Marily Waite, August 24, 2021, https://www.greenbiz.com/article/why-us-needs-get-track-high-speed-rail, Why the US needs to get on track with high-speed rail
In the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. Senate, just $66 billion was proposed for rail infrastructure over eight years and $39 billion for public transit over eight years. To get a sense of these numbers, Alphabet’s revenue in a single year, 2020, was over $180 billion. The American Society of Civil Engineers rates U.S. transit infrastructure at D-minus, with the backlog for transit projects at $176 billion and the backlog for passenger rail at $45 billion. This public investment is vital for maintaining and upgrading the existing rail infrastructure, yet the allocations still fall short for building out a competitive high-speed rail network. Even as corporate net-zero pledges and climate funds abound, there seems to be little attention paid to investing in electric rail. Shipping is having its moment with bankers pledging to help decarbonize the sector. Electric cars and trucks are viewed with increasing optimism by major automakers. Even aviation — one of the most difficult modes of transport to decarbonize — has seen breakthroughs in electrification and zero emissions efforts. What about rail? As a soft indicator, since 2018, there has been literally one article per year on rail on GreenBiz.
Stephen Zetchik, November 18, 2021, Washington Post, All this money pouring into infrastructure should be a boon for high-speed rail, right? Not so fast, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/11/18/infrastructure-bill-high-speed-rail/
On the surface, the federal government’s newfound commitment to infrastructure would seem like a boost for that grand elusive transit innovation of our time: high-speed rail. After all, among the trillion-plus dollars that will pour out of the bill President Biden signed into law Monday, $65 billion is earmarked for rail. Certainly some of that money can help with the transportation white whale; certainly it could help the benighted Los Angeles-San Francisco high-speed line, or the stalled Texas bullet, or even the in-progress One Florida dream of a Miami-Orlando-Tampa route. It won’t. “This package is not the silver bullet for the bullet,” said Colleen Callahan, deputy director of UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation. “We won’t see much of it go to high-speed rail.”The new law contains no earmark for high-speed rail projects, the globally popular but American also-ran of public-transit advancement that unites cities hundreds of miles apart without an airport hassle or carbon-spewing plane in sight. Instead, the money is expected to go largely to the federally owned Amtrak, which doesn’t even own much of its tracks. It’s conceivable Amtrak could gussy up its slightly brisker Northeast Acela route. But given how many problems on its traditional lines need addressing — and that owning the tracks is what allows you to jet