All aboard? The future of high speed rail in the US

What is the future for high speed rail in the United States? This is a highly debated issue for our nation as Europe and Eastern Asia are increasing their rail infrastructure in both speed and distances covered. These debates bring up questions pertaining to:

Does the United States need to develop comparable rail systems to compete with these global powers?

Is high speed rail a means to save us from our auto-dependent culture and foster a sustainable future?

What areas would benefit from high speed rail more than others?

high speed rail

High Speed Train in montion.
Photo from freefoto.com
12/17/13

There are a variety of plans in the works of to develop both a nationwide high speed network and individual regional corridors. I have complied a list of links below of potential corridors, organizations, concerns and debates relating to our nations high speed rail future.

Potential Corridors

Will the U.S. Ever Get High Speed Rail Anywhere? – The Atlantic Cities brings to light lesser known plans of high speed rail in the Midwest and Texas. Along with a proposal in the northeast, linking New York to Boston or Washington in 90 minutes.

XpressWest–  A proposed rail network connecting Southern California and Las Vegas. The 185 miles route follows I-15 and features a Vegas like atmosphere, proving full-service entertainment cars.

Rocky Mountain High….Speed Rail– Formulated by an alliance of regional metropolitan transportation and planning organizations in the intermountain and southwest, proposing a high-speed rail network connecting Denver-Las Vegas-Phoenix-Salt Lake City and Reno.

How to make high-speed rail work in California– The Los Angeles Times presents an OP-ED piece discussing the redesigning of the high speed rail plans connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco.

National Organizations

USHSR– The US High Speed Rail Association is a non-profit group dedicated solely to the process of implementing a 17,000 mile high speed rail system to be completed by 2030.

Concerns and Debates

To stay competitive, America needs high-speed rail – Benjamin Curttright discusses the advantages in Europe of high speed rail as an alternative to driving, and encourages US public investment to be the driving force for high speed implementation. He compares the public investments required for high speed rail to the investments of the Interstate Highway System, as an example of how this degree of investment could “revolutionize domestic travel.”

U.S. high-speed rail ‘myths’ debunked – CNN provides an interesting article where policymakers and experts on rail and transportation weigh in on user comments posted on CNN.com.  This article provides the best summary of common misconceptions of high speed rail and paints a much clearer picture.

5 questions on high-speed rail and its U.S future–  In response to the high speed train crash in Spain last July, CNN presents an overview of high speed rail around the world and its future in the US. The article also addresses the safety precautions that would be taken by the US to avoid such major disasters.

These links demonstrate the diversity of high speed plans throughout the nation, the varying opinions towards them and the hurdles to overcome.  It will be interesting to see how the future our nation’s ground transportation networks will transform over the next half century.

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