Why the US does not have a high-speed rail system yet

If you’ve traveled to Europe, let alone Asia, you’ve quickly realized that the city-to-city transportation movement relies on rail. Not just any rail or trains as most would call them, but high-speed rail that can get you to your destination rather swiftly and safely.

With China leading the progress by way of operating the fastest and largest high-speed rail network in the world, spanning more than 19,000 miles (30,577 km) @0.01, and Japan coming in right behind with their bullet train reaching speeds of up to 200 mph (322 km). Not to mention Europe with Italy, Germany and Switzerland leading the rail revolution, one might wonder, why hasn’t the US built rail system to accommodate city-to-city or cross country travel endeavors?

In this article and based on CNBC’s YouTube Video , we’re going to touch on some high-level insights as to why US doesn’t have a high-speed rail system in place yet. When it comes to trains or rail here in the US, perhaps the most recognizable company is Amtrak and by no means is it a high-speed rail system but a traditional train that connects certain cities and states. According to the video @0:48, most people don’t know this but US used to be one of the global leaders in rail but after World War II, there was a massive shift. That shift was attributed to the automobile industry wanting to have a prosperous future, and for that to happen, they needed to phase out all of the rail systems here in the US; and they did just that.

US went from a rail-served country to a auto-dependent nation by the 1960s (@2:21) and it continued to go down that path. The country simply became a car culture and for anyone that depends on their personal automobile to go to and from work and get around town, they will tell you that its difficult to break out of that cycle and go back to using public transportation.

The challenges with putting so many cars on the road is that at some point, its going to be increasingly difficult to sustain the car population growth due to the amount of highways that have been built; not to mention their widths. Freeways and turnpikes can only be expanded so much and increasing the speed limit to liberate congestion isn’t plausible because it leads to more accidents. Layering freeways on top of each other is vastly expensive and would hinder current traffic conditions.

So US being the US, they are exploring alternate transportation technologies which go beyond the rail system, and looking in to the Hyperloop. With Elon Musk leading the Hyperloop front as well as the underground tunnel system to alleviate traffic, there have been a breakthrough in the technology itself but its still far from being commercialized. Imagine going from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than an hour on the Hyperloop, now that would be a game change for public transportation.

One might ask “why doesn’t the US just build high-speed rail systems that have been proven to work in other countries, why are they trying to always innovate?” Well, the answer here would like be subjective and open ended but fighting the automobile industry and oil companies would be the biggest challenge to introducing a high-sped rail; not to mention, zoning and other city challenges would push projects completion dates way back.

We here at Tunnel Insider feel that by the year 2030, there would have been some vast development in the way of high-speed rail. Whether it would be the Hyperloop or another technology, we definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to commercial high-speed transportation to connect the cities and states faster and safer and not relying so much on our cars.

As always, we’d love to hear your comments on this, so please feel free to comment below!

 

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