Amtrak 2.0: New York to D.C. in 94 Minutes?

Jon Curnow/CC BY 2.0

Feast thine eyes on the new projected trip lengths after Amtrak's high speed rail proposal comes to fruition:

NYC to Philly in 37 minutes.

D.C. to NYC in 94 minutes; the same from NYC to Boston.

The trains would hit speeds up to 220 miles per hour, and would improve service for the perpetually overbooked Acela rail lines. Super modern. Wi-fi. Sounds pretty good. But there's a predictable hurdle to this apparent dream-come-true for high speed rail lovers and eastern seaboard commuters, and it stands taller than the St. Louis arch: a price tag of $151 billion, much of which would come from federal and state coffers.

The Chicago Tribune has the details:

super-fast train trips along the East Coast could be a reality by 2040. Travel times from New York to either Washington or Boston - both about 200 miles in distance - would also be slashed, to 94 minutes, the report said. Current travel times from New York to Philadelphia on Amtrak's sleek Acela trains are 1 hour, 15 minutes. Travel between New York and Washington currently takes 2 hours, 45 minutes and New York to Boston takes 3 hours, 41 minutes, according to Amtrak's website.

"The NEC (Northeast Corridor) region is America's economic powerhouse and is facing a severe crisis with an aging and congested multi-model transportation network that routinely operates at or near capacity in key segments," Amtrak's President Joe Boardman said in a statement.

The traditionally cash-starved railroad is funded by Congress, where Republicans have been reluctant to finance prior plans to develop high-speed rail in the United States.

Thus, this will not happen. Congress will approve spending billions of dollars for high speed trains the same day it unanimously votes to double its funding for Planned Parenthood and NPR. And to enshrine an amendment legalizing gay marriage into the Constitution. And to pass a nationwide carbon tax.

You get the picture. And it's too bad. Not only is faster rail good for travelers, it's good for the economy. Upgrading the rail will create jobs, of course, but lightening-quick rail could revitalize flagging cities across the Northeast by growing the number of convenient commuter hubs outside of major cities like New York or Washington. Waterbury, CT could become an attractive living option for folks working in Manhattan, as could the much cheaper but very livable downtown Philly.

Alas, we'll probably just buy a few more fighter jets and drone fleets instead.

Tags: Trains

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