High-speed rail (HSR), offers a plethora of benefits; Day-long commutes accomplished in hours, congestion relief on the roads, and helping the environment by reduced oil consumption and emissions. With the first HST originating in Japan 50 years ago, more than 20 countries currently use HSR and experience stunning benefits. Despite the growing popularity and success of HSR around the world, the U.S. has only just started to catch up.
Vice President Biden recently announced a $2.45 billion high-speed rail plan that will establish a federal loan for Amtrak to expand its high-speed railway infrastructure. The new trains, which Amtrak expects to begin running in 2021, will have initial speeds of up to 160 mph, but will be capable of speeds up to 186 mph. This is part of a six-year plan that Biden announced in 2011, that promised $53 billion in HSR investment. Amtrak plans to invest in 28 next-generation trains sets and significant upgrades to the Northeast Corridor. The trains are expected to accommodate one-third more passengers, more outlets and USB ports, improved WiFi quality and top speeds up to 186 mph.
While Biden’s plan is a dramatic step towards establishing HSR as a viable transportation option nationwide, states like California and Florida have already begun to construct HSR infrastructure. Although still in the testing phase, the proposed construction of the futuristic tube-like bullet train, Hyperloop, offers travelers in California another high-speed option. America may be behind on the HSR bandwagon; however, it is exciting to think about where we could be in five years.