To The Editor:
The 2015/2016 state budget is being finalized, in weeks the final version will be voted on and later become law. One of the proposals being considered in the senate is to remove $4.0 million dollars from the NH Rail Transit Authority for "engineering and planning" work to be done for it's proposed commuter rail service from Boston to Concord.
This is a good proposal this will save money for a project and idea that is seriously flawed. And the reason that it is flawed is that New Hampshire lacks a coherent strategy and direction with respect to the railroads in this state. Anyone that knows anything about rail knows that the profits in this industry come from moving freight not passengers. The strategy should be to invest in the freight operations; improve the infrastructure and then leverage this to create a passenger rail network. Both Maine and Vermont are doing this--investing in freight infrastructure and then letting companies like Amtrak develop proposals for passenger rail expansion in these states.
New Hampshire and the Rail Transit Authority isn't doing this. Instead it's a constant request for money while proposing an idea of isolation. Pan Am Railways is the owner and the freight operator of the rail line to Concord are there any proposals to upgrade their facilities for improved and profitable freight service? The answer to this question goes on statewide. The St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad runs from Portland to near Montreal through northern New Hampshire. At least two companies have proposed running passenger trains on this route, are there any proposals to upgrade their line for improved and profitable rail service? New Hampshire DOT has an impressive and well thought out state rail plan, but unfortunately that is all that it is a plan.
The senate should remove this $4.0 million appropriation from the state budget. Until there can be a coherent plan and strategy to move forward New Hampshire should not be investing any money into railroads.