A report released on September 1 by Amtrak and nine state transport departments proposes the creation of a 5000 km network of fast inter-city services radiating from Chicago. Many of the routes already carry passengers, but frequencies and speeds would be increased through an investment programme to be completed by 2006.

The Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI) is supported by Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the transport departments of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Important metropolitan areas to be served by trains running at up to 175 km//h include Minneapolis/St Paul, Madison, Milwaukee, Omaha, Des Moines. Kansas City, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit and Grand Rapids.

The expectation is that travel times between major city pairs would be cut by 30% to 40%, with the present 9h Chicago - Cincinnati schedule halved. o