mtuandrew wrote:A good point indeed. Also, I remember that in their announcement Ford stated that MCS is a pretty building and a good headquarters (to rival the RenCen), but that they also want the cheap land surrounding MCS. They stand to make a great deal of money from real estate, since they have to consider the entire neighborhood is ripe for very inexpensive corporate, retail, and residential low-rise development. Bringing Amtrak is a development tool too, just as the renovation of St. Paul Union Depot was a cornerstone of the St. Paul Lowertown District, and how Virgin Trains America née Brightline is a massive development tool for very-undervalued former FEC land.
There's a sea-change going on here, I think.
For the first time in a couple generations you have large, well-funded corporations like Ford and Virgin either sniffing around or outright jumping into the passenger train space.
I've pointed this out in the Brightline thread but I'll repeat it here-- the conversation between the freight carriers and potential passenger operators is going to be very different when the guy across the table from the Class I's representative is reporting to William Clay Ford II or Sir Richard Branson, not the commissioner of the State DOT.
The Class I's aren't just in business to run freight trains for the sake of running trains. They're in business to make money. If Virgin steps up to the BNSF and says "we'll pay you $x million/year to run our trains over the Cajon," or Ford says to NSC "remember, we spend a billion dollars a year on freight" when talking about reconnecting the leads to MCS, they're not going to get brushed off.