May 9, 2012

States partner for Chicago-to-Detroit HSR study

Illinois, Indiana and Michigan have agreed to move forward with a comprehensive study that will help determine ways to reduce rail congestion and let trains achieve higher speeds along the Chicago-to-Detroit high-speed rail corridor, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced.

The goal of the study, which will be funded through a $3.2 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and $200,000 each from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Norfolk Southern, is to reduce passenger travel times between Chicago and Detroit and efficiently move freight through one of the nation’s busiest freight rail networks, the congested Chicago-to-Porter, Ind., segment.

“This is an important step toward achieving higher speeds along the entire Chicago-to-Detroit rail corridor and improving the flow of freight to the east coast," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Eliminating bottlenecks will boost the economy by reducing delays and allow for the freer flow of both people and goods throughout the region.”

An important focus of the study will be reducing congestion by linking a double-track passenger main to the 110 mph service at Porter. The study will build on progress Michigan has already made by achieving 110 mph service from Porter to Kalamazoo.

“The comprehensive study will help us establish faster passenger rail service for business and leisure travelers moving between Chicago and Detroit, as well as make freight movements more efficient,” Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said. “In Illinois, we have made high-speed rail and freight infrastructure improvement top priorities, and I am pleased to work with our neighboring states and Secretary LaHood, who understands the importance of providing significantly reduced travel times and promoting economic development through rail improvements.”

“This is an important partnership in our efforts to reinvent Michigan, specifically creating an accelerated rail connection between Detroit and Chicago for both citizens and businesses,” said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. “Relieving congestion will also help the Midwest’s freight industry by better enabling the rapid and efficient movement of manufactured and agricultural products.”

The Chicago-to-Detroit line is part of the Midwest Regional Rail Network, which is located in one of five densely populated mega-regions, areas already overwhelmed by congestion and in need of better transportation options. Bringing safe, fast, convenient, affordable high-speed rail to these areas will create jobs, increase economic opportunities and relieve congestion.

More than 100 million people call the Midwest region home, with the vast majority of residents living within 500 miles of the Chicago rail hub. Using the Gross Domestic Product as a measure, the Great Lakes-Midwest economic region would be the fifth largest economy if it were its own country.

The FRA and its 32 state partners are making great progress on High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail projects across the country. With $10.1 billion in federal funding, they’re moving forward with 153 projects, laying the foundation for a 21st century passenger rail network.

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