Passenger, High Speed Rail in Midwest

All the ways we move people and things: trains, planes, automobiles, biking, walking, etc.
First unread post745 posts
Just caught a portion of Obama's speech before the Urban League. He stated that he plans to to devote significant federal resources if elected to implementing a high speed rail accross the midwest, mentioning that it would/should connect such cities as Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, etc.



If elected, I hope he follows through with these types of infrastructure and transportation investments--and I think he will. He cited China and India as places that are making such investments and the critical needs for us not to lag behind. Moreover, such investments will create thousands of job in the short-term and more importantly will help the U.S. economy (and the environment) in the long-term.

^Hmm, does Congress get a say?



Sounds to me like Chicago would be the hub of this system and much of the cost of construction would be spent in Illinois. Think he might have a vested interest there? :wink:

Sure, Congress has to pass the legislation. But w/ a democratic Congress, such proposals have a chance.



As far as whether the bulk of it would be in Illinois, who knows? But as President, he would not need to play favorites w/ IL (like a Senator would). After all, IL is strongly behind him (and will continue to be strongly behind him) no matter what.

No doubt my mind that Chicago would remain a hub as it is now with limited Amtrak service (relatively to European rail systems). What I think is a bigger hurdle for St. Louis is that Illinois has no interest or desire to promote rail service from Southern Il to the East. Metro East doesn't have the clout period. Its going to make it difficult to get any decent service to the east via Louisville or Indianapolis on an expanded rail network let alone the investment it would take to build high speed rail seperate from the congested freight tracks.



My idea (wishful thinking) for a moderate or a plausible approach to expaned rail service under Obama. Go north with service through Hannibal in order to connect with existing Amtrak connetions serving IL (two routes to Chicago and thus more service/options), The state double tracks the current UP single line from Jeff City to Kansas (the measely 5 mil for two siding extensions doesn't cut it) as well as triple track in urban areas, send a train towards Springfield, and finally promote some commuter service in St Louis and Kansas City urban areas. Wishful part is that I think MO would still have too contribute/subisidize operations even if Obama gets elected and Democratic Congress infuses money into rail.

More federal spending when the country's budget and economics are terrible! Tell me who will design this system. Will it be the people of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, etc or federal workers who have lived their entire lives in the DC area?



Projects like this are best developed by the locals. And while federal money may speed up the process for building, with federal money comes federal control. And the Feds don't give a damn about Fly-Over Country.



Senator Obama can promise all the money in the world for projects out here to pander for some votes, but like all politicians those promises are broken once they put in office. Why do so many people believe that this guy is any different?



Besides the only people that can build high-quality, high speed rail are the socialists in France. Their system is beautiful. We barely have Amtrak limping along. Americans are still dedicated to their cars, highways and airports. Our States would be healthier in transport and other terms if DC stayed away from us as much as possible and let us work out our own problems, aspirations, and dreams.

Navigatio wrote:
More federal spending when the country's budget and economics are terrible! Tell me who will design this system. Will it be the people of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, etc or federal workers who have lived their entire lives in the DC area?




Only the federal govt could implement a multi-state high speed rail system going through multiple states. As far as spending, there is an almost unanimous consensus that the federal govt has been neglecting the transportation infrastructure of this country. Thus, major captal outlays will be required in the near future to repair our aging system. My point is that we should focus and invest on a modern transportation system (such as high speed rail) in addition to repairing our aging infrastructure. This will put more people to work in the short-term and help the economy in the long-term by investing in a more efficient system that consumes less energy.



Navigatio wrote:
Projects like this are best developed by the locals. And while federal money may speed up the process for building, with federal money comes federal control. And the Feds don't give a damn about Fly-Over Country.




Projects like this are impossible w/out the federal govt. St. Louis County and City can't even agree on how to work together. How would multiple states come together and put together a modern high speed rail system accross multiple states? (In an answer, they would not). Also, just like interstate highways would be impossible w/out federal tax dollars, this would likewise be impossible w/out federal dollars.



Navigatio wrote:
Senator Obama can promise all the money in the world for projects out here to pander for some votes, but like all politicians those promises are broken once they put in office. Why do so many people believe that this guy is any different?




He hasn't promised anything. But at least he is disscussing the issue. And his emphasis on such areas makes it more likely that light rail and other urban transit projects will receive more federal funding in the future.



Navigatio wrote:
Besides the only people that can build high-quality, high speed rail are the socialists in France. Their system is beautiful. We barely have Amtrak limping along. Americans are still dedicated to their cars, highways and airports. Our States would be healthier in transport and other terms if DC stayed away from us as much as possible and let us work out our own problems, aspirations, and dreams.




First you say that the federal govt should not be involved in a high speed rail system. Then you say that the only govt that has done it successfully is a "socialist" country. Seems inconsistent to me. Also, good luck w/ your highways and airports if the federal govt truely "stayed away" and stopped funding those areas.

Why only assume government can build such a project in the first place?



This nation has seen railroad lines, highways, and canals built soley by private companies. Trust me, if the demand and market for high speed rail was really here in the Midwest, we would have seen private corporations already in the process of building the system. There would be no need for government funding. Companies would have bought land, built lines, ordered rail cars, hired personel, etc.



I would love to see high speed rail all across this country. I would also love to see the highway system reformed to where it didn't go through urban cores and had an Autobahn-like quality to it. But the demand isn't there right now. This is just the economic reality of the United States. Perhaps in another decade or two with current or worse energy situations the demand and need for high speed rail might be there. But today it is not. So a politician telling me he is going to throw money to my state and my neighbors promising government funded jobs is simply playing the populace for votes.



I was just giving props to the French for having the highest quality regarding high speed rail. I'm not French and don't care what they do in their state. But throughout the history of this nation, it has been private railroads and highways and canals that worked the best. The government funded (esp federal funded) infrastructure projects were simply wastes of money, time, effort, etc. I'm trying to think of something the federal government has built in this arena that wasn't corrupted with political connections, wasted billions of dollars and that was actually needed by the people and nothing comes to mind. Amtrak is barely alive yet how is the Midwest going to support high speed?



How many billions would this require and is it fair for taxpayers in New Mexico or Rhode Island to help fund a Midwestern project? I don't care for my tax money being mostly spent on the Coasts.



The mistaken assumption is that the federal govt needs to be involved. It doesn't. The region could see this project done faster, cheaper, and better through private companies not public funds. It will come when the popular demand is there and that won't be spawned by a Chicago politician.

I respect your fiscal conservative views. The govt has wasted so much money over the last few years.



But the time for high speed rail and increased mass transit is now--not in decades when it is too late. A properly designed system will take over a decade to build.



Your reliance on the private sector to get it done is also well intentioned but misplaced. Do you think airports, trains, and interstate highways would have been built if we had relied on the private sector? No chance. A private company (or even many companies working together) do not have the resources nor ability to absorb such a risk.



As far as Amtrak, ridership is up to record levels all over the country (including even Missouri where service is admittedly rather poor).



http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/s ... enDocument



http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentSe ... 8294057347



Imagine how many more people would ride if the system was greatly improved.

I should also add that private companies do not have the power of eminent domain like the govt has--which would be necessary to implement a successful high speed rail system.

Build interstate passenger railways that offer more direct service than interstate highways. Make funding railways as supportive as interstate highways are.



Let the experts figure out how to involve the market.

Navigatio, I think you really miss the point why government has built and will continue build or at least subsidize the construction of infrastructure. Has it always been the best decisions, NO. The Romans probably built too many roads in their day. Has private businesses always made the best decision, NO (why do a lot of businesses fail, bad decsisions).



Their is not enough return for private businesses build all the infrastructure that we have. Yet, a private business or as individuals we benefit immensely by the fact we can leave driveway, stop by a store of our choice, cross a river with ease, go to the airport, have a package delivered to your house or sent anywhere (do you think UPS can afford to build a street to your house in hopes of sending you a package one day?). This has required multiple levels of government from Federal to local and a willingness to spread tax dollars.



I definitely agree with you that Obama was pandering. A nationwide high speed rail network would take a massive outlay of tax payer dollars to make it work in this country. We can keep that money local and derive a more economical system. I favor tranit when it makes sense and whole heartedly agree that our mix of highways and airports serve things very well

Don't know if this was clarified here ---



The MWRRI (Midwest Regional Rail Initiative) has been in the works for almost a decade now with Chicago as the hub.



This is a seven state iniatitive designed and engineered at the state level.



I don't know if Obama is piggy-backing as if this was own idea or if he would up Federal subsidies.

shadrach wrote:
Don't know if this was clarified here ---



The MWRRI (Midwest Regional Rail Initiative) has been in the works for almost a decade now with Chicago as the hub.



This is a seven state iniatitive designed and engineered at the state level.


Has it been funded - and has there been any construction - in any state other than Illinois?

I believe only the STL-CHI line is under construction. The track has been upgraded for CHI to Springfield, working on the last leg into STL.



I was really into this around 1999-2001 (kids and work plus ADD, well I don't know the status anymore.



When Wisconsin governor and pro-rail champion Tommy Thompson was pegged for the Health and Human Services cabinet position it seemed a lot of the impetus seemed to die. Since then, he's stepped down and gone his own way.



Unfortunately.

^Didn't think so.

Has Mayor Slay been involved with these meetings? I heard through the grapevine he hasn't really been...hmmm
The Mayor is up to date on the issue. Interestingly, some of the major corporations in St. Louis also are becoming active on the issue.

JCity wrote:
Has Mayor Slay been involved with these meetings? I heard through the grapevine he hasn't really been...hmmm


The people spreading those rumors wouldn't happen to be Maida Coleman supporters, would they. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more. ;)

innov8ion wrote:
JCity wrote:
Has Mayor Slay been involved with these meetings? I heard through the grapevine he hasn't really been...hmmm


The people spreading those rumors wouldn't happen to be Maida Coleman supporters, would they. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more. ;)


For full disclosure:

1. Are you a volunteer for candidate Maida Coleman's campaign?

2. Are you compensated for working for said campaign?

3. Do you volunteer or receive compensation from any other political campaigns? If so, disclose.



Back on Focus: I am very much in favor of expansion of high speed rail lines between StL and Chicago, raising the immediate profile of both cities (StL especially, plus Chi in re their 2016 Olympic bid). Shared industries would benefit greatly, and more cross-collaboration of business would take off, creating a real midwestern corridor.



Such a development could greatly lure new businesses to StL City.



Issue: Cost. Right now, we're left to patiently wait and see as the economy recovers.



(Edited for word slippage - thanks Grover)

(And yes, high speed subways would be cool)

^ light rail to Chicago? Yes, high-speed light rail! Let's go 150mph on Metrolink! (sorry, i couldn't resist!)

Gone Corporate wrote:
innov8ion wrote:
JCity wrote:
Has Mayor Slay been involved with these meetings? I heard through the grapevine he hasn't really been...hmmm


The people spreading those rumors wouldn't happen to be Maida Coleman supporters, would they? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more. ;)


For full disclosure:

1. Are you a volunteer for candidate Maida Coleman's campaign?

2. Are you compensated for working for said campaign?

3. Do you volunteer or receive compensation from any other political campaigns? If so, disclose.


Heh, what? Does my comment indicate that I support Maida Coleman? I don't think so... And I don't work for any campaign but I do support Mayor Slay's re-election.

innov8ion wrote:
Gone Corporate wrote:
innov8ion wrote:
JCity wrote:
Has Mayor Slay been involved with these meetings? I heard through the grapevine he hasn't really been...hmmm


The people spreading those rumors wouldn't happen to be Maida Coleman supporters, would they? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more. ;)


For full disclosure:

1. Are you a volunteer for candidate Maida Coleman's campaign?

2. Are you compensated for working for said campaign?

3. Do you volunteer or receive compensation from any other political campaigns? If so, disclose.


Heh, what? Does my comment indicate that I support Maida Coleman? I don't think so... And I don't work for any campaign but I do support Mayor Slay's re-election.


Not you.
Tom Shrout wrote:
The Mayor is up to date on the issue. Interestingly, some of the major corporations in St. Louis also are becoming active on the issue.




At the NARP regional meeting on the 14th Rick Harnish, of Midwest HSR, said there had been meetings recently among the major employers of the region discussing how to further development in the metro aera. The consultants from The Brookings Institute, etc said the solution was more connectivity to Chicago. Rick then told them the means to achieve that was HSR. He showed them pictures of a train station in Paris and how packed trains (1000+) leave every 7 minutes to go to the Riviera and that is possible due to HSR. According to him they all got the message.

He said that at another meeting local politicians got the same presentations.



Also, according to Rick, Gov Quinn had just that week, for the first time ever publicly, talked about supporting HSR and that he has discussed with all the neighboring governers about it.

If you ask me, this is a no-brainer.... the fact that we are just getting around to talking about it when other smaller developed countries started building HSR decades ago, says something. Even when we actually break ground on production of a midwest HSR corridor we will still be lightyears behind the rest of the modern world.



*Rant over* Lets build this thing already.



Maybe we should have included a railway into the new MR bridge.