In the last couple of weeks, there have been some big developments in the high speed rail world that we are keeping an eye on here at SilverRail. I have to admit that we take these pieces of news with a grain of salt, as there are often a number of twists in the road, but hopefully headed in the positive direction.
California High Speed Rail funding approved
The first stretch of high speed rail in California has had the funding approved, for the initial section from Madera to Bakersfield. This is still an enormously controversial plan, with huge cost increases along the way, and plenty of talk of politicking the decision.
We are yet to see if high speed rail is really going to work in the US, but this may be a tentative step in that direction. We shall see.
UK rail network announces huge new investment plans
The UK government has announced £9.4bn to be invested in the rail network in Britain, with some very interesting areas for improvement. Admittedly this is re-announcing existing news, as approximately half of the total will be spent on CrossRail (the East-West line running under London) that has already started construction. However, some interesting newer announcements include:
- A link for Heathrow Airport to connect directly into the national rail network. Currently, it is largely isolated, with the only easy destination being London Paddington, but no western routes can be accessed without going into London first.
- The electrification of some of the lines linking the north of England and the south coast, cutting journey times
- Improvements around Manchester and Liverpool
- Improvements in the Welsh Valleys
Most of the spending will be done between 2014 and 2019.
Amtrak announces North East Corridor improvement plan
Vast improvements, currently estimated to cost $151bn, have been announced to improve the NorthEast Corridor, and increase the speeds available on those routes, with the goal to achieve speeds of up to 220 mph over the course of the next twenty years. Additional improvements to the actual trains will also be made as well as to the tracks. All this would result, for example, the trip between New York City and Washington DC being cut from 3 hours down to 94 minutes, which would be pretty phenomenal.
High Speed Rail is an expensive endeavor. But as the networks grow and the accessibility increases for the population, I think we will continue to see its usage grow, to help offset the investment costs required.