Cuomo revives proposal for high-speed rail in New York

Posted On Fri, December 27, 2019 By

Posted On Fri, December 27, 2019 By In Transportation

High-speed rail in London; Photo by Paul IJsendoorn on Pexels

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday revived a decades-long proposal to bring high-speed rail to New York. As part of his 2020 State of the State agenda, the governor said he will convene a group of experts to “reexamine and rethink strategies” to connect New York City with cities across New York. Despite being called a priority of New York leaders for decades, including former Gov. Mario Cuomo in the 1990s, the high-speed rail proposal has failed to materialize due to exorbitant costs and logistical issues.


Jan. 2014 Project Locations for High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Via New York State Department of Transportation

“High speed rail is transforming economies around the world,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We’ve been told that bringing this technology to our state is too expensive, too difficult and would take too long–that’s not an acceptable attitude for New York.”

Cuomo said previous recommendations for high-speed rail service in New York found it would “take decades and be unaffordable.” The new group of experts will examine these past studies, as well as the look to the systems of other countries, to determine the best way to build high-speed rail.

When running for office in 2010, Cuomo made high-speed rail a campaign priority. During his first year as governor, New York secured more than $350 million in federal funding for rail systems under a stimulus package signed into law by President Barack Obama.

In 2014, the Federal Railroad Administration released its study outlining options for high-speed rail that would connect the city to Niagara Falls via the 463-mile Empire Corridor. As Politico reported, the 2014 recommendations in the report ranged from $1.6 billion to $14.71 billion, with travel time between New York City and Niagara Falls estimated to take between eight hours and six hours, respectively. The study had rejected the “very high speed” option because of the high price tag and likely environmental impact.

E.J. McMahon, the founder of the think tank Empire Center for Public Policy, described the proposal as “one of Albany’s creakiest bipartisan infrastructure fantasies” in a blog post published Thursday.

“[For] over 20-plus years, none of the feasibility studies of high-speed rail upstate have seriously surveyed likely demand linked to price,” McMahon told the New York Post. “The current Amtrak service is lousy, but that doesn’t prove that there is actually an enormous demand for better service.”

Cuomo has touted a commitment to rebuilding transit in the state, especially the opening of the Second Avenue Subway, the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, airports, and the L train tunnel project. The governor has allocated $150 billion to infrastructure projects, on top of a $100 billion initiative that wrapped up last year.

The State of the State is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 1:30 p.m, during which Cuomo will lay out his administration’s agenda for the new year.

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