The Wall Street Journal has a story on the spectacular failure of high-speed rail projects, which can’t be comforting for Ted Strickland, given his pork-barrel pandering on the subject. It also can’t be comforting for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who is pushing a similar project in his state. Highlights below:
To save time and money, government officials want new high-speed rail routes to operate on the vast system of train corridors that already crisscross the U.S., unlike European and Asian countries that have built dedicated tracks for high-speed rail.
But Norfolk Southern Corp., Union Pacific Corp. and other railroad companies are balking at sharing their tracks or rights-of-way with trains that would run between 90 and 200-plus miles an hour. They argue that mixing high-speed passenger trains with slower freight trains would create safety risks, prevent future expansion and cause congestion.
Cargo would be pushed to their competitors—trucking firms—the railroads argue, just as freight loads are picking up after the recession. Weekly average carloads in August were the highest since November 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads, the industry’s main trade group.
State and railroad officials are struggling to hammer out partnership deals required to release the funds. The Federal Railroad Administration has distributed just $597 million out of $8 billion in stimulus funds awarded by the administration in January to jump-start high-speed rail. An additional $286 million is expected to go out the door soon, the FRA said. Even when states and freight railroads have reached agreements, disagreements remain over the speeds at which the passenger trains will be allowed to travel.