Train travel is by no means a bustling industry in Michigan. But plans for a new railway system promise more attractive transportation by track. The Public Research Interest Group in Michigan recently published a report that analyzed the specific benefits of creating a high-speed rail that runs through the Midwest. The present railway system in Michigan is built more appropriately for freight trains than for human travelers. But faster and more convenient passenger trains could greatly benefit the economies of many Midwestern cities and create a more environmentally friendly travel option. State leaders in the Midwest should continue to cooperate to build the high-speed railway.

The addition of this railway would create 58,000 permanent jobs in operation and maintenance of the new railway and 15,200 temporary jobs for its construction and renovation of current railway systems, according to the report, which was published in mid-September. Unlike normal trains, high-speed railways cater to carrying passengers and operate at much higher speeds. Its implementation would create faster travel between eight states in the Midwest and would include new rail stations and track improvements throughout southern Michigan. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — more commonly referred to as the stimulus package — provides a $2.7 million grant toward railway projects in the Midwest.

As a cheaper alternative to flying, high-speed railways promote financially viable mass transit. More mass transit advances environmentally sustainability. More people would choose travel by train if they had a reliable option because of its convenience and speed. This would greatly reduce the impact on the environment caused by travel by car. Advancements in public transportation are important in creating a more sustainable world. Building the planned accessible high-speed rail would promote that goal.

The new system would also stimulate long-lasting economic benefits throughout the Midwest. Stronger connections between centers of commerce and across state lines would promote increased tourism and business.There will be greater opportunities for business growth and networking. And increased travel is helpful to local businesses — restaurants, hotels and other local stores benefit from an larger customer base. The high-speed rail will give the Midwest the chance to show united trade and industry growth and will push the region into becoming a more powerful economic entity.

The railway project can remedy the Midwest’s current lack of economic strength — which has been particularly damaging in Michigan — by replacing thousands of jobs that have been lost. Thousands of workers are necessary to build and renovate railways and a significantly larger number of employees are needed in its long-term operation and maintenance. This new industry will aid in Michigan’s effort to diversify its economy. And the benefits should come at a low cost since the federal government has already allocated funds for the high-speed rail system in the stimulus package.

More efficient railways will improve the environment and economies throughout the Midwest, especially in Michigan. The railway will bring jobs to Michigan and comes at a reasonable cost backed by federal resources. Organizations and state leaders involved in planning the railway should take advantage of federal funding and make this railway a reality.

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