October 6, 2022

Will high-speed trains finally become a reality in the US?

The United States is very behind high-speed trains compared to other countries. It seems like the United States is Superman and the high-speed train is Kryptonite. However, the more I think about it, the more I think about it. I was even more wondering The high-speed train could be Superman. And American car culture is kryptonite.

If you have the luxury of traveling outside the United States You’ve probably experienced high-speed trains, or at least heard or seen them before. You might:

  • Suspect behind the US how shocking Because being able to experience high speed trains is truly amazing.
  • I wonder why the US Although there are not many high-speed trains
  • Ignore the fact that America is lagging behind due to its heavy car culture. Or think that using high-speed trains doesn’t work in the United States?

I know I’ve been thinking about all of these issues as I experience the joy of high-speed rail travel in different parts of Europe.

However, what if things are about to change? What will happen if the US It is in a period of major change where technology, politics and climate action all come together to help boost high-speed rail adoption.

It’s not that easy or perfect. But it’s not all disaster and sorrow either. After I spoke with Marc Buncher, President and Chief Executive Officer of Siemens Mobility North America, I realized that the US It’s far from the high-speed rail than I thought. Despite the obstacles in the way, Buncher is a long-standing advocate and expertise in high-speed rail. Siemens Mobility is the leading provider of all things high-speed rail. This includes trains, systems and aftermarket parts (Siemens cooperates with civil engineering companies to lay rails, ballasts and carry out maintenance).

[Continue the dialogue about accelerating electric, clean and equitable transportation and logistics that reduce emissions at the VERGE 22 Transport Program, taking place in San Jose, CA, Oct. 25-27.]

The conversation about high-speed trains in the United States is not new. far from this GreenBiz and many others were well concealed. for reconsideration What exactly is a high-speed train? to follow Institute of Environmental and Energy Studies, high-speed train is any new train line with a speed of 160 mph or more High-speed trains allow people to travel 300 miles from London to Paris in just over two hours compared to flying or driving. which takes more than several hours There are many high-speed trains. benefitincluding:

  • Job Creation – Every $1 billion investment creates approximately 24,000 jobs.
  • Increased Economic Activity – Every $1 invested generates $4 economic benefits.
  • Reducing Congestion and Increasing Productivity — Congestion in the US costs $140 billion in lost time and productivity.
  • Reduce dependence on foreign oil Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provides efficient and high-speed travel options — is high-speed train faster or faster? and more efficient than air travel

If you look at the history of public transportation in the United States and make predictions for the future. in some alternate universe We will have high speed trains all over the country. By the early 1920s, trams and public transport covered the United States. And then it all comes to a standstill. Vox reveals the true story behind the collapse of the once-great tram culture before today’s car culture took its toll. I suggest you read that. article.

What will happen if the US It is in a period of major change where technology, politics and climate action all come together to help boost high-speed rail adoption.

What happened in the United States on high-speed trains? Buncher has highlighted a few notable projects, including The California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority project connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles. and The Brightline West project connects LA to Las Vegas.Siemens Mobility is one of two qualified teams involved in the California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority program and part of the LA-to-Las Vegas program. Here are some facts about both projects:

California High Speed ​​Rail Agency Project — Connecting San Francisco to LA
Brightline West Project — Connecting LA to Las Vegas
  • The train is expected to reach speeds of 180 mph. This makes it possible to travel 2 times faster than a car.
  • The project will save 400,000 tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to the removal of 3 million cars. In total, 50 million one-way trips per year are made between LA and Las Vegas.
  • Developers are committed to Started operation in 2026.

Based on my conversations with Buncher and a deeper dive into the progress of these projects. I find that the environmental benefits of high speed are only part of the reasons why it is needed/needed in the USA. And politics and finance are still an uphill battle.

“I think companies are doing it. [deploying high-speed rail] Because they see the impact on the environment… But when you’re an LA resident who owns a car. I don’t think you’re thinking about your carbon footprint … just like Europe. You do it because of the convenience of getting on the train… and walk wherever you go in the heart of the city. And that’s the real reason I think people living in LA or Las Vegas would use high-speed trains,” Buncher said.

Despite all the projects and historical moments in politics with the departure of Infrastructure Investment and Employment Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act 2022An uphill battle continues for high-speed rail in the United States, such as the California High Speed ​​Rail Agency. The project was approved in 2008 and opened in 2020, but was prevented from cut capital Based on reports from July.The initial cost of the project was $33 billion, of which $12 billion to $16 billion came from the federal government. However, only $3 billion was allocated by the federal government. The project is now expected to $105 billion.

However, some of the additional funding may come from high-speed rail as a whole. it will appear Funding for high-speed trains does not make it The recently signed Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, but some funding was created for “Major projects” under the IIJA, which may include high-speed rail “There was money on the first bill. [IIJA] …for example, $10 billion for a larger project that would be something like the Hudson River Tunnel in New York City. But high-speed trains also qualify,” Buncher said, “with a $105 billion budget for the US Department of Transportation. [to improve rail among other areas of public transit] and IIJA, we live in an invisible era where we have a lot of money coming into our industry.”

The United States is far from seeing the seemingly endless high-speed rail. However, we are closer than ever to the beginning of meaningful progress.

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