The Midwest High Speed Rail Association (MHSRA) and local leaders proposed a $12-billion, 220-miles-per-hour high-speed rail line that would cut the trip between Chicago and St. Louis to slightly more than two hours.
The electric-powered service would also serve Kankakee, Champaign-Urbana, Decatur and Springfield, and would complement new 110-miles-per-hour lines already proposed for other parts of Illinois and the Midwest.
MHSRA is asking the state of Illinois to seek $10 million in ARRA funds to conduct a detailed alternatives analysis and environmental study for the Chicago-St. Louis route, which would pave the way for a formal request of funding through Congress.
“Ultra-fast trains are green, efficient transportation that brings people closer, stimulates the economy and creates jobs,” said Rick Harnish, executive director of the MHSRA. “It's the right investment at a time when we look to curb our emissions and our dependence on oil, while helping jump-start growth.”
The proposal is based on a study commissioned by the MHSRA and conducted by transportation planning experts TranSystems. It concluded that the best route for achieving 220 miles-per-hour speeds with existing rights-of-way was to link St. Louis and Chicago via Decatur, Champaign-Urbana and Springfield.
Based on projects elsewhere in the country, it is estimated the Chicago-St. Louis rail line project would create up to 60,000 construction-related jobs and 170,000 permanent jobs. Building the new trains in the U.S. could also help reinvigorate the manufacturing sector; Alstom, the largest high-speed train manufacturer in Europe, employs more people than plane giant Airbus.