Why The U.S. Desperately Needs a Vast High Speed Rail System

by Zachary

carbon footprint, cars, public transit

china-high-speed-railHigh-speed rail is one of the greenest ways to travel.

It uses 1/3 the energy flying uses (per passenger) and 1/5 the energy driving uses (per passenger). It is also super cool, in my humble opinion.

High-speed rail (HSR) is moving forward all across the world, but at different… speeds.

I just recently received and ran across a couple of new videos on HSR in California and China and thought it would be fun to show both of these here.


High Speed Rail In The U.S.

As you probably know, HSR got a big boost from the Obama administration at the beginning of 2010.

$8 billion was awarded to HSR projects across the US. California is getting a big chunk of that, $2.344 billion, for an extensive HSR network (of course, it is putting in a lot of money itself as well).

This project is the largest public works project in California in 50 years and is expected to create 600 thousand construction jobs and another 450 thousand permanent jobs.

While the California HSR network looks like it will be pretty sweet, China actually has a huge HSR network already in place with trains running as fast as or faster than the trains California will get.

Why hasn’t the U.S. developed a vast HSR network already?

Most critics simply cite the size of the U.S. as the primary deterrent. Building the HSR infrastructure over such a huge area would just cost too much.

But look at what China has done.


High Speed Rail In China

China’s (and the world’s) fastest train recently started running on a 220-km high-speed railway line between Shanghai and Hangzhou. While California’s fastest trains will travel at up to 220 mph, this Chinese train has reportedly been clocked going over 249 mph (a new world record).

This new HSR line brings China’s extensive HSR network to a total length of 4,617 miles (7,431 km). It is the longest HSR network in the world. When it completes its 2020 plans for this network, it will reach 9,900 miles (16,000 km).

It is also looking to expand its connections outside its own borders and all the way to England. This would be the largest infrastructure project in the world’s history if completed.

Would you support the development of a large-scale HSR network in the U.S. or are you satisfied with planes and automobiles?


Cool High Speed Rail Videos

Here’s a great video with more interesting details on the California HSR network…complete with cool visualizations:



Check out the world’s fastest train running in China in the video below: