Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting aboard, with High-Speed Rail

Earlier this month, the California High Speed Rail Authority Board voted to begin construction of the main phase of the system, a 520-mile span connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, with construction costs estimated at $43 billion. At the same time, the Chinese government plans to spend $600 billion to expand its network of high-speed rail coverage. Additionally, its railway companies including CSR Corporation Limited and China Railway Group Ltd. are forming partnerships with industrial manufacturers Alstom, Bombardier Inc. and General Electric Corp. to develop new rail systems around the world.

MY TAKE:  While China expands its global high-speed rail presence, which includes high-speed links with Thailand and Laos and a passenger train that travels at a world record speed of 302 miles per hour, U.S. based projects remain controversial. Opponents suggest the projects are too expensive or wasteful, while supporters state that potential benefits include reductions in fossil fuel dependency, job creation and reduced transportation congestion. This past week, after governors in Ohio and Wisconsin decided not to move forward with somewhat questionable high-speed rail projects, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would redirect $1.2 billion of federal funding to projects in California, Oregon and Washington. Successful completion of these projects will likely require private sector investment and a less polarized political environment.

The following is a CNN Video on High Speed Rail in China (February 2010)



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