2010 is a good year for Amtrak, with ridership numbers at record highs. Amtrak has its sights set for further expansion with a new, $117-billion proposal for a high-speed rail corridor in the Northeast. With construction expected to take 30 years, this is a big gamble for future generations. What we'll get in the end is a 220 mile per hour bullet train that starts in Boston and ends in Washington D.C., making two stops in Philadelphia and New York. Of course, $117 billion buys you more than one train, and there will be significant infrastructure upgrades to existing rail lines as well.
Anyone who's spent time in Europe or Japan can appreciate the profound impact an efficient and wide-spread rail system can have on public transportation. Indeed, this Northeast corridor will reach 33 million people, or roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population, by 2040, and so can provide a big audience for the train. In addition, the project would create 40,000 full-time construction jobs, and what Amtrak estimates to be 120,000 economic benefit jobs. The new bullet train would cut the Boston-Washington D.C. trip from 6.5 hours (on existing Acela trains) down to 3 hours 23 minutes. Having ridden the Amtrak from Los Angeles, CA to Houston, TX (a mind-numbing 40-hour trip), this writer can appreciate the need for significantly faster rail travel in this country.
[Source: Infrastructurist via Gas 2.0]