Wednesday 18 November 2020

United States: USHSR releases 5-point High Speed Rail plan with project list

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The US High Speed Rail Association (USHSR) is pleased to announce the release of the 5-Point High Speed Rail Plan, complete with a project list for the new Biden administration, which has promised to “spark the second great railroad revolution" with a major investment and focus on high speed rail across America.

USHSR’s new 5-Point High Speed Rail Plan has specific recommendations to ensure the high speed rail programme is a success, including specific high speed rail projects to fund as follows:

  • Create a new High Speed Rail Development Authority within USDOT to direct and coordinate the national programme, working together with the states. This new Authority would be tasked with initiating new high speed rail projects, conducting route studies, filing for permits, assembling land, hiring contractors and consultants, and hiring concessionaires to operate the trains. This includes streamlining the approvals process by allowing simultaneous approvals, shortened timelines and single agency approvals.
  • Select the nation’s top five high speed rail priority projects, designate them “Special Projects of National Significance” and fast-track each to completion with the full support of the federal government.
    • California high speed rail: $60 billion investment
    • Texas high speed rail: $20 billion investment
    • NEC upgrade, New York City tunnels: $50 billion investment
    • Cascadia high speed rail (Pacific NW): $40 billion investment
    • Florida high speed rail (Tampa – Orlando): $2.5 billion investment
  • Select the second-tier projects and immediately fund and assist them into early works – planning, route studies, permits, land acquisition and pre-construction works.
    • Chicago – Milwaukee high speed rail: $8 billion investment
    • Atlanta – Charlotte high speed rail: $18 billion investment
    • Louisville – Nashville high speed rail: $15 billion investment
    • Denver – Albuquerque high speed rail: $40 billion investment
    • Chicago – St. Louis high speed rail: $18 billion investment
    • Tulsa – Oklahoma City high speed rail: $8 billion investment
    • Chicago – Detroit high speed rail: $30 billion investment
    • Nashville – Memphis high speed rail: $15 billion investment
    • Kansas City – St. Louis high speed rail: $19 billion investment
    • Chicago – Indianapolis high speed rail: $17 billion investment
  • Coordinate closely on TOD planning with local cities and jurisdictions to maximise the community-making and economic development opportunities that come with a new high speed rail station. TOD creates vibrant, liveable, affordable sustainable communities in the form of compact, walkable, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use communities centred around high quality train systems, making it possible to live a lower-stress, more affordable life without depending on a car for mobility and survival. Transit-orientated development combines regional planning, city revitalisation, suburban renewal, smart growth and walkable neighbourhoods. By directly coordinating land development around high speed rail stations, the maximum community and real estate benefits can be delivered.
  • Work with the airlines and airports to replace short-haul flights with high speed rail, and extend high speed rail connections to major airports. Encourage partnerships with airlines on combined tickets for trips with part of the journey by rail and part by air. This will begin to reshape the US domestic travel market, making traveling easier, faster and greener for the traveling public, while also benefiting airlines and airports who can better utilise their equipment and spaces for long-distance flights.

“We’re excited to release this new plan as the new rail-focused administration comes in,” said USHSR President Andy Kunz. “For decades, Joe Biden has proven to be one of rail’s great leaders; we’re ready to work with him, Congress, governors and the American people to get many new systems built across this great nation so everyone can ride them.” The US High Speed Rail Association is a membership organisation that has been advocating for a national, state-of-the-art high speed rail network since its founding in 2009, showcasing the many benefits high speed rail will bring to America. As the previous transportation secretary Anthony Foxx said: “There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, airfield or rail system. We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation’s infrastructure.”

For more information on the association and to view the national vision map, visit:

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