Interesting Article on Failure of High-Speed Rail in the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal published an interesting article on why high-speed rail failed in the U.S. using the example of the state of Illinois and its efforts to one route from Chicago to St.Louis. The piece touches on a few points but leaves out many. Some of these were noted by its readers in the comments section of the article. I would discuss some of my thoughts on why hi-speed rail can’t succeed in the U.S. in a future post.

Below is an excerpt from the journal article:

Source: High-Speed Rail in the U.S. Remains Elusive: Illinois Shows Why, WSJ, Mar 5, 2019

The difference in speed between the US and other countries shown in the chart above is surprising. The following is another critical section of the article:

Illinois didn’t have the money, or the right-of-way, to lay tracks that would be exclusively for a high-speed service. So its fast passenger trains will have to share the track with lumbering freight trains.

“To build the kind of infrastructure that is stand-alone—that is, just for high-speed passenger rail—it is just absurdly expensive and just takes years and years and years to get through the permitting and environmental process,” said Randy Blankenhorn, who was Illinois’s transportation secretary until this year.

“Land acquisition alone [would] take half a decade,” he said. “If we were to have said from the beginning, right off the bat go to 200-mile-an-hour service, we’d still be in the implementing and design phase.”

Illinois settled for weaving improvements along the route and rebuilding an existing single-track line that is owned by freight railroads. In effect, it chose higher-speed rail rather than actual high-speed.

Interested readers may want to read the whole piece.

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