If I Only Had a Train!

When Governor Walker killed the almost high speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison, he not only turned down the $800 million for construction, but he killed the jobs that went along with the train building and maintenance facilities here in Milwaukee. And of course the resulting economic development along the upgraded rail corridor and the possibility of extending the line to Minneapolis. But the governor’s addiction is macadam and concrete…no man of steel is he!

Well where did the train manufacturing jobs end up? Well in Illinois of course…the state he was so sure he could steal jobs from by being open for business! From James Rowen’s blog at Purple Wisconsin:

Today, Illinois is celebrating the news that $808 million devoted to new trains will be managed from Illinois – – or spent on building equipment for delivery to five states at a plant in Rochelle, IL that is about 25 miles south of Beloit:

Locomotives capable of exceeding the 110-mph speed limit on the passenger rail corridor between Chicago and St. Louis will be bought for Illinois and four other states under a process the Illinois Department of Transportation will lead, officials said Thursday.

The Federal Railroad Administration selected IDOT to manage the multistate procurement of at least 35 next-generation locomotives for high-speed rail corridors in Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state, Gov. Pat Quinn said.

Today’s announcement is part of the governor’s commitment to bring Illinois’ and our nation’s transportation systems into the 21st century.

“This decision by the federal government is a testament to Illinois’ role as a national leader in high-speed rail,” Governor Quinn said. “This important multi-state procurement is a key to success for high-speed rail throughout the nation, and I have directed my administration to move forward quickly.”

So we lost a couple of train jobs…no biggie…right? Well it gets better! The State of Massachusetts has started a program to upgrade their intrastate rail lines including adding track capacity to Boston’s South Station:

… a major $13 billion transportation overhaul envisioned by Gov. Deval Patrick. That overhaul is aimed chiefly at repairing and upgrading worn-out bridges, roads and commuter lines in Massachusetts, but about 20 percent of it would go toward reviving train service to the cape and elsewhere in the state.

Mr. Patrick said that upgrading these in-state routes would spur economic development. It would also provide important links for Amtrak’s long-range plans to establish high-speed train service throughout New England.

Trains would spur economic development? Well how quaint! But apparently they do and Governor Walker has cost us the jobs and development and tax revenues that accompany robust rail lines as well:

For example, the governor’s administration says, the South Coast rail line to Fall River and New Bedford would cost $1.8 billion, but it would create 3,800 jobs and generate $500 million a year in economic growth.


One of the most successful of those partnerships is the Downeaster, which has been running the 100-plus miles between Boston and Portland since 2001 and was extended up the Maine coast to Brunswick in November.

Its success has allowed it to increase the number of round trips and speed up travel time while spurring economic development along the way.

“The value we get out of it is tremendous,” said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which manages the Downeaster. She said hundreds of new housing units had been built close to the train stations, and old mills had been transformed into office and retail space.

“There is $300 million in development ongoing,” she said.

Jobs, economic development, less highway congestion…who needs that? If I only had a train…


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19 thoughts on “If I Only Had a Train!

  1. Spending other people’s money is what liberals excel at. Freedom is what they have no idea or understanding about. I call that lazy and generations to come will see them as lazy and arrogant. If they don’t get away from themselves and see more than their self proclaimed brilliance they will go down in history as arrogant morons…. lazy arrogant morons. Thanks for not respecting your fellow citizens, your children’s choices or their children’s choices. I’m glad you’re happy deciding for them too. The height of liberal lazy arrogance!

    1. ron, remind me again how much money we spent invading Iraq under false pretenses. If memory serves me, that decision was made by George W. “the decider” Bush, not by a liberal president.

  2. I’m sorry ron, it’s my money too! And so is the money that goes to highways…there is no transit in this nation that isn’t subsidized by tax dollars.

  3. “Freedom is what they have no idea or understanding about.”

    I don’t know. You were free to spout your nonsense here, ron.

  4. Ron,

    Freedom? Just what might you mean by that? Do enlighten us with your idea of freedom. Please, please allow your self-proclaimed brilliance to save us from our misguided selves. Share your shining Ron-Light of Genius upon our poor, hapless souls! Pray that it’s actually we who are the witless fools and not actually you, Ron-Light, who is the witless fool. Oh pray it be so.

    Spending other people’s money? You assert that’s lazy, and generations to come will see liberals as lazy and arrogant? Surely you mean lazy and arrogant like Benjamin Franklin, hardly an industrious or humble fellow, and who said this about spending other people’s money in a letter to Robert Morris on Christmas Day 1783:

    “All property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who by their laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.”

    So you mean, I take it, generations to come will see “spending other people’s money” as lazy arrogance in the same way generations hence remember the lazy arrogance of Benjamin Franklin? Or do you mean: You are among the savages and you have something other than fundamentally American ideals to teach us? You have savage ideals with which to uplift us?

    Or perhaps you refer to excelling at “spending other people’s money” the way Thomas Jefferson spent “other people’s money” on transportation infrastructure for the purpose of facilitating the common good. You’re aware of the common good are you not? It’s a founding principle, actually it’s a founding moral principle; a cornerstone of American ideals, and it is made possible through spending “other people’s money.”

    Funny thing, “spending other people’s money,” isn’t it? Elected Conservatives never spend other people’s money do they? After all, there’s no way to empirically prove that GOP Presidents have historically outspent Democratic Presidents is there? Actually, there is. Lots of data on it. Lots. It’s common knowledge to those who don’t reverberate about the propaganda echo chamber in Conservative La La Land. But, don’t expect me to tell you where to look, I’m not enabling your laziness. Specifically, in the last 80 years Conservative presidents increased the national debt 2.5 times more than Democratic administrations have. If you’re not too lazy, maybe you can figure a way of finding data rather than regurgitating Conservative demagoguery. While you’re at it, s’pose you might look at real, actual data to discover under which presidencies this nation has had the highest economic growth. Hint: It’s Democratic presidencies. Maybe while you’re at it you might try to find out something about GDP – 7 times larger under Democratic administrations. Perhaps you’re unaware of what’s actually happened in this country because of…. dare I suggest it…. a condition of lazy arrogance… befitting a… moron? If you, my fellow citizen, want respect you’ll have to earn it. You’ll need to acquire dignity – a quality you patently lack.

    Then again, maybe you can teach us your savage ways. If you don’t mind too terribly, would you correct us, please, on our disrespectful behavior toward our fellow citizens with regard to the post at hand? Would you mind clarifying how enhancing the public good, building the nation, creating jobs, and stimulating the economy amount to disrespect for our fellow citizens and for our posterity?

    Lazy, arrogant morons, eh? Well, perhaps I’ll let you speak for yourself. Thus far your profligate arrogance seeps through quite nicely. And whoo, Nellie! Lazy. That’s too kind a description for your diatribe. Have you, Ron, demonstrated “intellectually lazy?” Yes, most assuredly you have, but a more accurate description would be Intellectual Cowardice. Were you to offer an opinion – even an uninformed one – that actually addressed the topic at hand, well that would be one thing. But you didn’t do that. You chose the moronic route instead – to snipe and snivel (arrogantly at that) with typical Anti-American Conservative Aplomb. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind your arrogance. It’s your ignorance and your cowardice that I find particularly objectionable.

    But to those decisions and choices you find so contemptible… Yes, yes. Not making all those important decisions. Posterity will surely remember it if we didn’t make them. So We The People should just do nothing? Is that what you suggest? Oh, I’m sure posterity would be quite appreciative of that. You know, during the Constitutional Convention in 1787 there were a few people who thought the same way as you do – that it was arrogant presumption for people like James Madison to even try to conceive of the best government possible in order to ensure stability, happiness and the public good. They thought as you do – we should just do nothing about the state of the union when the state of the union was so very much in need. Remember their names? You do remember James Madison, don’t you? You do realize there’s a reason Madison is remembered and the nay-saying cowardly do-nothings are not?

  5. “If I only had a train!” Somebody needs to write the rest of the lyrics to that song. Another ode to Walker’s administrative, um, genius.

  6. I don’t know what the fuss is all about. Rebecca Kleefisch has a minivan, so it’s all good, right?

  7. If you only had a train… you assume that you could afford to ride it! Not to mention that you likely have to park your car at the train depot ($), then pay a cab or bus to get you around town when the train drops you off ($$), since there’s not enough population to warrant an intracity subway system. Not convenient one bit so people wouldn’t do it. Those are the facts that keep getting overlooked. Trains aren’t liberal, but such an unworkable idea is a liberal one indeed!

    1. FMSN: I am looking at the big picture of an eventual train from Milwaukee to Minneapolis via Madison…a real 3M special!

      1. I think it’s a great idea in theory and I might even do it — ONCE. Remember that bridge to nowhere a few years back? I just don’t think we would have enough people riding it regularly enough to make it sustainable. Again, what’s it going to cost to ride it and then when I get off the train how do I get around any of those cities without paying more and being inconvenienced?

        1. High speed rail is ideal for cities that are 300 to 500 miles apart…like Minneapolis to Milwaukee or Milwaukee to St Louis for instance…in these cases rail is price competitive with air travel and if truly high speed are time competitive as well. And the getting around in the arrival city is the same problem either way.

          If you use the 2010 IRS mileage allowance of 51 cents per mile…it would cost you $380 to drive round trip to St. Louis. It looks like I can currently get a round trip airline ticket for $314…so if rail came in around the range and saved me the hassle of driving and the TSA it would appeal to me and I imagine a lot of business travellers.

          I picked 2010 to be conservative…2011, 2012, 2013 are all higher.

          1. Ed, that’s a valid point. When compared to air travel, the factors of time and cost of the highspeed would have to be competitive. (I don’t see a 2 minute pass thru TSA being a major factor.) Makes more sense going to a larger city, like Minneapolis or Chicago. I just can’t see it being viable (yet) between Madison and Milwaukee. I wonder if there have been any studies done on the number of business travelers between the cities you mention. Would be very interesting to see average ridership.

            Also begs the question if it is viable why private investors aren’t lining up. A public-private partnership much like the airlines would probably work best (TSA coming soon to rail travelers!).

            1. two minute pass thru at TSA? when was the last time you flew somewhere? The fastest pass through I’ve seen was in Dublin by the Irish version of TSA and that took 15 minutes this past January…

              (TSA coming soon to rail travelers!). Probably…and another missed job growth opportunity on the part of our governor…lol.

              1. Flew just a couple of months ago. TSA was pretty painless. It’s not a factor that would make me alter my plans, unless traveling with contraband I suppose.

                Not so sure about the job growth opportunity. Why do I picture government workers sitting around sweeping the floors of empty train depots. Cost/benefit and make-work jobs do not sustainability make. I think there’s a time and place for trains – but I want to make sure it’s successful.

  8. FMSN,

    You ask ” why do I picture government workers sitting around sweeping the empty floors of train depots. ” That’s an excellent question. Why do you picture that? Have you seen it so many times in your life that you just can’t get it out of your head? No matter where you go there they are; lazy, public tit sucking government workers just a layin’ around sweeping empty floors. Right.

    An even better question might be, where do you guys come up with this stuff? Is there a right wing smear manual with illustrations you all work from?

    1. You misunderstood my comment. Ed, said it was a missed opportunity at job growth. I would assume your preference for train jobs is public employees (probably no other option since the private sector isn’t all that interested in doing it). My point was not that they were lazy, but they would be sitting around or sweeping the EMPTY train depot because there wouldn’t be enough ridership to sustain the jobs, but since they are government jobs they would likely not be reduced or eliminated (at least not right away). Thanks for playing!

  9. I can see students from the Milwaukee metro area using the Milwaukee-Madison and Milwaukee-Minneapolis routes frequently, to the relief of a lot of parents who, minivan or not, get sick of the drive but would still like to see their kids.

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