Saturday, February 27, 2010

Midwest hub for HSR: Union Station or a new facility?

The Tribune's Blair Kamin reports on a proposed design and location for a new HSR station in Chicago.

"Union Station is a poor candidate to serve as a high-speed rail hub.

Despite the soaring image of its barrel-vaulted Great Hall, the passenger concourse east of the hall is confusing and confining, a warren trapped within the structural columns that hold up the office building above it. Going forward, Union Station lacks adequate space to marshal more passengers and handle more trains. Nor does it connect to the Chicago Transit Authority’s express service to O’Hare. Its fundamental problem, though, is that it isn’t really a station. It’s a terminal.

Almost all of Union Station’s tracks, whether northbound or southbound, stop at the station instead of running straight through. That’s no good if you’re a high-speed rail passenger traveling, say, from Milwaukee to Cincinnati. You’d have to change trains in Chicago. Who has time for that? You’d fly instead."

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3 Comments:

Blogger Benjamin said...

Realistically, there probably wouldn't be that many through passengers to begin with, would there? The only high-speed corridor that would approach Union Station from the north would be Chicago-Milwaukee-Minneapolis, whereas the other four routes (Chicago to St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, and Indianapolis) approach from the south. Probably better to free up platform space at Union Station by building a new commuter terminal by the Post Office, or building two through tracks as part of a West Loop Transportation Center.

5:48 PM  
Blogger The Rail Enthusiast said...

It's time to think outside of the box a little bit. Instead of having just one hub, Chicago should have FIVE. Union, O'Hare, Oglivie, LaSalle Street, and Millennium Stations should serve as HSR hubs.

Instead of just having everything at one location, spread it out. Amtrak would continue to operate at Union Station, but every other station would be home to new operators. As for transfer issues, your organization would come up with a transfer program that would guarantee a connection to anyone who needs to change trains.

The Post Office location looks too small to handle every train, and the WLTC isn't much of a solution either.

10:53 PM  
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4:01 AM  

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