TIME has an analysis of high speed rail developments that is not too horribly misinformed. It correctly highlights the political minefield that awaits proponents in Florida, but drifts into simplistic buzzwords.
Liberals tend to romanticize trains (because the French use them) and conservatives tend to disparage them (because the French use them). But while the U.S. probably can’t recreate the charming ride from Paris to Lyon, it also can’t keep treating rail like a loathsome relic. Since World War II, the U.S. has poured almost $2 trillion into highway and aviation systems, while passenger rail — like the wheezing federal Amtrak line — has received less than 3% of Washington’s transportation dollars. Obama argues the U.S. needs, economically and environmentally, a rail revival in order to relieve stressed auto and air infrastructure. That means emulating the long-established high-speed (more than 110 mph or 177 kph) passenger rail systems in Europe and Asia.
Ah, the French! (Do people actually pay for this gibberish?)
Moving right along. the story does (amazingly) suggest that a revival of more conventional trains operating in the 110 mph range may be in our future. This has a pleasant tone and is agreeable to the TFA position.
However, having spent three days with the Texas High Speed Rail Corporation board (video interview with Maureen Dickey, David Dean, and Temple Mayor Bill Jones below) I am forced to step back and consider some contradictory viewpoints. Texas folks make a good case for true European style HSR.
There must be great care taken in selecting any project as a demonstration. HSR needs lots and lots of population and feeder lines at both ends to pay for the substantial construction costs. The social ane economic value of true HSR is tremendous. The experiences in Taiwan and Spain are held up as examples.
Two points. The presence of true HSR (200 mph.) shrinks a region and brings cities and businesses closer together. Second, the population growth forecast for some already booming areas is staggering. Building more highways is an economic and environmental catastrophe of Katrina proportions.
The opposition of some “conservatives” to an economic engine of such potent and proven power is totally astounding. Is there something wrong with higher property values and easier commercial relationships?
America needs a high speed rail of international standards somewhere. We also need to grow and mature the market for conventional trains between cities that can sue them and strengthen the network of long distance trains that support all of it. They all work together.