The United States government proposed a high-speed rail network in the country so as to improve various economic opportunities as well as solve numerous challenges in the transportation sector. The construction of a high-speed network in the nation would result in numerous benefits as described below, hence seemed like a viable idea for the country. First, the network would increase connectivity and enhance fast transport among different America cities. Second, the system would reduce congestion on the roads and highways as well as the numerous accidents associated with rail transport. It would also lessen the burden on airports as passengers seek to use air to travel over long distances. Third, high-speed rail network usually runs on renewable energy such as solar and wind such it would reduce overreliance on petroleum and also minimize carbon gasses emissions. The use of clean energy would significantly contribute to decreased global warming effects and its adverse impacts. This benefit would also prevent worry concerning the unpredictable future of crude oil availability and prices. The use of clean energy is also significant since it creates employment which would reduce the employment rate in America (Knowlton, Brian, 2009). These benefits would provide a fast, convenient and comfortable means of transport for U.S. citizens and enhance economic growth and productivity. However, despite these numerous benefits, the construction of a high-speed rail network is not viable in U.S. and the proposal should not get implemented due to different reasons described in the sections below.
The proposal is also not viable since it will overburden the government’s financial budget. The government would then use measures such as cutting budgets for critical sectors such as education, security and mass transit so as to be able to finance the high-speed rail project. The cost proposed by the President Obama’s administration to fund the high-speed rail network is 13 billion dollars, from which 13 billion dollars would get sourced from the stimulus fund and 1 billion dollars each year for five years (Knowlton, Brian, 2009). The project would significantly strain the government. Therefore, any proposals to undertake such projects should get implemented by states.
The operation of a high-speed train for society is not a profitable business. According to Burnett, Victoria, (2009) in the whole world, only the two routes between Tokyo and Osaka, Japan and between Lyon and Paris, France have operated profitable high-speed rail.
Another reason is that the proposal to construct a high-speed rail network is not feasible because the construction is usually extremely expensive. Approximately a high-speed rail network in the whole U.S. system would cost an estimated 50 billion dollars for a moderate-speed rail (110 m. p. h.) whereas a high-speed rail (200 m.p.h.) would cost up to 500 billion dollars (Burnett, Victoria, 2009). This amount is extremely expensive for a nation to fund one project.
The proposal to have a high-speed rail network project in America is similar to the Amtrak project that cost the government large amounts of money but finally provides little benefits. The Amtrak got funded by the federal government an estimated 35 billion dollars since 1971 but has few public benefits and is often not preferred by many. The Amtrak offers transportation to around 78, 000 daily passengers in a country that has over 140 million individuals traveling to work every day. This proportion is so small for a project that cost the national government a lot of money. The transportation cost of a typical trip in Amtrak got subsidized by 50 dollars. The government funded the project by its promising less congestion and pollution, similarly to the promises of the high-speed rail. Hence, the government should learn from the lessons of the Amtrak project as well as plan well.
The high-speed rail project will significantly reduce carbon gas emissions as a result of road and air transport. The Vice President of U.S. argued that due to the high-speed rail network an equivalent of one million cars would get removed from the roads hence leading to reduced gas emissions. However, these figures are too small in a nation that had approximately 254 million registered vehicles in 2007 (Samuelson, Robert, 2009). This proportion represents less than one-half of one percent hence making the project unpractical to demand government funding.
Another reason the project is not feasible is that high-speed rail may have been practical in Europe and Asia due to various factors; however, these factors may not be present in America making the proposal unpractical. For instance, the high–speed train network was feasible in Japan and other parts due to the high-density population that favors direct connections between densely populated areas. Geography plays a crucial role in the viability of a high-speed rail. The density population of Japan per square mile is 880 persons, whereas America has 86 persons per square mile. This factor makes road transport more convenient in U.S. than rail transport. Another factor is distances. The United States has a widely expansive geography that does not suit high-speed trains, unlike Japan and other nations in Europe. Energy policies in America and other parts of the world, differ hence affect the feasibility of high-speed rail differently. For example, tax car transportation in Japan and Europe is extremely expensive hence necessitating for an alternative means of transport apart from the road. Also, in America gasoline is extremely cheap as compared to Japan.
This reasons that range from financial burden to the federal government to nature of high-speed rail to geography and energy policies to profitability make the proposal unattainable and ill-advised. The proposal by the U.S. administration to develop high-speed trains should hence not get implemented.
Burnett, Victoria. “Spain’s High-Speed Rail Offers Guideposts for the US.” New York Times 29 (2009).
Knowlton, Brian: “Obama seeks high-speed rail system across US:” Online article posted by the New York Times on April 16 (2009).
Samuelson, Robert: “High-Speed Rail Plans Defy Experience”: The Washington post-Monday, 24 August, (2009).
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