Friday, November 02, 2012

Italians show how high speed rail development can work

This is a great article from Forbes comparing the two (two!) high rail operators in Italy.

This second paragraph in particular is most compelling to a policy wonk like me:

Right now, Italy is Europe’s cutting-edge country when it comes to high-speed trains. It not only has two versions, but they’re competing in a socialist-capitalist drama. In one corner is Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa, Italy’s state-owned TGV, and in the other, the privately owned Italo, which launched in April. It was created by two of Italy’s most powerful businessmen, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, CEO of Ferrari, and Diego Dalle Valle, CEO of Tod’s.  In effect, Montezemolo and Dalle Valle said to Trenitalia, “see you and raise you one.”
Italo competes with TrenItalia’s Frecciarossa on the country’s two major trunk routes: Milan to Naples and Turin to Venice. Now, before you red staters start to cheer, let me introduce two other relevant facts. Italo exists because in 2003 the Italian parliament passed a law that ended the government train monopoly, but more pertinent, starting around that time, the state built an entirely new system of high-speed track to create the Frecciarossa. (There are some spectacular runs over viaducts and, on the Milan-Florence route, an astounding traverse of tunnels.) And before you blue-staters start groaning, Italo doesn’t get a free ride: It pays the Italian government about $156 million annually to use the high-speed infrastructure.

The lesson for us: the government should build brand-new passenger-only, electrified railroad tracks. And then the government should allow any private company to use these tracks to run their own trains if they pay an annual fee -- in Italy's case, $156 million a year.

That's what the Illinois Tollway Authority can do now, thanks to a new law signed by Governor Quinn in August of this year. Every tollway or turnpike authority in the country that builds roads should get in the business of building new high-speed tracks, paid for by tolling the train companies that use them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Great interview with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn this morning, talking up high speed rail on Morning Joe.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

People in Wisconsin ride trains

This is a news story from Wisconsin on the large numbers of people riding Amtrak between Milwaukee and Chicago. Of course, if the Amtrak was extended west from Milwaukee to Madison, large numbers of people would ride that train as well.

Not to mention, the train should be extended north from Milwaukee up to Green Bay (through Door County and Manitowoc). People will ride trains, and it is always cheaper to run a train than it is to maintain a highway. It also uses far less energy per passenger-mile, which is good for our economy.


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Remember what the President of the United States said about high speed rail

It's worth remembering what the President of the United States has to say about high speed rail: It is being done. It's just not being done here. Building a high speed rail system will be faster, cheaper and more efficient than building new highways or new runways.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The inside of an ICE train in London - a stronger European network is growing

This is a neat BBC video of a look inside a German-made ICE train that will start running direct to London. Rail networks grow stronger in Europe! And that means with every trip their economy grows stronger as they use less foreign oil and more homegrown electricity. Their economy also grows stronger because their people remain productive on the train, instead of in a car when the time is largely wasted while driving. Anyway, check out the inside of this train.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Great high speed rail Wisconsin video on the Madison-Milwaukee expansion

A fantastic video on Wisconsin's high speed rail project (put together by One Wisconsin).

Check this out and spread the word!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Obama calls for high speed rail as part of $50 billion infrastructure program

Today President Barack Obama pushed for a $50 billion infrastructure program, paid for primarily by lessening the subsidies for oil and gas development, to strengthen our country's economy. The program includes a major rail component, including rebuilding 4000 miles of rail track.

He specifically calls for high speed rail in his speech.

In his remarks, he notes that as a percentage of GDP, we spend less than Russia, China or Western Europe. We spend 2 percent, Europe spends 5 percent and China spends 9 percent.

In other words, to build the foundation of our economy, we need significantly more government spending on our transportation infrastructure -- or we will continue to pay through wasted time and fuel in inefficient, clogged highways and airports.