An updated report on a midwest high-speed passenger rail system says the idea is viable — but it doesn’t appear a passenger train will be leaving the depot anytime soon. Iowa D-O-T rail analyst John Hey says the latest report is an update on the one first released in 1996 on the potential for a route that would run through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin. Hey says the report finds the route is “viable.” He says that means after full development, the system will have an operating ratio of greater than one, that is the operating revenues will be greater than the cost. With that said, Hey says there’s still one major obstacle ahead. He says in order to be done, there needs to be a federal program for passenger rail development, but there isn’t such a program. Hey says the plan update includes new ridership forecasts and updated capitol and operating costs — which is where the federal government is important. He says it would take a federal program at 80-percent support for a project that would cost seven-point-seven billion dollars. The report says it would create two-thousand permanent jobs an eight thousand temporary construction jobs. Hey says the cost of the plan is about all that’s changed since the first report eight years ago. He says right now it’s in Congress’ hands and it has been there since 1996, and he says hopefully Congress will begin to address the issue. The update on the project indicates the service could be carrying more than 13 million passengers per year by 2025. The regional carrier would have five daily trains from Des Moines to Chicago, with possible stops in other communities along the route like Davenport, Iowa City, Newton, and Atlantic. To view the report, surf to:www.iowarail.com
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