Illinois will break ground next month on its planned 110mph “high” speed rail line linking Chicago and St. Louis. As part of the project, IDOT will spend $220 million purchasing six new 5-car trainsets.
You read that right: $220 million, for a mere 6 trainsets.
Needless to say, these will not be fancy schmancy DMU. Whereas modern passenger rail operators have done away with the diesel locomotive altogether, IDOT is planning on good old fashioned loco-hauled train. And not just 1 locomotive, but two! Because you can’t have too many locomotives…
And, it goes without saying, the IDOT will not buy a standard “off-the-shelf” product. IDOT is getting into the train design business. Here is how their web page describes it:
Two new high horsepower diesel locomotives will likely be used on each trainset. Specifications for the new equipment are being developed by a national consortium of State DOTs, equipment suppliers and other industry experts. They are drawing on international best practices in the development of these specifications. A higher level of comfort and safety is being specified in the new equipment. Any equipment purchased for the new high-speed service will undergo extensive performance testing and simulated operations on the corridor prior to the start of passenger service in 2014.
Note the phrase “higher level of safety” — this is codeword for an FRA-compliant tank-on-wheels design. Which must be custom-built at a cost of, well, $220 million.
Too bad IDOT can’t hire these guys: