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High speed rail alliance for ARRA funding includes Midwest governors and operating railroads: Includes Illinois and Michigan developments

There has been coverage of the agreement that eight Midwestern governors and the mayor of Chicago would form a single alliance to apply for ARRA high speed rail funding. We are all aware that the Midwest High Speed Rail Association has been working on this network of fast conventional trains for a decade.

Progressive Railroading has a complete report. One aspect not highlighted much is the inclusion of the operating roads.

The governors and Daley also agreed to establish a multi-state steering group to help coordinate the ARRA funding applications and provide a “single voice” in support of the corridor, Quinn said. The group includes Amtrak Chairman Tom Carper; Union Pacific Railroad Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Young; CSX Corp. Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tony Ingram; BNSF Railway Co. EVP of Law Roger Nober; Norfolk Southern Corp. VP John Friedmann; CN VP of American Government Affairs Karen Phillips; Kansas City Southern Railway Co. Assistant VP of State and Local Affairs Kevin McIntosh; and Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward Hamberger.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the real world. One can not read too much into this development, but we have come a long way. Let the tea leaf reading begin.

Meanwhile back at the Illinois state capitol city, the State Journal-Register details talk of two high speed rail corridors in Illinois. Apparently there is a benefit in operating at higher speeds on a line east of the old GM$O currently operated by UP and home to the Eagle and state supported trains.

Harnish said much of the Springfield-Decatur-Champaign route would travel on lines operated by the Norfolk Southern and CN (formerly Canadian National) railroads. Norfolk Southern operates the 10th Street line in Springfield.

The eastern route actually would cut travel time to two hours between St. Louis and Chicago, compared to a little less than four hours expected along the UP line. Harnish said faster speeds are possible along the eastern route because a wider right-of-way is available and there are fewer connecting bottlenecks.

“Some folks in St. Louis and Chicago wanted to see how you could do a two-hour trip, which I think should be the goal,” he said. “We wanted to show it’s plausible.

WJR Radio in Detroit adds to the discussion with this report (there is audio and more detail if you follow the link),

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm says a commitment to high-speed rail could create a thriving industry in the state.

“If you look at the Buy American provisions of the stimulus act, that means we’re going to have to build the rail cars in the United States, which they are not built in the U.S. now,” Granholm told Steve Courtney this morning on WJR AM-760 in Detroit.

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

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