Coming Soon: America's High-Speed Rail Network

trainmap

Efficient high-speed rail networks are already staple of many European and Asian countries. President Obama outlined an ambitious plan today to bring the United States up to speed--literally. It won't be cheap. Obama wants to use $8 billion from his stimulus package for the project, followed by $1 billion per year for five years from the federal budget. But the project is vast, with ten potential high-speed rail corridors in the works: California, Pacific Northwest, South Central, Gulf Coast, Chicago Hub Network, Florida, Southeast, Keystone, Empire and Northern New England. Amtrak's  Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston, the only U.S. high-speed rail network already in existence, will have the chance to compete for funds.

Obama envisions two types of rail service: express and regional. Express lines will travel 150 mph between major population centers that are 200-600 miles apart, while regional lines will move at 110-150 mph between population centers that are 100-500 miles apart.

As you might imagine, companies are already jumping in to lend a helping hand with the rail network. IBM released a new study in conjunction with Obama's announcement entitled "The Smarter Railroad." In the study, IBM highlights its experience with smart transportation initiatives around the world. Hint, hint, U.S. government. 

If Obama pulls off his plan, expect thousands of new jobs, minimized highway congestion, and an annual reduction of 6 billion pounds of CO2. And of course, lots of railroad-happy tourists.

Related: Breaking Down the "Energy" Projects in the Stimulus
Related: Everything You Need to Know About the Stimulus Is Online
Related: Broadband, Science, Greenness Trimmed From Obama's Stimulus Fund

[Via White House]

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12 Comments

  • dick head

    Yeah in Cali, we are cutting edge.  Its only going to cost a little over $60 billion to lay tracks from Merced to Palmdale.  If you don't live in California I am not surprised that you don't know where Merced or Palmdale are.  I cant wait to drive to Merced to take the train then rent a car and drive from Palmdale to L.A.  What a boondoggle.  I got to figure out how I can be paid millions to write an environmental report.

  • John Combalicer

    Hi Ash, just like what happen to the railways of the Philippines. When Ford(Car Company) came into the picture here a decade ago. The railways and bus lines started decaying and neglected. What ever happen, is we dont know.

    I think what we need is political will. And those lobbying in congress for their own good be thrown out.

    A strong political will is badly needed....

  • Gianandrea Facchini

    With high speed train, as TGV in France and Freccia Rossa in Italy, you have a clear gain for travel up to 300/400 miles. The gain comes from the fact that main railway stations are downtown, your travel time is far less fragmented than the one with flight.
    BTW, Air France is planning to enter in the railway business because they foresee a decrease of their business of around 30% due to the train system.

  • David Osedach

    Europe and Japan has had them for twenty years. And China is building them as we speak. It will easily be 15 years before we have something comprable here.

  • Charney Hoffmann

    It will be interesting to see whether or not the plan for high speed rail will be able to compete with flying the same short distances. Rail may be a great idea, but it's success depends on whether or not it is cheap and safe enough for people to switch from flying or driving.

  • Ariel Schwartz

    @Ash I wholeheartedly agree -- certainly more cost effective than driving and flying as well!

  • Ash Sangamneheri

    While on holiday in Canada last year, we were surprised to learn automobile companies had bought train companies (in the 19th century?) to close them down, so people would use cars instead!

    Though cars/personal transport has its advantages, I feel public transport (trains, tube, tram, bus, etc) is a far more environment friendly and perhaps more cost effective than building multiple lane roads for cars.

  • NoahRobischon

    @David While I do agree with you, I don't share your skepticism. Even if it does take 15 years, still a worthwhile project don't you think?

  • David Osedach

    Europe and Japan has had them for twenty years. And China is building them as we speak. It will easily be 15 years before we have something comprable here.

  • David Osedach

    Europe and Japan has had them for twenty years. And China is building them as we speak. It will easily be 15 years before we have something comprable here.