Future of high-speed rail in Pa. debated

    While federal lawmakers have put an end to U.S. funding for President Barack Obama’s national high-speed rail program next year, it’s too early call it the end of high speed rail in Pennsylvania.

    Congressman Bill Shuster said since Philadelphia is part of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, a potential region for high-speed rail, the commonwealth won’t miss out on any future funding.

    But Dick Voith, with PenTrans, a group supporting public transportation in the commonwealth, said justifying the federal funding cut for high-speed rail by saying it won’t hurt Pennsylvania is shortsighted.

    “The people who want to kill high-speed rail would be very content to kill high-speed rail in the Northeast as well. So the fact that Pennsylvania has dodged the immediate bullet doesn’t mean that it will dodge the next bullet,” Voith said.

    One high-speed rail opponent at the libertarian Cato Institute said the national program envisioned by Obama is likely dead, because of the costs involved.

    “High-speed rail will be a subsidy to a few elites who work in down towns: bankers, lawyers, government lobbyists,” said Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at the institute. “It is not a method of transportation that will be used by most Americans.”

    Obama had called for the construction of several rail networks in different pockets across the country – including Pennsylvania–to connect large urban centers.

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