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High Speed Rail Meetings Kick Off This Week

Amtrak train

Photo: Bill Shaw/ WTIU News

Trains like this one currently serve Indiana but often can't exceed 65 miles per hour.

The Midwest Regional Rail System plan goes back to the 1990s, with the goal of connecting Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Cincinnati and Cleveland with several cities in between. But in recent years, more federal funding has been made available, jumpstarting states into action.

Hoosier Environmental Council senior policy director Tim Maloney says Indiana is lagging behind its neighboring states. He says the council is holding a series of public meetings in the next few weeks, inviting Hoosiers to learn more about the rail system’s potential.

“And to encourage people to weigh in with their elected officials to encourage Indiana to be an active part in completing the system,” Maloney says.

While the council is excited about the environmental impact high speed rail could have – rail uses a third less energy than cars – Maloney says there are significant economic benefits.

He says the council, along with several state legislators, mayors and business leaders, has reached out to gubernatorial candidates Mike Pence and John Gregg. Pence spokesperson Christy Denault says the congressman would be open to high speed rail as long as it is sustainable without ongoing state fiscal support.

Spokesman Daniel Altman says Gregg supports high speed rail as an economic driver, but prefers local control on the issue, rather than state regulation.

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