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The Latest Investments in U.S. High-Speed Rail

Naman Bajaj
January 24, 2024

Trains are one of the most sustainable modes of travel, far better than other common modes like planes and cars. While a domestic flight has a carbon footprint of 246 grams per kilometer per passenger and a gas car has 170 grams, trains emit around 35 grams.

If it's good for the planet and other nations like France, Germany, and Japan have such a vast network of fast train services, why don't we have it here in the U.S.? Well, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is finally taking action to address this issue.

In December 2023, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) of the DOT announced $8.2 billion for the U.S. high-speed rail and other rail projects nationwide. These projects are aimed at improving the standard of passenger rail service in the country.

What will the investments cover?

These investments will advance two U.S. high-speed rail corridors and fund improvements to existing rail corridors for expanded service and performance. Here are some of the proposed investments:

  • Help deliver high-speed rail service in California's Central Valley.
  • Create a brand-new high-speed rail corridor between Las Vegas, Nevada, and southern California, serving an estimated 11 million passengers annually.
  • Make major upgrades to existing conventional rail corridors to better connect Northern Virginia and the Southeast with the Northeast Corridor.
  • Expand and add frequencies to the Pennsylvania Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
  • Extend the Piedmont Corridor in North Carolina north, as part of a higher-speed connection between Raleigh and Richmond, Virginia.
  • Invest in Chicago Union Station as an initial step toward future improvements to the critical Midwest corridors hub.
  • Improve service in Maine, Montana, and Alaska.

Apart from this, the FRA has also announced the Corridor Identification and Development (Corridor ID) Program.

What is the Corridor Identification and Development (Corridor ID) Program?

As per the Corridor ID program, the FRA is announcing 69 corridor selections across 44 states, which will drive future passenger rail expansion. Here are some of the planning and development activities selected through the Corridor ID program include:

  • New high-speed rail service in the Cascadia High Speed Rail Corridor between Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.
  • New high-speed rail service between Dallas and Houston.
  • New and upgraded Midwest Chicago hub corridors.
  • New service between the Twin Cities and Duluth, Minnesota.
  • New service from Fort Collins to Pueblo, Colorado, with intermediate stops at Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs.
  • New service between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, with multiple daily frequencies.
  • New service connecting Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • New connections between the Northeast Corridor and Northern Delaware and Reading and Scranton, Pennsylvania.
  • Expanded connections and increased frequencies within California’s extensive conventional rail network.
  • Expanded connections and service in Florida’s intercity rail network between the key travel markets of Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miami.
  • New service between Atlanta and Savannah, and from Atlanta to Nashville and Memphis via Chattanooga.
  • Restoration of service between Chicago and Seattle, Washington, through multiple rural communities in North Dakota and Montana that are currently not served by passenger rail.

This investment could advance transformative projects that will carry Americans for decades to come and provide them with convenient, climate-friendly alternatives to congested roads and airports.

Naman Bajaj
January 24, 2024


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