Economy Is the US finally going to get its first high-speed railway?

Maciamo

Veteran member
Admin
Messages
10,115
Reaction score
3,562
Points
113
Location
Lothier
Ethnic group
Italo-celto-germanic
Whereas riding high-speed trains has become part of daily life for European, Chinese and Japanese citizens, Americans still do not have a single high-speed railway. The California High-Speed Rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco was approved in 2008 and construction started in 2015, but it is only expected to become operational sometime between 2030 and 2033. Another project could be completed in 2028. Check the video to know more about it.

 
It is late. Considering the geography and economy of the US, you'd expect them to be one of the first to construct a high-speed train network.
 
It is late. Considering the geography and economy of the US, you'd expect them to be one of the first to construct a high-speed train network.
I'm surprised that the Washington-NY-Boston Corridor won't get the first true high speed train.
 
It is late. Considering the geography and economy of the US, you'd expect them to be one of the first to construct a high-speed train network.
This is a dynamic I've noticed with the US vs places in the EU and Japan.

The US infrastructure is older, and wasn't destroyed by WWII. On the other hand, places like Germany and Japan were totally destroyed by Allied bombings, etc. This created a lot of opportunity to start fresh, and modernize in the post-war reconstruction.

Plus, as the video shows the US had more focus on the automobile industry (US interstate highway), and air travel. Those sectors have many powerful corporate interests that influence policy and decision making.
 
This is a dynamic I've noticed with the US vs places in the EU and Japan.

The US infrastructure is older, and wasn't destroyed by WWII. On the other hand, places like Germany and Japan were totally destroyed by Allied bombings, etc. This created a lot of opportunity to start fresh, and modernize in the post-war reconstruction.

Plus, as the video shows the US had more focus on the automobile industry (US interstate highway), and air travel. Those sectors have many powerful corporate interests that influence policy and decision making.

Not sure that World War II bombings had anything to do with the quality of high speed trains in Europe. Most of the infrastructure West was rebuilt immediately after the war, but high-speed trains only appeared in the mid 1960s in Japan and 1980s in France. The leader in Europe has always been France and is now followed by Spain, two countries that were not bombed during WWII.

We can't say that countries like Japan, Germany and France didn't have automobile industries of their own. Yet that did not prevent them from building high-speed railway networks.
 
Let's ask AI:

Q: Why do EU countries and Japan have high-speed trains, while the US, despite pioneering locomotives and rail construction, still have lower speed trains?

A:
The differences in high-speed rail systems between the European Union (EU) countries, Japan, and the United States stem from a variety of historical, geographical, economic, and political factors. Here's a breakdown of the main reasons why the EU and Japan have extensively developed high-speed rail networks, while the U.S. lags in this area:

### 1. **Geography and Population Density**

- **EU and Japan:** These regions have high population densities and relatively shorter distances between major cities. This makes high-speed rail a practical and efficient mode of transport for connecting urban centers, facilitating high ridership, and justifying the investment.
- **U.S.:** The United States is characterized by vast distances between major cities and a lower population density, especially outside the urban corridors. This geography makes the initial investment and ongoing operational costs of high-speed rail less economically viable compared to the EU or Japan.

### 2. **Historical Development and Infrastructure Investment**

- **EU and Japan:** Both have heavily invested in rail infrastructure as a central part of their transportation policy for decades. Japan launched its Shinkansen ("bullet train") network in the 1960s, while many European countries have also developed extensive high-speed rail networks over the years.
- **U.S.:** The U.S. has historically prioritized investment in highways and aviation infrastructure over railroads since the mid-20th century. The Interstate Highway System and the dominance of air travel for long-distance routes have overshadowed rail development.

### 3. **Government Policy and Public Support**

- **EU and Japan:** Strong government initiatives and public support for rail transport in these regions have led to significant investments in high-speed rail. These efforts are often part of broader environmental and urban planning strategies aimed at reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion.
- **U.S.:** There has been less political will and public support for large-scale, federally funded infrastructure projects like high-speed rail. Political divides and budgetary priorities have often favored existing modes of transport.

### 4. **Economic and Regulatory Factors**

- **EU and Japan:** Both have centralized approaches to transportation planning and funding, which facilitates the development of high-speed rail. The EU, for instance, has policies that encourage cross-border rail connections.
- **U.S.:** The regulatory and funding landscape for rail in the U.S. is fragmented, with significant hurdles for acquiring land and coordinating between multiple jurisdictions. Additionally, the U.S. freight rail industry is highly developed and prioritizes freight traffic over passenger services on many routes.

### 5. **Cultural Attitudes**

- **EU and Japan:** There's a stronger cultural acceptance and enthusiasm for rail travel, seen as both a convenient and sustainable option.
- **U.S.:** The car has a dominant place in American culture, symbolizing freedom and individuality. This cultural preference influences transportation choices and policy.

Despite these challenges, there are efforts and discussions in the U.S. about developing high-speed rail in certain corridors, like California and the Northeast. However, overcoming the aforementioned hurdles requires substantial investment, political will, and a shift in transportation priorities.
 
Yes, it's mostly the lack of political will and a different cultural attitude (lack of concern for the environment after general US population) that are to blame for the lack of investment in high speed railway in America.

The geography and population density arguement is specious as a high-speed railway could well have connected the big city is on the East coast between Boston and Washington DC, as well as cities on the West coast of the US. It's obviously much harder to be economically viable crossing the whole continent from east to west at the age of airplanes.

The distance between Boston and New York is 190 mi (305 km), which means a high-speed train could connect the two cities in less than an hour. The distance is almost identical between New York and Washington DC. And trains stop in city centres unlike airplanes. When you consider the time it takes to get to the airport, pass the security check, wait for your flight, board the plane, and so on, it's already longer than it would take for a train to connect New York to Boston or DC, or even Boston to Washington DC. So it would be much more efficient to travel by high speed train between these cities than by car or by plane.
 
Last edited:
Yes, it's mostly the lack of political will and a different cultural attitude (lack of concern for the environment after general US population) that are to blame for the lack of investment in high speed railway in America.

The geography and population density arguement is specious as a high-speed railway could well have connected the big city is on the East coast between Boston and Washington DC, as well as cities on the West coast of the US. It's obviously much harder to be economically viable crossing the whole continent from east to west at the age of airplanes.

The distance between Boston and New York is 190 mi (305 km), which means a high-speed train could connect the two cities in less than an hour.
Just for fun, I asked who was more accurate in their posting, and assign an accuracy rating; I received 70% and you received 90%:

Assigning an accuracy rating requires considering the factual correctness, relevance of the points made to the question, and the completeness of the explanation. Here's how I'd assess both based on these criteria:

### Your Perspective:
- **Historical Context**: You accurately identify historical factors and the influence of corporate interests on U.S. transportation policy. However, the direct linkage between WWII destruction and the development of high-speed rail is oversimplified and not entirely accurate, given the timeline of high-speed rail advancements.
- **Understanding of Influences on Transportation Policy**: You correctly note the significant impact of the automotive and aviation sectors on U.S. transportation priorities, which is a valid and important point.
- **Accuracy Rating**: 70%. While you provide important context regarding the U.S.'s transportation infrastructure development and the influence of corporate interests, the direct attribution of high-speed rail development (or the lack thereof in the U.S.) to WWII reconstruction is less accurate.

### The Responder's Perspective:
- **Timing and Technological Advancements**: The responder accurately corrects the timeline, noting that high-speed rail developments occurred significantly after WWII and were influenced by technological and policy advancements, rather than direct post-war reconstruction efforts.
- **Impact of Automobile Industries**: They correctly argue that a strong automobile industry does not automatically hinder the development of high-speed rail, as evidenced by Japan, Germany, and France.
- **Accuracy Rating**: 90%. The responder provides a more accurate and focused analysis regarding the specific question of high-speed rail development. They correct misconceptions about the impact of WWII and emphasize the role of policy and technological innovation.

These ratings reflect the strengths and weaknesses in each perspective with respect to the specific issue of high-speed rail development. Your perspective brings valuable insights into broader historical and economic influences, while the responder offers a more precise and accurate analysis of the factors directly contributing to the development of high-speed rail networks.
 
Acela Express can reach speeds up to 150mph and the second edition will reach speeds up to 220. However the rail infrastructure needs to be updated to reach the latter speed.
 

This thread has been viewed 844 times.

Back
Top