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rail cost is a valid concern and one that cannot be ignored

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No matter your political affiliation, the cost of this giant project is a valid concern and one that cannot be ignored.

The Midwest Regional Rail System
According to the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative’s 2006 Benefit Cost & Economic Analysis, the capital costs of the entire MWRRS (all 3,000 miles of track linking the nine member states) will be $6.1 billion. The operating costs of this system for the years 2008 through 2040, which include train operating and maintenance costs for trains and tracks is $6.5 billion. The MWRRI estimates the total user benefits generated by the system to be $23.1 billion.

The Milwaukee-to-Madison route
According to WisDOT’s 2009 Milwaukee-Madison High-Speed Passenger Rail Service Financial Plan, the projected capital costs for this route include track, signal, and infrastructure improvements, the acquisition of two train sets and eight energy-efficient locomotives, plus a new maintenance facility and positive train controls for the corridor. They totaled $817 million, which Wisconsin’s Recovery Act award covered at 100 percent. The annual operating for the Milwaukee-to-Madison route will be about $7.5 million for 2013. These same charts estimate a 62 percent cost recovery for the first year of service.

The Madison-to-Twin Cities route
Since the specific route has not been chosen yet, actual capital and operating costs have not been determined. However, the Minnesota State Rail Plan does includes intercity passenger rail service between Eau Claire and the Twin Cities, and a look at those numbers can give an indication of how much a local passenger rail service route might cost. According to their plan, the cost to implement 79 mph service between the Twin Cities and Eau Claire with four daily trains running each way would be $112 to $156 million. The annual cost to operate and maintain that service is estimated to be $11.5 to $15 million. It is estimated that 35 to 55 percent of this annual cost would be covered by ticket sales.

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