Slow speed ahead

Slow speed ahead

by Cliff Lynch
24. October 2012 13:15

 Acela actual train

Recently, the Associated Press announced that high-speed rail runs were being conducted along a short section of the line between Chicago and St Louis. The DOT expects the test trains will hit 110 miles per hour for about 15 miles. This is a small accomplishment for a country that should have the finest transportation system in the world. We have absolutely no high-speed rail except the Acela trains between Boston and Washington, DC. Even those are slow when compoared to the bullet trains that speed around Europe and Asia at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour.

In 2009, President Obama set aside $8 billion in stimulus funds for the development of a high speed rail system, but some states have balked at spending money on passenger trains. Mitt Romney has said that if he is elected, he will reduce the Amtrak subsidy. In short, there is no overwhelming interest in encouraging rail passenger traffic regardless of who is elected.

Our loss. Fast passenger trains would be a great way to travel, reducing carbon emissions, conserving fuel, and relieving highway congestion. But such a system won't come cheap. Until the government decides it will invest a significant sum of money in high speed rail development, such as other countries have, it simply isn't going to happen. This is too big to be funded by private investors. This would be a little like asking General Electric to install a new air traffic control system.

Image by Bruce Tuten

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