Region Forward Blog

Global Fridays: (Forever) playing catch-up?

Apr 22, 2011


As Europe continues to innovate in the high-speed rail sector building ever quicker and more sustainable trains and prioritizing high-speed rail as the preferred method of travel across the continent the U.S. continues to stumble along with insufficient investment and low prioritization.

Even as rising gas prices and traffic congestion (and sleepy air traffic controllers for that matter) demonstrate the drawbacks of other forms of travel a multitude of myths continue to shroud high-speed rail in a false light. As Congress takes a scalpel to high-speed rail funding this ignorance is threatening the realization of any high-speed rail in America.

As a great piece in New York magazine recently pointed out what President Obama is proposing is not anywhere near the scale of what advocates really want – a true high-speed rail network (at speeds of 200 mph or so) linking the country’s major metro areas. However even Obama’s modest proposal has been met with fierce resistance despite the fact that 60 percent of Americans say they want and would use high-speed rail.

If we’re ever going to catch up to Europe and Asia in the field of high-speed rail we need to get serious. There’s a hopeful commentary over at America 2050 claiming that U.S. high-speed rail is “down but not out” and asking advocates not to lose hope due to the latest funding cuts but rather to focus on the larger federal budget and transportation funding bill which the battles over which will begin soon and which will have a much greater impact on whether high-speed rail becomes a reality in America.


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