Skip to comments.Deadbeat, bankrupt Illinois now in charge of high-speed rail buying spree
Posted on 04/28/2013 4:48:14 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
SPRINGFIELD Illinois is looking for the railroad equivalent of a unicorn a super-fast, super-clean, super-cheap locomotive that is not real.
The Federal Railroad Administration has placed Illinois in charge of buying 35 new, next generation locomotives to serve the to-be built high-speed rail lines in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, California and Washington, even though the locomotives do not yet exist.
Currently these are not being manufactured, said Joe Schacter, high-speed rail point man for the Illinois Department of Transportation. We are fully confident that such a locomotive can be manufactured and will be manufactured.
Schacter said Illinois has $175 million to spend $5 million per locomotive.
It may end-up being more expensive, Schacter added, though he noted California did not spend all of its $352 million for high-speed rail passenger cars.
The $175 million comes from federal grants, but Illinois will end-up owning the high-speed trains when they are delivered. Kristina Rasmussen, executive vice president of the Illinois Policy Institute, said that should worry anyone who knows about Illinois and its current fiscal state..
The state of Illinois should (not) be in the habit of buying anything right now, Rasmussen said as she pointed to Illinois $9 billion in unpaid bills. If anything, they should be selling off assets to get rid of things we cant afford.
Schacter said Illinois, Missouri, and Michigan still have to work out who will own which locomotives. Schacter said those states want to make sure Amtrak can share the new engines.
I hope locomotive makes are willing to wait, given Illinois history of non-payment, Rasmussen added.
Rasmussen calls Illinois high-speed rail project a boondoggle that has seen government spend a lot of money in the hope that high speed rail will succeed.
(Locomotives) are a huge asset to purchase, not knowing what energy efficiency will look like, Rasmussen said. Ten years from now, who knows what technology will look like. But (the state) will be locked into what will then be last-generation technology.
The FRA has already spent $1.3 billion on new railroad tracks and will spend millions more to upgrade train signaling along the Chicago to St. Louis route.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn bragged on the new track last year when an Amtrak train hit 110 mph over a short stretch between Pontiac and Dwight. Quinn was bragging again last month, when the FRA tapped Illinois to buy the new locomotives.
This decision by the federal government is a testament to Illinois role as a national leader in high-speed rail, Governor Quinn said.
But Schacter is more realistic about Illinois role.
At the moment were running only 5 or 6 percent of (the Chicago to St. Louis corridor) at 110 mph, Schacter said. The total 110 mph time, at the moment, is seven or eight miles.
But Schacter said even the few miles, between Pontiac and Dwight, that see a few 110 mph runs each day is a good test.
Rasmussen said taxpayers shouldnt be paying so much for a test.
They may be going super-fast for 10 miles, but 10 miles further down the stretch you come to a complete stop to let trains pass you, Rasmussen said. You are not seeing the kind of major improvements people thought theyd be seeing out of high-speed rail.
IDOT has said it hopes to have the Chicago to St. Louis corridor ready for high-speed trains by 2017. But even then, the fast trains will only run from about 70 miles south of Chicago to about 20 miles north of St. Louis. The trains will have to slow down for the seven stops and other towns along the way.
Ooohhh, they can spend $5 million dollars for each next-generation locomotives.
Seriously, whose pocket is this money going into?
Sounds a little bit like the Wright Brothers’ contract in 1908. No one thought they could fulfill it.
Sponsoring FReepers are contributing
$10 Each time a New Monthly Donor signs up!
Get more bang for your FR buck!
Click Here To Sign Up Now!
I don’t why it is needed.. If Willie Green was here I would know what he would say..
That's one letter away from being a really good acronym.
I’d wager Mr. Soros has an interest in some way or another. GE also builds locomotives.
Or Warren Buffett.
You can have efficient, inexpensive locomotives, and you can have them today.
Just picks two of the three most wanted.
One can drive from Chocago to St. Louis in about 5 hours and two tanks of gas. I’ve done it more than once. How is a train, no matter how fast, going to compete with that?
In California, Mr. Diane Fienstien is getting a lot of money to build the tracks.
I’m surprised the state is building this.. Considering how broke this state is and supposedly how bad the bridges and roads are.. I can go up to 140 mph, but I won’t...
Even a tank would make it there on one tank of gas (but would take all day).
As if Rearden would sell those idiots the steel rails for those imaginary locomotives to run on.
IDOT ... can I buy a vowel?
The real challenge will be to find a locomotive that will pass California clean air standards.
How about no.. We have a thing called an airplane.. It is faster then the maglev..
Which happens to be in...C(r)ook Country, Illinois!
This will never be built. This money is being sent to Illinois so Mike Madigan can steal it.