Chicago Mayor Richard Daley spent considerable time oogling the new subway trains in Beijing so he could get some ideas he could perhaps apply to the Windy City’s transportation system in time for its Olympic bid. But he should take a look at railway development elsewhere. The Midwest High-Speed Rail Association is touring Spain’s new trains Jan. 10-17. The country formerly known as Iberia has emerged as a leader in high-speed rail development and the exploding economic growth and accompanying real-estate development. The national government has committed more than $5 billion annually for 15 years to upgrade existing freight and passenger lines as well as construct new high-speed passenger lines. “Our trip will let you see first-hand how these investments have changed Spain’s economy, making its businesses more competitive and its people richer while opening up new travel possibilities for Spaniards and tourists alike,” according to the association web site. “We will hear from local leaders about how the systems are developing and what they’ve done for Spain’s economic growth and social development.” Some highlights include: a ride on the Talgo 350; a tour of a new suburb designed around a light rail line; a ride on a line equivalent to the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative; lectures by the Spanish railroad infrastructure company, and other players in the country’s growing railway industry as well as a presentation on city-sponsored bicycle rental programs.
The Society of International Railway Travelers will facilitate this trip. Trip organizers just need two more people to put their deposits for this trip to happen.