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Sandoval Calls for 220-mph Trains

February 18, 2011

Yesterday, I joined Illinois Senator Martin Sandoval, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, at a press conference where he called upon Governor Quinn and the Federal Railroad Administrator to begin designing a 220-mph high-speed rail line.

There is a project underway to modernize the Chicago–St. Louis Amtrak corridor, which will increase cruising speeds to 110 mph and yield a reduced trip time of 4 hours 37 minutes. The Midwest High Speed Rail Association fully supports this initiative and thanks Senator Durbin and Governor Quinn for working aggressively to get the project underway.

But the Obama administration has made it clear that the goal should be two-hour trip times between major cities. Vice President Biden specifically cited this goal for the Chicago–St. Louis line in a document issued in August 2010.

Achieving that goal will require constructing new, dedicated tracks for trains capable of 220 mph. High-speed rail is a proven technology with a nearly 50-year track record. There are already 8,000 miles of high-speed rail corridors in operation worldwide.

All of our economic competitors – all industrialized nations and now some emerging economies – are already enjoying the lower cost, more dependable, and more productive travel that bullet trains deliver. We need to get the design work underway now if we are ever to catch up.

Twice, Governor Quinn has applied for federal funds to design a bullet train.  Twice, Washington said no. We believe that the third time will be a charm and urge Governor Quinn to apply once again.

President Obama has outlined an exciting vision of transforming the economy with high-speed trains. The first step towards realizing that vision is to get design work underway.

Illinois can beat California to be the first state operating 220-mph bullet trains. The goal should be to have bullet trains operating in Illinois before 2020.

* Over 1,700 individuals and 80 elected officials and community organizations sent letters supporting the bullet train application.