Another Bogus Anti-Rail Argument.
One of the frequent arguments I hear from people against high-speed rail is that it won’t work in the U.S. because we don’t have the population density they have in Europe or Japan where the super fast trains have been the preferred mode of transportation for 40 years.
They’re right about Europe’s population. According to the most recent figures, the U.K. is the most crowded country with 262 people per square kilometer. Germany has 227 people per square kilometer. Italy comes in with 205 and France has just 103 people per square kilometer. The U.S. is way behind all of them, however, with just 34.5 people per square kilometer as of 2013.
But that’s an average number for the entire country! It includes the millions of square miles all across the west with barely anyone living there. If you’ve ever traveled on the Sunset Limited between Houston and El Paso, you know that West Texas alone goes on for-freakin-ever, with no sign of life whatsoever! And there are vast areas of Nevada and Utah and New Mexico and Arizona where snakes and lizards are pretty much the only living things there. So, when it comes to opposing high-speed rail, population density is really a phony argument.
Besides, high-speed rail isn’t about serving entire populations; it’s about connecting major metropolitan areas with trains that run along populated corridors. And we have a lot of those in the U.S. For example, Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati. Or Minneapolis-Chicago. Or Baton Rouge-New Orleans. Or Atlanta-Charlotte. Private money is behind a high-speed line that will connect Dallas and Houston.
Although it won’t be a traditional high-speed train, there’s also private funding for the All Aboard Florida line that will run several times a day between Miami and Orlando. And work has been underway for a couple of years that has already increased speeds on many stretches of the Chicago-St. Louis route from 80 to 110 mph. Once completed, a similar effort now underway in Michigan will dramatically reduce travel time between Chicago and the cities of Dearborn, Kalamazoo and Detroit.
The fact is, you look around and—Wow!—there are a lot of passenger rail projects, including true high-speed trains—being seriously proposed or actually underway. It’s not just the high-speed link connecting L.A. and San Francisco. There’s a lot more and you can learn about all of them by visiting the NARP website or, better yet, becoming a NARP member. The National Association of Railroad Passengers has been advocating more and better and faster trains for almost 50 years. Our headquarters with a paid professional staff is in Washington, D.C. and we have a total of about 28,000 dues-paying members in all 50 states. Join us!