An updated report on a proposed midwest high-speed passenger rail service released Tuesday says it would take nearly eight billion dollars to upgrade the line. Dennis Miller is President of the Iowa Interstate Railroad which operates the line between the Quad Cities and Omaha that would carry the passenger trains. Miller says passenger service would require adding a track to the line. He says, “The roadbed that we operate on was actually double-track, a lot of it was double-track at one time. Back in the early ’80’s the former owners tore up one of those tracks, so the roadbed is still there.” Miller says along with a second track, there’d have to be updgraded safety features added along the line as the high-speed trains would be traveling through a number of small towns. He says the signal protection, crossing protection, all of that stuff is a lot better now than it was years ago. He says he would also assume that maybe it could even be an elevated portion through towns or try to eliminate some of the crossings that the trains would run over. Miller says he has limited experience with passenger service, but he has seen rider demand when it is offered. He says they ran a football special for the University of Iowa from Coralville to the stadium and he says they averaged a little over three thousand passengers per game just on six days for a period of a few hours. Representatives from nine mid-western states are part of the group that did the study — which was an update of the original study completed in 1996. The report says the service would be viable, but it would require the federal government to put up 80-percent of the cost to get it rolling.
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