April 28, 2011

Study: Midwest HSR could bring $300B in new business

A high-speed rail system serving all major metropolitan areas within 350 to 450 miles of Chicago could result in significant ridership, economic development and job creation, according to the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association.

On Thursday, the Association released a study titled "The Economic Impacts of High Speed Rail: Transforming the Midwest," with Siemens, who sponsored the study and research partners AECOM and the Economic Development Research Group (EDRG).

The study demonstrates both the feasibility and the promise of this network:

•    An estimated 43 million annual riders from 13 cities and major metropolitan areas.

•    More than $2.2 billion annually in user-generated revenues.

•    25 daily departures on each of the four corridors.

•    Capacity for up to 10 trains in peak hours on each corridor.

•    Two to three hour travel times between Chicago and the furthest points of the network.

•    104,000 new jobs and an additional $5.5 billion in wages each year in the Chicago Metro area resulting from increased economic development.

•    $13.8 billion per year increase in business sales for the Chicago Metro area alone.

The purpose of this study is to provide a roadmap for implementing high-speed rail in the Midwest. It describes the steps needed to make this vision a reality and the potential economic benefits for each of the other cities on the system and the region as a whole — while illustrating how high-speed rail could help to transform economies of the Midwest.

"We believe that a high-speed rail system will unify the Midwest and solidify its future position as one the world's most powerful economies," said Richard Harnish, executive director, Midwest High Speed Rail Association. "The economic impact of the 220-mph network on the Midwest would be staggering. In the Chicago area alone, it would create thousands of new jobs and business opportunities that will support and enhance the Chicago metropolitan area's global competitiveness."

AECOM and EDRG researched a system that would serve all major metropolitan areas within 350 to 450 miles of Chicago. This region would be served by a four-spoke network, with Chicago at the center of corridors connecting to Cleveland/Detroit, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Trains would operate at 220 mph on dedicated track with no grade crossings.

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association is sharing these initial findings at the National Association of Counties Rail Conference in Lisle, Ill. on Thursday.

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