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Detroit Free Press: State seeks $830 million to upgrade rails

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 07:08 PM
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Detroit Free Press: State seeks $830 million to upgrade rails
Posted: Sept. 20, 2009
State seeks $830 million to upgrade rails

BY CHRIS CHRISTOFF
FREE PRESS LANSING BUREAU CHIEF


Fikre and Lakisha Prince of Detroit chose to take a train for their Chicago getaway -- their first train trip.

At $58 each round-trip, they saw a bargain and a little adventure last week.

"I've flown all my life," said Fikre Prince, 29, as they waited for the noon train at the Amtrak station in Dearborn. "This is a new experience. Just for the romance of it."

The romance of train travel isn't part of Michigan's collective psyche, not in a state where the automobile dominates.

But with a new president on their side, passenger rail advocates hope for a breakthrough, with a good dose of federal money. Michigan is elbowing with other states for part of $8 billion Washington is dangling to upgrade passenger train service around the United States. The state wants $830 million as its part of a Midwest high-speed rail plan.

Whether that money would be well spent is debatable. A General Accounting Office study found that passenger rail projects around the world typically cost 45% more than original price tags, and they often overestimate the number of riders they'll get. A Senate committee last week blocked any high-speed rail construction grants until the Transportation Department develops standards that show the projects work.

Even if they can, don't expect to see U.S. trains crisscrossing the country at 220 m.p.h., like those in Japan.

Top speed of the modern diesel trains would be 110 m.p.h.

Still, it's faster than Amtrak's current top speed of 80 m.p.h. in Michigan (except for a faster 20-mile stretch in west Michigan). ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20090920/NEWS06/909200543/...




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