High Speed rail - the whole world has it, ... except the US
Ok, first of all, the title of this thread is a bit simplistic I know. Not the whole world has high speed rail. But given that even countries like Turkey, Russia and others are developing their own systems there is one big and wealthy country which seems to be in the pitiful situation of being incapable of affording such an supposedly expensive system at all (and no, the East corridor is a joke, not a high speed rail).
Not many years ago, China had about as much high speed rail as the US of A. Today it has already the largest net of all countries in the world once all tracks which are currently already U/C are completed the network will have tripled in length and being over 10 000 km in total. In the meanwhile it looks likely that the US will stagnate with faint hopes of at least some routes in the distant future.
So how does it come that the US has no high speed rail and only small not very courageous plans of developing one? I have heard many arguments over the years. Some say the US is so big and simply too large for it or that it does not feature sufficient population density. That's the easiest to debunk. High speed rail is not there to connect every point in the country with every other. Its there to connect the major corridors of bigger metropolitan areas which are not too far away from each other (everything up to 1000 km and even somewhat beyond is perfectly ok). The US has plenty of them.
Others say that sort of communist style public mass transportation is not compatible with the American way of life. I keep wondering how having an additional choice to car and plane is taking away any freedom, rather than enlarging the freedom of choice. Closely related to that argument is the car centric design of American cities. American cities seem dense enough for light rails and more conclusive PT options though which are popping up all around the country, even in Republican heartland. (and why not?)
So my final question is arguments against high speed rail aren't looking increasingly like lame excuses giving that high speed rail increasingly catches up even in countries which are traditionally counted to the developing and rising parts of the world? Is Americas old interstate infrastructure really the worlds latest answer to the question of how to serve with the best transport infrastructure or is it rather the Chinese style of highways, high speed rail, big airports and everything else which one could possibly build?
Last but not least an overview over the worlds high speed rail networks. I saved my time for the US map as the only current candidate there would be the east corridor which has only short parts that actually deserve the title high speed in first place.
“We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.”
Jean Caude Juncker