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High-Speed Rail Stations & The Chill Train

Meeting: Tonight - Monday, Feb 12th, 7pm (central),


Meeting Agenda:

  • Next Week's Speaker: Chris Ott from High-Speed Rail Alliance

  • Chicago Field Trip

  • High-Speed Rail Around the World

  • Headlines


Faster Headlines

Wheels on Steel:

The Travel
Railway Age

LA Times

Wisconsin State Journal

Down the Tube:

IFL Science
Star Tribune

Up in the Air:

Simple Flying

Schlicting in the News:

Badger Herald

Badger Herald

Daily Cardinal

The Chill Train

It wasn't one of the highest-rated Super Bowl commercials, but take the original hyperloop pod design from Elon Musk; take away the tube, and turn it into a steam engine...and you have the Bud Light Chill Train:


Madison's Amtrak Station, versus a true high-speed rail station

Last Tuesday, February 6th, was the online meeting of the City of Madison Passenger Rail Study. Interestingly, HNTB is finding the downtown Monona Terrace location as the leading location. However, where it lacks is in train operations. Especially compared to the First Street corridor. That is a bit ironic since shouldn't train operations be the primary qualification of a location?

Although, the meeting was very insightful. For example, a lot of the station locations are not owned by the city. Rather the city would need to negotiate with landowners to acquire the parcels for the station. This is a problem considering that the Amtrak station is proposed for 2031, while real estate developers are looking today to build on some of the proposed sites. For example, this is occurring at Johnson Street.

While the Amtrak station is for a traditional train that would only operate at 79 mph (maybe 110 mph)...what if we were to build a true world-class high-speed rail line between Chicago and Minneapolis, via Milwaukee and Madison? Would any of these Amtrak station locations in Madison work?


According to our research, a true high-speed rail trunk line between Chicago and Minneapolis via Madison would drive so much economic growth that it is a bad idea to put a station or tracks even on the Isthmus.  As seen in Shin-Yokohama, Shinagawa, Nagoya Station, and various cities in China and France; 200 mph trains create new city centers.  To a lesser extent, this can be seen with Denver Union Station, Miami Central Station, and even the Orange Line in Washington DC.  The reason for this growth is that high-speed rail attracts workers from tech and professional industries, who professor and writer Richard Florida calls "the knowledge worker". Think of a knowledge worker as someone highly educated, well-paid, and travels a lot. Here in Madison, Epic Healthcare is one of the predominant knowledge worker employers, but so is GE Healthcare or even university faculty & staff.

With the premier research university of UW-Madison, and so many tech companies the region is going to explode if a true high-speed rail system is built, and no way will a rail station on the isthmus be able to handle the development, let alone train operations.

Again, according to our research, when the interstates were built they not only drove new development (such as the suburbs) but new corporations such as McDonalds, Walmart, Menards, Holiday Inn [and other hotel chains], Costco, and even Kwik Trips. A true high-speed rail system built with all new infrastructure will not only drive new development but new industries as well. 

So the question is where would we put a true high-speed rail station in Madison? Probably would have to be a green field site outside the city with a lot of space for development, and parking (note: parking is a way to pay for high-speed rail). Also, would need easy access to major highways and interstates. After all, a true high-speed rail station is more akin to a new airport, rather than a traditional Amtrak station.


Next Week's Speaker: Chris Ott

Based out of Chicago, the High-Speed Rail Alliance has been an advocate dedicated to educating and advancing high-speed rail in the United States. For nearly 10 years, the Badger Rail Group has been attending the HSRA's events, and several WiHST alumni have joined HSRA's Young Professionals Committee.

On Monday, February 19th at 6 pm we will have Chris Ott from the alliance talking to our group about not only the alliance but plans for bringing high-speed rail to the Midwest, and especially Wisconsin.


Nerd Fact - Alaska Airlines Max -9, N704Al

Back in November 2023 we posted the following article. Turns out the aircraft in the below picture would become N704AL... the aircraft where the door plug blew out on January 5th when operating at Alaska Airlines flight 1282.

- Before they fly, they ride

These pictures were taken by Stephen Kocmoud in late August from his new apartment in Denver, Colorado. Boeing 737 fuselages are made in Wichita, Kansas, and then travel by train through Colorado for final assembly in Seattle.


The Faster Badger is produced by students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to help break through the misconceptions of high-speed rail and high-speed transportation. This blog is for educational purposes only and all opinions presented are of the students.

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