27.1.17

PUBLIC AND PRIVATE CAPITAL.

The first tranche of public spending on internal improvements might include money for two railroad projects in Chicago, continued redevelopment of Union Station and further upgrades to the main stem of the Northwestern Elevated north of Wrigley Field, which contemporary riders understand as the Red (Howard) and Purple (Evanston) Lines.  Both of these projects will offer politicians ribbon-cutting opportunities, and I fully expect some ankle-biter to suggest that easier rapid transit access to the River North area, where there is a Trump Tower, is somehow contrary to the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

Missing, however, is any mention of public moneys for the 75th Street Corridor Improvement project, one of several upgrades to the existing Chicago railroad network that, while less splashy than an upgraded passenger terminal or a return of the Evanston Express, have the potential to pay off with much less capital tied up in inventories and fewer shipments delayed in transit.

Among the investor-owned railroads, BNSF will be spending about US$3.4bn on maintaining a state of good repair whilst preparing to serve new shippers.
The projects included in this part of the plan will primarily be for replacing and upgrading rail, rail ties and ballast (which are the main components for the tracks on which BNSF trains operate) and maintaining its rolling stock. This year’s maintenance program will include approximately 20,000 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work and the replacement of about 600 miles of rail and nearly 3 million rail ties.

Rounding out the plan will be $400 million for expansion projects, $100 million for the implementation of positive train control and $400 million for locomotives, freight cars and other equipment acquisitions.
The company has allocated about $190 million for network improvements in Illinois.  Some of the rolling stock money will be spent in state as well.

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