29 January 2010

High Speed Rail Winners

The graphic in today's Denver Post suggests that federal high speed rail dollars will advance:
* a Seattle to Portland, Oregon line;
* a San Francisco to San Diego line;
* a Cincinnati to Cleveland via Columbus line;
* an Orlando to Tampa line;
* a few small Acela extensions in the Northeast;
* a stub line from Milwaukee that doesn't make much sense to me; and
* a Chicago to Peoria line that cuts a diagonal across Illinois that don't make much sense to me.

I also wonder how either California or Illinois, both of which have virtually bankrupt state governments, are going to come up with local match money for these projects (usually 20% of the total for new infrastructure which will cost billions of dollars). Florida's economy is also in the tank, although its proposed high speed rail line is small enough that this may not be as big of a concern.

Mostly, however, these routes do make sense in terms of length, population density and needs for transportation between the cities linked.

Colorado gets only chump changes for more studies.


Dave Barnes said...

"these routes make sense in terms of length, population density and needs for transportation"

No, they don't.

Boston to Washington makes sense.
NYC to Chicago maybe makes sense.


Pork. Pork.

Dave Barnes said...

A perfect example of nonsense is "an Orlando to Tampa line"

1. Both cities are very car dependent. So, if you train between them, you will need a car a both ends.

2. But, the drive time between them is under 2 hours. So, who in their right economic mind would take the train instead of driving?

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Tampa to Orlando would be an attempt to develop the tourists trade, strong in both places, and cross sell. The downtowns in both cities, since they are small, are also small enough to be walkable, and the run is pretty heavily travelled since there is a lot of business between them, but are too close to make flying make sense.

The key points for workable rail are: medium not long hault routes (to avoid plane competition), fatser than cars, and high population density with considerable traffic between the points involved. The U.S. has isolated corridors like that (Seattle to Portland could work particularly well), isn't suited for it in most places (hence the failure of inland Amtrak).