Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Iowa infrastructure

Now that all the aspiring political leaders are gone, the Hawkeye State can get back to normal. The Des Moines Register has a lengthy item on infrastructure, including passenger rail.

And what about rail?

“We have only 50 percent of the rail structures we built 50 years ago,” Hart said.

With gasoline at $3 a gallon and headed to $4, it’s time to rethink how we transport people, he said.

In the Quad Cities, Hart was involved in efforts to establish rail service to Chicago.

Within two years, he said, Illinois intends to extend passenger routes from Chicago to Dubuque and to the Quad Cities.

The Illinois planners figure they can move 110,000 people a year on the Chicago-Quad City route with one-way fares as low as $19, Hart said.

“To make that route really viable, to take that from 110,000 to 250,000 passengers, you need to move that route to Iowa City, Des Moines and ultimately Council Bluffs, maybe Lincoln,” he said.

“You could get on a train in Des Moines at midnight and be in Chicago by 7 in the morning.”

But for that to happen, planning needs to begin soon, including where to place depots in Des Moines, Iowa City and Council Bluffs, Tramontina said.

Local leaders need to start thinking about where to place those depots, Tramontina said.

Should they be downtown, on the edge of town, or someplace in between?

How will the depots connect with other parts of the cities? With students at the University of Iowa? With shopping malls, housing and business parks in the Des Moines area?

So, who would ride a train overnight from Des Moines to Chicago if they had an option? You might do it, but that is typically a day time trip and the train picks up all the local stations in daylight.

Don’t get me wrong. Overnight trains are perfect for many trips, but this is a corridor that needs many frequencies to build the kind of patronage necessary to justify the service.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

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January 2008


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