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Letter to the editor: High-speed rail in economic fantasyland

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 12:01 am

Geoff Paddock’s City Council request for $200,000 for a high-speed train study is an example of the economic fantasyland that many Democratic politicians are in. He projects that the train service will turn a profit by 2030 even though the revenues he expects would barely cover the startup costs let alone the operating expenses. And the “Passenger Rail Working Group” national study doesn’t even list Fort Wayne as a possible project until the 2031-2050 time period.

Passenger rail supporters site the California Capital Corridor line as one of the nation’s most successful. They are proud to boast that passenger fares cover 48 percent of the cost of the service. According to Amtrak statistics, the federal government subsidizes Amtrak tickets on the average of $47 each with states having to add much more to keep Amtrak from dropping service to their states. Amtrak carries a heavy debt load and has had to defer much maintenance, so it would be amazing if Amtrak can continue to keep operating the routes it has now let alone add dozens of new routes.

The economic principles of the Democratic Party seem to be that any public project that returns as much as 48 percent of the cost in user fees can be deemed profitable. Maybe this explains how a $700 increase in health insurance costs is a $2,500 savings.

Kent Ober