22.3.10

IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE EVERYBODY. Destination: Freedom reports on a rail summit in LaCrosse, Wisconsin at which advocates for several rail routes met with transportation officials in Minnesota and Wisconsin to contemplate the routing beyond Madison to the Twin Cities of the faster trains.

Amtrak's current routing is Milwaukee - Portage - La Crosse - Winona - St. Paul.

The Wisconsin Talgo can pick up the current routing (which was once home to the world's fastest passenger trains) at Portage, or with some trackwork north of Baraboo, at Camp Douglas. Representatives from Eau Claire made their case for continuing the service through their city and into Minnesota at Hudson. There is a lot of congestion on Interstate 94, but that routing misses several Minnesota population centers. Rochester also wants in on the train, although that would be going the long way around. (The article claims Rochester never had direct train service to the Twin Cities. Strictly speaking that is not true, although a Chicago Great Western Rochester - Randolph doodlebug connecting with a Hayfield - Minneapolis doodlebug isn't exactly Hiawatha service.)

The value of a passenger train network is in its connectivity, and the old Chicago and North Western service to the area had it almost right, with trains connecting at Wyeville. Unfortunately, there is probably not yet sufficient traffic to run limited-stop trains via Eau Claire and Madison, exchanging passengers at Camp Douglas with expresses via Winona, La Crosse, Portage, and directly to Milwaukee. And if I propose to supplement the expresses with semi-fasts from Madison calling at Watertown, Oconomowoc, Brookfield and the existing Hiawatha stops (plus Gurnee) and other semi-fasts from Madison calling at Stoughton, Janesville, Beloit, Harvard, and Barrington you'll ask if I've had some kind of mushroom.

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