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Weekly Newsletter: Where to look for inspiration?

March 25, 2015

Today, as we work to bring high-speed rail to America, it’s helpful to look at those who’ve overcome the same challenges we’re facing. Of all the countries that enjoy high-speed rail, South Korea stands out as a good role model because it overcame major obstacles to introduce the blended approach for high speed rail - which would be perfect for the Midwest.

With congestion stifling the nation’s growing economy, South Korean leaders introduced a plan to build high-speed rail in 1989. Construction began in 1992, yet the first segment didn’t open until 2004. Other segments opened in 2010 and 2014. Another is planned for 2017.

Along the way, Korean high-speed rail has battled a financial collapse, lawsuits and construction problems. The link to the airport saw poor ridership until it was connected to the rest of the system. Intermediate stops had to rely too much on cars for ongoing connections.

Yet today, the project is considered nothing less than a roaring success. Ridership has climbed year after year as travel times have been reduced. Real estate developments have taken off near stations. Today, the train has beaten out driving and flying in numerous corridors. Lawmakers are moving ahead to bring 95% of the country within 2 hours of Seoul by 2020.

South Korea has also given the Midwest a blueprint for using the blended approach. From the beginning, planners saw high-speed rail as the central part of a larger system. Beyond investing in high-speed corridors, they’ve electrified and improved conventional tracks to provide direct service with high-speed trains to points across the country. They’ve also saved billions of dollars using conventional track in city centers, and found a clever way to connect high-speed trains to Seoul’s airport using existing infrastructure.

Basically, South Korea has done what we need to do – and faced the same hurdles projects like California have seen. If there’s one takeaway from South Korea, its that we need to keep pushing because its doable and worth it.

All the best,

Julius Parod
Manager of Communications

PS: Check out our report on South Korea’s high-speed rail network.

Last Week at MHSRA:

We had a great Annual Meeting on Saturday. We’d like to give special thanks to our lineup of speakers and everyone who attended. It’s exciting to see such sustained support for trains. Check out CBS Chicago's coverage of the event here.

We’ve been inviting elected officials and community leaders to the Illinois Railroad Summit in Springfield, IL on April 29th. Numerous mayors have already committed to show their support for trains in Illinois.

Articles We Enjoyed:

A private builder for Zip Rail?
Major developments in Minnesota: Private investors want to fund high-speed rail, while rail advocates agree to bill that would forbid state funding.

Transit riders are warned to brace for possible service cuts, fare hikes
Governor Rauner’s proposed cuts could turn back years of progress.

Google Street View takes you inside Japan’s newest high-speed rail

GOP senator wants to save Amtrak route
There’s a bipartisan effort in Indiana to save the Hoosier.

Southeast Asia regular and high speed rail network likely to be substantially complete by 2022
Network will link China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

University of Illinois campuses promote travel by Amtrak
University employees are being encouraged to take the train to save taxpayer money.

Upcoming Events:

April 29th - Illinois Railroad Summit in Springfield, IL. We’re inviting allies across Illinois to show how important trains are to their communities. Join us in Springfield to demonstrate your support.

A donation of $15 or more today will go directly towards educating elected officials. Can you help us move forward in 2015?

Julius Parod
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
4765 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
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