On May 10, 1869, the ceremonial last spike was driven into the Transcontinental Railroad. Over the last 150-plus years, American transportation has grown to connect the entire county through interstate highways and airplane travel. While trains continue to be one of the primary transporters of goods across America and serve over 30 million commuters a year, places like Japan, China, and many European countries have invested heavily in high-speed train travel. Heck, the underwater Eurotunnel can get you from England to France in 35 minutes. However, that all may be about to change. Here's what you need to know about America's impending train travel upgrade.
Why is This Happening Now?
President Joe Biden, an avid Amtrak train commuter most of his life, recently announced an American jobs plan that includes $80 billion to overhaul the current U.S. rail system.
What Would Change?
In the short term, Amtrak has unveiled a bold plan to create new intercity rail service to 160 communities and expand existing train service in locations that have shown an increased demand for rail transportation. Amtrak has recently posted a map on its site showing 30 new possible routes connecting most of the continental United States by 2035. The long-term goals will see the long-awaited arrival of high-speed rail in America.
How Fast is High-Speed Rail?
American commuter trains travel at about 100 miles per hour on average. For comparison, a Japanese commuter train travels at about 200 to 275 miles per hour, cutting the average American commute in half.
Why Can’t We Have High-Speed Rail Now?!
As great as high-speed rail sounds, there’s still much to be done. Many American rail lines aren't flat, even services going in a straight line. And even if they were, the rail lines themselves would require a great deal of retrofitting. While it may never be feasible to travel from New York to San Francisco by bullet train, Chandler to Los Angeles could be in our future.
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