The leader of an organization hoping make passenger train service more widely available across the midwest says there is a misconception about the nature of high-speed rail. Rick Harnish is the Executive Director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association in Chicago and says they do not envision bullet trains shooting across the region at 200 miles per hour like those in Europe and Japan. Harnish compares it to what was happening in the 1930s when there were trains “radiating out from Chicago, going across Iowa at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.” He says they wouldn’t go quite that fast today, however.Harnish believes modern trains can provide viable competition for highway and air travel. He says the trains need to be faster than driving, to be very reliable, very dependable, and the trains need to run when you need them to run. Information released last week showed it will take nearly 8 billion dollars in public and private funding to make the regional service a reality. Harnish says funding train service is more complex than paying for highways. With railroads, the land is privately owned instead of publicly owned, so now they have to make a return on their investment, where the public entities don’t. It just becomes a much more complicated situation, and frankly right now Congress is debating how you pay for that. Harnish says what happens with high-speed rail within Illinois is an important first step. Harnish says we’ve already spent “significant money” on the Chicago-to-St. Louis corridor. He says the Illinois legislature is very interested in doing more, and once it happens in Illinois, then people around the midwest will see what the potential is, and it will happen in other places as well. Harnish says consumers will benefit when the improved infrastructure is in place, using the cost of travel from Chicago to Springfield, Illinois as an example. The round-trip ticket is 32 dollars. Harnish says if you drove and charged your employer mileage at 37-and-a-half cents per mile plus parking it would cost 145 dollars, and on an airliner it’s over 200. See more details on the Midwest High Speed Rail Association at their website, www.midwesthsr-dot-org