The Obama administration announced on Tuesday a six-year, $53-billion-dollar project to expand high-speed rail service in the United States — promising trains reaching 250mph. The budget request is in addition to $8 billion already allocated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Even so, those billions are a drop in the bucket compared to the investment European and Asian countries have been making to their rail networks for decades.Across Europe and Asia, national rail companies are bounding ahead as they increase the speed, extent and quality of their rail systems. A new Chinese rail line will connect Beijing to Shanghai at almost 240 miles per hour when it begins ferrying passengers later this year. This year, French engineers are also set to begin delivering their next generation high-speed trains to European customers. A Japanese national rail company recently debuted their new first-class cabins that look identical to first-class airplane cabins.
American rail in comparison is stuck in a slow lane clogged with traffic. Its only high-speed line, Amtrak’s Acela Express, hits a top peak of 150 mph. But because of the density of the neighborhoods that lie along its Boston-New York-Philadelphia-D.C. line, it can only average 80 mph.