TransportPolitic has a major piece on the French railway’s keen interest in developing America’ s high speed corridors. This is a lengthy and detailed story, rich in details and contains a map. California, Midwest, Texas and California routes included. This is still more talk, but the talking is coming from a real player.
French organization submits detailed proposals for 220 mph train operation.Last December, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters and Representative John Mica (R-FL) announced that the Federal Railroad Administration would begin accepting Expressions of Interest for the development of high-speed lines in the United States. By February, more than 80 groups, including a number of states, train operators, and train constructors, had sent letters describing their interest in being part of the development of American fast train travel. Final responses were due on September 14th.
I’ve obtained documents that show that SNCF, the French national railroad operator made famous by its development of the TGV system, has responded with detailed descriptions of potential operations in four U.S. corridors, all to benefit from train service at speeds of up to 220 mph. The organization refers to this service as HST 220 (220 mph high-speed trains). With the exception of a description of plans by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, SNCF appears to be the only group that submitted a serious, corridor-based response to FRA’s demand, though infrastructure companies Vinci, Spineq, Cintra, Global Via, and Bouygues all sent in letters promoting rather vague interest in involvement.
There is no funding associated with this call for expressions of interest; it is unrelated to the stimulus. Nonetheless, SNCF’s large response — totaling more than 1,000 pages — exemplifies the degree to which it sees American corridors as a good investment and suggests that the French company is planning an all-out assault on future U.S. rail operations.