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Mickelson Celebrates High-Speed Rail

Former Speaker of the House G. Mark Mickelson saw his Twitter account hacked by some jerk last week. He thus has abandoned that channel and opened a new Twitter account, @markmicksd. I am pleased to see that one of the Republican’s first fresh tweets is a favorable post on high-speed rail as the future of travel in the United States:

This year, a significant development in travel options comes from Florida, where a new rail line connects Miami and Orlando. The service — the only privately owned, multi-city railroad in the U.S. — was launched less than two months ago, and is already profitable and seeing a rise in ridership.

Brightline, which offers the new service, first launched in 2018 with service between Miami and West Palm Beach. Its trains, which can reach speeds of 125 miles per hour, have seen a 116% increase in ridership this year. The company anticipates accommodating approximately 4.3 million passengers annually between South Florida and Orlando by 2025.

…Now, Brightline has a project ready to link Los Angeles and Las Vegas, a $12 billion endeavor that could be operational in four years. [Brightline CEO Wes] Edens said the train speeds will exceed 200 miles per hour. [Kris Van Cleve and Analisa Novak, “Florida’s New High-Speed Rail Linking Miama and Orlando Could Be Blueprint for Future Travel in U.S.,” CBS News, 2023.11.20].

I suspect G. Mark likes the private-enterprise angle:

In contrast to costly and delayed public projects, like California’s high-speed rail, Brightline constructed its initial service between West Palm and Miami in just four years, on an existing freight line [Van Cleve and Novak, 2023.11.20].

…but the Railroader-in-Chief plays a big role in this development:

Transit experts point out that high-speed rails, successful in Europe and Asia, can be effective in linking cities 150 to 400 miles apart, but will require substantial public funding.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill allocated $66 billion for rail.

“We’re putting our money where our mouth is, but when private enterprise can play a big role in it, then those tax payer dollars go that much further,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who tried Brightline last month [Van Cleve and Novak, 2023.11.20].

Yes, indeed, Mr. Mickelson: working together, the federal government and private enterprise really can build better infrastructure for the 21st century. Maybe, G. Mark, you could tag some of your friends in Pierre with your tweet and get us some high-speed rail from Minneapolis to Sioux Falls to Mount Rushmore! Choo-choo!


  1. Richard Schriever 2023-11-21 08:14

    “…..the only privately owned, multi-city railroad in the U.S.” Uh, Mark, almost ALL freight rail in the US is multi city and privately owned. I think you must have forgotten a adjective in your sentence structure. I believe that adjective is “passenger”.

  2. Richard Schriever 2023-11-21 08:20

    That private LA (actually Orange County – Anaheim) to Vegas line was first proposed when I lived in OC. in1994. So, now that there is the Biden infrastructure bill(*s) to support it, it’ll get done?? Finally?? 30 years later.

  3. larry kurtz 2023-11-21 08:29

    Mr. Mickelson should run for statewide office if he wants passenger rail in my home state.

    A 2015 multi-modal intercity passenger rail plan proposed a route between Minneapolis and Denver that would serve just Sioux Falls in South Dakota but connect with the California Zephyr at Omaha as part of a Phase Two development. Now an expanded proposal does just that but a route across South Dakota is unlikely in my lifetime while Republicans rule the red moocher state.

  4. e platypus onion 2023-11-21 08:33

    Private enterprise grows fat on public taxpayer monies, just like the railroads of yore. And those who need the least get the most.

  5. Donald Pay 2023-11-21 08:48

    I wouldn’t define the Florida rail line (at 120 mph) “high-speed rail.” That is medium speed rail by modern standards. Yeah, it fast for US rail service, but not for modern rail lines in China or Japan. They are saying the Anaheim to Las Vegas line will be 200+ mph, if it’s ever built. That’s high speed rail.

  6. LCJ 2023-11-21 08:51

    Railroad facts: Noem wanted Amtrak in SD, Biden said no.
    In the 70’s Kneip destroyed half the railroad infrastructure in SD, effectively destroying dozens of towns, schools, businesses and families.

  7. larry kurtz 2023-11-21 08:53

    Recall that in 1997 South Dakota got $23 million for going without Amtrak service so then-Gov. Bill Janklow funneled much of it into the Governor’s Club and in 2007 Gov. Mike Rounds spent some of it on an airplane for his personal use. So today, South Dakota is the only state where Charles Koch has been able to thwart passenger rail and the only state in the continental United States without a proposed Amtrak station.

  8. larry kurtz 2023-11-21 09:08

    South Dakota’s rail board is made up entirely of Republican Earth haters so when a handful of his donors need socialized freight rail to ship subsidized grain Howdy Doody Dusty is all aboard but when thousands need passenger rail he’s ambivalent then votes against the Earth and for the Trump agenda without remorse.

  9. O 2023-11-21 09:31

    LCJ, if Gov. Noem wants AMTRAC in SD, she can make that happen; she can pay to make that happen. The President is not preventing this expansion. How about SD pull itself up by the bootstraps and put some rail in?

  10. Blüfro Gináre Dpõt 2023-11-21 11:08

    High-speed rail at 125 mph might be a good starting point, but to compete with air travel the trains should cruise along at a minimum of 187 mph. Make it a ride worth the cost. At 125 mph, they might have to serve drinks along with the peanuts.

    LCJ how about some links to back up your fantasy?

  11. DaveFN 2023-11-21 11:28

    Van Cleave and Novak:

    “While the fastest trains in the U.S. still lag behind those in Europe, they move about 100,000 people daily between Washington, D.C., New York and Boston.”

    Population density is a critical factor in decisions to develop. Same reason we don’t have as much as a Cracker Barrel or Whole Foods in Rapid City.

  12. jerry 2023-11-21 12:38

    If we would’ve kept passenger train service, there would not have been a need for George Mickelson to have been on that plane…

  13. LCJ 2023-11-21 15:05

    Shame on you, Jerry. Shame

  14. jerry 2023-11-21 16:55

    tsk, tsk. You know I’m right LCJ, don’t be such a snowflake.

  15. larry kurtz 2023-11-21 17:20

    Cheyenne, Wyoming is on board with Front Range passenger rail and All Aboard Arizona says passenger rail between Phoenix and Tucson is closer than ever, too.

    So, imagine a time when portions or all passenger rail in the United States are elevated for wildlife egress and a corridor between Mexico City and the Amtrak station in Shelby, Montana is a route to the Yukon River in Alaska intersecting with a bridge over or a tunnel under the Bering Strait connecting South and North America to Russia and the rest of Eurasia.

  16. Steven 2023-11-21 18:00

    Brightline West is asking the Federal Government to give it $3 billion to start construction from Las Vegas to Rancho Cucamonga which is a small city 40 miles east of Los Angeles. Quite a large ask from a for-profit company for a passenger railroad that will only benefit the casinos of Las Vegas and the pockets of investors in Brightline West

  17. Arlo Blundt 2023-11-21 18:27

    Population density and an 1880 railbed tend to mitigate against high speed rail. That, and a propensity of South Dakotans to drive the Oldsmobile to Sioux Falls to see Aunt Fern and Uncle Duane. If you don’t have the car, how do you get out to the stockyards for a Hot Beef Sandwich??

  18. jakc 2023-11-21 19:00

    in florida, it’s not just population density. the cost of tolls can add a lot to the cost of driving

  19. Todd Epp 2023-11-21 19:46

    Arlington, there’s no more stockyards in Sioux Falls. But I think you can get a hot beef sandwich at Cracker Barrel.

  20. Todd Epp 2023-11-21 19:47

    Arlo not Arlington. The Curse of Autocorrect!

  21. DaveFN 2023-11-21 21:50


    No one said it was “just population density,” but that population density is a critical factor.

  22. Francis Schaffer 2023-11-21 22:22

    I was told that the 4WD tractor depopulated ag country.

  23. jakc 2023-11-21 23:30


    of course population density is a critical factor. All I meant is tolls round trip between Orlando and Miami are $40 which helps make the train ticket more price competitve with driving, compared to a place like SD. In the case of an LA to LV train, traffic is terrible at the NV/CA border on a holiday weekend (I 15 goes from 3 lanes to 2) so the savings in time will be enough for many people

  24. Richard Schriever 2023-11-22 07:37

    FWIW – Orange County (the Anaheim end of the line) is the most powerful Republican county in CA, and also has a wealthier population to LA county. So OF COURSE they will be the ones with their hands the furthest out for Federal aid for transportation.

  25. e platypus onion 2023-11-22 08:12

    Cracker Barrel closed a bun ch of stores this Spring. Can’t imagine new growth during a downsizing, but what do I know.

  26. LCJ 2023-11-22 20:29

    Francis, No. Just stop it.

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