High-speed rail

President Obama made high-speed rail one of the signature issues of his first term when, in 2009, he unveiled a strategic vision for a national network of passenger trains that could travel as high as 220 mph in some locations. Since then, the HSR vision in the United States has advanced but also faced setbacks.

Now that Obama has been reelected, I wonder if he will spend some of his political capital to make HSR a national transportation priority over the next four years.

What do you think? Will President Obama promote HSR during his second term? Should he? You can offer an answer by responding to this week's poll at ProgressiveRailroading.com, or by sharing your opinions in a response to this post.

3 Replies

  • Given the President's backing in the previous term, the delight of the Blue and some Red States taking the money, and favorable opinion in the Democratic political trenches, extension of the program seems quite possible and even bi-partisan.  There is no reason to disappoint his base by backing out of HSR.  In the last, even Red counties love their trains to Blue cities.  Despite the posturing, no one wants to miss out on Federal programs.  

    Flawed plans in NJ and FL and a poor job of selling the project in WI had a lot to do with rejecting funds.  I expect those states will come back with revised proposals; and in fact FEC has created a stir with a separate and unexpected proposal for South Florida that could be coordinated with a Tampa-Orlando route.    

  • In reply to HarveyK400:

    Does the number $16,200,000,000,000 and climbing mean anything to anyone anymore?  We're broke and getting broker by the minute.  Obama's political capital is not the issue here.  It's the USA's actual capital and, more to the point, the lack thereof.

  • High-speed rail is a wonderful technical and infrastructure advancement to a industrial developed country. As a retired gentleman from a long career in civil engineering that included several railroad design engineering projects, I can tell you that even today's estimates revised cost are not even close to what it would take to design, then build a genuine hs-rail route such as the proposed track in California!

    What the general public does not know is that there is a huge mega-cost inlay of homeland security sensors that would have to be underground right adjacent to the dedicated and separate hs-rail tracks. Needed as well; because there can be absolutely no grade crossings, no pedestrian or vehicular crossings, not intrusion of any sort trespassing the tracks! The cost of this inlay with operating personel is immense.

    We must also consider the special design rail sub-layed infrastructure and heating systems for the northern climate. Again; incredible cost.

    The electric pantographs also require constant tensioning and security checks along with the overhead power wires and their towers.

    The trainsets alone will cost $20 million per electric locomotives, and approximately $5 million per passenger rail car.  50 sets would be needed to operate a functional California system between San Diego and the Bay Area cities.

    To my knowledge there is no marketing study that has ever been done in California or any other lower 48 state regarding projected and realistic passenger traffic! That is a huge hole in the want for public approval...in other words the general populous has never had professional statistics to come to any intelligent conclusion and closure upon this rail passenger transit proposal.

    A huge engineering mistake in California is the decision to build the route in "segments". A professional engineer would want the complete system in design and signed-off engineering plans and profiles complete and ready. That is the ONLY WAY a reasonable cost estimate can be offered. And; there is no other way than that if the project is going to remain on a professional basis!

    I am all for high-speed rail, as I am one of the only writers in the country at this time having articles run in newspapers and magazines regarding the future of this form of transit in America.

    The subject has to be approached in a professional and organic way to capture the imagination and support of the public. We need more than politicians and talking-heads at this party to get things done!

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