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TODAY'S QUESTION: If Missouri got high-speed rail, would you use it?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 | 1:00 p.m. CDT; updated 5:55 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Missouri plans to apply for federal funding to improve and install new high speed rail lines across the state, connecting two metropolitan areas.

According to an article by the Associated Press, Nixon's office said if the application is approved, upgrades to improve speeds on existing lines between St. Louis and Kansas City could be made right away. A longer-term proposal could also be made for a separate rail line dedicated to high-speed passenger service.

Several states have turned down funding for railway improvements and installation coming from the Recovery Act, including Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida, citing high costs of maintaining the rail lines after they are built.

The White House has posted plans for its high-speed railways on its website.

Could Missouri use improvements to its existing rail lines? Should a high-speed route be built from St. Louis to Kansas City, and would you use it?

 


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Comments

Jack Hamm March 30, 2011 | 1:45 p.m.

I have never understood why they don't try to get the STL-KC line to run through Columbia. Think of all the college students that drive back and forth between Columbia and those two metropolitan centers. When the lines were first planned out it made sense to go through Jeff City but these days any plan that does not put the line through Columbia is not a well thought out plan.

Unfortunately, I think this may end up like many other public transit projects in MO (metro-link, COMO Transit) the service will be so poorly planned out that many people will not be able to use it even if they wanted to.

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall March 30, 2011 | 2:10 p.m.

@Jack I think it may have something to do with the way the lines run, which is why AmTrak only goes to Jeff. I do agree that if a line came through Columbia I could see it being utilized. IMO one of the reasons some states have turned this down is that they get big pressure from automakers and other entities with a vested interest in the status quo, which is to keep us driving individual cars at great expense to ourselves.

Just think how much money and resources would be saved overall if we had a better mass transit system country-wide.

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson March 30, 2011 | 3:21 p.m.

@Jack Hamm - Yes Columbia makes much more sense. I wonder how cost of a KC - STL line via Columbia would cost compared to widening I70? I found one ref. from last year that stated widening I70 projected cost 3 billion. Assuming (round numbers - easy math) 300 miles of highway that's a cool 10 million per mile. I suppose bridges are biggest expense.

According to article here: http://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/ne...

Out of the 1 billion fed money on the table: "An additional $600 million would be used to design, engineer and prepare for a separate, dedicated high-speed rail line across the state, and to buy necessary properties."

So a fast rail line (through Jeff City) would be only 2 million bucks a mile unless I'm missing something. Not bad eh? But still not through CoMO sadly.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 30, 2011 | 4:08 p.m.

Railroad construction and and operation are very sensitive to GRADES. If you know that, you can appreciate why two of the main lines crossing Missouri go through Jefferson City and Mexico/Moberly, respectively.

The positive side of the grade situation for freight hauling is that low grades make for greater fuel efficiency per ton hauled. For passenger service only, the grade restrictions could be relaxed, but the line would need to be restricted to passenger service. That would be a lot of construction for a roadbed not heavily used.

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson March 30, 2011 | 4:37 p.m.

@ellis smith. Yep I hear you. Good point. Overcoming grades (bridges, tunnels) to route through CoMO would significantly increase cost. Oh well dream on, dream TGV...

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm March 30, 2011 | 5:35 p.m.

"Oh well dream on, dream TGV..."

Not TGV, dream ICE

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 30, 2011 | 9:22 p.m.

Have any of you dreamers sought any information from any one of the States (including MO) applying for "free" Federal money to "start" these fast rails, how much it will cost to maintain them, after the billions are spent to build them? Last I heard, chi to stl will cost well over 20M$ per mile. Never fear tho, Obama's gov't is picking up the tab, said Dick Durbin and Gov. Jay Nixon.

(Report Comment)
Gerald Shelnutt March 31, 2011 | 5:02 a.m.

No and neither will much of anyone else. It is a pie in the sky idea.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 31, 2011 | 5:46 a.m.

Matt Wilkinson:

Discussions involving air, highway and rail freight transportation usually work better if we view each as a separate TECHNOLOGY. The first two listed are creatures of the 20th century, while railroads derived from the 19th century. Air and highway are dependent upon airports and highways, respectively, which belong to and are maintained by others; railroads are self-maintained. (Commercial barge traffic, on inland rivers and coastal waterways, uses facilities built, operated and maintained by the federal government.)

Today's railroad is still basically 19th century technology, upon which a number of more recent technologies have been superimposed, both for efficiency and safety reasons. One major upgrade was the diesel-electric locomotive (1950s).

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 31, 2011 | 7:52 a.m.

Matt Wilkinson wrote:

" "An additional $600 million would be used to design, engineer and prepare for a separate, dedicated high-speed rail line across the state, and to buy necessary properties."

So a fast rail line (through Jeff City) would be only 2 million bucks a mile unless I'm missing something."

The $600 million is just for design and acquisition of right of way. Building it would likely be in the $10 million/mile range, and for some stretches, $20 mil is not out of the question.

One of the troubles with high speed rail is the tracks have to be built and maintained to much tighter tolerances than conventional rail. It may not make sense to try for high speed, especially if it makes a number of stops, which can cancel out most of the advantage of high speed. Simply building more conventional rail might be the way to go.

I wonder what the subsidy for building and operating a freight/passenger rail line is compared to that for interstate highway? I have a feeling investing public (or public/private) monies in more conventional tracks might pay off when alternatives like cars and jets become very expensive to operate due to their relative energy inefficiency.

DK

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson March 31, 2011 | 9:12 a.m.

@MarkF - Thanks for the correction on the numbers :)

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson March 31, 2011 | 9:28 a.m.

I don't believe the idea is to build to true high speed rail with all of the tight tolerance engineering and associated infrastructure e.g. overhead catenary system. They are talking a rather pedestrian 100 - 125mph tops diesel electric. That type of technology was introduced on British Railways (pre Thatcher privatization) in 1976 and they are still running. The steam train "Mallard" set the unbroken world speed record of 125.88 MPH on a regular low tech track (admittedly straight and slightly downhill) 1n 1938 - whooo whooo...!

Hey FrankC - you still sound like an angry, disenfranchised old man. You know without a few dreamers the transcontinental railroad might not have got built when it did. I'm sure there were naysayers just like you back then.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 31, 2011 | 10:02 a.m.

Matt Wilkinson - "the transcontinental railroad might not have got built when it did."

And neither would've the Titanic.

(Report Comment)
Dave Overfelt March 31, 2011 | 11:50 a.m.

If I lived in Jeff City I would use the railway all the time, high speed or not. It takes a little longer to get to KC or STL than it does driving but it is a nice ride and and you get to see some scenery you can't see from I-70. As it stands, if I have to drive to JC from Columbia and then wait to get on the train and wait for the train to leave and wait at all the stops, it just takes too much time... If they could promise me that the trip to KC would happen in under an hour, I would be all about it.

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson March 31, 2011 | 12:12 p.m.

@Frankc - The transcontinental railroad was given substantial government assistance through bonds, land grants and use of natural resource for building materials with the passage of the Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864. The idea was first proposed after California Gold Rush but was opposed because it was deemed impossible and too expensive. Had you been around then, you - not being any sort of visionary and anti government spending for the greater good - would surely have been in the opposition camp.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 31, 2011 | 6:34 p.m.

Matt W. - You continue to embarrass yourself. I know about the original railroad, sorely needed to develop the western half of our nation. For you to compare that marvel of American ingenuity with this boondoggle that will never be used until Americans are reduced to the level of the 50's British who felt lucky to have their double deck bus system to get them to town and back,is ridiculous. Have you looked around? The only ones promoting fast rail are liberal Democrats who will support anything that will release public monies for them to enrich themselves. Your term "greater good" was used often by a Mister K. Marx. Beyond that, had the environmentalist movement been there in 1800's,they would have been the chief opponent and would more than likely have stopped it. They thru this Democrat Administration, are now gobbling up land in the West as fast as they can to stop any development on it.

This is to dry up more sources of energy for our use and thus, make fast rail, which as in other countries that have it, a necessary evil which the lower income folks won't be able to afford.(China) But we can subsidize them! Jeez!

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson March 31, 2011 | 8:42 p.m.

@frankc So I take it you don't support public transportation then. OK. You are right about the British being glad to have double deck buses, they seemed to be quite popular in my time there. They're really cool actually and I suspect are quite an efficient way of transporting people in urban areas.

Why do you have to politicize everything Frank? Have you read one word from me denigrating or demonizing wingnuts, redumblicans and teabags - oops I just did. Sorry. Didn't mean it. You sling around your snide labels and insults like some sort of rabid nutcase.

The people who are "drying up" energy sources are the likes of you who seem to believe that you have some birthright to profligate wasting of our finite resources. Who won't consider some modest lifestyle changes to reduce the impact of the worlds biggest consumer society. when will you understand and acknowledge that fossil energy resources are finite and that we should be planning for that?

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 31, 2011 | 9:40 p.m.

"Sorry. Didn't mean it" Yes you did. "The people who are "drying up" energy sources" are the likes of Clinton, Gore and Obama who have and are gobbling up these lands with no regard for the Congress because they could never get any of these confiscations through it. You think they are protecting our birthright? Is your face red? you are doing it again.

Just a note, Clinton made Nat'l monument of Utah land that just happens to contain the cleanest burning coal. Can only be found elsewhere, in Indonesia. That gov't gave 4M$ to his re-election campaign. That information, I know will leave you as would water off a duck's back.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 1, 2011 | 5:28 a.m.

frank christian wrote:

""The people who are "drying up" energy sources" are the likes of Clinton, Gore and Obama who have and are gobbling up these lands"

You do realize that a significant portion of oil leases in the Gulf and elsewhere are on public land? These sources are not being taken off the market - quite the contrary, energy companies have been criticized for not exploring and producing oil and gas from some of these leases.

MMS makes about $10 billion/year in royalties from these leases.

http://www.api.org/policy/exploration/de...

Few areas of the country are off limits to energy production. It's a red herring to blame any politician or party for the fact that we are not self sufficient in energy anymore. Our appetite for energy is simply too large, and overall supply too small, to allow us to live as we desire without economy-draining imports. Conservation and efficiency are two of the most patriotic things a citizen can do.

DK

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 1, 2011 | 9:56 a.m.

OMG if Orrin Hatch says it, it MUST be true!

US energy consumption is about 100 Quadrillion BTU's. Utah's current energy production is about 1.2 Trillion BTU's. So Utah supplies about .0012% of US energy needs.

What do Frank and Orrin expect Utah to do? Double their energy production? Increase it by a factor of 10? How about a factor of 100? Awesome!

If Utah could start producing 100 times more energy than it does now, Utah would then account for 1/10th of 1% of total US energy consumption.

Tell me Frank, how much difference do you think going from .000012 to .0012 would really make?

(Keep in mind that doubling production would be tough, a 10X increase is completely unrealistic, and a 100X increase is sheer fantasy)

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger April 1, 2011 | 10:20 a.m.

Frank: what's your source for "Clinton made Nat'l monument of Utah land that just happens to contain the cleanest burning coal. Can only be found elsewhere, in Indonesia."

Incidentally, much of the Kapairowitz plateau (the main section of the Grand Staircase) is tough to access by the energy companies. Much of the rest of southern Utah, on industry-friendly BLM land, is open for energy exploration/exploitation, and in many places, energy companies have made a botch of it, ripping through sensitive habitat, leaving their detritus behind, compromising groundwater, and the like. I know this, not from a website, but from hiking and camping on the land over the past 30 years.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 1, 2011 | 10:54 a.m.

Frank, are you claiming that Indonesia gave $4 million to Clinton's campaign? I'm pretty sure that's illegal, as at least foreign corporations are not allowed to and I presume that applies to countries as well. Have a link?

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 1, 2011 | 11:30 a.m.

hank - Note Hatch's referral to Clinton in the first link to Mark. Further, http://www.apfn.org/apfn/lippo.htm

I might mention that much of the "stuff" I post comes from widely reported current events. It seems to me that folks who limit their sources of information according to their politics also limit the level of their knowledge. Not you in particular, Hank, all that post around here. My point is,I feel no need to spoon feed information to those too lazy, or self satisfied to locate it themselves.

You do remind me of R. Reagan's reference to environmentalists. Something like, they want our environment so pristine we can't even build a road to let people see it.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 1, 2011 | 11:38 a.m.

John - I'm certain it is illegal for foreign gov'ts to influence our elections. I purposefully stated "Government" knowing that. Clinton got much money from Chinese. One check, as I recall, was signed by Chinese gov't official. "Have a link"? Read my above post.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 1, 2011 | 11:47 a.m.

derrick - I liked Sen. Hatch's blog, including the other subjects, so well, here it is again. Be sure and read them all. http://hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm...

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 1, 2011 | 12:49 p.m.

Frank, I'm not going to "read them all." Hatch is just a sleazy political gassbag. I did read the current top article about the legislation regarding energy exploration. Almost everything I read was just lies, distortion, self-promotion, or the typical political attack on Obama. It's Lame Du Jour.

I explained in mathematic detail why Hatch and this "Utah Energy Miracle" is a bunch of inconsequential baloney. Your response is to tell me to read more of someone so trivially discredited with readily available actual data? No, thanks.

In fact, you could come up with a thousand Utah-like scenarios, where government regulations are supposedly hampering energy production, claiming each one is a miracle and will solve our energy problems. Reality is, all of them together would only move the overall market a percent or two.

That leaves about 64% of currently imported domestic energy needs yet to be addressed.

The Big Picture... Ur missin it!

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 1, 2011 | 2:10 p.m.

"I might mention that much of the "stuff" I post comes from widely reported current events. It seems to me that folks who limit their sources of information according to their politics also limit the level of their knowledge. Not you in particular, Hank, *all that post around here*."
Most significantly, the author.
A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is still getting on its shoes. "Widely reported" by gutless slanderers. And repeated by the cantakerous.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 1, 2011 | 2:46 p.m.

"Almost everything I read was just lies, distortion, self-promotion, or the typical political attack on Obama. It's Lame Du Jour."

Prime example of "limited level of knowledge", tho he believes he knows "it all".

"Hatch is just a sleazy political gassbag."
"Widely reported" by gutless slanderers. And repeated by the cantakerous."

Bush - whom would you say in these instances, above, are the slandered and whom are the slanderers?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 1, 2011 | 3:00 p.m.

That doesn't even need a response.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 1, 2011 | 3:13 p.m.

Matt, you might want to view the video at the first link below (just two minutes long) and read the text at the second link to see that Joe Biden's railroad history isn't quite the truth.

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/joe-biden...

http://unclesamtax.com/853/it-ain%E2%80%...

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 1, 2011 | 4:42 p.m.

Thanks, John S. I told Matt I knew about the "railroad". Never thought about all the others. Problem is, these guys won't read it because it is from Ugh! Cato.

(Report Comment)

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