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Clean Transport

Published on July 17th, 2012 | by James Ayre

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High-Speed Rail Investment in U.S. Would Result in $26.4 Billion Net Benefits by 2040

July 17th, 2012 by  


 
The main argument against building high-speed rail in America is that it’s too expensive. Fortunately, that is simply not true. The net benefits far exceed the cost, as is explained in a new report just released at a Congressional briefing by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

high speed train

Image Credit: Maglev high-speed train via Wikimedia Commons

The report, titled “Opportunity Cost of Inaction: High-Speed Rail and High Performance Passenger Rail Service,” details how building a high-speed rail program in the U.S. will result in $26.4 billion in net benefits over the next 40 years.

Anti-rail protesters, politicians, and media critics get one of their central arguments wrong, time and time again. While the upfront costs of high-speed rail may look big, the long-term benefits far exceed the costs.

For APTA’s full news release on this matter, jump on over to Page 2.





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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • algalli

    If you want some bang for the buck upgrade the bridges from DC to NY so that the Auto train could come further north.  Today it is restricted because the high cars cannot get under bridges.  If Auto Train had a terminus near Philadelphia or NY its ridership would explode.

  • Pingback: Smart Growth News – July 18, 2012 | Smart Growth America()

  • BadDealARS

    Regardless, Greeceafornia has zero money
    and this project will be partially built on borrowed money, thus interest and
    principle will immediately eat up that $26 b so called benefit!!! Who says this
    a bunch of lib greenies???  The big
    picture is failure because it will never be done correctly & between
    government dreamers and greenies, it will automatically create a disaster, forgone
    conclusion always.

    • and expanding less efficient (yep, less efficient = moneysuck) roads for that corridor would not require loans?

      or should people just sit in traffic twice as long as they do now? since that’s so efficient and economically advantageous. (i.e. probably one of CA’s biggest problems)

      • BadDealARS

        Zachary, my response is – no response because you said nothing to response to, sorry.

  • highdesertslim

    I’m all for high-speed rail…as long as it’s privately-funded like the airlines are.  Otherwise, my tax dollars will be subsidizing little Suzy taking a trip from Chicago to Miami to see her grandmother.  Why do you think ALL of the freight rail carriers were out of the passenger business by the 1970’s?  IT’S NOT A SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MODEL.  And as far as having long-term pay-backs, might want to check on the financial health of Spain, and then read how devastating high-speed rail has been to out of the way communities in that country and neighbor France, as the trains do NOTHING for the communities that might be on the route, but do not have stations.  Then again, we need to re-build and replace our roads, bridges, water systems, and schools first.  Let Warren Buffet and Willard Romney and other private equity investors build high-speed rail, not me, an American tax-payer (and rail fan!). 

    • do you really think air transport doesn’t get massive subsidies?

      • Ross

        For a start the report mentions $40 billion for a new federal air traffic control system. It also suggests that by freeing up capacity on shorter distance routes the airlines could divert resources to more lucrative longer haul flights.

        It would be great to think another volume was about to be written in the inspiring history of rail in America.

    • and did you catch that the net result of investing in rail is a + on the balance sheet? for society.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You forgot to include the additional airport development that taxpayers will need to provide if we don’t shift some of the traffic to rail.

      Slow passenger rail is not a sustainable business model (see, that can be written in small case) for other than shorter trips along very crowded corridors.  But you can’t extend that to high speed rail where people can get to their destinations as fast and in more comfort than flying.

      Spain’s economy did not falter because of HSR.  It also did not falter due to renewable energy.  Spain ran into a housing bubble and crappy financial industry problem as happened here in the US.  Please don’t use false information in an attempt to push your point.

      As for the passed-by communities in France.   My experience there a few months ago was that they are using a combination of fast and slow rail.  Obviously the fastest trains are not going to stop at every village.  The same is true of slow rail with its ‘express’ and ‘local’ trains.

    • MB

      I am very tired of hearing this argument.  Private enterprise does NOT FUND ANYTHING related to infrastructure without government support and incentives FIRST.  Railroads back in the early 1900’s – government subsidies.  High speed internet – government subsidies including state and local tax breaks for companies.  Highways – government money.  Airports and runways – again, government tax breaks, subsidies….you name it, the government ALWAYS puts in significant investments to infrastructure first, then private enterprise comes along second.  It has always been this way, and I doubt it will change anytime soon.  Government provides the bulk of investment to get the infrastructure up and running, then private enterprise can run the trains for a profit.

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