High-Speed Rail Expands Everywhere (Except The U.S.)

The number of countries offering high speed trains is expected to nearly double over the next few years, according to new research by the Worldwatch Institute forVital Signs Online.

Today, 14 countries offer some sort of high speed rail system as an alternative to automobile and plane transportation. By 2014 experts say high-speedtrains will be operating in nearly 24 countries, including China, France, Italy, Japan, Spain and hopefully the United States.

“The rise in HSR has been very rapid,” said Worldwatch Senior Researcher Michael Renner, who conducted the research. “In just three years, between January 2008 and January 2011, the operational fleet grew from 1,737high-speedtrainsets worldwide to 2,517. Two-thirds of this fleet is found in just five countries: France, China, Japan, Germany, and Spain. By 2014, the global fleet is expected to total more than 3,700 units.”

France in particular accounts for about half of all Europeanhigh-speedrailtravel. HSR reached an astounding 62 percent of the country’s passengerrailtravel volume in 2008, up from just 23 percent in 1990, thanks to affordable ticket prices, an impressive network, and reliability.

In addition to being more reliable than planes or personal vehicles, high speed rail offersmeasurableenvironmental benefits as well.A 2006 comparison of greenhouse gas emissions by travel mode, released by the Center for Neighborhood Technologies, found that HSR lines in Europe and Japan released 30-70 grams of carbon dioxide per passenger-kilometer, versus 150 grams for automobiles and 170 grams for airplanes.

Currently, high-speed rail in the United States currently consists of only route: Amtrak’s Acela Express runs on the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington, D.C. Unlike Asian or European systems, the Acela shares its tracks with conventional rail, and thus is limited to an average speed of 68 mph.

But plans are underway for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) to build an 800-mile statewide system that will link a handful of major metropolitan areas Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego chief among them.

Related Reading:

Biden Announces $53 Billion Intercity Rail Plan

Outcry Over China’s Cover Up Of Bullet Train Crash

U.S. Infrastructure Crumbling: Falling Behind Developing Nations

Image Credit: Flickr – Thad Roan – Bridgepix

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Bill K.
Bill K.3 years ago

the US is sort of a backwards country

Monteque Pope-le Beau

This is something we need. It will be good for the people by creating jobs and less people will be using cars and plains.

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

sandra m.
Past Member 4 years ago


Berny P.
Berny p.4 years ago


Russ Gregory
Russ Gregory4 years ago

We could have had High-Speed Rail long time ago... but someone decided for us... that we need to commute in other ways...

Holly Lawrence
Holly Lawrence4 years ago

Time for the US to hop on-board!

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers4 years ago


Past Member 4 years ago

Thank you, Darlene! We don't even properly maintain the rails we have now! Politician's do love NEW projects, though. When we can't maintain our high speed rails (assuming they get built), it will be appalling to see the magnitude of the accidents that happens on them.

Just like the Keystone XL pipeline, politicians (our President included) seem like they won't be happy until every bit of open and natural space is cris-crossed and chopped through by one of their blessed projects.

Mandi A.
Amanda Adams4 years ago