Monthly Archives: September 2010

High-Speed Rail Infrastructure Debate

High-speed rail has the potential to greatly reduce travel times between many major cities, and to move people more efficiently.  I am a proponent of high-speed rail (HSR), but I am also cautious about how it is going to be implemented. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the freight train railroad companies (like CSX, CN, etc…) are not happy with the idea of putting HSR trains on their freight train tracks.

I started thinking about the logistics of having 200mph trains sharing the same track as 55mph trains, and common sense says its not a great idea.  The government is pushing to use current track infrastructure whenever possible because they are hoping to reduce costs and increase time to market.  I fully understand the government’s stance on this, and from there viewpoint it does make some sense.  The problem is that mixing slow trains and HSR trains on the same track does not make a lot of sense, i mean there is a reason why Europe and Asia have made separate HSR tracks.

If HSR is going to be a large part of our future lives, then building the infrastructure correctly from the beginning is absolutely CRITICAL.  I agree with the private companies that sharing rail space with HSR trains will cause bottlenecks and safety issues.  Also, if the private rail companies don’t want to share their tracks, then why should they have to?  HSR needs its very own infrastructure, separate from freight and slower moving Amtrak trains, otherwise we will end up with a HSR system that isn’t as good as it could be.  Also, some valuable information can be found from the Wall Street Journal article here.

What are your thoughts about this topic, and about high-speed rail (HSR)?