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High-speed rail: Now it’s America’s turn

High-speed rail: Now it’s America’s turn thumbnail

Andy Kunz, President and CEO of the US High Speed Rail Association (USHSR), shares the top 10 reasons for bringing high-speed rail to America.

High-speed rail: Now it’s America’s turn

AMERICA stands at one of the most important crossroads in history. Climate change and peak oil are both coming into focus with the uncomfortable awareness that America is the world’s largest contributor to both problems (mainly from our very inefficient transportation system), while doing the least of any nation to address either problem. At the root of this situation is the fact that many of America’s largest corporations’ entire businesses are related to the supply and burning of fossil fuels. Their heavy influence over our national and state politics, the media and shaping public opinion has held America back in a time warp from the 1950s – big oil, big autos, and big roads. America is still spending $200 billion each year expanding roads, while starving its rail systems.

This is quite a conundrum for America. It’s now a case of ‘American capitalism versus the planet’. However, in reality, capitalism is dependent on the planet for much of the raw materials and services it provides (our food, water, air, energy, resources, raw materials, regulating services, etc.). The sooner American leaders wake up to this simple fact, the better off we will be as a nation.

Since transportation is the single largest consumer of oil (and producer of carbon), USHSR has launched our ‘Top 10 Reasons to Bring High-Speed Rail to America’ to address the transportation problem head on. High-speed rail is truly a miracle technology that could solve many serious problems simultaneously.

The reasons are as follows:

1. Congestion relief

America faces epic congestion in every major metropolitan region of the country, costing $124 billion per year in wasted time and fuel. Road widening projects – justified by claims they relieve congestion – have only made congestion worse across America. High-speed rail is transformative and can reverse this situation – delivering 200mph transportation for every train, every day – without delays or congestion, ever.

2. Alternative to flying

High-speed rail delivers +200mph transportation as an alternative to the flying nightmare, offering no hassles, no security lines, no delays and plenty of room to work or play. Flight delays cost America more than $31 billion per year in wasted time – a cost that high-speed rail can help alleviate.

3. Safety

Approximately 43,000 people are killed every year in car accidents in America and another million more seriously injured. High-speed rail is the world’s safest form of transportation proven by decades of safe operation. Japan was the first nation to build high-speed rail in 1964 and has since transported 10 billion passengers without a single fatality! France has a similar record with their 30 years of high-speed rail operations, as do several other countries.

4. Energy / national security

America is in deep trouble due to our extreme oil dependency for 98 per cent of our transportation; consuming some 20 million barrels of oil every day, 70 per cent of which is for transportation. Maintaining this enormous flow of oil requires America to dig up oceans, protected national forests and the arctic tundra; risking our clean drinking water, our health and our safety – without forgetting the expensive consequential wars. None of this is sustainable or desirable. High-speed rail is the world’s greenest form of transportation and can be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy, bypassing the entire global-oil-military-supply chain. The California HSR system under construction in the Central Valley will be powered 100 per cent by renewables.

5. Light freight solution

High-speed rail offers an alternative light freight shipping infrastructure in combination with its passenger transport, lowering the cost (and increasing reliability) of shipping light freight goods and perishables throughout the country. This would replace our inefficient light freight shipping network – consisting mainly of long-distance trucks and airplanes – which has an enormous carbon footprint and clogs our highways.

6. Carbon solution

Transportation is the single largest source of carbon causing climate change. The American transportation system is the most inefficient on earth, with most of the country driving gas-guzzling, single-occupant SUVs hundreds of miles a day around sprawling communities. Whereas, on the other hand, high-speed rail can be zero carbon transportation.

7. Housing affordability

High-speed rail helps solve the affordable housing crisis by providing access to a wider housing market and taking pressure off the high price ‘hot spots’ by levelling out pricing at the regional scale. High-speed rail also spurs the development of additional rail systems including light-rail and streetcars, thereby opening up additional possibilities for affordable living and the ability to live without a car or less cars per household – saving the huge expense of car ownership.

8. City revitalisation and sprawl redirection

High-speed rail redirects regional land development patterns into TOD (Transit Oriented Development) – compact, walkable, mixed-use and focused around rail stations. Feeder rail systems spur additional corridors of redirected development into compact, walkable forms.

9. Economic development tool

High-speed rail has the power to attract major real estate development around its stations, while also creating whole new industries due to its extensive manufacturing needs. It will also initiate a nationwide construction boom, followed by a new travel boom that will continue for decades.

10. Job creator in manufacturing and construction

A national high-speed rail system will create millions of well paid jobs building the infrastructure and system components, managing the rail systems and operating the stations and related real estate development. Given all these incredible benefits, high-speed rail represents a truly transformative proposition, worthy of major federal and state investment in America’s bright future. Proof of such is evident all around the world where high-speed rail has been solving problems and providing great mobility and access to billions of people. Now its America’s turn to modernise its transportation for the 21st century.


ANDY KUNZ, President and CEO of the US High Speed Rail Association (USHSR), sets their vision and direction. He brings 30 years of successful business experience to USHSR and provides senior leadership and an ambitious vision for sustainable transportation in America. This vision includes a 17,000-mile national high-speed rail network built in phases and slated for completion by 2030. Andy holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master of Architecture in Town Design from the University of Miami. He has served as an expert in a number of forums, speaking extensively at leading conferences and events on transportation and planning topics and providing keynote presentations on high-speed rail and sustainability at numerous international conferences.



29 Comments on "High-speed rail: Now it’s America’s turn"

  1. Go Speed Racer on Thu, 7th Jun 2018 7:30 pm 

    High Speed Railroading?

    This is where Donald Trump steals
    a trillion bux for his buddiez, in 2 years

    It took Bush Jr a whole 7 years to do
    the same thing, that was low speed

  2. Plantagenet on Thu, 7th Jun 2018 7:30 pm 

    Obama promised to build out HSR in 2008—and then he did just about nothing.

    I don’t have much hope that Trump will build it either.


  3. Boat on Thu, 7th Jun 2018 8:12 pm 


    That happens when you have a Republican controlled Congress. Coal gets their attention instead. Lol

  4. DerHundistlos on Thu, 7th Jun 2018 9:46 pm 

    Plant aka Planters Wart

    The wart is like a broken record. The wart is reminiscent of a person who got left with a crappy divorce and cannot stop obsessing over their ex. EVERYTHING in their life is defined by what their ex-did, what their ex is doing, etc.…

    So tired and predictable.

  5. Cloggie on Thu, 7th Jun 2018 10:53 pm 

    The future of transport in Europe:

    – highspeed rail connecting big city hubs, diminishing the role of flying
    – autonomous e-driving for the last miles, diminishing the role of privately owned cars and buses.

  6. Cloggie on Thu, 7th Jun 2018 11:03 pm 

    Dutch Rail, for 100% covered by wind energy.

    CEO lets himself tie to a wind mill to promote rail-on-wind:

    Largest contributing park Westermeerwind:

  7. Richard on Thu, 7th Jun 2018 11:37 pm 

    This might work around the megalopoli such as L.A. and NYC, but I don’t see it getting much traction in the middle of the country. Even at 200 MPH, it would still take 12 hours to get from coast to coast. Now I’m about to get started on how countries with high-speed railroad networks don’t have our environmental laws or private property rights to consider.

  8. Simon on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 2:11 am 

    Hi Richard

    Assuming TGV speeds (yep you should by the TGV system) 33Kmh

    allowing 1.5 hours to get to the airport and checkin and a further 0.5 hours to checkout this means that the train is faster than the

    Boston to Washington 2.5 hours by train
    Boston to Washington 1.2 + 2 = 3.2 hours by plane


    Boston to Atlanta 5.2 hours by train
    Boston to Atlanta 2.5 + 2 = 4.5 hours by plane

    but thats 4.5 hours unproductive whereas the train has wifi and leccy and is silent and gives you a desk etc.
    so for a company, train wins

    Boston to Miami 7.5 hours by train
    Boston to Miami 3.1 + 2 = 5.6 hours by plane

    but thats 5.6 hours unproductive (Basically a whole day) whereas the train has wifi and leccy and is silent and gives you a desk etc.
    so for a company, train wins

    Boston to San Fransisco 15 hours by train
    Boston to San Fransisco 5.5 + 2 = 7.7 hours by plane (assuming direct)

    Either way, you lose a day, so if you have sleeping carriages and given you could work, I would say its about even here.

    All that holds you back is political will, and the fact that as a nation you need to acknowledge that rail needs to be run as a service, the profit motive secondary



  9. Simon on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 2:11 am 

    doh… 330kmh

  10. Antius on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 4:21 am 

    Cloggie wrote: “Dutch Rail, for 100% covered by wind energy.”

    No it isn’t. And saying it endlessly will not make it any more true. There would seem to be a lack of up to date information concerning energy production in the Netherlands. But as of 2014, some 10% of Dutch electricity was generated from renewable energy sources, and just 5.5% of total energy consumed was renewable.

    Given that railways in the Netherlands are electrically powered, that means that 10% of the electricity powering Dutch railways derives from renewable energy sources.

    Some 62% of renewable energy was derived from biomass, an energy source that cannot be expanded without either reducing food supply or displacing natural habitats.

    Only 7.5% of electricity production was derived from wind; an even smaller percentage of which is offshore wind.

  11. Makati1 on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 4:53 am 

    ‘…has held America back in a time warp from the 1950s ”

    A lot of the Us is still in the 50s, or earlier. My recent visit is just more confirmation that America is in decline. Another word for collapse. Slip slidin’ to the 3rd world, or worse.

    You can see it as soon as you touch down into an American airport. Get ground transportation, etc. I can step into the Hong Kong Airport and be in center city in minutes by high speed rail. Ditto for Japan. While a few Us airports have similar transportation, most do nmo5t. Personal cars, high cost taxis or buses are all that are available. AND, they are expensive!

    I can go to the farm from Manila (~100 miles) by A/C bus, with movies, for about $5 one way. The price to go a similar distance in the Us is between $40 and $80! Sticker shock!

    I think considering high speed rail is, like a lot of other American “ideas”, too little, too late.

  12. Makati1 on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 5:59 am 

    America has more important problems than rail…

    “Try this question to any one of those 50 million Americans who are 65 or older:

    Do you recall any discussions about the need to hire armed guards to protect students and teachers against school shootings? (Armed guards were for banks, not schools.)

    Do you remember school policemen patrolling the hallways? (Hall monitors were senior high students.)

    How many students were shot to death during the time you were in school? ( 8 in 12 years and 2 were accidents.) BTW: Between 2005 and 2017, (12 years) there were … I lost count after I got to 300.)

    For me and those other Americans 65 or older, when we were in school, a conversation about hiring armed guards and having police patrol hallways would have been seen as lunacy…

    What’s the difference between yesteryear and today? … Behavior that is accepted from today’s young people was not accepted yesteryear… For those of us who are 65 or older, assaults on teachers were not routine as they are in some cities. For example, in Baltimore, an average of four teachers and staff members were assaulted each school day in 2010 …These facts of our history should confront us with a question: With greater accessibility to guns in the past, why wasn’t there the kind of violence we see today, when there is much more restricted access to guns?”

    Answer The Us is losing its sanity, along with most other necessities, like morals and maturity.

  13. Makati1 on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 6:00 am 

    Ref for stats on student shootings:

  14. Makati1 on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 6:17 am 

    Perhaps this is the Us’ biggest ptobrelm?

    “Opioids Are Responsible For 20% Of Millennial Deaths, “Crisis Will Impact US For Generations”

    “…the second most impacted group was 15 to 24-year-olds, which suggests, the opioid epidemic is now ripping through Generation Z (born after 1995). … Canada and the United States had the highest per capita opioid consumption in the world.”

    Maybe President Duterte has the right way to make war on drugs?

    “According to the US Centers for Disease Control, in 2016, there were 63,632 drug overdose deaths in the United States.”

    So far, there have been about 4,000 drug dealer deaths in the Ps since Duterte. (Two years, not just 2016.)

    Who is fighting the drug war? Answer: NOT the US. Slip slidin’….

  15. Anonymouse1 on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 6:50 am 

    Plantretard, how fooking stupid are you, really? Even a cursory check of the FACTS, show it was your heros, the republitards who all rejected the funding that was set aside for HSR. And the one state that did take the money, California, is suffering massive delays and cost overruns on the project. You know, a feature of ALL amerikan projects, not a bug. Problems that have nothing whatsoever to do with your god-hero, ‘obama’, idiot.

    A broken, retarded, parrot is all you are. Why do you even bother? Did you no inform you that ‘obama’ is no longer the ceremonial ‘president’, and you have a brand new retard-in-chief? You should get out your cave more often, dumbass. 2018 is 1/2 over and you still haven’t the slightest clue as to who the new figurehead is and what he has been up to.

    Spoiler alert: sweet bugger all, just like you, plantietard.

  16. Duncan Idaho on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 12:42 pm 

    Maybe get the US up to average 3rd world rail first?
    We really need it—–

  17. Cloggie on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 1:25 pm 

    Cloggie wrote: “Dutch Rail, for 100% covered by wind energy.”

    No it isn’t. And saying it endlessly will not make it any more true.

    Yes it is. I intentionally used the phrase “covered”. The core of the issue is that Dutch Rail ordered the construction of 8 new wind parks, that together annually produce electricity roughly equal to the amount of electricity Dutch Rail consumes in a year.

    Your point probably is that 6 out of 8 of these new wind parks…

    are NOT located in the Netherlands. So strictly speaking Dutch trains do not drive on 100% wind. That would not be possible anyway.

    Is it relevant?


    Dutch Rail gives an important signal that sets a precedent for other large companies to follow. And many companies (Apple, Google, Ikea and 100+ others) do indeed the same. It gives those companies a well-deserved green image. And together they speed up the transition.

  18. Davy on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 1:44 pm 

    “Maybe get the US up to average 3rd world rail first?
    We really need it—–”

    The US has one of the best freight rail systems in the world, Idaho. Maybe you missed that part of the equation.

  19. JuanP on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 2:16 pm 

    Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t expect the USA to ever build a good HSR network, and I am OK with that. My guess is that as material consumption declines in the USA cargo railroads will be converted to passenger ones. If we had built HSR in the USA decades ago it would have been great, but building them now that we are facing immediate collapse would be a malinvestment, IMHO, since they are not a basic need and we should be focusing on the basics like food, health, housing, and education.

  20. Makati1 on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 6:16 pm 

    Five Countries With the Best Public Transportation Systems
    June 5th 2015
    By: Thor Benson

    In terms of countries with the best quality of infrastructure, the United States has consistently been ranked somewhere between roughly 15th and 25th for many years. The most recent World Economic Forum ranking puts the United States at number 16.

    You can tell by our commutes. When you compare the United States and Europe, the United States has the third worst average commute time at just under 50 minutes. We’re barely beating Romania and Hungary.”

    Top 10 Infrastructures:
    Hong Kong
    United Arab Emirates

    “However, the US came in 99th place for mobile telephone subscriptions. Additionally, it is only 15th for railroad infrastructure and 14th for quality of roads.”

    15th? Slip slidin’….

  21. Davy on Fri, 8th Jun 2018 7:38 pm 

    3rd world. I would like you to show where the US is with its freight rail network. Maybe you will learn something.

  22. Makati1 on Sat, 9th Jun 2018 4:23 am 

    DAvy, I would like you to prove that the Us is NOT 3rd world, or on its way to the bottom. You cannot. ALL of the real stats prove my point, not yours. Only propaganda from the Us MSM tries to convince the serfs that it us still No.1. No one else believes it.

  23. Makati1 on Sat, 9th Jun 2018 4:30 am 

    “This statistic represents the number of rail accidents and incidents in the United States from 2013 through 2017. In 2017, the United States registered some 864 rail fatalities.”

    The last five years has averaged over 11,500 railroad accidents, PER YEAR, in the US.

    Does that sound like a first class rail system? No, it is 3rd world levels, or worse.

  24. Davy on Sat, 9th Jun 2018 5:29 am 

    3rd world, spit it out, do you have evidence that the US freight rail network is not one of the best in the world. Rail accidents is deflection from the real subject so obviously you don’t. Do you have the statistics on the infrastructure compared to the rest of the world?

  25. Anonymouse1 on Sat, 9th Jun 2018 5:37 am 

    To the exceptionalturd, lost in his insanity-induced haze, all is well in the land of brave, and home of the freedom fries. While he has no first hand knowledge of the state of his own homelands rail system or 100th hand even, he prefers to assert that the uSa is #1 (again) in this matter, if only because you pointed out yet another inconvenient truth for him to deny.

    So he has blammer on about how the uS has the best (freight) rail in the world(tm), even though that statement, like pretty much all his statements, is not grounded in fact, or reality.

  26. Davy on Sat, 9th Jun 2018 5:46 am 

    Weasel, where did I say the US is number one? Please show me. I merely said the US has one of the best freight networks in the world and the fact you offer no information that proves that wrong shows you are just pissed you can’t. I have been through this same exercise with dumbass 3rd world on the US freight rail network. We have done this same exercise maybe 3 times. He is getting old and forgets. You just don’t care and just looking for some stalking and pricking action. We know you hate the US and you can’t stand the fact Canada is just a US statelet. You feel insignificant because of this. Everywhere you look you see the US. The US supports you and protects you and you hate that.

  27. Makati1 on Sat, 9th Jun 2018 6:06 am 

    Davy, refer to my reference in that comment. 11,000+ accidents per year is hardly a First Class railroad. As usual, you have no refs to back up your comment.

  28. Davy on Sat, 9th Jun 2018 6:49 am 

    3rd world let’s keep the discussion to the infrastructure and capabilities instead of your deflections. Many of those accidents are related to other issues besides infrastructure. Show us the incidents in all the other countries you are comparing also. You are making a empty comparison as usual.

  29. Simon on Sat, 9th Jun 2018 7:02 am 

    I have to say the statistic is hollow on its own, if you gave it as number of accidents per Km travelled Freight + Passenger it would mean something.

    Having said that, I believe the US rail infrastructure does need modernizing, and paradoxically transporting Oil by rail give you the opportunity to build out more rails and/or charge more for the transport and use this to build out a cooler infrastructure

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