Caucus Chair Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, maintains high-speed rail development has the potential to produce the strongest return on any federally-funded investment.
“I know there are some mayors out there who want to use these federal dollars for new sidewalks and, while those are important, those projects are not really going to help or stimulate the economy. High-speed trains will. It’s time New York gets into this century when it comes to trains.”
Next week, caucus members plan to meet with New York State transportation officials and Amtrak to push the high-speed plan. New York and Amtrak have had a rocky road when it comes to high-speed rail. A partnership to allow trains to run at 125 m.p.h. between New York City and Schenectady came apart after Amtrak couldn't meet its financial commitments and the railroad stopped operating turbo trains that were rebuilt with state funds by Super Steel. Ironically, the state transportation commissioner at the time, Joseph Boardman, is now Amtrak's chief executive officer.
Rep. Slaughter said building a high-speed line would be easier than many people realize because additional tracks could be laid along the existing right-of-way. Amtrak trains in Upstate New York travel over the Water Level Route of the former New York Central System, which at one time had four tracks between New York City and Cleveland, but cut back to two tracks north of Croton-Harmon in the 1960s.