The Train in Spain Goes Mainly on the Plain … and Everywhere Else, Too.

Over the past few years, in what could almost be considered a crash program, the Spanish have tied together almost all of their major cities into AVE*, Spain’s high-speed rail system.
So how’s it all working out?
Well, according to the National Statistics Institute, the month of January saw a new transportation milestone: 1.9 million people traveled within the country by high-speed train and that was 100,000 more people than traveled domestically by plane.
Here’s another perspective on those numbers: Compared to January of last year, ridership of the AVE trains was up by 22 percent, while the number of people taking domestic flights this past January was down 7.3 percent compared to January of 2013.
This underscores my contention that, given a choice, people will opt for high-speed trains. But – to be clear – I’m not suggesting that the entire U.S. be covered coast-to-coast by high-speed rail.   I am suggesting that there are at least a dozen corridors across the U.S. where high-speed trains could connect cities and which would be preferred over air links. Just two examples: Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati and Dallas-Houston-Austin-San Antonio.
I’m certain that the first high-speed rail line that’s built will be a huge success and more will quickly follow. So let’s get that first one built!
* Alta Velocidad Española (Spanish High-Speed)