I say “relatively” high speed because 110 MPH is fast by U.S. standards, but not by international standards. Don’t get me wrong though, I’d be more than happy to start with a train doing 79 MPH.
Ohio’s three largest cities can be connected by passenger trains that go 110 mph for $1.53 billion, according to the state’s new application for federal stimulus money earmarked for high-speed rail.
Speedy trains connecting Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati could be running as soon as 2016, the state’s preliminary request for funding says.
The filing with the Federal Railroad Administration suggests that after years of hand-wringing, the dream of some state leaders for trains blazing across the Ohio landscape en route to Chicago and other destinations could become a reality – with federal help.
Ohio would be part of a Chicago-centered high-speed network running as far west as Kansas City and as far east as Cleveland.
The route is one of several competing for $8 billion in federal stimulus funding earmarked for high-speed rail. Rail corridors in California and the Northeast also are considered leading contenders for the money.
Ohio officials hope to activate medium-speed passenger-rail service linking Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati before addressing the high-speed line.
They also submitted a preliminary application to the Railroad Administration to fund the slower line, whose trains would top out at 79 mph. That service could start by the fall of 2011 at a cost of between $250 million and $400 million, according to the state’s application. (State officials had said service could begin by the end of 2010 for roughly $250 million.)
It’s great to see that the application for stimulus funds for the project is officially in. There’s only $8 Billion to go around, so it’s probably unlikely that any project will get the full amount requested. However, even if they only get $250 Million, that could be enough to get 79 MPH trains up and running.
I also wanted to note that the total estimate of $1.28 Billion is very similar to the estimate of $1.17 Billion in the Ohio Hub plan (see page 61 of 157 here), which was completed in 2002. I would guess that a 9% cost escalation in the nine years between 2002 and 2011 when this could be running is mostly inflation.
Strangely though, the estimate for the 79 MPH service appears to have been reduced considerably. The table above shows the cost as nearly $723 Million, but the new cost estimate is just $250 to $400 Million.
Kudos to ORDC for all their work on the Ohio Hub though. I’m sure this application wouldn’t have been possible without all the advance planning that was done.