Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama lends support to High Speed Rail

High speed rail could land in Illinois

    President Barack Obama has lent his support to high speed rail – both through the economic stimulus package and his first budget.

The $787 billion stimulus package set aside $8 billion for high speed rail with another $5 billion in the budget.
This investment into clean, green technology is causing a rise in the excitement level of high speed rail advocates across the country. From New York to California states look to the possibility of finally developing high speed rail.

The President talked about fast trains while on the campaign trail. Spurred by high gas prices and flight delays, last summer Obama spoke of high speed rail service as a viable alternative to the gridlock on the ground and in the air.
He talked about the potential to connect Midwest cities.
According to the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, (MHSRA) the definition of "high speed rail" is varied. To some, it means trains on dedicated track that operate in excess of 150 mph.

Others consider high speed rail as 125 mph and above. A good example is Amtrak's Acela which operates between Washington, D.C., New York, and Boston. The Acela's trip of just over two- and one-half hours, and averages about 86 mph. Still, that is far less than the speed of France's TGV, Germany's ICE train or Japan's Shinkansen, which was developed 40 years ago.

The Federal Highway Administration considers trains as those that travel faster than 110 mph, the current limit under federal regulations. By that definition, trains that operated in the 1930's out of Chicago were high speed rail.
The MHSRA likens a high speed rail network as similar to a highway system, with interstates, as well as local and arterial roads. They say the Midwest needs to build both the trunks and the feeders to city centers.
In Illinois, fast trains have been talked about for as long as building another airport near Peotone. In fact, a rail connection at the airport terminal in a 1968 plan for a new airport between Beecher and Peotone was later revised to include a high speed rail connection point.
But, experts claim that implementing high speed rail to Midwest destinations would not only negate the need for new runways, it would free additional space for long point-to-point flights at existing airports. That was the opinion of Joseph Vranich who authored "Supertrains: Solution to America's Transportation Gridlock" in 1991. Vranich later went on to serve as president of the High Speed Rail Association.
Vranich was an early opponent of the Peotone Airport. He visited the Peotone area to research the airport proposal, for which he devoted a chapter in his book.

Supertrains was a call to action that compared this country's outdated rail system with the state-of-the-art technology used in other countries abroad.

Obama's investment is a step in that direction.

Vranich told the New York Times this week that rather than doling out funds piecemeal, he would like to see is an investment in one true high speed rail system — suggesting the popular Washington to New York corridor. He warned that spreading out the investment to various states would dilute the power to build a truly high speed system.

Vranich said the closest state to developing a high speed rail network is California. Voters there approved a proposition to initiate a high speed rail project last November.
Illinois does have the potential to develop a high speed system as well. While they do not meet Vranich's definition of true high speed rail, Rick Harnish, president of the MHSRA, identified three main routes in Illinois — Chicago to Detroit, Chicago to Milwaukee, and Chicago to St. Louis – that could apply for funds.
Harnish indicated that Illinois chances are good, since the President and Rahm Emanuel, his Chief of Staff are from Illinois, as is Ray LaHood, secretary of transportation, and Dick Durbin, the second in command in the U.S. Senate.
 High speed rail could land in Illinois
    President Barack Obama has lent his support to high speed rail – both through the economic stimulus package and his first budget.
The $787 billion stimulus package set aside $8 billion for high speed rail with another $5 billion in the budget.
This investment into clean, green technology is causing a rise in the excitement level of high speed rail advocates across the country. From New York to California states look to the possibility of finally developing high speed rail.

The President talked about fast trains while on the campaign trail. Spurred by high gas prices and flight delays, last summer Obama spoke of high speed rail service as a viable alternative to the gridlock on the ground and in the air.

He talked about the potential to connect Midwest cities.
According to the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, (MHSRA) the definition of "high speed rail" is varied. To some, it means trains on dedicated track that operate in excess of 150 mph.
Others consider high speed rail as 125 mph and above. A good example is Amtrak's Acela which operates between Washington, D.C., New York, and Boston. The Acela's trip of just over two- and one-half hours, and averages about 86 mph. Still, that is far less than the speed of France's TGV, Germany's ICE train or Japan's Shinkansen, which was developed 40 years ago.
The Federal Highway Administration considers trains as those that travel faster than 110 mph, the current limit under federal regulations. By that definition, trains that operated in the 1930's out of Chicago were high speed rail.

The MHSRA likens a high speed rail network as similar to a highway system, with interstates, as well as local and arterial roads. They say the Midwest needs to build both the trunks and the feeders to city centers.
In Illinois, fast trains have been talked about for as long as building another airport near Peotone. In fact, a rail connection at the airport terminal in a 1968 plan for a new airport between Beecher and Peotone was later revised to include a high speed rail connection point.
But, experts claim that implementing high speed rail to Midwest destinations would not only negate the need for new runways, it would free additional space for long point-to-point flights at existing airports. That was the opinion of Joseph Vranich who authored "Supertrains: Solution to America's Transportation Gridlock" in 1991. Vranich later went on to serve as president of the High Speed Rail Association.
Vranich was an early opponent of the Peotone Airport. He visited the Peotone area to research the airport proposal, for which he devoted a chapter in his book.
Supertrains was a call to action that compared this country's outdated rail system with the state-of-the-art technology used in other countries abroad.
Obama's investment is a step in that direction.
Vranich told the New York Times this week that rather than doling out funds piecemeal, he would like to see is an investment in one true high speed rail system — suggesting the popular Washington to New York corridor. He warned that spreading out the investment to various states would dilute the power to build a truly high speed system.

Vranich said the closest state to developing a high speed rail network is California. Voters there approved a proposition to initiate a high speed rail project last November.

Illinois does have the potential to develop a high speed system as well. While they do not meet Vranich's definition of true high speed rail, Rick Harnish, president of the MHSRA, identified three main routes in Illinois — Chicago to Detroit, Chicago to Milwaukee, and Chicago to St. Louis – that could apply for funds.
Harnish indicated that Illinois chances are good, since the President and Rahm Emanuel, his Chief of Staff are from Illinois, as is Ray LaHood, secretary of transportation, and Dick Durbin, the second in command in the U.S. Senate.