The Slow Progress of High-Speed Rail in the US

Construction is finally expected to begin for a California bullet train.

Japan’s first bullet train (Shinkansen in Japanese) went into service in 1964, and earlier this week the ceremonial groundbreaking finally took place for the first 29 miles of what could eventually be 800 miles of California’s bullet train tracks. the first segment is between Fresno and Madera, eventually linking to routes to such major cities as San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego — hopefully by 2028. The maximum speed will be 220 miles per hour. The currently estimated cost of the completed project: $68 billion.

California's future bullet train that would be a train of the past in progressive Japan.
California’s future bullet train, whose technology would be a train of the past in progressive Japan.

Japan, meanwhile, has tested a new maglev train going 500 kilometers per hour, and hopes to complete the link between Tokyo and Nagoya by 2027 and an extension to Osaka by 2045, replacing the current bullet trains. Estimated cost: 5.5 trillion yen ($50 billion). The Tokyo-Osaka corridor is the world’s busiest with up to 13 super-fast trains per hour.

The environmental and economic benefits of high-speed rail are apparent elsewhere, and even emerging economies are building, planning or considering their own systems. Last month, China launched 32 new routes in one day. Russia wants a line between Moscow and Beijing,  shortening the legendary Trans-Siberian journey from seven days to two. Even Mexico wants high-speed rail. In the U.S., meanwhile, Texas in planning a bullet train connecting Houston and Dallas. It could come online as early as 2021.

Pathetic, isn’t it?