Jumping on the Louisville-Frankfort Train Idea

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If you bring up the future of transportation around here, most people focus on the silly Ohio River Bridges project. Wanna-be visionaries will tell you that light rail is a must-do for the city. But no one in recent times has talked about train travel within the state. Until now.

A story in the Frankfort paper details plans for a $75 million project that would make it possible to ride a train from here to Frankfort and Lexington for $6 or less.  Ralph Tharp is Frankfort’s “industrial recruiter” and believes the project, using existing rail lines, could be completed by 2012.

He must be new. Because he doesn’t realize nothing gets done in Kentucky in 2 years. But the idea has merit. Think of all the people who commute to Frankfort every day, from both Louisville and Lexington.

The plan calls for diesel-powered commuter trains that go 90 mph. There would be 11 stops, with one at the Louisville airport, and it would take about the same amount of time to get to Frankfort as it does now in your car — with no concerns about traffic and car trouble.

Tharp, whose plan is to pay for it with federal money, and the state might not even have to pay for it. But the window of opportunity for funding is just two years.

They’ve even got a catchy name — Thoroughbred Rail express — and a plan to name the actual cars after Secretariat and Northern Dancer.

The plan makes sense — economically and environmentally, because it would reduce vehicle traffic and our carbon footprint.

What do you think?