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High Speed Rail for the USA

High Speed Rail for the USA

It is now the time to finally catch up with the rest of the civilized world and invest in efficient, clean high speed rail. This country’s total reliance upon air travel is a dead end. The recent cancellation of thousands of flights only underlines the problem with this mode of travel.

Investment in a national high speed rail system will create good, long-term jobs, help clean up the environment and reduce the dependence upon fossil fuels.

(You are welcome to post your thoughts and opinions but this is a discussion, not a personal attack. Please limit comments to intelligent, constructive discussion, whether you agree or not.)

Most efforts to bring high speed rail to the USA have fallen to individual states. Various state proposals are on ballots and before legislature to start their own systems. This is a plan doomed to failure. Only a national system, with a national plan will work. It has to start regionally but be ready for transcontinental integration. This system should easily mesh with local and state systems to provide links to existing or additional systems. Only a system with identical platforms and vehicles will make this happen.

One of the most expensive elements of a new system is land acquisition. We can reduce this drastically if we build a system using the median strip of the interstate highway system. The current interstate highway system serves almost every significant city and spurs or bus lines can easily service smaller municipalities as connectors.

The federal government should invest in this system as they did in the Interstate Highway System under the Eisenhower Administration. The system should concentrate on high profit corridors first, such as the east coast, upper Midwest, west coast and Texas, expanding continuously until complete.

Management of individual lines should be “bid out” to existing companies such as air line and bus companies that can manage the ticketing and customer traffic efficiently. Infrastructure maintenance should be maintained from a fund, charged as a portion of each ticket and contracted to private companies that are well regulated.

We should not think of this system as a standard rail train line. There should not be a line of train cars joined together as a standard rail train. Instead, we should have bus size cars that serve stops on the line more frequently. A computerized system can regulate speed of the cars and schedule. A system such as this will make it easy to travel intermediate distances and reduce the burden on airports. Travel from Denver to Kansas City will be easier than messing with the airport and leave the airport to those who need to travel longer distances.

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