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Changing Time Edition

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Should old train stations be used for new high speed transportation networks?  

Nearly every city built before the 1950's had a train station as its core. For decades cities struggled with what to do with the old stations. Some cities like New York completely demolished stations (like Penn Station), while others like Denver reinvented their stations, and some just gave Amtrak the station to fix and maintain such as the Chicago Union Station. Finally there are cities like Milwaukee that built a completely new intermodal station. The let's not forget the new Madison Amtrak station proposal.

However, the question is when building high speed rail do we work with these old relics. Or do we build all new?

Advantages of new stations:

  • Potential Economic Development in New Location

  • Cheaper to build and maintain.

  • Newest technology

  • New modern image

Advantages of utilizing old stations:

  • Existing infrastructure

  • Already located in downtown areas

  • Part of American History

  • Protected by Historical Preservation (which could be good or bad)

  • May still have existing intermodal services

There is no easy answer. So as the US moves toward building high-speed transportation, the question remains do we move forward with the old, or start from brand new?


Changing Space and Time     


Back in high school, you may have heard of Adam Smith and his book The Wealth of Nations, and the specialization of labor.  Whereby one part is made by one worker and then the next worker builds the next part before giving to another worker.  However, instead of workers, what if specialization was applied to cities working together?

After all, today Milwaukee operates separately from Chicago; and Chicago operates separately from Champaign-Urbana. In the future, what if these cities could work together?  Chicago finance would work with hi-tech research in Champaign-Urbana.  Meanwhile, the actual production of that tech design in Champaign is taking place in Racine, Wisconsin.

We have the communication technology to do this, so wouldn’t the next step be the high-speed transportation technology to connect everyone?  After all, this thought it not new.  In fact it has already been done in the past as seen in"Crash Course American History: The Railroads and the Industrial Revolution".


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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