 with Amtrak President and CEO George D. Warrington and other senior Amtrak officials to review how mayors can further the efforts of the nation's passenger rail system. Coles said that a top priority for the mayors will be development of a national rail policy to stimulate increased investment in intercity and local/commuter rail systems.
Following the meeting at Amtrak's offices in Washington's Union Station, Coles, Warrington and Conference Executive Director J. Thomas Cochran toured one of the new high-speed trainsets that will be deployed on Amtrak's Acela service which will soon be launched on the rail corridor between Boston and Washington, DC.
Following a tour of the trainset, Coles took the engineer's seat of the locomotive that will pull the new high-speed train, which is expected to dramatically reduce travel times on the corridor by achieving speeds of up to 150 mph.
In his discussion with Warrington and senior Amtrak staff, Coles indicated that he would be working with the mayors to expand the nation's commitment to rail investment, both intercity and local/commuter rail services. Mayor Coles underscored the need for a strong national passenger rail network to link with the many light rail and commuter rail projects that are now in vary stages of development in more than 200 communities all across the country. Coles noted that among the top 50 metropolitan areas, 48 of them are planning, engineering or constructing new systems or expanding existing systems. Given this level of effort in local areas, Coles said it was important that the mayors work closely with Amtrak and the states involved in investing in regional rail initiatives to bring all of them interests together.
Warrington talked about the success Amtrak was having with new partnerships with states and the private sector and his efforts to boost revenues and ridership. Launching of the Acela service is a crucial step in keeping the corporation on track with the Congressional schedule for achieving operating self-sufficiency. He also praised the many efforts of the mayors to support Amtrak's efforts and stressed his commitment to further building this relationship. Coles and Warrington also discussed pending legislative efforts, including the High-Speed Rail Investment Act (S. 1900), which they agreed was crucial in moving the nation forward with stronger and more integrated national passenger rail services.