So a lot of us probably know that high speed rail (HSR) is a fairly new phenomenon in the US, partly due to our outdated rail infrastructure that formerly was the best in the world during its time while most other developed countries already enjoy HSR.
And some very recent news. Hopefully this aids the Northeast region and reduces congestion along the notoriously busy I-95 from Boston to D.C. (the Northeast corridor runs alongside it), particularly during holiday travel:
Amtrak's next-generation high-speed trains arrive in 2021 Along with key improvements to four major stations.
Andrew Dalton , @dolftown
08.28.16 in Transportation
While Amtrak is a perfectly fine way to travel, especially on the Eastern seaboard, the country's publicly owned rail company doesn't exactly have a high-tech reputation. That will change in the next few years, thanks to a massive $2.45 billion loan from the federal government, which the company plans to invest in 28 next-generation train sets and significant upgrades to the Northeast Corridor.
About $2 billion of that federal loan, which Vice President "Amtrak" Joe Biden announced Friday at his home station in Wilmington, Delaware, will be put towards those new train cars, which will boost the Acela fleet by 40 percent when they enter service in 2021. According to Amtrak, the new trains will offer one-third more passenger seating, more outlets and USB ports, improved WiFi quality (finally), and top speeds of 186 mph. (For comparison, Japan's high-speed rail lines top out at 200 mph.) Thanks to a lighter, more aerodynamic design, the new trains should also cut energy consumption by about 20 percent. The trains will be 95 percent "Made in America" and built in New York state by Alstom.
As for the other $450 million of that federal loan, the company will be putting the money towards revitalizing four stations -- including Union Station in Washington DC and Penn Station in New York City -- as well as some much-needed infrastructure improvements between DC and Boston.
It also lists the benefits of HSR, which should be obvious:
Faster, more efficient mobility, enormous energy savings, reduced environmental damage - a train system solves many problems:
*Creates millions of green jobs nationwide building the new rail infrastructure and manufacturing the rail cars
*Pays for itself by significantly reducing our $700 billion a year oil purchase trade deficit
*Offers a convenient, comfortable way to travel without hassles or delays
*Congestion Relief - delivers new mobility while relieving congestion on highways and runways
*A major step toward solving climate change by reducing our oil consumption and emissions
*Drastically reduces our oil addiction and lowers our risk from the coming peak oil crisis
*Lowers our dependence on costly military operations securing oil flow around the world
*Lowers our national security risk, and ends wars for oil
*Freedom from oil - Powered by clean electricity from renewable energy sources: wind, solar, geothermal, ocean/tidal
*Safe, affordable, green transportation for everyone
*Saves lives (43,000 Americans die each year in car accidents)
*Provides efficient mobility that moves people and goods without delay and waste
Bringing up Amtrak is in itself a political post, so I'll join in the politics from a rural America perspective.
I am all for high speed rail, but it's not enough for me and five million others to like it out of probably 75 million who could use it and want it for commuting and other travel. There has to be enough of us to like it and want it to the point where a ticket could be sold to us at a reasonable price (a reasonable price would be cheaper than driving a car) and with the purchase of that reasonably-priced ticket, Amtrak would make a profit. No long-term gov't subsidy. In theory, I'm not against the federal gov't supporting a technology that will better all of our lives through a loan or incentive or grant (as I think this should be part of the gov'ts role), however, in the case of rail travel for peoples of this nation, there is a long history of this gov't boost theory not working, because a lot of zombies prefer to sit in their cars for many hours a day, and we just end up staying on the hook paying for only the smart people who ride Amtrak. Road tax needs to go towards roads. I don't even mind the idea of punishing citizens in large metropolitan areas for refusing to give up driving in cars to work and in to town for entertainment via high parking fees, purchase of parking decals, etc. and have those folks help pay for the operation of high-speed rail, because those folks are creating a cost to their cities and metropolitan areas by not taking the trains. But it has gone on long enough that people all over rural America help pay for rail travel, yet can't use it.
It's also true that this goes the other way. I live in a rural area and travel to work in even a more rural area. I drive to work to a county of approximately 7,800 people that is shrinking in population. Recently, a 6.7-mile stretch of 4-lane highway was constructed through part of that county; cutting through hills; many over passes, etc. The cost was $93 million for that 6.7 miles. That works out to giving every citizen of that county about $12,000. People in New York and Boston shouldn't have had to pay for that beautiful stretch of highway that so few people take advantage of. If peoples of any area want nice roads or want to make their quality of lives better through better infrastructure then those peoples should pay for it. The problem with sharing the cost is that the money ends up getting pulled towards the most connected congressmen's districts and away from those districts where congressmen are less connected, and so it's not truly a shared cost. It's corruption. And so in order to take corruption out of it, lets have everyone pay for their own infrastructure improvements and or construction.
Ha! I'll check that vid when on a PC. Yeah, i hate middle and right lane hoggers over here. The rule is drive on the left (or right for you...) unless overtaking, yet loads of unskilled douchebags just sit in the middle or right lane of a motorway for hundreds of miles...
Over here cutting off (or cutting up) someone is a move where the car being cut off (or up) is forced to brake or change direction and fear being hit and sprayed with stone chips by some arrogant bell end.
I don't mind being overtaken skillfully, but if i end up at some lights behind someone who has just cut me up in that manner...