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Faster Trains On Track For Near Future

State Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, and Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, recently toured the Talgo rail car manufacturing plant in Milwaukee. (click for larger version)
December 14, 2011
Fast trains for passenger service from St. Louis to Kansas City could become a reality in two to three years.

A fast train is not a "bullet train" with 200 mph speeds. However, with speeds averaging 90 to 100 mph, a fast train could cut travel time across the state to Kansas City by half to about two and one-half hours.

"We are looking at track upgrades that should be completed in two years. That would make it possible for fast trains to operate across Missouri," said state Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, who heads the House Interim Committee on Passenger Rail.

Stream said major improvements already made to the St. Louis to Kansas City line have vastly improved on-time performance and speed for Amtrak passenger service.

"Passenger trains are now getting up to 50 or 60 miles per hour with the improvements, but with fast trains the average speed can jump to 90 miles per hour with speeds of 120 on straightaways," said Stream.

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Stream said that although the state of Missouri has no money, the federal government already has made the appropriations for improvements.

"A lot of the appropriations and expenditures already have taken place at the federal level," said Stream. "And Missouri is in line for fast train equipment in two years."

Fact-Finding Trip

Stream and Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, recently went on a fact-finding mission to visit the Talgo rail car manufacturing plant in Milwaukee. They toured the plant and heard about the economic and transportation impact fast train service would have in Missouri.

Ellinger is a member of the House Interim Committee on Passenger Rail for Missouri. Ellinger noted that the fast train equipment out of Milwaukee can be tagged "Made In America," which is a real plus as more states procure it.

"The rationale is simple: investing in creating jobs here to upgrade America's transportation network," said Ellinger. "Building systems like the fast train rail is not a Democratic or Republican idea. This is a tried-and-true solution to connect the people who need work with the work that needs to be done.

"Fast train rail projects could create tens of thousands of construction jobs, put Americans to work at suppliers and assembly plants all over the country," Ellinger continued. "Talgo's train has 65 percent of the materials made in America while the trains are 100 percent assembled in America. Jobs made in America."

According to Ellinger, the real travel advantage of the fast train is that it would reduce time stuck in traffic or on the tarmac and it would save small businesses and families from the pain of spending dollars at the gasoline pump.

Both Ellinger and Stream said that one encouraging aspect of fast train technology is that Amtrak, MoDOT, Union Pacific and BNSF are all working together on making passenger service work in Missouri.

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