Proposed High Speed Rail Network (Diagram by the Transport Politic)
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Proposed High Speed Rail Network (Diagram by the Transport Politic)
Proposed High Speed Rail Network. (Courtesy Transport Politic)

Transport Politic blog has put together a proposal for a National High Speed Rail (HSR) network no less ambitious than the Interstate highway system. Louisville finds itself situated along the path of the HSR corridor connecting Chicago with Atlanta, and, under the plan, could see trains that travel at speeds up to 220 miles per hour. Imagine taking a day trip to Chicago and arriving in just over an hour?

Suggested routes were chosen based on metropolitan size and proximity:

the transport politic’s proposal was informed by an analysis of potential travel between metro regions of populations greater than 100,000 and between 50 and 500 miles apart. The system proposed here would represent a massive change from the service provided by Amtrak today. It would emphasize train travel that’s competitive with airlines in time, rather than the day or days-long travel that is the hallmark of Amtrak today. The vast majority of train travel would occur on trains running at 150 mph or above on routes of 500 miles or less. Roads and airports along these corridors would be significantly decongested as more people choose to take the train instead of a car for short to medium distances (50-200 miles) and the train instead of the airplane for long distance (300-500 miles) travel.

Wondering why there’s not a bright yellow line connecting the east and west coasts? The Transportation Politic notes the rail network isn’t meant to be a replacement for air travel or car travel, but augments both. Travelling distances over 500 miles is best served by airplane and shorter distances up to 50 or even 100 miles are best served by car or traditional rail. The report also suggests that current rail transportation policies be changed to coordinate any future projects at the federal level and to bring about federal control of existing rail lines. This could also help regional rail or light rail operations as they would be given a level playing field with freight uses in terms of track sharing or right of way sharing.

Of course, we find this proposal fascinating if not somewhat daunting. But with all massive undertakings, you have to start somewhere. The proposal is broken into several phases with just under 3,000 miles of track per phase. Louisville’s portion falls under proposed phase II. Ideally for Louisville, the line south from Indianapolis would hit here instead of Cincinnati and another line would run to St. Louis making our city a sort of regional hub beneath Chicago.

This is just one proposal and continues to be a work in progress, but it nonetheless raises the issue of HSR transportation networks. More conversation adds value to solving complex issues. To have an HSR station here, no matter the route, would change the notion of transportation as we know it. To travel to Cincinnati in half an hour or really anywhere by train at all sounds amazing especially considering the fewer hassles of rail travel versus air travel. What are your thoughts on this proposal or HSR in general? Would you prefer to take a train over a car or plane to Chicago or some other city? How would you change the routes? Tell us in the comments. (via StreetsBlog)

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Branden Klayko

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