High-Speed Rail Opponents’ Argument Is a Bust.
Those of us advocating high-speed rail for this country often begin our arguments by pointing out that high-speed rail has become the preferred transportation choice for many millions of people around the world. The Japanese started it with their shinkansen or bullet train which first went into service some 60 years ago. The French followed with the TGV — literally “high speed train” — and the rest of Europe has followed suit. Today, you can travel from one major city in Europe to almost any other, quickly and comfortably, and most Europeans do … by choice.
But the nay-sayers in this country poo-poo our contention that the Europeans have proven that high-speed rail is the way to go. They say the U.S. is so much larger than Europe and the distances are so much greater that high-speed trains are simply not practical in this country and therefore — this is always where they end up — “nobody will ride them”.
There’s a simple answer to that: They’re wrong.
Here are just a few European cities and the distances between them:
London-Paris 285 miles
Paris-Bordeaux 365 miles
Paris-Berlin 650 miles
Berlin-Hamburg 180 miles
Madrid-Barcelona 385 miles
Brussels-Zurich 400 miles
The proposal for high-speed rail in this country is eventually to link major cities in several different corridors. For example:
Boston-Albany 200 miles
Miami-Jacksonville 340 miles
Chicago-Minneapolis 415 miles
Chicago-Detroit 300 miles
Cleveland-Cincinnati 250 miles
Dallas-San Antonio 275 miles
Atlanta-New Orleans 510 miles
Atlanta-Charlotte 250 miles
Albuquerque-Phoenix 460 miles
Seattle-Portland 175 miles
L.A. – San Francisco 450 miles
The fact is, there is no difference. Most of Europe’s major cities are linked by high-speed trains which have been universally accepted as the way to go. Most of the European high-speed trains run at a top speed of 187 miles-per-hour (300 km/hr), so it’s easy to compute how long any of those trips would take if true high-speed rail were in place … just use 200 mph and add a few minutes to get a roughly accurate number.
The point is, high-speed rail will work here in the U.S. There is no difference between here and Europe: distances between major cities are comparable, technology is the same, construction issues are the same … and passenger preferences are the same. (We’ve already proven that with the overwhelming success of the Acela trains in the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington via New York City.
This won’t stop the nay-sayers, of course. Nothing ever does. But they are wrong.