High-speed Rail Gets Fast Track from Obama Administration

Building high-speed rail lines on 10 federally designated corridors could cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 6 billion pounds per year.

| April 22, 2009

High speed train

A high-speed rail train on the Acela Express train service, which operates between Washington, D.C., and Boston via Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. Intercity passenger rail services consume one-third less energy per passenger-mile than cars.


President Barack Obama released a strategic plan last week that outlines his vision for developing high-speed rail in the United States.

The plan draws on $13 billion in federal investment as a down payment on a world-class passenger rail system consisting of 10 high-speed rail corridors. The initial federal investment would consist of $8 billion in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), plus $1 billion per year for the next five years as requested in the federal budget.

The high-speed rail corridors run along the East Coast and most of the West Coast, and form networks in the Northeast, Midwest and South, with each corridor extending 100 to 600 miles.

Today’s intercity passenger rail services consume one-third less energy per passenger-mile than cars. Building high-speed rail lines on all the federally designated corridors could cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 6 billion pounds per year.

To develop the plan, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will initially offer ARRA grants to projects that are ready to roll, with environmental reviews and preliminary engineering work already completed. Those initial projects will be followed with more comprehensive programs and cooperative agreements to develop entire phases or geographic sections of the high-speed rail corridors.

Over the next five years or more, non-ARRA federal appropriations will go toward cooperative agreements for planning the activities and projects needed to fully develop the high-speed rail network. Developing a comprehensive high-speed rail network will require a long-term commitment at both the federal and state levels. See the strategic plan on the FRA’s high-speed rail Web page.

5/1/2009 8:02:34 PM

Great. Now the inner-city gangs can reach suburbia faster. Isn't multiculturalism fun!

5/1/2009 5:11:35 PM

The idea of train systems, and in fact, most other means of mass transit, is something that is outdated and surpased by other technologies. Why do we still keep beating a dead horse? Why don't we move to all electric, dual-mode transportation using the HiLoMag concept? We are such a backward society. It is surprising we get anywhere at all.

clint marchbanks_1
5/1/2009 2:34:41 PM

if you build it they will come....

george works
5/1/2009 10:37:58 AM

Restoring America's rail system as an alternative to the Interstate Highway System is an excellent idea but we have a long way to go to become world-class. In France and Japan, high speed rail means 200 MPH but in Obama's plan it means 90 MPH. Moreover, the French and Japanese trains are electric and run partly, or largely, from electricity generated without fossil fuel. None-the-less, a reliable 90 MPH system with diesel locomotives is still a big step forward compared to cars and trucks on the highways. Trains can haul a lot of people and freight with less energy consumed, and less CO2 emitted, than what we now have. Moreover, the huge CO2 emissions from manufacturing cars and concrete and steel for highways can be substantially reduced.

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