Monday, June 29, 2009

More Thoughts on Lexington's Rail Situation

As buoyed as I am about the possibility of R. J. Corman bringing his dinner train(or a second one, it is unclear which) to Lexington, I am a little unsure just why he is asking for the boarding area to be in the Lexington Center parking lot. I do understand that they would be using the parking for the dinner train patrons and that it is an existing paved area, but it is a bit of a way from any other existing or proposed uses and at the east end of the working rail yard.

I would think that it would make more sense being on the west end of the yard and across from the developing Distillery District. There is a triangle of property at the intersection of Thompson Rd and Old Frankfort Pike, just west of the yard throat, that could hold the station and a boarding platform. The property itself does not have room for parking, but the area directly across Old Frankfort is slated for a parking lot.

The property to the north is currently occupied by the LFUCG recycling center whose relocation is being considered. Its redevelopment could include another platform for boarding or servicing the dinner train. If Rick Corman and Barry McNeese could come to terms on this, I think that it could kick start that end of the Distillery District. I can also see this as a boarding point for the regional rail to Frankfort and Louisville.

While on the topic of regional passenger rail, I see where the CEO of Norfolk Southern Corp. Wick Moorman is looking to the future of railroading, including passenger rail.
The railroad is also looking at passenger rail. In an interview last week with The Norfolk- Virginian Pilot, CEO Wick Moorman was open about NS’ new receptivity to passenger rail projects:

“Moorman didn’t just offer his opinion on the matter.” wrote the Pilot, “He signaled in an interview that his company is open to becoming an active partner. Said Moorman: “If we think that it makes sense for us financially to take some role in the ongoing operation, we’d be willing to at least consider that; we certainly are more than willing to be engaged in the dialogue.”
If Norfolk Southern is really ready to embrace passenger rail, then we may have our direct route to Cincinnati and the Mid-West HSR network.

Finally, after this and all the other talk nationally about passenger rail and High Speed Rail and the like, I don't see how Kentucky's usually fiscally conservative congressmen are still funneling Federal dollars into the regional airports of Somerset and Owensboro for flights to destinations the present administration says are ideal for the HSR network that they envision. I myself can see that fuel prices will continue to rise and there is no alternative aviation fuel on the horizon, so why are they spending so much money of a possibly "dead end" transportation mode. At the very least it will be priced out of the means of the common family.

If anybody has other thoughts on this, drop me a line and we'll talk.

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