MIDWEST HIGH SPEED RAIL ASSOCIATION
CHICAGO, Ill. – Proposed 220-mph high speed rail to cut the Chicago-St. Louis trip to less than two hours would also provide a major boost to the economy and efforts to reduce harmful emissions, according to a study released today by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association (MHSRA).
The line examined in the MHSRA study would serve Downtown Chicago, O’Hare Airport, Kankakee, Champaign, Decatur, Springfield, Edwardsville and St. Louis. In his January 13 State of the State speech, Gov. Pat Quinn called for “super fast” trains between Chicago and Champaign.
“With our budget crisis and the loss of the Olympics, high speed rail is the project to secure our state’s economic future,” said Rick Harnish, executive director of MHSRA. “It’s time for America and Illinois to think big again. Illinois has the potential to become first in the nation with a bullet train high speed rail link thanks to Governor Quinn’s leadership.”
The study estimates the Chicago-St. Louis via Champaign line would create 26,000 jobs during the seven years of construction, plus another 16,000 new jobs once the service is in operation. The study, conducted by TranSystems and ESH Consult on behalf of the MHSRA, estimates the new line would grow local economies between Chicago and St. Louis by one to three percent annually.
“Few other projects could claim such far-reaching and long-lasting impacts on the economy,” said Bruce Horowitz, Principal of ESH Consult. “220-mph service not only makes business and personal travel by train much more attractive, it energizes the economy and helps the environment in ways unachievable with other technology.”
Each year, the 220-mph energy-efficient electric trains would avoid 3 million trips now taken by air, bus, car or conventional diesel trains, resulting in a net savings of 187 million pounds in CO2 emissions, the same environmental benefit as adding nearly 1 million fully mature trees along the route each year.
“Transportation is the largest source of domestic CO2 emissions, and 99 percent of the energy needed comes from burning fossil fuels,” said Horowitz. “Because nearly three quarters of Illinois’ electricity comes from nuclear plants, electric 220-mph trains would have an extremely small carbon footprint.”
The 220-mph line proposed by MHSRA would be the first leg of its proposed Midwest HSR 220 network, which by 2030 could link Chicago, St. Louis, the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, Detroit, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Pittsburgh, putting more than 25 million people within a three-hour train ride of Chicago.
Value of time saved by travelers thanks to the new 220-mph service would add up to $35 million annually, and train riders would save $40 million in actual travel costs every year. The study also estimated the reduction in car travel and elimination of selected grade crossings would produce $56 million annually in reduced accident-related costs. The full economic and environmental study is available at www.midwesthsr.org.
About Midwest High-Speed Rail Association
“We primarily advocate for world-class 220-mph high-speed trains linking major Midwestern cities. We support fast, frequent and dependable trains on other routes that connect with 220-mph corridors to form a true modern regional and national rail network We believe that a strong network of fast trains will make the Midwest a more attractive place to live and do business while slowing the growth of auto congestion and its related energy and pollution impacts. Visit us at www.midwesthsr.org.“