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Published on March 28th, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown

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High-Speed Trains Improve Quality Of Life

March 28th, 2013 by  


If you aren’t from China, Japan, Europe, or one of those places in which there are high-speed railways, riding the train may not be super glamorous. But they still improve your community and the environment.

Train station in London on a stormy day.

Train Station In London.
Image Credit: Giideon via Shutterstock.

The same applies to buses. In the old days, both trains and buses had uncomfortable and hard plastic seats, open windows, no air conditioning, and they were not pleasant overall. Now, new buses from Volvo, for example, have air conditioning, tinted windows, and good ride quality. They also increasingly come with WiFi so that you can work or play while you ride.

Public transportation appears to be evolving into a convenience, rather than a necessary evil to avoid high gas prices.

I see modern high-speed trains in China with leather seats, overhead luggage compartments like that of passenger jets, air conditioning, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to make 800-mile trips in only 4 hours, or 400-mile trips (like the Acela Express) in only 2 hours, at speeds over 200 mph!


For those in a hurry, this provides a major speed advantage over private car transportation. Transportation by car today is slow because of traffic, making it quite frustrating. And it has always been much more dangerous than riding trains.

As a recent UCLA report says, high-speed trains effectively bring cities closer together by decreasing travel time. Places that are hundreds of miles away appear to be out of reach, and impractical to get to, because of the high cost of transportation, and when you pile on the long travel time of at least several hours, it makes your desired destination feel very far away.

If you can be rocketed to your destination in only a couple of hours, however, using a high-efficiency train (provided this translates into a relatively low ticket cost), then a trip to the other side of your state could be almost as easy as a trip to the store.

You could go sightseeing 200 miles away on a whim!

As for the economic benefits of high-speed railways: rail stations hire contractors to maintain rails and tracks, mechanics and electricians to maintain the trains, ancillary staff to clean, and security guards (hopefully) to keep everyone safe.

Last, but not least, the short-term, temporary jobs created by railway construction can actually provide long-term economic benefits, as they provide the economy with stimulation to get the cycle that I mention below started. Once it starts, it can be sustained after the temporary construction jobs end.

There is a very crucial and seldom mentioned economic benefit of hiring people. When people are hired, they can then pay taxes, and there are so many taxes to be paid, including value-added tax (VAT), income tax, sales tax, gas taxes, and more, so increased private sector employment helps to increase government revenue and reduce/prevent budget deficits.

When employees are working, they consume more — automobiles, consumer electronics, household appliances, food at restaurants, insurance, public transportation of course, and so much more.

All of these industries then hire people as well. The ripple effect of employment is absolutely massive, to say the least, whether it is government or private sector employment. One of the key benefits of investing in high-speed rail is that it creates more of those initial jobs than just about anything else:

jobs 
 
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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.



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