» With political figures failing to account for the long-term interests of their constituents, the U.S. continues down its confused path.
The opening of the new $32.5 billion Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail link this week marked a significant milestone in the world effort to improve intercity rail systems. Though the development of fast train networks in China has not been without its failings, the connection of the nation’s two largest metropolitan regions — the tenth and nineteenth-largest in the world — is a human achievement of almost unparalleled proportions, especially since it was completed a year earlier than originally planned and just three years after construction began. It comes as the Chinese government celebrates its 90th anniversary.
With ninety daily trains traveling the 819-mile link at average speeds of up to 165 mph, the corridor will likely soon become the most-used high-speed intercity rail connection in the world. Because of safety concerns,
Continue reading In China’s High-Speed Successes, a Glimpse of American Difficulties »
» Despite its capital costs being almost entirely covered by Washington and plenty of evidence that private investors want to move forward, project is off the tracks for now.
Just days after the White House revealed its ambitions for a $53 billion, six-year plan for an American high-speed rail network, the place where it was all supposed to begin now appears to be out of the running. Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) announced that he would refuse $2.4 billion in federal funds to build a rail line between Orlando and Tampa. The project’s construction would have required $280 million in state aid to be completed, but projections had indicated that the line would cover its own operating costs.
The Obama Administration has funded the project more than any other outside of California and hoped that the scheme, which would have opened in 2016 as the first line in a
Continue reading Florida Governor Rick Scott Rejects Funding for Tampa-Orlando Intercity Rail Project »
» If the government invests billions in this fast train project, it is not unreasonable to expect the line to cover its operating costs.
The first phase of Florida’s high-speed rail plan is by no means perfect: It is too short to produce major time savings over car trips and it fails to serve a number of downtowns along its route. Nevertheless, its construction is now fully funded and when completed in 2015 as planned it will be America’s first new fast train line. From the perspective of the Obama Administration, the project’s limited scale is a major benefit, as its relatively small budget makes it more realizable in the short term and thus more likely to serve as a model for the development of a nationwide network of similar projects.
Getting the project’s financing and construction done right, then, is of essential concern to anyone interested in establishing
Continue reading A Fiscally Conservative Approach is the Right One for Florida High-Speed Rail »
» In sinking $800 million more into the Tampa-Orlando line, Obama Administration is making clear its interest in making this the nation’s model program for fast trains.
In terms of high-speed rail funding, the thinking of the current Department of Transportation is easy to understand: Of the dozens of projects proposed across the country, only one could offer true high-speed service and open before the end of President Obama’s second term, all within a relatively tight budget. That is Florida’s 84-mile Tampa-Orlando link, expected to be complete by 2015 at a cost of less than $3 billion. It is therefore no surprise that in the latest round of grants for fast train services, the project has been awarded enough money to virtually ensure its construction.
The DOT’s announcement, expected to be formalized on Thursday, will hand Florida $800 million of the $2.5 billion in total allocations
Continue reading With More Federal Funding, Florida in Striking Distance of New High-Speed Line »
» Pushing to establish a foothold in a potentially profitable market, Amtrak suggests it could begin running trains between Miami and Jacksonville in a couple of years. But will it get the lucrative high-speed contract?
Though Florida’s 84-mile high-speed rail project to connect Tampa and Orlando has gotten most of the attention recently, having received a $1.25 billion stimulus grant, the state’s largest metropolitan area remains on the back burner when it comes to improved train operations. High-speed rail services could theoretically reach Miami by 2018, but with a more than one billion dollar gap in funding for the first phase and a completion date of 2015, the Gold Coast can be expected to wait quite a few more years for true high-speed services.
Existing passenger services are miserable. Today, the fastest train between Jacksonville and Miami takes more than nine and a half hours, a
Continue reading Amtrak Studies Florida East Coast Railway Service as State Advances High-Speed Rail »