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Midwest Industry to Benefit from High-Speed Rail

Hundreds of manufacturers in the industrial Midwest and beyond are equipped to produce the components and materials needed to usher in high-speed rail emanating from Chicago’s transportation hub, according to Midwest High-Speed Rail Supply Chain, a report released this month by the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), an environmental policy group.

The report suggests that long-term federal and state government investment would spark a manufacturing renaissance among 12 Original Equipment Manufacturers and hundreds of supply-chain companies, many of which are APTA business members. Some 460 manufacturers in seven Midwest states would gain new business, the report says.

“Manufacturers across the heartland stand ready to build a 21st-century transportation system for America,” the report noted. “By investing in high-speed rail, we can revitalize manufacturing, increase mobility, create jobs, and reduce pollution.”

Specifically, the study profiles or lists 122 supply-chain companies in Ohio, 99 in Indiana, 49 in Michigan, 84 in ­Illinois, 73 in Wisconsin, 26 in ­Minnesota, and seven in Iowa.
Midwest Regional Rail Network
The report also provides an update of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, a decade-long collaboration among nine Midwestern state DOTs that recommends a 3,000-mile hub-and-spoke system of trains radiating from Chicago to serve large and mid-size cities within a 400-mile radius.

“Construction is already underway,” the report noted. “The Midwest is now home to the first high-speed rail service outside the Northeast. In February 2012, Amtrak began 110 mph revenue service on 97 miles of the Chicago-Detroit corridor owned by Amtrak. The speed increase was enabled by the installation of a positive train control system and track improvements between Porter, IN, and ­Kalamazoo, MI. The federal government is investing over $600 million for new infrastructure and signaling along the corridor.”

The new network will allow more trains to run more frequently and reduce travel times between major cities by 30 to 50 percent. In addition, multimodal stations will improve connectivity to public transit, road, and bicycle traffic. By 2025, the network is expected to attract 13.6 million passengers a year.

The report also stated that work is underway on track and safety improvements to the corridor from Chicago to St. Louis. By the end of next year, the line is expected to operate at a sustained speed of 110 miles per hour for 75 percent of its route.

Officials have purchased new trains to operate between Chicago and ­Milwaukee, and construction is scheduled to start soon on improved passenger rail service between Chicago and the Quad Cities (a group of five cities straddling the ­Mississippi River on the Iowa-Illinois boundary), with a potential extension to Iowa City, Des Moines, and Omaha.

The full report is available here.

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