BACK TO THE FUTURE
America may get serious about high-speed rail again, given the perfect storm of events that now seem ready to propel a spate of rail investments around the country. As the Wall Street Journal reports:
"President Barack Obama on Thursday called for spending at least $13 billion to launch a "new era" of high-speed passenger rail transportation, sparking competition among states and providing a potentially rich new market for rail equipment makers.
Besides allocating $8 billion in stimulus funds for high-speed rail, Mr. Obama said he would seek to budget $5 billion more over the next five years.
Sounding an ambitious theme akin to President Dwight Eisenhower's push for the interstate highway system, Mr. Obama spoke of "a new system of high-speed rail in America" that "will be faster, cheaper and easier than building more freeways or adding to an already overburdened aviation system." The interstate system contributed to the growth of the U.S. auto industry in the 1950s and, along with cheaper air travel, consigned passenger rail to third-class status in the U.S. transportation system."
So far so good, but that's the analogy only goes so far. The highway system of course was far more extensive than the proposed rail systems. Even the goal of emulating the high-speed rail systems in Europe will require far greater investment, as the article goes on to highlight:
"Building a high-speed rail network like the one in Western Europe would likely cost hundreds of billions of dollars, but Mr. Obama called the $13 billion effort "a first step."
And it'll take a few years to get rolling. Hope they don't forget to equip the trains with broadband wireless.