A new study, "The Economic Impacts of High Speed Rail: Transforming the Midwest," sponsored by the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association and Siemens, that was released today outlines the potential benefits of a high-speed rail system in the Midwest Megaregion with it's $2.6 trillion economy, the fifth largest in the world, behind only the U.S., China, Japan, and Germany. Prepared by AECOM and the Economic Development Research Group (EDRG), the study found that a network of bullet trains reaching speeds of 220 mph extending out from Chicago along four main corridors to the Twin Cities, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, would generate tremendous economic benefits for the megaregion.
Visit the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association's website to learn more.
Download the Executive Summary (PDF 9MB).
Each corridor could support 25 daily trains and 10 trains during peak hours. Upon completion, riders could travel from Chicago to the Twin Cities in 2 hours and 45 minutes, Cleveland in 2 hours and 15 minutes, and St. Louis and Cincinnati in under 2 hours, making day trips possible to and from Chicago. These frequent headways and competitive travel times highlight the feasibility of such a network. The study estimates that 43 million annual passengers would use the system, generating $2.2 billion in annual revenue.
The study also looked at the potential economic benefits of the network and concluded that they would be nothing less than transformative. In the Chicago metropolitan area alone, the network would create 104,000 new jobs and an additional $5.5 Billion in wages every year, increase annual business sales $13.8 Billion, and stimulate an additional $314 Million in annual visitor spending in the downtown area. Over the first 30 years of full operation, the benefits would accumulate to represent $118 Billion in new wages and $296 Billion in new business sales created by the new economic activity associated with the high-speed rail system.
The total cost of the network is estimated to be $83.6 Billion, a significant expense, but one that is shared by the federal government, and all of the states and cities included in the system. When you consider the employment and economic benefits that the system would create in all of these cities and metropolitan areas it becomes clear that the benefits would pay for the initial investment many times over.