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Public Transportation Tue Jul 07 2009
Why do conservatives hate trains? Not sure; but there's no doubt they do. Maybe they just love atomizing transportation, as they love atomizing everything else. But there's no doubt that high speed rail has been a solution to many of our infrastructure, congestion, and environmental problems, and that a lack of political courage has been the major stumbling block to its coming to fruition. There was a time when businessmen used to take the train everywhere; then the defunding of Amtrak in the 1970s essentially destroyed our country's rail infrastructure.
The folks at the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, including my friend Dan Johnson-Weinberger, who I know has been chasing this issue for at least as long as I've known him, released a report last week detailing just how a Chicago-St. Louis high speed rail corridor could radically alter the conception of space in Illinois:
Trains traveling at 110 m.p.h. on Illinois' first high-speed corridor would make the 284-mile trip between Chicago and St. Louis in about four hours -- shaving 1 ½ hours off current travel times by Amtrak trains now running up to 79 m.p.h., according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
By going 220 m.p.h., however, those improved trip times would be cut roughly in half, to 1 hour and 52 minutes, according to the association. The estimate includes making intermediary stops in Champaign and Springfield, while providing customers with downtown-to-downtown service and beating the door-to-door trip times of airline travel.
The trip between Champaign and Chicago would take 45 minutes; and 90 minutes between Springfield and Chicago, the study said. The study estimated the cost of building the 220-m.p.h. Chicago-to-St. Louis corridor at $11.5 billion in 2012 dollars. It does not include the cost of new trains, maintenance facilities and other expenses.