Detroit-to-Lansing high-speed rail eyed

March 22, 2009
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LANSING — A group of state lawmakers are looking into the feasibility of building an elevated, high-speed passenger rail line powered by hydrogen made with solar power to connect Detroit with Lansing and Ann Arbor.

Republican Reps. Bill Rogers of Brighton and Wayne Schimidt of Traverse City are leading a bipartisan House task force in a study of the line’s feasibility. The task force will hold four public hearings, the first of which is to be held in Lansing in April.

The rail line would be built by Interstate Traveler Co. LLC, a Whitmore Lake-based venture founded by Justin Eric Sutton. At a presentation in Grand Rapids Wednesday, Sutton said magnetic rail cars on the line could carry passengers, vehicles, freight, fire suppression units and medical triage units at speeds of about 200 miles an hour. He said a Detroit-Lansing-Ann Arbor rail system would involve 90 miles of rail and 84 stations and would cost $17 million a mile to construct.

The state would first have to formally approve ITC’s use of highway right-of-way land along the route, Sutton said. He noted that with Interstate Traveler, there is a less than two-year return on investment.

Sutton said any kind of transport vehicle model that runs on wheels can be designed to run on the ITC rail system. He said the job of designing and building rail cars would go to the Detroit Three automakers. 

Sutton pointed out that 40,000 people die on U.S. highways every year. He said the Interstate Traveler Hydrogen Super Highway system is safe, clean, quiet, weather proof and sand and ice proof, and that it creates hydrogen, creates clean water, and creates and stores surplus power. Plus, he said, the system creates million of good-paying green jobs. The system is self-sustaining, self-contained, modular, reconfigurable and inter-connectable.

Each mile of ITC rail includes two miles of stainless steel rail going each way, three transporter vehicles per mile, two substations and one utility station per five miles, Sutton said. Rider fares would be approximately 5 cents per minute. The ICC is self-powered primarily by solar cells mounted on the top of the central support for the rail.

According to the company, the central support contains an armor plated conduit cluster which enables all communications, distribution and load balancing systems for a multitude of redundant utility conduit networks connected to utility substations located at regular intervals. The substations enable the system — as a whole or individually — if any of the substations are attacked or disabled. The entire system runs in real-time via embedded fiber optics using an Internet-styled communication, routing and addressing system.

“Wherever we go, we build all of that stuff into the system so we don’t need to tap into existing infrastructure,” Sutton said. “We will have surplus capacity: Two thousand miles of this rail represents the energy production of the Hoover Dam.”

ITC would share half the profits with the state and local communities through which the line passes. For systems built in the United States, ITC has established a per capita revenue share proposal where half of the revenue gathered from operations on public right of way will be shared among all four levels of government:

  • 25 percent is paid to the Federal Treasury.

  • 25 percent is paid to the State Treasury.

  • 25 percent is paid per capita to each county.

  • 25 percent is paid per capita to each city, township, village, native territory and port authority.

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