Amtrak Makes A Significant Step Towards High Speed Rail

Amtrak has launched a 110 MPH track on service between Chicago and St Louis. These are speeds which many say will help to show that high-speed rail in this country can be an reality one day.

As reported in Business Week this new announcement made by Amtrak over the busy Thanksgiving weekend has received a lot of attention. In addition to the high speed service, free Wifi is being offered on many of the trains.

It is clear that this is an important step for high-speed rail in the Midwest. Speeds north of 100 mph are very exciting but to many – it is very scary. Hopefully these trains will succeed and help to convince the country to continue down the path of high-speed rail in many cities across the US.

It is small steps like this which must be made before larger goals are reached – so for now – high-speed rail supporters can pat themselves on their backs because this is welcome news to report.



Mark Craig December 1, 2012 at 10:08 pm

All one can say is that it’s about time and we’re finally getting back to what the Illinois Central railroad did on a daily basis in the 50’s and 60’s.

What I don’t understand here is the author’s remark that: “Speeds north of 100 mph are very exciting but to many – it is very scary.” Scary? Really? Are you kidding? Have you traveled to Europe, Japan, . . . well just about any other developed area where high speed rail at (trust me) far north of a 100 mph has been a reality for some time.

There’s only one scary aspect to the speed in Illinois and that’s the reality that there should be no grade crossings for any high-speed lines (and in fact you won’t find this in other countries). In some ways, I just feel (sadly) that it’s an accident waiting to happen. But of course, this is the way we design and fund rail projects in the U.S. not realizing that true high speed is going to require complete grade separation.

In reality, as great as the project in Illinois is, this really isn’t high speed rail at all – only “high speed” in the way we define it in the U.S. It’s just an enhancement (and very needed one) of conventional speed rail.

Woody December 10, 2012 at 11:57 am

New grade crossings should be paid for HALF out of highway funds. You know, the bogus “highways pay for themselves” claim of gasoline tax revenues. Of course drivers benefit from separated roads and tracks, with no waiting for the trains to pass, and much greater safety.

But I think it never happens that way. The railroads (very much including Amtrak and its state partners in passenger rail) are always obliged to get some special appropriation from Congress or the legislatures to build what could be called “highway overpasses”.

Just another way the deck is stacked in favor of the highway-using energy gluttons.

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