High speed rail for U.S.

 high-speed-rail Pictures, Images and Photos

This week there were two announcements that both have to do with future high speed rail in the U.S. First was Amtrak, which unveiled a $13.5 billion high speed rail tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey. It actually replaces a previous plan that was rejected by the New Jersey Governor for being too expensive. This high speed rail plan is needed as the current rail link is old and not adequate to support increasing passenger traffic.

The second announcement came from the Obama administration. As mentioned in the State of the Union last month, the government announced a $53 billion high speed rail initiative that looks to make the U.S. more efficient, create new jobs and reduce fuel consumption by relying less on cars. This announcement has fewer details at the moment and we don’t even know yet which cities the trains will be going to and from.

It is too early to tell if either of these plans will actually end up happening. There are many steps that need to be taken before these projects get off the ground. However, it appears that there is a need for projects like this because the population is expanding in the U.S. and roads are becoming more congested everywhere in North America.

There is one caveat to all this though (actually two, if you consider the debt). New and future technologies are more than likely to make travel by cars less harmful to the environment and more efficient than is the case today. We are already starting to see electric cars in testing (See: Better Place) that will greatly reduce the damage cars cause to the environment. We are also seeing the potential to make cars smarter and capable of communicating with one another to streamline and manage travel like never before. Recently I saw a test being conducted in Europe which involved cars communicating with each other and it allowed them to travel closer together and at higher speeds. This would mitigate some of the need for high speed rail.

We are still years away from such developments in both high speed rail projects coming to North America or intelligent cars that communicate with one another. However, there are many opportunities for new businesses in this realm that will eventually come to fruition. Now is the time to come up with great ideas that will solve the challenges we will be facing in the future like increased population and eco-friendly travel.