Here we go again…
June 7, 2013
If last week’s Milwaukee Business Journal story about high-speed rail wasn’t intended as a promotional piece, it came close enough.
Laggard Wisconsin, it seems, is letting its neighbor, Minnesota, do all the hard work figuring out how to run more trains on Amtrak’s Milwaukee-Twin Cities route that currently sees one trip daily.
Top speed is now 79 miles per hour, and upgrades could improve it to 110. Of course, the train wouldn’t be moving at 110 all the time, any more than it now travels at 79 all the time. But let’s pretend.
Achieving maximum speed at all times, the Empire Builder could make the trip today in about five hours and 20 minutes. Adding the proposed upgrades could shorten the trip to three hours and 48 minutes. The question isn’t whether saving an hour and a half would be an improvement; the question is whether the improvement matters. Bear in mind that these travel times are fanciful, failing to account for stops along the way, stretches where maximum speed will never be achieved, and the overwhelming probability that the train will leave you miles from your destination unless you just wanted to go to the railroad depot.
In today’s reality, you have a six and-a-half hour trip before you start looking for a cab.
Minnesota bureaucrats probably have fewer reservations about this project since a quick look at an Amtrak schedule shows their state has only about half as many track miles as Wisconsin. And paying for high-speed rail is not something to be taken lightly.
We’ve actually had pleasant experiences traveling by train. But if, having enjoyed something, we were to conclude that everyone else should pay for it, we would be making no sense. We would be Liberals.