People who would like to see US high speed rail service in the upper Midwest should get their calendars out.

High Speed Rail-corridors1

A federal plan suggests that high speed rail could be incubated in several regional areas of the U.S., as the map shows.

The Michigan Department of Transportation will be sampling public opinion on upgrading rail service between Chicago and Detroit, which the Midwest High Speed Rail Association (MHSRA) sees as an opportunity to step up the campaign for high speed rail between the two cities.

“This is a big deal,” writes MHSRA executive director Rick Harnish to supporters, urging them to attend one of the meetings.

“The Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac passenger rail corridor is critical to building a high speed intercity rail network in the Midwest. This is winnable, but only if we all make our voices heard,” Harnish said.

The MHSRA has proposed that connecting Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Detroit would be a logical next step for expanding the US rail system and installing high speed trains such as those used in Japan, Europe, China and other countries. A high speed network would “shrink” distances to a few hours between these cities, enabling business and tourist travel.

High speed rail has enjoyed popular support. Polls show many people would use fast trains. But plans hit a speed bump in 2010 when a federal proposal that identified specific corridors and offered initial funding was nixed by conservative governors in Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida who said it was too expensive to build. These opponents withdrew matching state funding, stalling plans for regional rail programs.

Despite that opposition, the federal government has kept in place a plan to build designated corridors in several parts of the U.S., which have received seed money to develop rail routes and cost analyses.

The meetings are set for:

-Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013
Chicago Union Station, Union Gallery Room (off the Great Hall), 500 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL

-Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013
Genesis Convention Center, Lake Room, One Genesis Center Plaza, Gary, IN
-Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013
Porter Town Hall, Main Floor Meeting Room, 303 Franklin St., Porter, IN

-Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013
Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, 5801 Southfield Expressway, Dearborn, MI

All the meetings will be open to the public from 4-7pm. A presentation will be made at 4:30pm and repeated as needed.