A "hobo" clown at heart, down on my luck (previously but not now), but eternally optimistic :o)
Feb 15, 2011
High Speed Rail, Do We Have the Vision?
US President Barack Obama wants to build high-speed trains like France's famous TGV around the country to boost US competitiveness and create jobs.
An issue of national economic strategy for the White House, high-speed railways, which are under construction from Latin America to the Middle East and across Asia, are mired in political party rivalry over budgets in the United States.
Two newly elected Republican governors (Ohio and Wisconsin) in the past three months denied crucial federal funds to rail projects, all but killing them, after their Democratic predecessors backed the projects.
President Obama proposed to give 80 percent of Americans -- essentially all the largest urban areas -- access to rapid train transport in 25 years. "To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information -- from high-speed rail to high-speed Internet," he said in his January 25 State of the Union address.
Two weeks later, Vice President Joe Biden -- the administration's biggest rail fan -- spelled out the details of a $53 billion, six-year plan to support a number of rail projects, with $8 billion the first year. The plan's idea of "high-speed" rail is modest: the main proposals mean boosting existing lines to 200 kilometers per hour (125 mph).
But Biden also proposed ground-up projects for "very high speed" trains like those in Europe, Japan and now China: trains running 350 kph (220 mph) or more, that would require laying entirely new tracks.
Routes are already roughly laid out: improving Amtrak's northeast corridor; linking Los Angeles and San Francisco in California; creating a Chicago-centered system in the industrial upper midwest; and tying Florida's major cities Tampa, Orlando and Miami.
We spend hundreds of billions on other forms of transport. High-speed railways offer the most mobility for money spent.