Tuesday, November 25, 2008

High Speed Rail in the Midwest

Forget bailing out the auto companies.  

I want to invest in this

Individually, Rust Belt cities are weaker than cities on the east coast — they have smaller economies and less human capital. This is complicated by the fact that they’re fairly isolated. The rich cities of the northeast corridor are squeezed together, while Rust Belt cities are far apart — from each other and from the rich cities of the east coast. This means that they have less to work with, and they’re less able to leverage that strength in a regional economy. ...

High-speed rail could cut travel time between Detroit and Washington from nine hours to three — just a smidge longer than the train ride from Washington to New York, from downtown to downtown. And you’d never have to take your shoes off, unless you wanted to. High-speed rail would also cut a five-hour drive from Detroit to Chicago to just over an hour. Detroit to Cleveland? Just under and hour. Detroit to Pittsburgh? About an hour and a half.

High-speed rail would, in other words, turn Rust Belt distances into northeast corridor distances, while also shifting the Rust Belt closer to the northeast corridor. It would increase the return to doing business in every city in the region. It would be the Erie Canal and the original railroads on steroids.

And here’s the thing — California is estimating that its 800-mile high-speed rail network will cost it about $45 billion over twenty or so years. The actual cost will probably be higher than that, and a Midwest network would be larger and therefore more expensive, but the total cost is in the same ballpark as the $50 billion in aid automakers are begging for (which wouldn’t even be spread out over a period of years).


Ben said...

Given that highspeed rail is largly a passenger rather then cargo transport, I ask the following questions...

Is the solution to the problems in the midwest is to make it more like the east coast?

With communications technologies what they are, is the problem really that people can't get to to the coast to do business?

What does highspeed rail service offer that airlines don't?

What would the -actual- rather then the "probably" cost be of a rail system that connects, Cleveland, Cinncianti, Indianapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis to Boston, NYC/Newark, Philly, Baltimore, and D.C.?

Adam said...

High speed rail will be more cost effective.

It will also drive cost down in the Airlines and make sure that they cant overspend and than get bailouts from the fed, as they have been doing over the last 25-30 years.

Chris said...

From what I understand, rail truly is more efficient.

My only problem is with the rest of the infrastructure. Okay, so for example, I drive from Sioux City to Omaha. I park my car somewhere and get on a train to Chicago. Great! But... well, now I'm in Chicago without a car, there's no subway -- how do I get from the train station to wherever it is I gotta go? My fear would be spending $30 on a train ticket, only to have to spend $100 once I'm there to rent a car or find a cab.

joeyfink said...

Chicago has a good elevated train system and there is a subway downtown (along with the Metra, a very cost-effective subrban shuttle). You could easily get from the high speed station (probably downtown) to anywhere you needed to go. Unless you wanted to go deep into the suburbs. When I left Chicago this summer the El cost two bucks and the Metra cost three.

The only problem is in this economy mass rail is great for the consumer, but the upkeep and construction cost on government is pretty hefty. Chicago was over its head when it came to the transit budget