Delays Persist for U.S. High-Speed Rail

August 6, 2014

On a 30-mile stretch of railroad between Westerly and Cranston, R.I., Amtrak’s 150-mile-per-hour Acela hits its top speed — for five or 10 minutes. On the crowded New York to Washington corridor, the Acela averages only 80 m.p.h., and plans to bring it up to Japanese bullet-train speeds will take $150 billion and 26 years, if it ever happens…

High-speed rail was supposed to have been President Obama’s signature transportation project. When he first presented his vision for it nearly four years ago, he described a future of sleek bullet trains hurtling passengers between far-flung American cities at more than 200 m.p.h.… But as Mr. Obama’s second term nears an end, some experts say the president’s words were a fantasy.

Ray LaHood, Mr. Obama’s first transportation secretary… said California seemed the most likely candidate for success with high-speed rail, even though plans for a 520-mile train route between Los Angeles and San Francisco have been mired in controversy…

In Florida, a private company, All Aboard Florida, is planning a rail line in the wake of Gov. Rick Scott’s cancellation of a state high-speed rail project in 2011. Trains are to reach speeds of about 125 m.p.h., although they will travel much slower on a proposed route between Miami and West Palm Beach, with a stop in Fort Lauderdale. A final leg to Orlando will begin in 2017, the company said.

The project will be privately financed, but builders have applied for a $1.5 billion loan from the Federal Railroad Administration…

…Andy Kunz, executive director of the U.S. High-Speed Rail Association, thinks the United States will eventually have a high-speed rail system that connects the country…

Read the rest of the story in the New York Times, 6 August 2014

 

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