Tuesday, February 4, 2014

‘Going for broke’ on passenger trains


While we can’t speculate on what NNEPRA and TrainRiders Northeast have in mind for our future once all the money in the world is made available for ‘economic development,’ we can at least stay informed on what’s going on elsewhere.

We happened to see this article in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal.  It’s called “Bullet-Train Dreaming,” which seems apropos our circumstances.

What we found most astonishing in the article was this passage:

Where bullet trains haven't worked so well is between places such as Milan and Torino (89 miles). The cost of track construction—$130 million per mile—was a massive capital outlay, in exchange for which the Italians got dubious results in the form of cleaner air and less-crowded highways. China's new long-distance bullet from Beijing to Guangzhou (1,200 miles) has yet to show a profit after two years. (emphasis ours)

$130 million per mile!!!!!  If our calculator is working correctly, that’s just a tad under $25,000 per foot!  We spent our careers in the defense business, in which perennial potshots about $400 hammers and $800 toilet seats are a given.

We really underachieved, apparently.  The good news is if you’re ‘going for broke,’ you can get there a lot faster at $130 million a mile than at the $1 million a mile spent on Downeaster track upgrade from Portland to Brunswick.

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