Monday, May 11, 2009

Are high-speed trains viable in the US?

Interesting article here: | Are high-speed trains viable in the U.S.?

Certainly thought provoquing in a country where "high-speed trains" mean 150 mph only.

Here are the comments I've posted.

To me, there are a few truths:
- Rail is less polluting in general (it takes less energy to move something on iron-to-iron railways), even more so if lines are electrified and electricity comes from renewables or nuclear

-  Rail competes with air easily for distances less than 1000 km / 600 miles

- The city-centre to city-centre networks work well in dense connurbations with adequate public transport between the city centre and suburbs. When megapolis have no centre, advantages are less obvious.

- For the end-user, convenience/speed and price must be right, unlike in the UK where people choose cars because public transport fails them, despite congestion and high cost of the personal convenience called "car".

- Railways are never going to turn up a profit, they need subsidies and have to be built upon long periods to become alternatives to automobiles. Just like roads and street lighting. Of course, single lines can be profitable under some cicumstances, but it's missing the point about the advantage of an integrated public transport network.

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