- HSR is dumb because it's too expensive to build a HSR from coast to coast
- HSR is dumb because it's slower than flying
- HSR is dumb because self-driving cars do everything HSR does, but better
- HSR is dumb because electric scooters are much better for getting around town
I am wondering what this mythical HSR is, that electric scooters and coast-to-coast flights are somehow both the nails in its coffin. Straw men doesn't even begin to describe it!
HSR is of course complementary to all of the technologies above. Heaven forfend, though, that we pursue a future transit system in more than one mode at a time...
There's nothing wrong with circuit switched networks. POTS has great voice quality. ISDN tends not to drop packets. But we all carry cell phones because packet switching is more flexible in more places.
And in the north, spaceX rockets might be cheaper.
In America, gas is $3-4/gal, the flight from LA to SF (about 1 hour) is $200. Also, don't forget European cities were designed for pedestrians, while in the US, they were built for cars.
I would say the most efficient way to travel in France is by train, while in the US, it is by plane.
- Paris to Bordeaux by plane is $430 (380EUR) right now, 2 days before Christmas but if you look at a less interesting time of year, like February, most days you're looking at $71 (62EUR) (per ITA Matrix with prices in EUR and Paris as sales city).
- The flight itself is only 75 minutes but right now, it takes 45 minutes to get from Paris to CDG and 25 minutes from BOD to Bordeaux, for a total of 145 minutes travel time. Add at least say half an hour to get through security and get to your gate and you're at 175 minutes total trip time.
- Paris to Bordeaux by train is $126 (111EUR) right now but like air, is much cheaper at a less interesting time of year. Most of January is only $18 (16 EUR) (per oui.sncf).
- It takes 153 minutes from the center of Paris to the center of Bordeaux by train (metro to Gare Montparnasse, then TGV to Bordeaux).
So right now, you're looking at $126 + 153 minutes for train or $430 + 175 minutes by plane. Later, you're looking at $18 + 153 minutes by train or $71 + 175 minutes by plane.
For this particular trip, I think the train is clearly a winner.
Small correction: It's 2 hours from Paris to Bordeaux.
That plane leaving SFO isn’t stopping in Fresno.
I suppose when you’re contriving an example, you’re hoping that people aren’t really paying attention.
Unfortunately, now it’s incredibly expensive to build HSR.
China, the same size as the US, will have 25,000 miles of HSR within a few years.
Your calculus is wrong but let’s just check back in 2025. At some point, we’ll realize the advantage that all that HSR gives China.
The population density of Kansas and Montana is quite low. America is quite large.
However, Los Angeles and New York, San Francisco, etc are much more densely populated than Spain.
Because of geography.
The article asserts France has about 3000km of high speed rail. That will connect Oakland and Council Bluffs, with just enough left over to cross the bay to San Francisco. But not from SF to San Jose.
From Council Bluffs to New York, it's another 2000km. That's all the high speed rail in Germany plus all the high speed rail in Italy (as asserted in the article). In European terms, it's like building a high speed rail line from Paris to Moscow. But if the Urals were in between.
The US doesn't have a national high speed rail network because a national high speed rail network doesn't make sense. Between the Canadian and Mexican borders, there are three geographically reasonable rail routes to the Pacific.
To the north of the I80 route, there's the I90/Great Northern route through North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. South of I80 is the I10/ATSF route across West Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. It is the only all-weather route to the Pacific in the US. The US obtained it via the Gadsden Purchase in 1853. The three routes alone would require the US to build the second largest high speed rail network.
Using the US Interstate system as a first approximation, a US network would have about 77,000 km of high speed rail line. 77 Germanies or 26 Frances or 3 Europes. On completion, it would be larger than all currently existing and planned high speed rail.
There are places in the US where high speed rail makes some sense. Again, it's about geography. Maybe the article's DC to Charlotte is one of them...Dallas to San Marcos (population 44,000) probably not.
The US is vast. Even at 3x the speed of high speed rail in optimum conditions, most of it is experienced as fly-over states.
At the state level, a high speed rail will never benefit most residents. For example, a "northeast corridor" line is great for Philadelphia, Manhattan, and Boston. doesn't do anything for the citizens of Pittsburgh, Albany, and Springfield.
Not that there needs to be a formal regional government. The US has interstate compacts for situations like this. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_compact even comments "these agreements create a new governmental agency which is responsible for administering or improving some shared resource such as ... public transportation infrastructure".
It helpfully links to https://www.csg.org/NCIC/MidwestInterstatePassengerRailCompa... - "the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact brings together state leaders from across the region to advocate for passenger rail improvements. Formed by compact agreement in 2000, the compact's current members are Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin."
and http://www.drpt.virginia.gov/rail/major-initiatives/va-nc-hi... "The Virginia-North Carolina High Speed Rail Compact was authorized by the Congress and established through legislation enacted by the Virginia and North Carolina General Assemblies. The purpose of the Compact is to examine and discuss strategies to advance multi-state high speed rail initiatives."
+ A fine grained passenger rail network still requires about all the roads we have now. The local restaurant needs a pallet of french fries not a boxcar's worth.
+ Neither of the example compacts has executive authority over the participating states. Advocacy and study, only. They only allow states to coordinate efforts with respect to federal programs. MIRPC can lobby for continued Amtrack support . It can't obtain right of way and lay track.
An express limited service in the 1940s did not benefit most residents, compared to a local service, in a similar way to high speed service now.
My example of those two compacts was to show that supra-state organizations can exist with transport goals in mind. As examples of more effective compacts, the Great Lakes Compact.
There is no need for executive authority over participating states. International agreements occur between different countries even without an organization with executive authority over those countries.
Case in point: the Basel tram network provides international service, which started in 1900 with service to the German Empire. Wilhelm II didn't have executive authority over Basel, nor Switzerland over then-Sankt-Ludwig.
pIN = pS(1) x pS(2)...pS(n)
+ The Great Lakes Compact is legally binding. It required approval by each state's legislature. To me, the politics are radically different. The compact prevents states from damage by other states. It exists to avoid a tragedy of the commons where people may die. Rail networks don't have that.
+ I considered diving into the differences between the 1940's and today as they relate to passenger rail networks in my previous comment.
Local passenger rail isn't viable because most rural communities have much lower populations today than in the first half of the 20th century and because transportation alternatives are much better in rural areas. Hopefully, we agree on the second point.
The demographic shift in rural areas has a strong labor component related to mechanization of agriculture. In the midwest, a farm family in 1920 could work about a quarter section of corn (160 acres). Today a family can work about two sections (1280 acres). A small town rail station in 1930 might have served a township with 3000 residents. Now it might serve 1000.
In the South's cotton country, the demographics are even more substantial. In 1940 a share cropper family could work about 20 acres. Mechanization moved major cotton production to large fields in places like Texas. The twenty acre fields were mostly converted to timber and the share cropper shacks left to decay. Small towns that once were the center for several thousand locals are now empty buildings with a few hundred locals nearby.
Local rail in rural areas is economically untenable. The express trains of 1950 worked because there were finer grained networks feeding it. Today, the fine grained network for rail is the same as for air and automobile. It's the automobile.
That's why intrastate high speed rail isn't being built. The proposed Orlando-Tampa route still required a car to get from Azalea Park to the Orlando station and another car to get from the Tampa station to Clearwater Beach.
+ One of the major tradeoffs between rail and auto transportation is scheduling. Scheduling trains efficiently is a job-shop problem and is NP-hard. Adding efficient public transit at each end of the Orlando-Tampa line to avoid the need for an automobile adds terms to an already exponential scheduling problem.
The way to mitigate latency in scheduling problems is not cleverness. It's adding substantial surplus capacity to smooth out peaks. It's making the system generally inefficient. Amtrack's poor level of service is a natural result of focusing on efficiency. High speed rail systems designed around efficiency will not beat the mathematics. Nobody is making a high speed rail case around high availability because it's politically infeasible.
It's probably economically infeasible as well. Rail is a circuit switched network. If it is designed to handle 1000 passengers per hour, handling 1001 passengers takes two hours not 1.001 hours.
As a result no European train can run on US rails (technical compatibility aside) because trains like HSV are lightweight and do not meet US design rules.
Major points are:
1. China is willing to build loves that aren't self sustainable - whereas the USA isn't (and the US doesn't factor in the social benefits)
2. China's airspace is mostly military - leading to only small flight corridors and therefore significant delays for flights - making trains more reliable
3. China is willing to make train lines that make no sense beyond connecting areas that are not as friendly to the government to areas that are in the hope of increasing government support in those areas
it takes until 2029 to build a railway in between SF and LA
The failure of HSR in CA has nothing to do with "the US" and everything to do with graft internal to CA.
If the rail link requires driving to the station and renting a car at the destination it's not going to be comparable with one where you can walk or take the tram/subway to move within the endpoints, and there it loses the appeal of convenience.
The best thing that trains offer is direct connection from one city centre to another city centre. These centres need to be such that they have places to go to, reachable by at most public transit and a bit of walking. If they aren't then your single train trip effectively becomes three separate trips.
I take your point about planes, but it's good to have more than one option and trains are good for middling distances, as there isn't all the need to check in, and they can start and stop closer to where you want to depart from and arrive.
Not to mention global warming :-)
Regardless of motive technology, curve-radius will always be a relevant problem, because one of the major advantages of the train is that you can walk around and about. We could design trains with sharper corners and harder acceleration/deceleration, but no one wants to be strapped into a vomit comet for three hours.
It's merely quadratic if I recall correctly
Besides, the more important thing is average speed. Acela's top speed is respectable for legacy rail, but it achieves this top speed for a total of 33 miles over a 457 mile route.
You're probably right. America shouldn't aim to achieve speeds of high speed rail in ~2025 that China achieved in ~2015. That's aiming too high.
Best to aim lower so we don't disappoint anyone.
We are talking about the difference between 217MPH and 200MPH. The total travel time saved between Boston and Washington by an additional 17MPH is a whopping six minutes with the generous assumption that you start right off the bat at top speed and maintain it the entire trip. If saving six minutes will cost billions or tens of billions of dollars, why bother with such a marginal improvement, when you could spend those billions on literally anything else from housing to healthcare to upgrading the power grid?
Steel-on-steel rail is realistically limited to top service speed of 320km/h, maybe 360 at most. The maintenance is just too high when you increase speed beyond that. Newer Japanese Shinkansen line only operate at 260km/h, for example.
You also can't fit as many people in self driving cars, simply because having the requisite fuel storage and engine per 2-4 seater car is quite a lot of space when you can spread that around 200 people per train car. And this is before we consider that average car occupancy is something like 1.5.
There are some city center to nearby city center where rail would be nice, I agree.
Most of the time when I'm going intercity it is by plane.
We don't have any such lanes because only the self-driving car companies have dual mode vehicles.
Nobody's going to market vehicles designed to drive in lanes that don't exist. And building out the lanes and the infrastructure to enter and exit them, probably will boost congestion in the short term.
Self driving car will never match the safety, speed, comfort, and social interactions of a train.
You can do a lot better than that with even decently upgraded "legacy" rail, never mind a Shinkansen/TGV type system. For example, London-Manchester is 210 miles, and trains take only 2 hours.
Yes and to further emphasise, this is not a high speed train (though it does use leaning trains making it faster than other lines, and has few stops. Also it's 2 hours 15 mins to be precise).
The proposed high speed train promises London-Manchester in ~1 hour.
For example the Tokio-Osaka Shinkansen averages 130 mph over the whole route with 15 stops in between the end stations. You could get from midtown Manhattan to downtown Boston in 1h40min. Make that 1h15min, if the train didn't have stops between NYC and Boston.
So visiting Boston could be almost as fast as visiting the far end of Queens, from Manhattan.
Driving in London is mainly an exercise in stress and pointlessness.
Paris - Stuttgart
Aviation fuel is the highest and best use of hydrocarbons (along with some chemical production), so we can deal with that last, after lots of power generation, demand reduction/efficiency, etc
AKA 99% of North America.
The rate for a new car is much closer to the federal reimbursement rate ($0.545/mi), mostly depreciation. Obviously driving a new lambo at 100mph will be more like $4/mi.
https://therideshareguy.com/is-a-toyota-prius-the-best-car-f... has a 2011 and 2016 Prius.
That said, I find the urbanist/transitphile community's response to Musk's tunnel ambitions off-putting. Most of the criticisms I've seen seem to presume that a person who has revolutionized space travel and electric cars can't perform basic math about passenger throughput. Excuse me if I have more faith in Musk than the naysayers.
This is at least as bad as what you're scorning.
Could someone politely inform said author that China is a little bit bigger than Italy.
The part about the US needing to wake up rings true though.
It's 2000 miles from Chicago to LA. Optimistically, if you had a train that averaged 200 miles an hour, it would still take 10 hours. That's just not competitive.
Instead of picking dumb examples to discredit the idea, how about looking at obviously good places: The entire East coast from Boston to Miami would be a good corridor to build in. Or start in Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, and build links to cities between 200 and 500 miles away, where taking a high-speed train would be faster than either driving or flying, and extend from there. Eventually you will have a network that can take you from Chicago to LA, even if that's not the sweet spot for the type of transport. And honestly, a 10 hour train ride will take only 3-4 hours longer than the equivalent flight, once you factor in the huge overhead of time involved in flying.
Have you done the math ? Split US into west coast and east coast populuous regions, and nope, not the case.
Also, don't let yourself be fooled by the Mercator projection:
So the rational, cost-effective solution would have been not to have any connection at all?
No one is saying build high-speed rail between cities that are extremely far apart.
Find the handful of places where it does make sense then build there. If it only makes sense in 4 locations then build there. You can safely ignore the other 20 locations.
2. Also, it appears that many states already get a lot more than they contribute. That subsidy probably isn’t going in the direction you think it is.
That's my question.
> 2. Also, it appears that many states already get a lot more than they contribute. That subsidy probably isn’t going in the direction you think it is.
Sure, I'm not arguing that the distribution of federal money is 100% fair.
This isn’t a real question. You’re making up a reason that you haven’t proven exists.
There is no funded HSR outside of California.
Yet the sleeper services to Scotland are still going as a daily service. Even though the rolling stock must be some of the oldest on our railways. New rolling stock due next year.
10 hours HSR service to LA is the perfect time for a good night's sleep and a good full breakfast in the restaurant car. Arrive in LA fully refreshed ready for a full day.
How can that not be competitive and appealing? I'd take that over a 4hr(?) cattle class early morning flight, with an hour or so in airports each end, every single time. Your size is a point in favour of HSR not against. There must be countless viable HSR routes in the US.
I wrote this up a few days ago for another HN post about the economics between Colorado Springs and Denver (I use to live in both, the springs for longer). It's about 21% of springs residents work in Denver. It's a ~60mile commute. There was the choice between widening the interstate by an extra lane ($350 mil) or make a rail for however many billions. Going by that second line they gave a price tag on, €3.4 billion for 182km, that's about $3.8 billion for 113 miles. About $30million a mile. That's a $1.8 billion price tag for one USA area that could theoretically use it. If you go just the shortest distance between the springs and Denver considered the "city limits" of either. Not center to center. Just the closest outskirts.
So you tell me, what would a politician prefer to convince people on a tax hike? $350mil for more roads that a majority of the people would more than likely use? Or $1.8bil for something that SOME people MAY use.
Let's ignore worker costs to operate the trains, rails, ticketing, security, etc. Also, let's ignore fuel/electricity costs. Also, let's ignore insurance. Oh, and preventive maintenance, upkeep and the sort. What sort of prices do they have to charge for about 57,000 to use the commuter to make it economically viable for the city(s)? Let's take $10 a day. 57k x $10 x 20work days a month(avg) x 12 = $136.8mil. It'd take 10+ years for it to break even. If everyone volunteers to work there and fuel was free. And no accidents. And no need to fix things. No paid janitors either. Or flushing toilets. All that costs more money.
If you price it $10 or more a day, why would anyone logically change over from their car already? It costs $8-$12 in fuel a day to make a round trip in a car anyways. Plus you don't have to wake up any sooner to catch the right time train to get to work at a decent time. Plus, a majority of the vehicles heading north to Denver (I use to make this trip relatively often by the way) is filled with plumbers, carpenters, electrical workers, landscapers and the sort. They have their own trucks and vans to carry tools and materials. None of which you can take on a train for a practical expense or in practical effort.
The economics for a high speed rail doesn't make sense with the cost in the USA. Fantastic they work well elsewhere. Great for them and their not car dependent society. They don't work out well here. It's time to mature and grow up to the fact that not all solutions solve all problems.
And yes, the government should spend money to help society. I get that. But there are limits. Too many of these and the defense sector would no longer be the bad guy in government spending.
And don't use the relaxing/reading argument. Obviously, you've never had to actually commute on a regular basis on public transit. I used to use a commuter in Portland for a few years. Your quality of reading comprehension sucks and you spend the first hour just trying to fully wake up because you wake up damn early to make your line jumps. It's not like "Oh, the commuter train takes me exactly where I want to go". Nope, now you have to jump onto buses or other lines to get to where you work. Because the stations are never where you need them. And god damn, when it snows and you're waiting outside. Fuck. Oh, and you have to work late that day? Guess what, the commuter only runs at peak hour work days. You don't get to hang out in the city. If you do, call a friend with a car. Oh, and you owe them gas money now too.
I lived and commuted in NYC, SF, and Chicago. I haven't owned a car in 6 years. I'm intimately familiar with commuting via public transit.
There's too much in your post to reply line item by line item... but I'll just say that a defeatist attitude toward rail or breaking the USA's car dependency will get us just that - defeat.
Security lines are shorter, and the beginning and end of a train trip both happen at a literal train station, so it's usually easier to get into and out of the city center.
Absolutely vital that California keeps the TSA off of it's HSR
Tom Clancy? In ‘Debt of Honor’ it’s a major plot-point after all. The issue here is not that making a train into a cruise missile is hard to imagine, it’s actually impossible. You can attack the train, or use the train to attack a station or something close to the tracks, and that’s it. It’s also a purely kinetic event, rather than adding the complexity of so much fuel.
Because it sounds like you haven't. I think you're confusing Harry Potter with reality. The I-5 Amtrak is great and all between Seattle and Portland, but it sucks after the first hour. Now, do 10 for long distance. I'd rather have the same suck for 4 hours instead of 10.
Plus, trains especially don't really do straight shots for long distance. Lot's of connecting trains. Just as bad as plane connections.
The only benefit is the food car. But it's just as expensive as a plane.
And no, the ticket is not cheaper. The big price difference, you don't save all that much between buying a ticket a month ahead of time and day of. The price is the price. Planes reward you for being able to plan ahead. Trains don't.
1. Detroit - Chicago
2. New York - Philadelphia - Washington DC
3. Tampa - Orlando - Miami
4. Atlanta - Nashville
5. San Antonio - Austin - Dallas
6. Portland - Seattle
7. Los Angeles - Las Vegas
8. Cleveland - Columbus - Cincinnati
All of these are 70-90 minute journeys at 200 mph. Faster than driving and if you include everything in the journey also faster than flying.
Now that it's legal for us to use European train cars perhaps the French (or the Chinese) can build it for us :<)
However an average speed of 200 miles (320 km) per hour is still a lot. Especially because you will have stops in between which of course means that the v_max must be even higher.
Going from SF to ATL is longer distance than Portugal to Belarus.
About 15,000 miles at the moment, with another 10,000 on the way.
The US spent a lot of money on war.
On that train I was shocked that it was six hours late. It got even later so I didn't get to see anything of Chicago, my day seeing the sights was not going to happen, the next train I was to catch - to Boston was waiting at the station.
What I was absolutely not prepared for was the reality that this rail link was just the one lot of tracks. In Europe you can expect four lines of tracks for fast and slow rains each way or just the two lines of tracks in rural areas, if there is just the one track you can expect that to be seriously rural, but even then you can expect a train every hour, even if the service is run down.
I was pretty much at starvation point waiting for the train to Chicago, since there was no useful information and no concessions at the platform I could not leave for that six hour wait as the train could arrive 'at any moment'. Then the speed of the thing was glacial, sometimes stopped for an eternity to let a more important freight train through.
Trains are competitive with planes although this is not believed in America. That 'two hour flight' never is, there are airports to get to, check in to be done, being divorced from one's luggage and a whole host of practical concerns that are not a problem when you have a rail network that has city/town centre stations rather than middle of nowhere airports.
Building a railway across China is not made magically easier because of some 'authoritarian government'. The railway still has to go across mountain ranges and houses have to be demolished with lots of complicated land rights issues every inch of the way. Putting two tracks through all those cornfields of middle America is a walk in the park by comparison. Two tracks are also cheaper to maintain, the wear is halved compared to the single track that you get in America.
Admittedly the Rocky Mountains do require a bit of route planning to get over, but compared to the terrain of China the grades are easy. Then there is Japan, on the Ring of Fire and requiring even more engineering.
The automobile may have benefits but having to hold that wheel thing and keep an eyeball on the road ahead is a bit silly. Trains just make more sense, the rails do the steering bit, plus passengers don't have to total approximately four.
Planes are a bit silly too, sure they have their place crossing from the edge of an ocean to another edge of an ocean, but planes can't stop off en-route to let passengers off and on with no more than a five minute pause per stop.
Often the US interstate highways have a median down the middle that is a hundred or more metres wide, perfect for putting some tracks down without having any land rights tussles.
For generations Americans have been electing the interests of Wall Street and The Pentagon into office, knowing full too well that the Democrats and the Republicans are fundamentally the same, receiving political contributions from the same military-industrial-complex. When the rare thing happens that a Ralph Nader comes along the Democrats double down on voting Democrat and berate the Ralph Nader candidate for splitting the 'liberal' vote to let the Republicans in, blaming all their woes on him instead of the interests of international capital that print money to keep everyone in debt.
Rail need not be absent from the US forever, high speed lines in interstate medians could cover the country in ten years, with huge benefits for 'making America great again'. But with 700+ billion spent on defence and a similar sum spent on paying interest on 22 trillion dollars of debt there is no money for the American government to invest a cent in anything that could be instrumental in the prosperity of the US. It was industrial capital under a different dollar that made 'America great', since WW2 America has been coasting, with everyone working harder and harder, under this new regime of 'international finance capitalism'. The 'free market' actually means freedom from this pernicious vulture capitalism that has sucked the industrial lifeblood out of America.
If times change and the American people take up their 'amendment rights' to see to the people that control their currency then America could join the rest of the world and have nice things like a modern rail network in a lot less time than what it took China to get theirs.
They also have cities with 30 million people in them, and dominate the cities with populations > 1M on the planet besides India and other parts of SE Asia. Rail just makes more sense there in a way the US can't even compare. It has nothing to do with country size and everything to do with density and cost.
Even if you could plan HSR in the most rail-friendly parts of the east coast, you're going to have to eminent domain tons of property for immense cost, or disrupt the shit out of the exiting rail line which the region actually depends on for things like commuting.
The conspiracy about interests wanting to kill rail make little sense. Its struggled because other modes of transit have proven better. Amtrak is heavily subsidized and terribly unpopular for travel because planes are just better here.
California's eternal dream is HSR between LA and SF and it is turning into a ludicrous cost-overrun disaster. Construction of rail costs 7x in NYC what it costs in France due to labor, environmental and other land use regulatory burdens -- let alone how much cheaper it is for China (who has a looming debt problem but is also mostly internal IIRC, and doesn't have to worry about efficiency because it is not a business)
Rail doesn't happen en masse in the US because other modes are more cost effective given the population density realities. Atmospheric CO2 scrubbing tech is coming a long way in a short amount of time, so rather than chasing rail that will never be faster than flying (not to mention the fact that you can change flight paths with ease as demand to go from place to place changes because there's no physical infrastructure limiting you) we should focus on the rest of the green energy in our grid to make a dent in carbon.
I lament USA's car driving culture as much as anyone. I live in a dense and transit friendly city and wish more parts of the USA were like that, but HSR is part pipe dream, part white whale, and part hammer that politicians want everything to be a political nail for. One can't just assume that just because something works in one place, it will work everywhere. The realities in the US are different, and next-generation transit here has to face those realities.
There's probably room for more rail here as cities become revitalized and between things like airports and said cities, but you will have to change the entire face of the majority of suburbia and rural America to make trains become the most useful mode of transit here and as someone who wants to go live in Europe for a bit for many of the same quality of life dreams you probably share, I wish you good luck with that.
I just don’t see the appeal. First off, I’ve done long distance trains. They suck just as much as planes and they’re slower. The tickets won’t be that much cheaper than puddle jump flights. And since it’s a longer trip, a negative, it has to be cheaper than plane. There are still checked bags on a train. Still a 20 min on boarding process from entering station to train. That’ll get worse as more people use it.
I just mostly want to understand how trains are an indicator of a country’s tech prowess now. Or whatever fantasy they think comes with them. Trains are literally the symbol of old school social elite and unbridled capitalism and social control. God damn Vanderbilt? The car was the turning point of democratic maneuverability. People could go where ever they wanted and when. Well, that’s mostly true for Jeep owners at least. The hell happened?
Also, wrt both Boring Company and Hyperloop, "fantasy" is exactly the word to describe them. Outlandish projects, with a lot of buzz and PR but no sense or reason and many real problems, some fatal.
The United States can be one of these countries funding HSR. Countries that are quite pleasant to live in--and some that aren't, depending on your outlook--are already funding HSR and already have expansive rail networks. There's no reason we can't, too.
By modal share, the US ships 44% of its freight by rail.
France, the subject of this article, ships only 15%
I would argue that rail is better optimised for freight than passengers. Building rail to send huge amounts of heavy freight at relatively slow speeds is very cheap, and removes a lot of trucks. Building HSR is very expensive, and the network would need to be duplicated since none of the existing tracks could be used.
People who comment on these articles base their opinion on ideals, rather than facts. I'd suggest that few people have even travelled in Europe by rail, where actually most passengers will go on slower trains which are less expensive.
Hub-to-hub transport is dying out. Airlines have recognised this, Uber has recognised this, Escooters have recognised this. Spending billions on HSR is a waste of money. Better to invest in autonomous busses and cars, so that for the same number of vehicles on our roads, we can carry 2x the number of passengers, immediately solving congestion with minimal additional infrastructure spend.