Wednesday, October 12, 2011

High-Speed Rail

During the late 1800s if you wanted to travel long distances trains were the way to go. Trains helped to shape the United States and make it what it is today. With the invention of air travel, which was much faster, trains fell out of favor and mainly served to transport cargo. The combination of rising gas prices and the recent recession have seen a rebirth of travel by railroad. Amtrak has shown record ridership over the last year and is looking to expand routes.

The other type of rail travel that has been gaining steam is high-speed rail. Basically high-speed rail is just the same as normal passenger rail except that the trains travel an upward of 200 mph compared to 60-80 mph. It has caught on in Europe and Japan because of the proximity of large cities in those two areas. Trying to recreate that success in the United States the Obama administration identified 10 high-speed rail corridors ranging from the California corridor to the Empire corridor. Both my hometown of Tampa and my current city, Raleigh, were featured in potential corridors. Tampa, as part of the Florida corridor, recently had the high-speed rail cancelled because of potential cost overruns. Raleigh, as part of the Southeast corridor, is still working on the rail route from Richmond. While high speed rail is really interesting and I have always been a big train fan, I just don't see the potential reward for the cost unless there is already a route between the two planned locations.

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