Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Good News on High Speed Rail

And by that I mean not the overall good news, which is that high speed rail is tops for the environment (smaller carbon footprints than either car or airplane travel) and that it's a bulwark against over-congested highways.

No, I'm talking about the short term good news, which is manifold.

Private High Speed Rail Travel for Italy: It's telling that Ferrari's chairman, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, is betting on trains for the future. He and a consortium of private investors have created Europe's first privately owned high speed rail line, set to debut April 28.

As elegant as a Ferrari, the trains will have plush leather seating, free wifi, free first run movies and TV in consoles at the back of each seat and meals by Mario Batali's Eataly served at passengers seats, rather than in a restaurant car. That makes room for 20% more seats than usual, as does the fact that there will be an engine at the bottom of each car, rather than just one big one at the front.

Best of all the trains will be fast. They have the capacity to go 360 km per hour, but are restricted to a 300 km per hour speed because of the track conditions. That means a trip from Rome to Milan can be done in just 3 hours. The trains will also run to Naples, Florence, Padua, Bologna and a number of other top cities.
Morocco Has High Speed Rail? You bet (see above)

California Lowers Budget For Its Coming High Speed Train Network: That's right, the government is expecting to spend less than first predicted under a new business plan released April 2. The original estimate for creating the new network was $98 billion. That's been reduced to $68.4 billion. Construction is expected to start later this month.

If there's any state that could use help in easing the gridlock on its highways, its California. Let's hope that lawsuits don't hold up the start of construction on this vitally important high speed rail line.

Rail Trips Between Chicago and St. Louis About to Get Quicker: Amtrak will be introducing a 20 mile segment, the first of many to be introed over a 5-year-period, on which the trains will get up to speeds of 110 miles per hour. That's nowhere near as fast as Japan's bullet train, but every little extra bit of horsepower helps!

The Treasury Department Has Gotten Behind High Speed Rail: In a report issued on March 23, the Treasury Department urged investment in high speed rail and other forms of public transit. The report points out that doing so will not only relieve car congestion but help protect the economy of the US from the effects of volatile oil prices. In fact, they say that these steps are vital to ensuring the US' long-term competitiveness. You can read the entire report here.

I subscribe to the National Association of Railroad Passengers newsletter, which helps keep me up to date on the state of rail in this country. If you agree with me that this is a vitally important issue, I'd suggest you consider doing the same. Here's a link for that organization.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to see a High Speed Commuter train system built in the U.S. sadly it may not be in my lifetime. However I would most definitely use it. The train system in Europe, although flawed at times, is fantastic.