North Texas Daily

The rail systems are a better way to travel

The rail systems are a better way to travel

The rail systems are a better way to travel
February 16
12:48 2021

It is possible to travel from Tokyo to Sendai in just over an hour and a half by riding the Shinkansen in Japan. It only takes two hours to travel from Paris to Bordeaux on the Train à Grande Vitesse in France. These countries modernized their rail systems to efficiently connect major cities and the United States should too.

High-speed rail in the U.S. should have a mainline that connects the East Coast to the West Coast. It should start in Boston and end in Los Angeles, with stations in the following cities: New York City, Philadelphia, District of Columbia, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

Cities that are outside of the mainline would be connected to it by branching lines in select cities along the route. For example, the station in Indianapolis should branch north and connect to Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Milwaukee. The major station in Kansas City would branch south to Oklahoma City and Dallas, where it would branch again to connect to Austin, Houston, El Paso and San Antonio.

True highspeed rail, which can reach speeds up to 220 MPH, would allow a traveler to get from the beginning station in Boston to the end in Los Angeles in just over 13 and half hours. Thirty hours sooner than driving, assuming the traveler did not stop or experience traffic along the route and only seven hours longer than a typical non-stop flight.

Modernizing the transcontinental rail system into a high-speed rail system should be a priority in government because of its impact on economic growth and job creation, environmental concerns and social division in the U.S.

A project of this magnitude would create hundreds of thousands of jobs requiring skilled labor to design and construct the rail lines, manufacture train cars and maintain the system once completed. A transcontinental high-speed rail system has the potential to be one of the most extensive job creation programs the U.S. has ever seen.

Integrating high-speed rail as an option for travel in the U.S. would significantly reduce our carbon emissions from traveling relatively short distances by plane and automobile, according to a report by the International Energy Agency. Transitioning these small trips from flights and road trips would reduce the national consumption of oil, which in turn would reduce our dependency on foreign oil and save the U.S. billions of dollars.

High-speed rail would further benefit the U.S. by closing the gap between rural and urban America. It would allow rural Americans access to the opportunities afforded by urban cities. It would also benefit the urban areas by dispersing the population to secondary cities and easing congestion in the city, according to a study by UCLA and China’s Tsinghua University.

Implementing high-speed rail will be an uphill battle in the U.S. despite its many benefits. The biggest challenge will be securing funding and cooperation from all levels of government across the U.S. as this project would require approval from each state and city. The next challenge will be getting Americans to use the railways due to the prevalent car culture in the U.S.

Featured Illustration by Olivia Varnell

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Steven Nickols

Steven Nickols

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