Playing Catch-Up with Rail

Have high-speed rail stimulus funds put us any closer to technology like mag-lev? A long record of underfunding makes many of such projects shovel-unready, but hopes are still high.

1 minute read

March 19, 2009, 10:00 AM PDT

By Judy Chang


"Competition for that $8 billion will be intense with big states like Illinois and New York promoting big plans. Nationwide, there are 11 high-speed-rail corridors in various stages of discussion, and one of them, a proposed 800-mile system that would run trains at speeds up to 220 mph and connect San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, has already been jump started by a $10 billion bond issue approved by California voters in last November's election.

'California has a strong track record in conventional rail, and one reason the proposition was able to pass was what their tax dollars had done to improve the existing service,' said Ross Capon of the National Association of Rail Passengers. 'There's no question California is ahead of the pack with conventional rail and the voters' commitment to develop high-speed rail.'

'I think a lot of people will be watching to see how California goes, the challenges, the difficulties they run into,' added Jim Wrinn of Trains magazine. 'Once (high-speed rail) has been done outside the Northeast corridor (where the Boston-to-Washington Acela train tops out at 150 mph), I think a lot of people will jump into the pool.'"

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