Looking Forward to 2011
2010 was a very good year for passenger rail supporters in the Midwest: President Obama remained committed to high speed rail, even reaffirming his commitment publicly the day after the November elections; several important Amtrak modernization projects are now fully funded; and while the losses in Ohio and Wisconsin are regrettable, the critical 220-mph project in California will be stronger as a result.
2011 will be even better! High-speed rail will be on the agenda when the next Congress convenes. It will be placed there by our opponents, but the first step towards getting anything done is to get on the agenda. It is up to us to seize the opportunity and get the trains this region desperately needs.
I am in the midst of a tour of nine major cities, meeting with elected officials and business leaders to discuss a new vision for high-speed rail. It is a bold vision, a major investment in our future. (It would also mean a lot of work for highway builders.) The reaction has been very positive, but boy my life would be much easier if we already had high-speed rail.
The contrast between my Midwestern travels and my recent trips to China and France are stark. For example, on November 19 I bought a ticket in Guangzhou, China at 4:45 p.m., caught the 5 p.m. train to Wuhan, and stepped off the train, 664 miles away, just three hours and 17 minutes later. My first-class ticket cost only $115. No palm swab, no full-body x-ray, no pat down. No one told me to turn off my iPad for take-off or landing. No fasten seat belt signs delayed nature’s call.
This level of performance creates an incredible competitive advantage. Our competitors in Asia and Western Europe have that advantage now. Our transportation system doesn't come close.
Soon, we will launch a project to quantify what 220-mph bullet trains will mean to our economy. We will need to quickly complete the project and publish its results to influence the coming debate. Your donation will help us distribute the findings.
As an incentive, the first 25 web donations of $50 or more can receive one of the copies of "Waiting for a Train" by James McCommons. This book is an excellent description of where we are and how we got here. By making a donation, you can help change where we are going.
Thank you for considering this request, and please feel free to call me at 773-334-6758 with any questions or comments.
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