Developing high-speed train travel for the U.S.
The Obama Administration is attempting to catch up to European and Asian high-speed rail projects.
Trains are an indispensable part of American history. Lately, however, the rail system has fallen into disrepair. Many other European and Asian countries have invested in modern, high-speed, high-efficiency trains, while the United States still largely relies on airlines to transport passengers.
President Obama is trying to change that by devoting $10.5 billion to rail projects around the country. His Administration hopes new projects will add both transportation options and jobs for Americans. Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo told PRI's Living on Earth, "Studies indicate that 20,000 manufacturing and construction jobs are created for each one billion dollar of rail investment."
Some states, however, are rejecting the federal rail initiatives. Both Wisconsin and Ohio, for example, have chosen not to pursue federal money. That's allowed states like Florida and California to claim much of the money for themselves. Despite California's budget problems, says Szabo the state is well-positioned to take advantage of the money.
High-speed rail no panacea for transportation, and Szabo says government is not trying to replace air travel. They are simply trying to find the places where train travel is the most efficient. That means pursuing new projects, creating state-of-the-art upgrades to existing lines, and allowing air travel to flourish where it's most efficient. The hope is simply to make the U.S. run more smoothly.
Hosted by Steve Curwood, "Living on Earth" is an award-winning environmental news program that delves into the leading issues affecting the world we inhabit. More about "Living on Earth."