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"High Speed Rail To The Future?"

1558 words - 7 pages

Imagine that you had to travel from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles in a hurry. What mode of transportation would you choose? You could travel by airplane, but you would likely be forced to deal with the hassle of acquiring tickets, traffic delays to and from the airport, and numerous security delays within the airport. You could travel by automobile, but that would mean eight hours of time spent sitting behind a steering wheel staring at miles and miles of asphalt. You could choose a more scenic route and "ride the rails", but if you took Amtrak's coastal route, for example, your trek would last nearly twelve hours. By Amtrak's inland route, which requires transfer to a bus link ...view middle of the document...

The high-speed rail system proposed by the California Intercity High Speed Rail Commission would employ innovative technology to create a superior form of transportation that would assist in ushering in a new millennium.The high-speed rail system proposed by the Commission utilizes the technology of magnetic levitation, and is consequently often refereed to as "maglev". The maglev trains use two different magnetic systems. One levitates the ninety ton train six inches above the monorail guideway. The other magnetic system then propels the system forward. Most of this propulsion system is located in the monorail guideway itself, reducing the weight of the train. In his article published in the New Hampshire News, Larry Thompson compares the proposed maglev trains to our nations' current fastest train, the Metroliner. He writes, "The Maglev is to the Amtrak Metroliner is what a Porsche is to a Pinto"(Hampshire, 70).The California Intercity High Speed Rail Commision has designed most of its work around four separate studies, that are currently being conducted. One study entailed the selection of the best route from the Bay Area to Los Angeles from three main candidates: Interstate 5, Route 99 and Highway 101. Early findings suggest that a higher degree of ridership would be obtained if the Route 99 avenue was used (Hale, 3). Another study analyzes the potential number of riders based on travel patterns, travel frequency, service quality, and the price charged to the rider. The other two studies focus on the impact that the system would have on job opportunities, growth effects, land-use issues related to high-speed rail system, and the various methods of funding the project.In the past, the United States has been extremely reluctant to accept the idea of high-speed rail. A likely cause of this reluctance was the state of Texas' failed attempts at implementing a network known as the Supertrain. These plans fizzled out when an American-French partnership announced that it simply could not raise the $170 million necessary to begin the project by its December 1993 deadline (Mahtesian, 25). Since this time, the question of who will pay for these projects has long been the preventing force for proposed high-speed rail systems. In Ohio, for example, voters rejected a one cent sales tax increase in 1982 that would have helped pay for a ten billion dollar system connecting most of the state's more heavily populated cities. Part of this lack of interest by the public is due to the fact that Americans simply do not feel the need to replace their beloved automobiles. Former Chairmen of the Ohio High-Speed Rail Authority Robert Boggs articulates this fact by saying, "The opinion of many Americans is that the rail is an obsolete service that is no longer needed... We've had a hard time convincing the public of the need for another alternative in public transportation" (Mahtesian, 27).Other detractors of the high-speed rail systems include various airlines and...

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