Public transportation in the United States is a topic that has managed to slide under the radar, but new projects across the country with Amtrak and Acera show that we are on our way to strengthening our high-speed rail accessibility. We are nowhere near the level of public transportation available in other parts of the world, but with 62% of Americans ready for some high-speed trains, it’s a step in the right direction.
In Illinois, a 15-mile demonstration segment along Amtrak’s Chicago to St. Louis corridor was used to show off travel of 110 miles per hour between Dwight and Pontiac. Several officials attended the demonstration, which was designed as part of a $2 billion federal and state investment in high-speed rail use. Regular Amtrak services travel at 79 miles per hour.
By Thanksgiving, the State of Illinois says trains along that segment will be transporting passengers at higher speeds. By 2015, nearly 75% of the corridor will be at 110 mile per hour speeds, cutting travel time by as much as 90 minutes.
“Investing in passenger rail means more options for the traveling public, new jobs and expanding economic opportunities for communities all along the Chicago to St. Louis corridor,” said Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary. “With next generation rail equipment, new track structures, and renovated and new rail stations, passengers will be able to enjoy faster travel times aboard a greater number of trains.”
Earlier this year, Amtrak also introduced a 110 mile per hour service in Indiana and Michigan across 80 miles of the Chicago-Detroit corridor. Trains have been tested at up to 165 miles per hour, which is more on-par with high-speed systems around the world. Amtrak hopes that this testing will lead to regular service at 160 miles per hour.
While we’re busy over here trying to get trains to simply top the speed of the average car, China has debuted a new railway that is over 80 miles long, traveling upwards of 217 miles per hour. They will also connect with high-speed railways between Beijing and Shanghai, bringing their total track length over 4,200 miles just for trains that can travel more than 125 miles per hour. The quick progress has led to some serious safety issues that still have to be worked out, but China has made no secret of their love for fast, accessible public transportation.
What’s high-speed transportation like in your area? Is it easily accessible, or are you still waiting for a decent way to get cross-country without the cost of airfare?
Image: Illinois High Speed Rail