High Speed Rail gathering speed – Op-ed

News in the USA and UK over the last few days has been humming about High Speed Rail initiatives in both countries.

In the USA news is reaching fever pitch over High Speed Rail as the details of submissions for the US Government’s $8 billion high speed rail initiative start to appear.

Routes currently being reported are the $830 million route between Chicago and Detroit a new 110 M.P.H. train that will cut the travel time from Detroit to Chicago from 6 hours to 4 hour.
California  applied for
$1.1 bullion for including San Jose to San Francisco line (Bizjournals),
New York State applied for $565 million of stimulus funds for 38 passenger rail projects (NYDOT),
Pennsylvania submitted applications to the federal government for $28.2 million(PR-USA)
NJ seeks $38.5M in high-speed rail funding (NJBiz)

Virginia wants $75M for high-speed rail (Washington Business Journal)
Maryland seeks $360 million for rail upgrades (The Baltimore Sun)
Texas Requests $1.8 Billion For High Speed Rail Project (KWTX)

Florida asks feds for $270 million for commuter rail (Orlando Sentinel)

These are just some of the submissions for the stimulus. I find it an amazing about of money to spend on commuters across such a vast country. One has to hope that this is not all just spent on high-speed trains between cities but also improving of city suburban rail systems. I look forward to the next round of submissions for more rail stimulus funds in October.

Today in the UK, a report was released by Network Rail for plans of a £34 billion, 200m.p.h. high speed rail line running along the west coast on the UK from London to Scotland. The interesting thing is that the train is not only being seen as a commuter train but also as the low carbon option to cutting emissions from domestic flights, cars, trucks. The train will run from central London to Manchester with a diverging line to Birmingham. The line will then continue to Preston with lines diverging to Warrington and Liverpool after which the main line will continue to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The plans in the USA and the UK are very impressive, however I have wonder how much is achievable with so many projects being submitted at the same time with large monetary figures for high speed rail weighted against the demand over the next 5-10 years for expertise, skilled technicians and engineers. Will there be a shortage or will this put more people back to work?

I think these projects will take a long time to implement as there are a limited number of train companies Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, etc who only have so much capacity within their factories. This factor is critical as currently there is a large demand from China, India, and Brazil for high speed trains and expertise.

I hope that governments will achieve these ambitions not just because it will stimulate the economy of the cities and companies building the networks, but will also have some impact on reducing emissions. Lets’ hope these projects are fulfilled and they don’t get lost inside the bureaucracy of governments.

SOURCES:
Freep.com, BizjournalsNYDOT,, PR-USA NJBiz, Washington Business Journal, The Baltimore Sun, KWTX , Orlando Sentinel, Network Rail (UK)

By Damian Holmes – 26 August 2009

NASA launches ‘Sustainability Base’

Yesterday, NASA’s Ames Research Center held a ground breaking ceremony for its new ‘Sustainability Base’ – a high performance Platinum LEED Rated building in Moffett Field California. The building will feature near zero net energy consumption, use 90 percent less potable water than conventionally built buildings of equivalent size and reduce building maintenance costs.

To help achieve the building’s sustainability objectives, the company will install approximately 72 geothermal wells featuring ground-source heat pumps, and will provide parking and landscaping with California-native plants.

The $20.6 million building  is designed by AECOM and William McDonough + Partners and Landscape Architects – Siteworks.

You can also watch a video about NASA’s Sustainability Base

SOURCE: NASA
IMAGE SOURCE: NASA

What is Crossrail?

You may have noticed coverage of Crossrail at World Landscape Architect and other sites. So I thought it best to summarise what Crossrail is and who is involved.

Crossrail is the new high frequency, convenient and accessible railway for London and the South East. From 2017 Crossrail will travel from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east via new twin tunnels under central London. It will link Heathrow Airport, the West End, the City of London and Canary Wharf.
Cross Rail Connections Thumbnail

Click Image for Enlargement – Image Credit – Crossrail

The full list of design Crossrail contractors and their appointed architects is:

Station

Design consultant

Architects

Paddington

Scott Wilson

WestonWilliamson

Bond Street

WSP

John McAslan & Partners

Tottenham Court Road

Arup/Atkins

Hawkins Brown

Farringdon

Scott Wilson

Aedas

Liverpool Street

Mott MacDonald

Wilkinson Eyre

Whitechapel

Hyder

BDP

Architectural Component
design

Atkins

Grimshaw & Partners

Additionally the stations at Canary Wharf and Woolwich are being delivered by Canary Wharf Group and Berkeley Homes Group respectively.

SOURCE: Crossrail

Mott MacDonald win contract to develop Crossrail

Mott MacDonald, the global management, engineering and development consultancy has recently been awarded several new design contracts worth a total of around £10 million to help develop Crossrail, one of the biggest and most complex rail projects in the world.

David Gutteridge, Mott MacDonald’s director for Crossrail commented: “We’re delighted to continue our long relationship with Crossrail in delivering this iconic project which will benefit both London and the UK’s economy.”

SOURCE: Mott MacDonald

New Bridge Design competition for Calgary

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation(CMLC) has announced a bridge design competition for St.Patrick’s Bridge.

CMLC has been charged with the responsibility of implementing public infrastructure improvements that will be the catalyst for private and public sector development in the Rivers District with a focus on East Village. The design and construction of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge – St. Patrick’s Bridge – is an important component of the infrastructure improvements in the Rivers District. CMLC has initiated a competitive process for the conceptual design of the pedestrian/bicycle bridge which crosses the Bow River and provides crucial links between the communities on the north and south of its banks with city attractions, amenities and pathway systems.

CMLC is committed to ensuring that the revitalization of the Rivers District provides the city, the province and the country with an excellent asset for Calgary to remain among the best places in the world to live, work, play and visit.

Closing: Sept 14, 2009

For more information go to the competition website.

WORLD LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT is not involved in this competition please send any enquiries or requests for information to the organisations via the competition website..

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