Gallery: Obama Unveils High-Speed Railway Plan


Today President Barack Obama announced a “long overdue” plan to develop high speed rail lines in the US. Obama and his administration have identified 10 potential corridors for the new railways in California, the Gulf Coast, the Midwest and the Northeast. They have also pledged $8 billion in economic stimulus for the initiative through 2012. While states and local governments will play a huge role in developing these lines, the initiative set forth by the government will help ensure success up to 600 miles of high speed rail lines with trains traveling up to 150 miles per hour.

Via Reuters

Photo by Jim Young


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  1. _PAC_ September 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    You also have high speed trains between countries in Europe. You can travel From Berlin to London, from Paris to Moscow. I think in the USA the best achievement will be intercity in the same coast. Trains coast to coast much more for cargo. And what do you think in connecting with the Canada?

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  4. antkm1 August 12, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    I think everyone here has stated what I’ve thought. Living in St. Louis, i see a lot of people going to Chicago, Nashville, New Orleans and Austin for frequent travel. Although this plan is a great step in keep up with the Euros, Asians and other, it’s needs to be more comprehensive, and must connect coast to coast. If the airline companies want to compete, they should consider investing in High-Speed Rails to help diversify their own budgetary plans.

  5. Jeremy April 21, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Oh, and one other thing – India has an aging but comprehensive rail network. India is not as big as the US, but it proves that rail transport doesn’t need to be limited to little countries like the UK and Japan.

  6. Jeremy April 21, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Good points all, but once peak oil makes air travel unfeasible, an inter-connected nationwide network is going to start looking like a good idea, whatever the cost. Perhaps if we started taxing aviation fuel and ploughing all proceeds into rail, maybe that would generate sufficient funds.

    Either way, great to see Obama dragging the US railways into the 21th century.

  7. AlexF April 21, 2009 at 5:55 am

    Great article and especially thanks so much to Seanusdubh – I referenced your analysis in a recent post on high speed rail on the SuperEco website at


  8. seamusdubh April 19, 2009 at 2:43 am

    Glad to be of service.

  9. Bridgette Steffen April 18, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Excellent analysis Seamusdubh. Thanks for your insight and facts.

  10. seamusdubh April 18, 2009 at 4:42 am

    Porters got it right, to an extent. Similar to how I had commented on this over at treehugger. These plans only help transit between a few major city centers while connecting to existing rails systems for the cross-country/cross-coastal travel. But it does nothing for connecting beyond that ie. inner-state travel.

    Now as Porter points out, like many other proponents to the concept, examples of country\’s where these systems have worked. But you\’ve forgotten one thing.


    More accurately land area.

    The US is the 3rd or 4th (depending on definition) largest country in the world @ 9,629,091square km.

    Compare this to say Japan.
    Japan # 61 @ 377,915km
    This is a bit bigger than the State of New Mexico
    New Mexico # 5 @ 314,914km

    Lets go even further down to the main Island of Honshū.
    Honshū @ 227,962.59 km
    This is about the same size as Minnesota.
    Minnesota # 12 @ 225,171km

    Lets try England.
    England (part of the United Kingdom # 79) @ 130,395km
    About the size of the state of Louisiana.
    Louisiana # 31 @ 134,265km

    From the comments from treehugger, there a comment from caro who just moved back from Holland, praising there system. So lets use that example.

    Holland (part of the Netherlands # 133) @ 5,488km.
    This smaller than the state of Delaware @ 6446km
    but is larger than Rhode Island @ 4002km
    These are our 49th and 50th state in size.

    None of these states have anything near the rail system that the comparative size countries do.
    Comparatively speaking not many people in these countries travel the same distances the people of these states do on a daily basis.

    Now here we do have a mass transit that works in a few major cities so lets use this for comparison.

    New York city @ 1,214.4km
    metro area @ 17,405km
    San Fransisco @ 600.7km
    metro area @ 9,128.2km
    Chicago @ 606.2km
    metro area @ 28,163km
    Washington DC @ 177.01km
    metro area @ 5564.6km

    Their metro areas which is mostly covered by their mass transit system would make them Larger than caro\’s Holland.

    Perspective is needed when talking about Mass transit systems from other countries when trying to implement it in the US. There is a far greater need to increase the mass transit systems within the states themselves than across the country.

  11. green skies April 17, 2009 at 2:06 am

    great point chas. i feel like country-wide railways can be so beneficial. i cant help but feel like spending money on slow trains is just a waste that we will end up replacing in the future…thats not so green if you ask me 😉

  12. Chas Porter April 16, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    About time. There is no reason why the U.S. should lag behind Europe and Japan in high-speed rail travel, but based on the map, I think it might be a mistake not to connect the Midwest to the East Coast.

  13. hrubinj April 16, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    If they are going to go through the effort to build such infrastructure, I don\’t see why there isn\’t more future planning to connect all of the rail systems…

    Particularly along the West coast… there is so much potential to have the rail connect all the way from San Diego to Vancouver, B.C.

    Or the rail from Houston to San Antonio, etc… Just makes more sense to me.

  14. Mike Chino April 16, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Hi John,
    Thanks for your comment – you’re right, the correct amount is 8 billion, and not 8 million. We’ve updated our post to reflect this.

    Best wishes,

  15. john whoo April 16, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    not to be negative just realistic. 8 million is nothing, californias original plan called for something like 16 billion alone, compare that to the cost of the whole country. also 150 mph is not an adequate speed, if you think about the difference in time between 150mph and 200mph (which is what the trains should be going ) over a great distance it is very substantial.

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