Our City Online

Metro

High Speed Rail Line Proposed Between Columbus and Chicago

Brent Warren Brent Warren High Speed Rail Line Proposed Between Columbus and Chicago
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

A rail advocacy group in Fort Wayne called the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association last week unveiled a study (PDF) looking at the feasibility of running a 110-mph passenger rail line between Columbus and Chicago.

The study, which calls for upgrading existing freight lines, estimates that the entire project would cost about $1.285 billion and be eligible for federal funding that would cover 80% of the cost. It puts the economic benefits of such a line, in the form of new jobs, development around stations and increased tax returns, at over $6 billion.

Potential timetables are provided, showing a trip from Columbus to Chicago taking 4 hours on a local train and just 3 hours and 45 minutes on an express train.

The city of Columbus contributed $15,000 to the $80,000 study. Dan Williamson, Director of Communication for the mayor’s office, explained that they’ve worked over the past year with the Fort Wayne group as well as with cities and towns along the corridor to produce the study. The results are “promising,” he said, adding that the coalition of communities along the potential route are “now considering a more in-depth study to examine the business case for high speed rail service.”

“Providing Columbus businesses and citizens a high speed rail connection to Chicago could further position Columbus as Ohio’s economic center and a growing economic force in the Midwest,” said Williamson. ”We have hundreds of businesses that do business in Chicago or with Chicago businesses.”

When asked about the next step, which for these types of projects typically involves a ‘Tier One’ environmental impact assessment, Williamson said; “we are supportive of further work… we think the results of the study warrant communities along the corridor continuing to raise funds for the next assessment and are exploring with them ways to fund the work.”

The proposal has already generated considerable buzz in social media circles. Eric Davies, board chair of the local advocacy group Transit Columbus, said that a post about the study on their facebook page has been viewed over 15,000 times and inspired a flurry of comments.

Ken Prendergast of All Aboard Ohio says they have been hearing lots of talk about the idea as well.

“It makes sense that the third largest city in the midwest be connected to the region’s economic capital,” Prendergast said, adding that the route has a couple of important features that make it particularly attractive: there is currently no direct highway connection between the two cities, and the rail lines it would utilize are in relatively good shape and either feature low freight traffic or run parallel to other existing freight lines.

He added that in other states such as Minnesota and Texas, coalitions of municipal governments and metropolitan planning organizations (like MORPC), have formed something called a Joint Powers Authority to raise funds for the environmental assessment, which could cost between five and ten million dollars.

More information on the feasibility study is available at www.niprarail.org.

For further discussion on the proposal, CLICK HERE to visit our messageboard.

All renderings, maps and photos via the NIPRA report.

Print Friendly

Tags:

58 Responses to High Speed Rail Line Proposed Between Columbus and Chicago

  1. mrpoppinzs July 3, 2013 6:17 am at 6:17 am

    This is obviously just a study but I like how they think. The high speed aspect of getting to Chicago in four hours is really appealing while clearly having advantages not found in automobiles. Hopefully this gets people thinking about the real advantages of high speed rail transit. Is MORPC interested in aiding with environmental study? It would be great to hear from someone there.

  2. columbusmike July 3, 2013 7:08 am at 7:08 am

    Having traveled many times on high speed rail in Europe, it’s really embarrassing that we are so void of high speed rail here in the states. This line really has a lot of potential, not only for Columbus, but for all the cities along the line.

  3. jmiller10
    jmiller10 July 3, 2013 8:42 am at 8:42 am

    I would really REALLY love this. I travel to Chicago for weekend visits very frequently and usually fly. Southwest has raised prices and got rid of their Monday morning 6:30am flight I usually take. This would be a fantastic option. Driving is never an option for me because I can’t take time off work.

  4. bjones7
    bjones7 July 3, 2013 9:22 am at 9:22 am

    I wonder if this idea if more obtainable then the Califorina High Speed line? If Chicago/Columbus is constructed, maybe this will give Columbus the push it needs for other high speed train travel? Someone needs to get a hold of this project and go with it. Also isn’t it a no brianer when it comes to travel that is faster than car travel? Why get in your car for a 6 hour ride to Chicago from Columbus, when it would only take around 4 hours..err

  5. bjones7
    bjones7 July 3, 2013 9:27 am at 9:27 am

    The only issue I would think developers would have besides obtaining funds and right aways, is proving that providing a high speed rail line between the 2 C’s would be “worth it”. From the study it sound like it, but at the end of the day outsiders might not think so.

  6. catnfiddle July 3, 2013 9:49 am at 9:49 am

    We can connect to Chicago but not to Cleveland, Cincinnati, or Pittsburgh? This is the ONLY subject that makes me wince about my move to Columbus.

  7. TaraK July 3, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am

    Every time this comes up, I comment about how amazing it would be. We traveled by train a lot last month when abroad and you just can’t experience it without thinking, WHY DON’T WE HAVE THIS? It was more comfortable and convenient than car or air. And when you factor in airport time, security, baggage, etc., a 4 hour train ride is pretty comparable to a flight to Chicago. But less money; more ease.

  8. Not that Tom July 3, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am

    I support this for no other reason than the prospect of more movie scenes featuring fights on top of this rail line.

    We need more of those fight scenes occurring in America, especially the Midwest! It’s high time Europe’s monopoly on train-top fight scenes be put to an end!

  9. mrpoppinzs July 3, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am

    @not that Tom – in 1979 the tv series Supertrain almost bankrupted NBC. That really hurt the train top fight scene industry…

  10. windians July 3, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am

    Not while Kasich is in office. How quickly people forget – the very first thing he did upon taking office was shred Strickland’s already approved plans for a high-speed rail connecting Cleveland, Columbus and Cinci.

  11. Newsline July 3, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am

    It is an idea that is long over due. Unfortunately, as long as we have backward thinkers like Kasich and other Republican politicians controlling State government, it will be defeated.

  12. mrpoppinzs July 3, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am

    There is nothing yet to defeat. I think Kasich would even be okay with this as it is true high speed rail. The 3C was a much slower speed compromise with questionable schedule times. Getting to Chicago in 4 hours really sweetens the pot.

  13. Somaside July 3, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am

    I would prefer this 100 percent over driving. The first and foremost would be the ability for me to work and travel at the same time. I travel back and forth between Chicago and Columbus monthly. I pretty much lose a day of work if I travel during the week. This would increase my efficiency greatly.

    Also, having lived on the east coast, train travel is the most comfortable form of transportation I have encountered. So with this I say, Go Go Gadget train to Chicago!!

  14. trhedge July 3, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am

    Sorry, but you lose all credibility by calling Strickland’s plan “high speed.” I’m a huge proponent of rail, but that plan deserved to fail on merit. To paraphrase Elon Musk’s comments about the California line, why are we trying to build the slowest and most expensive trains in the world?

  15. columbusmike July 3, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am

    ^mrpoppinzs said, “I think Kasich would even be okay with this as it is true high speed rail.”

    I think you’re right. Plus there is a heavy possibility for private partnership. I see Kasich being very “on-board” this one.

  16. goettemoeller July 3, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm

    Make This Happen!

  17. James July 3, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm

    Southwest runs a pretty nice high speed air connection to Chicago. $100 gets you to Midway 5 minutes after you leave Columbus (with time change). A 20 minute ride on the orange line and you’re downtown.

    That’s going to be tough to beat with rail. 4 hours may be outside of the time range where travel by rail has the advantage due to airport delays. And rail stations in Columbus and Chicago may not even be more conveniently located than the airports.

  18. RedStorm July 3, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm

    According to the article, only $257 million can’t/won’t be funded through federal funds. I would assume Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois would or could pick up the rest of the cost.

    Really like the idea. I have family in Fort Wayne. Chicago in 4 hours would be great. Would open the door in the future at least for connections to Indy, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincy, etc…or, gasp, light rail within Columbus itself.

  19. NerosNeptune July 3, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm

    I don’t understand how people would consider this Kasich friendly? Trains are very liberal right now for some reason.. if he wants to run for a higher office after being Gov he needs to make it clear that he will strike down train boondoggles.

  20. mrpoppinzs July 3, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm

    The 3C was ~39 mph…and smelled like pork. I like trains like anyone else, but I also think that it was like trying to get someone into running and giving them penny loafers to run in. It wasn’t the right fit.

    This new proposal seems a lot more sound.

  21. puffpuffpass July 3, 2013 1:21 pm at 1:21 pm

    Nothing ‘passenger train’ is Kasich friendly. It goes against the Automobile and asphalt industries. He is getting paid good money to stop this idea.

  22. Walker Evans
    Walker July 3, 2013 1:36 pm at 1:36 pm

    @mrpopinzs – The complete 3C route averaged 39mph for end-to-end run times from Cincinnati to Cleveland, including stops. The trains proposed to run had a top speed of 79mph.

    This Chicago-Columbus route is proposed to have trains running up to 110mph, but that is not the average speed of service from end-to-end including stops.

    Just pointing out that you’re compared two different sets of numbers between the two.

  23. Jordan July 3, 2013 2:07 pm at 2:07 pm

    Like this idea a lot but have one concern I sort of can’t shake: b/c this uses existing freight lines it won’t be as fast, smooth or fuel efficient as it is possible to make if they built it it’s own dedicated tracks designed precisely for this. But of course that would be more expensive and the more expensive it is the harder it is to sell to the public at first. That being said it would still be better on fuel efficiency than buses or cars or planes. It would be faster than cars or buses or even total airplane travel time when you consider security, flight delays and all that airport fun. If the price of fuel goes up again over coming decades the fuel savings would make us more and more glad we have this. Plus you can most easily be productive or relax on the internet on a train as you travel versus a bus, car or plane. Oh, and we’d lose the dubious distinction of being the largest metro area in America with no passenger rail service, we’d stop looking like a bunch of small town, small minded troglodytes when someone from a big city visits or hears about Columbus and asks: do you have any trains that go here?

  24. Jason Powell
    jpizzow July 3, 2013 2:15 pm at 2:15 pm

    The only problem I have with this is that it is “proposed” that our station be located at the airport. Pretty sure I saw that in the report. Why on earth would we put the station there?

  25. Patch
    Patch July 3, 2013 2:32 pm at 2:32 pm

    So it will be going through Lima and Kenton?

    there isn’t a line the runs by/through Dayton?

  26. heresthecasey July 3, 2013 2:56 pm at 2:56 pm

    @Jpizzow, there are 2 Columbus stations proposed on the map, one downtown and one at the airport, same as 3-C had IIRC.

    @Patch, I think that this proposal goes for the most direct route between Columbus and Chicago, hence it skips Indy and Dayton and anywhere else that would be out of the way.

  27. columbusmike July 3, 2013 4:16 pm at 4:16 pm

    @James

    $100 trip to Chicago on Southwest? Maybe on off days.

    Plus, factor in arriving an hour early to the airport and it’s probably more like 3 hours. So, really, taking the high speed train is only 45 minutes or so longer vs flying. I think some people will still choose to fly…and that’s okay. However, the train will be much more frequent vs airline travel and is subject to far fewer delays due to weather, traffic, etc.

  28. columbusmike July 3, 2013 4:22 pm at 4:22 pm

    “Nothing ‘passenger train’ is Kasich friendly. It goes against the Automobile and asphalt industries. He is getting paid good money to stop this idea.”

    Not that I’m a big fan of Kasich, but I think there is a good chance he’ll be supportive of this plan with it’s opportunity to be privately run post-construction.

  29. buckeye54
    buckeye54 July 3, 2013 5:20 pm at 5:20 pm

    To be fair, the 39 mph average with stops that was cited in prior comments was proved not be accurate for the 3C line. 50 mph was about the average with all of the stops and 60 mph was going to be average including stops from columbus to cleveland. Also my understanding is that there will be lines with stops and also direct lines from columbus to chicago being offered under this proposal so the 110 mph average could be attainable as well as the rails being upgraded to create a smoother ride and higher speed hence the billion dollar cost.

  30. NEOBuckeye
    NEOBuckeye July 3, 2013 7:49 pm at 7:49 pm

    Fuck John Kasich. He’ll be long dead and gone, and this state will still be stuck in total car dependency, all because the one elected official who had the power and the chance to change our course for the better and increase Ohioans options for travel didn’t give a shit. Yeah, he made this state cool for young people alright.

  31. NEOBuckeye
    NEOBuckeye July 3, 2013 8:11 pm at 8:11 pm

    The more I think about it, the more I realize what exactly is wrong with our approach to politics in this state. People here wonder how they can appease Kasich, as if he were some kind of king or dictator and we are mere serfs. We forget that this is a democracy and that he should be doing what WE, THE PEOPLE want him to do, regardless of his own preferences.

    What we really need is a means to put pressure on him with very real adverse consequences for his career if he chooses instead to ignore us. Lacking that, and any further action to that end, all these discussions about high speed rail are meaningless.

  32. Luke Streetwalker July 3, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm

    This would be fantastic. I am not looking forward to the drive this weekend. A nice train ride to read for a few hours would be great. Flying is a hassle anymore. Perhaps too it would be beneficial to the cities on the route.

  33. Buster Bluth
    Buster Bluth July 4, 2013 12:07 am at 12:07 am

    Screw stopping in Lima, Kenton, etc. Give me a 150mph train that goes from Columbus, through Dayton to Indianapolis, and up to Chicago.

    But yeah I would never drive to Chicago again if this were built, I’d be all about this.

  34. Caleb
    CalebR July 4, 2013 12:58 am at 12:58 am

    Do it! I would take a train in the heartbeat, but the only reason, in my mind Kasich said no to rail was the fact that the 3-C proposal was NOT high speed rail. I believe he would be more open to it.

  35. NEOBuckeye
    NEOBuckeye July 4, 2013 2:17 am at 2:17 am

    @Buster,
    I think one reason the Chi-town to C-bus line is being considered with Ft. Wayne and Lima included is the fact that there is already rail running between Chicago and Cincinnati via Indianapolis, connecting to Southwestern Ohio, even if not to Dayton directly.

    Columbus and the other towns are being prioritized now because they represent some of the last parts of the Midwest not currently served by rail coming out of the Chicago hub. Columbus itself is the last major Midwestern city not served by ANY rail whatsoever.

    http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/BlobServer?blobcol=urldata&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobkey=id&blobwhere=1249232678842&blobheader=image%2Fgif

    I’m guessing somewhere further down the road, there will be more 3C-style connections, as well as a line running between Columbus and Indianapolis via Dayton.

    @CalebR, nothing personal, but in a perverse way, I’d sooner trust the horse’s mouth on this one. The man for whatever reason does not believe rail is the way to go, period, or else he would have at least came back with a counter proposal. He doesn’t care at all. Ideally, he’ll be looking for another job next year while his successor dusts off the Strickland admin’s study and proposal. I’m hardly optimistic about that being the outcome at this time.

  36. d_r_white July 4, 2013 8:49 am at 8:49 am

    Only read the headline but, love the idea. I hope it happens.

  37. ahblid July 4, 2013 1:12 pm at 1:12 pm

    Let’s clear up a few misconceptions that I see being posted here:

    First, the 3C’s plan was NOT Governor Strickland’s plan. That plan was written a few years before Mr. Strickland became Governor by the late mayor of Sylvania Mr. James Seney; a Republican who understood the importance of passenger rail and frankly was a bit of a visionary. Mr. Seney wrote that plan while he was head of the Ohio Rail Development Commission, appointed to that post by Republican Governor Bob Taft.

    Mr. Seney’s plan then went to the Republican controlled State Senate where it was approved 33-0 to seek Federal funding to build that line. The only thing Governor Strickland did was file the application to get funding from the Stimulus monies using Mr. Seney’s plan; as directed and required by the State Senate.

    Second, I don’t believe for a second that Mr. Kasich cares one way or another about rail. He was opposed for one major reason. His election team saw that he was trailing in the polls and just happened to notice the successes that Candidate for Governor Scott Walker was having in the polls by opposing that State’s HSR funding. So Mr. Kasich jumped on the band wagon and it worked.

    It didn’t matter to him at all that as a Republican he was opposing a Republican plan for Ohio’s 3C rail system. It only mattered that it propelled him into office. Heck, I had to laugh when he stood up shortly after being sworn in and said something like “We put down the rail zealots in this state.” Well those “zealots” were his Republican colleagues in the State Senate.

    The late Mr. Seney actually wrote an editorial before his death expressing his outrage and confusion over the sudden turn of events that squashed his plan and the insults hurled at him by a fellow Republican.

    Third, Mr. Kasich actually failed to deliver on his campaign promise. He never cancelled the 3C’s project. It died before he was ever sworn in as Governor when the Fed withdrew the offer of funds and sent the money to two other Republican controlled States, Michigan & Florida. Florida later also rejected the funds too. Michigan however used the funds to start work on increasing speeds across the State to Detroit. In about 2 hours time, instead of 100 miles of 110 MPH running, trains in that state will now run almost from the Indiana border to Detroit at 110 MPH.

  38. NEOBuckeye
    NEOBuckeye July 4, 2013 4:15 pm at 4:15 pm

    @ahblid, nice turn of the phrase, but Kasich didn’t have to formally reject funding for the 3Cs rail; his declaration of intent to reject the funds immediately following his election was adequate enough to deter the feds from investing in the project. He’s hardly blame free for this as you seem to be attempting to portray him above as being. He certainly needs to be held accountable by anyone in the state under 45 that would like to see Ohio ascend beyond its current near exclusive reliance on automobiles and fossil fuels for transportation.

  39. Mike Hansen July 4, 2013 5:33 pm at 5:33 pm

    @ahblid. Thanks for the back story

  40. ahblid July 4, 2013 5:36 pm at 5:36 pm

    NEOBuckeye,

    I wasn’t attempting to absolve him of any blame at all. Sorry if I gave you that impression. I was simply stating that IMHO, his goal of becoming Governor was more important than anything else and it didn’t matter who or what he squashed to achieve that goal. The fact that perhaps he pleased a few large contributors with his decision to oppose the rail project was far less of a consideration I believe. His opposition was based upon seeing how well this line of rejecting Obama monies for rail was playing in Wisconsin.

    Which is also funny too, since HSR wasn’t something dreamed up by President Obama either. The first 5 HSR corridors were designated back in 1992 by then President George H W Bush. The next 6 HSR corridors, which included the 3C’s corridor, were all approved by the Republican controlled US Congress during Bill Clinton’s Presidency. All President Obama did was finally provide some funding for a Republican dream!

    But make no mistake about it, I hold him 100% responsible for the failure of Ohio to do the right thing. He is solely responsible for deciding that his goals were more important than the goals of the duly elected Ohio State Senate and the needs of the citizens of the State of Ohio.

    Finally, one of his campaign promises was “The 39 mph high-speed train is dead when I become governor.” Yes, the Fed knew what was to come. But that doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Kasich never got to put pen to paper to reject that money. It was dead before he became Governor.

  41. NEOBuckeye
    NEOBuckeye July 5, 2013 1:00 am at 1:00 am

    @ahblid,
    Points noted, and my apologies. Your historical references do paint an interesting picture of the origins and development direction (or lack thereof) of HSR. A wretched shame that it has fallen victim to political pandering and posturing toward Far Right Tea Party lunkheads within the same Republican Party that once pushed for it

    He was never one of my most favorite people on this planet, but I am nonetheless amazed how 20 years going by could make Poppy Bush, who was essentially a political moderate, look downright liberal.

  42. McFly July 5, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am

    If this is going to have ANY shot at succeeding, it will need to be true high-speed rail, and it will need to have some type of private sector buy-in or involvement.

    I understand that there’s a certain amount of romanticism involved in riding on trains, but that’s not enough to sustain it. Neither is the small segment of the population that would ride on the train for green purposes.

    We can, of course, laugh hysterically at the projected cost of $1.285 billion.

  43. ahblid July 5, 2013 2:25 pm at 2:25 pm

    McFly,

    Why is it that trains must sustain themselves when we don’t ask other forms of transportation to do the same? We subsidize flying & driving, the later quite heavily, so why aren’t they being held to the same standard?

    In fact, one of the bigger reasons that Amtrak even exists is because Government interfered in the Free Market by subsidizing flying & driving. Of the three modes, only passenger rail ever existed at one time without subsidies. Flying & driving have always been subsidized.

    And it’s not about romanticism or being green. Trains move people at less cost than other alternatives. According to the National Transit Database for 2011, on average it costs 40 cents per passenger mile to move people using heavy rail (subways & L’s) and commuter rail. It costs 60 cents per passenger mile to move people using light rail.

    Put them on a bus and it costs 90 cents per passenger mile.

  44. McFly July 5, 2013 5:01 pm at 5:01 pm

    ahblid, I’m just speaking from a perception standpoint. Trains go from A to B. If you need to get to C, then you’re out of luck. However, I can get into my car and drive from A to C, or A to Z, etc. Same goes with flying (commercially, somewhat restricted, general aviation, considerably less so).

    I’m not sure what you mean by subsidizing driving. Do you mean the money poured into the paving/construction of highways? If so, then the “projected” $1.285 billion would seem like a huge subsidy for rail. But, come on, no one truly thinks it will end up costing that much, right? I mean, true – they’re using existing rail lines, but safe money is on the costs spiraling way, way higher than that.

    I would honestly LOVE to see this project get done… and I would love to see the 3-C project get revived (but with higher speeds)… and I would love to see them add Pittsburgh and other cities to it. And, like others, I think light rail in Columbus would be great.

    I guess it all comes down to what the projected price tag might be for the end user. I haven’t read the full report yet, but I know that Amtrak isn’t the most cost efficient way of travel. I can spend a little more and get where I’m going much faster by flying. And that’s what this new rail line will have to fight against, the preconceived notions (accurate or otherwise) about Amtrak.

    Folks in rural ohio will wonder why the state is spending so much money on a rail line that they will never use. Granted, the state spends a lot of money on a lot of things, but this gives the politicians and their constituents a nice big target.

  45. I_am_Father_McKenzie July 5, 2013 5:21 pm at 5:21 pm

    Blatant lies above. Almost all railroads in the 19th century had subsidies. The railroad industry may as well have been the government. It elected Lincoln and encouraged the war between the states. Whereas private road building was quite successful at the time.

    True, since the 50s roads have been subsidized more, but I don’t agree with that either. Highway subsidization is a product, ultimately, of the MIC. It has created sprawl and decimated urban areas. Don’t just assume because people are against certain rail projects that they’re automatically highway cheerleaders.

    As far as this project, if it can run for-profit go for it. But running on profit after a $1.2bb cost is not an economic win. I also have a hard time supporting new infrastructure when our already bloated system is literally crumbling. We need to fix up and seriously consolidate our sprawled infrastructure first. Then, when existing infrastructure is economically sustainable, we can start mapping out new systems.

    Now, since this is using existing infrastructure, I could get behind it. But, there’d need to be substantial monetary assistance from the railroad industry and other private businesses before I’d agree with it. If each state government ended up having to pay $375mm for this, that’s hugely irresponsible. Say $250mm after federal funds.

    That’s $250mm of tax money that could stay in the hands of private individuals. In other words, 5 more Highpoint at Commons projects. Say one each in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Akron/Canton/Dayton. Obviously that’s not exactly how it would play out, but the point remains.

    If private industry is willing to pick up the tab, good for them. In the meantime, let’s spend tax dollars on needed infrastructure improvements, before expanding our already sprawled system. Say, removing unnecessary dams and improving our damaged environment. Removing exspensive to maintain highways that aren’t entirely necessary. Fixing up power and sewer lines, improving run-off pollution and power reliability (burying lines in all new developments, and areas where roads and sewers are being improved, when it’s already all dug up). Stuff like that.

    Just my 2¢.

  46. ahblid July 5, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm

    McFly,

    Yes, pouring concrete is exactly what I’m talking about. In 2010 this country spent $202 Billion on its highways. Of that amount, we drivers only managed to cover 42% of that via fuel taxes and other direct fees. That represents a $118 Billion subsidy to us drivers. And again, that’s just the highways. Most local streets are paved more with property taxes, not fuel taxes.

    Many love to complain about the drain of Amtrak on their tax dollars. According to the Taxpayer’s Receipt for 2009 a married couple with 2 kids and $80K in income watched $3.83 of their Federal Income tax dollars go to Amtrak. That same couple saw $110.06 of their Federal Income tax dollars go to the highways. And that’s on top of what they paid via fuel taxes and various state taxes.

    A retired couple with $100K in income saw $3.11 go to Amtrak. They saw $89.38 go to the highways, even if they can no longer drive a car, much less own a car.

    Amtrak by the way covered 68% of it’s costs without help from the Fed in 2012.

    As for spending a little more to get their faster by plane, probably not. Sure, if one wants to go from NY to LA by train, flying is going to win. But for example in the NY City to DC corridor, while the train ride is longer than the flight, the overall trip is about the same. The train goes from downtown to downtown.

    For the plane you have to get to the airport; spend time to clear security, fly, then get back to the center of the city where most people want to go. Total travel time ends up being about the same and the prices are about the same, based upon when you buy. And its for those reasons, along with other’s like comfort and the ability to use your cell phone, that 77% of those considering flying vs. the train choose the train.

    Finally, yes, the odds are good that anything built will probably end up costing more than the original estimate. In part because it is an estimate, in part because of lawsuits that delay things driving up costs, and a myriad of other reasons. However, if going over budget was a reason not to do something, then this country would have stopped building all highways after the granddaddy of cost overruns, the Big Dig in Boston.

    We The People need to watch the politicians like a hawk and ensure that they don’t allow things to get out of hand. But again, it’s not a reason not to do something.

  47. McFly July 5, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm

    Regarding your first paragraph, $202 billion is certainly a lot of money, but that’s nationwide. Contrast that with California’s latest HSR project, which was recently estimated at over $60 billion… for roughly 500 miles of track.

    Now, granted, that’s not an apples to apples comparison to the Columbus project, since my understanding is that they’re laying entirely new track in Cali, but if we’re talking about the amount of money that the government is spending on infrastructure, it would seem that you get more bang for your buck with highways.

    Regarding your second paragraph, I would go back to my earlier point about A to B travel vs. A to C or A to D, etc. You’re severely limited in where you can go with track. So, spending money on it (vs. highways) will almost certainly anger some folks.

    Like I’ve said, I would love to see all of the rail projects work out. But not if they can only survive primarily because of government spending. I could live with government assistance for it, but it needs to be able to support itself in some significant manner.

  48. ahblid July 5, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm

    Father_McKenzie,

    It’s a shame you couldn’t avoid slinging mud and calling things lies without providing even a shred of proof.

    However, just for you, yes RR’s got subsidies back then in the form of land grants. But that was to the freight companies and as a condition of those grants they had to provide passenger rail service. Hence my statement is correct and truthful.

    Furthermore, the Fed marked that debt paid in full after WW II because of the help & efforts of the RR’s in the war effort for both WW I & WW II.

    And private road building wasn’t exactly a success way back then. Most city governments still paid for roads back before we even knew what concrete & asphalt were.

    Next, again, since our highways make no profit at all, there is no reason that the train should. However, it probably would at least make enough to cover ongoing costs, even though it is unlikely that it would be able to pay off the startup costs. That is still worth it, since at least unlike the highways it wouldn’t be an ongoing money pit. And considering that the minimal life of such a RR is at least 40 years, that works out to $30M a year over the life of the asset. That’s a bargain compared to a highway.

  49. ahblid July 5, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm

    McFly,

    Yes, that is the highway spending for all of the US. Yes, California’s HSR system is estimated to cost over $60 Billion. But that’s not being spent in just 1 year. Right now the estimate for completion is 2028. So that amounts to spending about $5.3 Billion a year for the next 15 years.

    And that money builds something that will last for at least 40 years. Most highways need expensive repaving in less than 10 years. Most highways need very expensive bridge rebuilding within 20 years. There is no comparison at all IMHO.

    Finally, while you’re correct about your A to B vs. A to Z, that’s only because we’ve spent the last 60 years throwing money at the highways to get to that point. We used to use trains for all that before, and with far fewer taxpayer dollars being spent.

    Furthermore, I’m not suggesting that we give up our highways. I love driving my car and I certainly don’t wish to give it up and have no intention of doing so until I’m no longer physically able to safely drive it. But this country cannot continue to borrow $100 Billion a year for our highways. And in many cities we no longer have the space to build still more highways, much less expand the ones we do have.

    We need alternatives, cheaper alternatives and rail fits that bill.

  50. usbullettrtain July 7, 2013 4:54 pm at 4:54 pm

    So going forward the New York-Chicago bullet train group pledges to not employ the use of filthy dangerous volatile transport fuels(oil) in its operations such as fracked oil, tar sands, or shale oil that are so essential for aviation and personal vehicles… usbullettrain@gmail.com

    http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2021341823_apcncanadaoiltrainderailment.html

    The New York-Chicago bullet train will employ for the full length of the alignment sustainable electric power from wind solar hydro and other sources…

    As always, please support and help promote our groups below:

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-York-Chicago-HSR/140957949309337

  51. Molly July 7, 2013 6:52 pm at 6:52 pm

    This would be incredible. I would take this train all the time, and know many people who would. Most of all, the project excites me because it would provide a huge boost to the entire region. This route is perfect for high-speed rail, and just look at the study’s plan: 80% of the cost funded by the federal government, and the economic benefit is almost five times the cost of building it.

  52. ohdarlin56 July 8, 2013 9:01 am at 9:01 am

    Not sure the oil companies will “allow” this to happen. It’s true it is a shame the US is so far behind when it comes to transportation – but it’s way behind on energy policy in general, so this is no surprise. Would be great to have rail.

  53. fensterbme
    fensterbme July 8, 2013 9:34 am at 9:34 am

    Sorry folks, there is no way this happens…. Sure folks would love the idea, everyone in Columbus loves the idea of the city getting anything cool. But there simply isn’t a viable business case that I can see, and if the numbers don’t line up it’s not going to happen (unless the government decides to fund it).

    1.) As James above points out. Airfare to Chicago is already available, is faster and is going to very likely be *less* expensive than taking a train.

    2.) Look at what it costs to travel Amtrak, it’s actually quite expensive to take rail to various cities, and it takes a very long time to get there. Why do we think this ‘high speed’ rail would be less expensive than slower options like Amtrak.

    I love Columbus (and Chicago), and want good things for both of the cities. But it don’t see any way that it’s a viable business venture. In the mean time I’ll keep flying or road tripping it to Chicago.

  54. Walker Evans
    Walker July 8, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am

    The highways are not a viable business venture. Airports are also not a viable business venture. Neither are bike trails or sidewalks.

    Yet for some reason, trains are expected to be the exclusion.

  55. ahblid July 8, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm

    Fensterbme,

    As noted by Walker, government funds all the other transportation choices. And in fact, it’s those subsidies that have led us to the need to subsidize trains. As for your 2 points:

    1) It’s likely to only be faster if one only includes the actual flight time. But one must consider the time to get to the airport from downtown, the time from the airport back downtown, and the need to clear security. On the Northeast Corridor the actual flight time from NY to DC is just under a hour. But when you include all of the above factors, total travel time is about the same as the train. One reason that Amtrak owns something like 78% of the market.

    2) Amtrak charges what the market will bear. In some cases it is cheaper, in some it is more expensive, and in many cases it all comes down to when one buys one’s tickets as to which is cheaper.

  56. Eugene_C July 10, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am

    I like that the cities along the corridors are taking the initiatives instead of relying on the fickle state governments to build something like this. There’s also plans for Amtrak to connect Columbus Pittsburgh & Chicago, but it wouldn’t be quite as high of a speed.

  57. JK43123 September 25, 2013 6:30 pm at 6:30 pm

    I love the idea, especially since it connects Port Columbus with downtown! When COTA adds their downtown circulator, folks visiting could ride the train downtown and the circulator to their hotel or to see the sights. Great idea.

    But I’m sure Kasuck will kill it. I predict it will get build from Chicago to Fort Wayne and die there.

    John

  58. stephentszuter
    stephentszuter July 9, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am

    It’s been a year now. Has there been any movement on this effort?

Want to comment?

Login or register first.

Lost your password?

metro categories