Gov. Strickland’s most intense lobbying efforts in Washington of late have been in hopes of obtaining a chunk of the $8 billion in stimulus dollars for high-speed rail connecting Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and Cleveland.
It’s an incredibly stupid idea.
Today, the Columbus Dispatch informed us of a report that lowered the average MPH for the trains to a mindnumbingly slow 39mph.
So, if you wanted to get from Cincinnati to Columbus, it would take you approximately 3.2 hours, based on a required stop in Dayton.
From Cleveland to Columbus? Over 3 hours.
Now, why would anyone consider this commute? Well, according to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood:
“People like to ride trains,” LaHood told The Dispatch editorial board. “You don’t build these trains to travel faster, although you sometimes do.”
He said people could read books, work on their computers, eat and perform other tasks on trains that are difficult or illegal to do while driving.
I’ll give you a moment to stop laughing.
So, now that we’ve irrationally rationalized spending nearly double the amount of time necessary to travel on a train, let’s look at whether it’s even needed in the first place….according to folks who realllllly want more passenger rail throughout the United States, America 2050, a non-profit urban planning project. In their report “the authors evaluate 27,000 city pairs in the nation to create an index of city pairs with the greatest demand for high-speed rail service.”
Defining which corridors are most appropriate for highspeed rail development is critical for the long term success of this nascent federal program. The $8 billion appropriated for high-speed rail in the ARRA legislation is only a small fraction of what will be necessary to fully construct an American high-speed rail network.
And where is Cincinnati-Dayton, Dayton-Columbus, Columbus-Clevland…or even Cincy-Columbus, on their list of priorities?
Not even in the top 50, or phase one of their plan.
Nor is it in phase two.
Not until do we get to phase 3, and billions upon billions later, do we get to connect Ohio via rail service.
There simply is not the demand or infrastructure necessary to require such an over-the-top investment.
Ok, we’ll conclude with the latest bit of analysis from those who know screwing up rail service best, Amtrak:
Amtrak says an inventory shortage means that Ohio would need to buy new trains for its planned rail service, and that will challenge the state’s 2011 startup date.
Amtrak said in a study released last week that about $175 million in new equipment is needed for trains connecting Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati.
The agency says train sets, from design to assembly, can take several years to deliver.
That’s all passenger rail service will be for Ohio if this project is approved.
And yet another Strickland mess for the next Governor, and many Governors after him, to clean up.