Archive for October 2015

Amtrak’s blue ribbon Chicago report // Incredable $800 billion annual harm estimate. // What is a logical economic estimate?

Sometimes news headlines are so absurd. Is this a misprint or a economist’s big error?

A Blue Ribbon Panel convened by Amtrak is recommending co-located train dispatchers, improved operating practices, and capital improvement projects to help relieve rail gridlock in and around Chicago.   This is one reporting source.

The claim according to multiple sources is that improvements are needed to prevent an estimated $800 billion in nationwide economic impacts resulting from the annual congestion.


That has to be a misprint. Or a colossal economic miscalculation.


$800 billion is the capital cost to build about 130 or more Panama Canals

That is about nine to nine times the market value of the Union Pacific Rail company.

Or about 40 times the annual operating expenses of the very large BNSF railroad.

Is no one looking at these relatively easy economic comparisons?

There may indeed be economic net benefits to support more Chicago CREATE joint public/private economic benefits. But this inflationary statement is not the way to make “the pitch.” ==============================

The panel that oversaw the study was chosen by Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. It reported its findings with two university and policy groups on Oct. 1, 2015 in Chicago.

The panel released a study it commissioned from Frost & Sullivan and MSY Analytics which shows that the massive delays to passenger and freight rail traffic in the Chicago Gateway create an economic vulnerability of up to $799 billion every year…

As an economist, I find that number unjustifiable. And I cannot find the published documentation to support it.

If you assumed a half billion to maybe one billion annual economic harm, that might be believable.

What do you think?