All over Europe, as well as some countries in Eastern Asia, high-speed rails are a frequently used form of transportation.
In Japan, the Shinkansen goes as fast as 168 mph to get passengers to their destinations. The KTX in South Korea hits speeds as high as 186 mph and can hold up to 935 people per train.
The Eurostar takes passengers from London to Paris in just over two hours. It usually goes at 186 mph, but has been known to hit 208 mph. France also has its own train that goes about 200 mph known as the TGV.
The closest thing the United States has to such high-speed trains is the Acela, which runs through Boston and Washington, D.C., but only has a top speed of 150 mph.
But that is about to change.
Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden told reporters that the Obama Administration is planning to invest $53 billion through 2017 to help bring high-speed rails to the United States.
Since President Obama took office in early 2009, 10.5 billion dollars have been invested in the expansion of the rails in America. $8 billion of the investment came through the stimulus package of 2009.
Next week, Obama’s proposed budget is expected to be announced. In the proposal, he is to explain where the funding for the rail expansion would come from.
In the State of the Union address, Obama announced that he hopes that 80 percent of United States citizens will be able to use the high-speed trains by the year 2036.
Biden said of the goals, “There are key places where we cannot afford to sacrifice as a nation, one of which is infrastructure,” and that we need “to invest in a modern rail system that will help connect communities, reduce congestion, and create quality, skilled manufacturing jobs that cannot be outsourced.”
While Democrats are appearing to be behind the investment, the Republicans in Congress are not expected to be. Republicans are not interested in funding new projects at the moment due to the national deficit, so the passage of the funding proposal is not for certain.
The benefits of the expansion of high-speed rails in America are clear as traveling distances that are too long to drive, but too short to fly would become quicker. Despite the benefits, the costs of the expansion cannot be ignored and are sure to play a major factor in the finalization of the new budget.