I am posting a copy of the study engineering firm AECOM did for the State of Arkansas regarding higher speed rail (up to 110 MPH). The firm concluded that cost/benefit ratio is too low to spend money on passenger rail in Arkansas. Too few people will ride within the state to make it worthwhile. There are stops in small towns like Malvern, Arkadelphia and Hope, that will slow the train down. The route covers a Memphis TN to Little Rock AR to Texarkana AR connection.
Wait, Texarkana? We aren’t going to Dallas?
I hope the casual reader will discern that the study is too limited, draws some wildly wrong conclusions, and doesn’t take enough information into account to be worth the $900,000 that was spent on hiring AECOM to do the study. Most of the people who will ride this route, we have called it the Arkansas Traveler Route, are moving interstate. The small towns that slow the train down add to the connectivity factor. And isn’t it weird that an engineering firm that would make bank on a project like this is so negative on it?
Make no mistake we have some powerful enemies. People who don’t want to see this kind of investment in passenger rail. According to a recent newsletter from Rail Passengers Association we are starting to see hit pieces in newspapers across the country. These pieces argue that passenger rail is “only useful in densely populated areas.” And that “we should only be spending money on services that can attract many passengers and produce profitable train service, like the N. E. C.”
To counter that argument I use #connectivityisdensity. Connecting small towns together in a string and then to larger towns and big cities is a selling point for passenger rail not a deterrent. Spending say $350 million in building out the Arkansas Traveler Route is an investment. Making Arkansas a hub for regional rail is an investment that will pay dividends for decades to come. The route needs to include riding to Dallas Texas.
And in what world does a 110 MPH passenger train offer no advantage over vehicular traffic? Traffic that is often stuck at a stand still? I have driven I40 many times and I know how slow it can be. I would rather ride a comfortable train that goes around traffic congestion.
We need to build out this route. It will employ many people right away in both construction and direct rail jobs. It will attract business that will employ even more people. It will provide service that many customers can enjoy. It will reduce CO2 emissions. Passenger rail in Arkansas is a great investment.
Also I can’t over the fact that the State spent $900,000 on this. The State should hire me to rewrite the study. Deposit $900,000 please.
Until that happens here is the article added to our Wall of Shame.