28 July 2009

progress on the highspeed rail front, with Chicago as a hub?


An agreement signed today seeking to fast-track high-speed passenger rail projects in the Midwest has three powerful engines pulling in its favor: the Obama administration, the clout of congressional delegations from eight states and the support of the nation's freight railroads.

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and the City of Chicago entered into a memorandum of understanding that commits the governments to coordinate plans to develop 110-mile-per-hour rail corridors across the Midwest.


Several governors mentioned President Barack Obama's strong support for the Midwest high-speed rail initiative, which would be comprised of a network based in Chicago and eventually branch out 3,000 miles over nine states.

But the first priority is to operate faster trains from Chicago to St. Louis; to Detroit/Pontiac; and to Milwaukee/Madison, Wis., within three to five years. Preliminary cost estimates total about $4 billion.

looks promising?


Rick said...

Erm, 110 mph is >not HSR.


It's an improvement, for sure, but true HSR should get you from Chicago Union to Lafayette (e.g.) in an hour, maybe a little more. (Assuming one stop in NW Indiana.)

That's to say cruising speed should be 125 mph or better.

pyker said...

Yeah, what Rick said.

But it's a step in the right direction I guess. Better than not improving it. But FFS, why not swing for the fences? Instead we're just dribbling grounders into play in the hopes that people will confuse hustle with progress.

Even the UK, the nation whose trains fail if there are leaves on the line, if it's too hot, if it's too cold, or if there is the "wrong kind" of rain... even the UK is ahead of the US on high-speed rail. How embarrassing!

zim said...

okay, so it's not technically HSR. but @ 110 mph, it'd still be about 95 mph faster than the Amtrak trains that wind their way through south chicago now...

JustJoeP said...

When I was in Highland last week, every hour, I heard at least one train horn blowing. My father, a train enthusiast since he was a little boy in Poland, explained to me that the EJ&E tracks that circum-navigate Highland, looping down from Gary, through Griffith, and then into Schereville, and across into IL, went from 7 trains a day to 35 trains a day - all freight. Griffith residents (where several of my older relatives live) are livid, with trains continually blocking traffic, and no bridges over them.

As I stated many months ago, the land rights / high way access / environmental studies will be more painful than cleaning up dozens of Superfund sites, and cost many many Billions, just to get through Lake County alone. It's not impossible, but swinging for the fences is a GIANT undertaking, to get TGV-ish service.

I will not hold my breath. Environmentalists, politicians, and greedy developers will bog any such initiative down in a galactic quagmire.

pyker said...

Why should we be afraid of GIANT undertakings? I know it won't happen, I'm not holding my breath, but we shouldn't hand-wring ourselves into thinking it's impossible. Plus a ginormous public-works project is EXACTLY what the country could use right now. America used to be a nation that thought nothing of the extremely difficult, our legend goes....

We could do better than TGV. All it takes is will. We've got brains and engineers and designers and builders and materials. We totally lack the will. On just about everything, it seems.

zim said...

@ron -- yes, you are right. i think we've become a nation of Low Expectations.

@joe -- check out Rick's Blueprint America pieces; one of them covers some of the re-routing around Chicago -- i wonder if that's directly affecting the Griffith increase.

zim said...

and while we're on the subject, i don't have much sympathy for Griffith. has their "put a stopsign at every single intersection" project been completed yet? they seem to like stopping there.