Last week we joined dozens of other stakeholders from around the Midwest for the latest update on the FRA’s regional planning process. The process is nearly complete: the next step is to produce a draft report, which will then be refined into the final plan.
The suggested Midwest network is more or less complete. Check out the image here. The most exciting part is that the model recommends true high-speed rail (“core express,” in purple) for Chicago to Minneapolis, via Milwaukee and Madison.
This holiday season you will likely join millions of other Americans traveling to see friends and family. These trips are often a stressful endeavor with much of the time spent in a car on congested expressways.
Fast, frequent and reliable trains would make traveling home for the holidays an enjoyable experience. Imagine trading your long car ride with the comforts and conveniences of modern train travel. On the train you have the freedom to walk around, use the restroom and visit the cafe car as you speed to your destination. This gives you more time with your loved ones.
As speculation continues to swirl around Elon Musk’s intention to participate in the O’Hare Express RFQ, only one thing is certain about Musk’s proposal: the technology doesn’t totally exist yet, leaving more questions than answers.
Meanwhile, we forget that the best way to do O’Hare Express is right under our noses. In fact, much of the infrastructure already exists.
This week, the City of Chicago issued a request for qualifications for a private entity to fund, build and operate express service between downtown and O’Hare.
Illinois Dept. of Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn spoke at City Club of Chicago last week. Before he was appointed to lead IDOT, Blankenhorn was the executive director of CMAP, the Chicago region’s comprehensive planning agency. At IDOT, he’s begun a culture shift, reorganizing the department and changing priorities to spend limited funds more wisely, and think more about non-auto modes of transportation.
Last week, the board of Metra, Chicago’s commuter rail service, voted to raise fares and cut service. Fare hikes are nothing new to Metra riders, but coupling them with service cuts is an eye-opener.
Great news: Caltrans announced that the order for new passenger coaches for California and Midwest corridor trains will now be filled by Siemens. The joint order by Caltrans and Illinois Department of Transportation is for 137 cars, 88 of which are for the Midwest. The coaches are expected to be similar to the cars Siemens is delivering to Brightline.
Earlier this year the provincial government of Ontario announced a renewed focus on building high-speed rail from Toronto west to London and Windsor. The plan proposed a blended approach, combining service at up to 200 km/h (125 mph) on upgraded existing tracks with new high-speed segments designed for up to 300 km/h (185 mph). The first phase of construction could bring faster trains to London as early as 2025. The second phase to Windsor, across the river from Detroit, would not be ready until 2031 at the earliest.
Earlier this month California released a draft of its 2018 State Rail Plan. It’s one piece of a broader vision that sets out what the state’s transportation system will look like in 2040.
This year marks 25 years of high-speed rail in Spain.
The country’s first high-speed line, a link from the central capital of Madrid to the southern region of Andalucía, opened for service in April 1992. The 300-mile line passes through rugged, mountainous terrain, requiring 31 bridges (totaling more than six miles) and 17 tunnels (nearly 10 miles worth).