A national high-speed rail network up and running by 2030. Yes we can? (image courtesy of USHSR)
President Obama strongly supports high-speed rail, environmentalists are behind it (well, at least some of them) and the Federal Railroad Administration is already reaching out to other countries that have had success with it. High-speed rail looks like it's going to happen. The question now is what kind of system will be built - how extensive, how fast and how integrated?
Last week, a new organization was founded which aims to help answer those questions. The US High Speed Rail Association, based in Washington DC, plans to lobby for a state of the art rail system that covers the entire country and provides service on par with the most advanced systems in the world. It has already unveiled its vision for high-speed rail in America - a significantly more ambitious vision than what has been floated by the Administration in Washington thus far."Our main objective is to organize the industry and to build public and political support for a nationwide high-speed rail network, built within 20 years," USHSR President and CEO Andy Kunz told TreeHugger. "We see this as the next industrial revolution in America and our chance to convert our country to true sustainability and prosperity."
The organization's first move was to unveil a map showing what a complete national system, built in 4 phases and completed by 2030, would look like (see map above; for the animated version, click here).
The map bears a certain resemblance to the "Vision for High-Speed Rail in America" unveiled by the Obama Administration in April. Both are based on the same 10 regional corridors, but USHSR's plan seriously raises the bar. Calling for 17,000 miles of track, multi-modal stations and travel speeds of 220mph, the proposal bears a greater resemblance to rail maps in Europe.
USHSR plans to generate support for the plan and help advance the rail industry in America by organizing a series of public events and conferences (the first one is scheduled for October 22-23 in Washington DC). A partnership with the International Union of Railways in Paris has also taken shape, and USHSR plans on hosting tours of European and Asian high-speed rail systems in the future.
Said Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of the International Union of Railways and a member of USHSR's Advisory Board:
"The ambitious plan recently publicized by President Obama in the framework of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act announces a fascinating time for railway development in America. A competitive high performance railway system — including a large network of high speed links — will constitute one of the pillars of US policies for transportation and sustainable development."