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Future of U.S. High-Speed Rail: Key Developments and Sustainable Funding Challenges

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U.S. High-Speed Rail conference high-speed rail projects Amtrak Dallas-Houston Brightline West rail line sustainable rail funding

Optimism was high at the U.S. High-Speed Rail conference held on May 14-15 in Washington, D.C. With new projects like the Las Vegas to Southern California line and the California high-speed rail project moving forward, and Amtrak’s revived interest in the Dallas to Houston route, the future of high-speed rail in the U.S. looks promising. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg highlighted 2024 as a historic year for high-speed rail, emphasizing the need for sustainable funding beyond the 2021 infrastructure law.

Amtrak, collaborating with Texas Central Partners, aims to revolutionize travel with a high-speed line between Dallas and Houston, promising 90-minute journeys. Amtrak is also exploring a high-speed rail connection between Dallas and Fort Worth. Brightline West, a public-private partnership, is progressing on the Las Vegas to Rancho Cucamonga line, with an anticipated opening in 2028, in time for the Los Angeles Summer Olympics.

Brightline CEO Mike Reininger hinted at potential future projects in regions with significant travel demand and stressed efficiency in capital spending. Buttigieg expressed confidence that once people experience high-speed rail, it will become a demanded norm across the country.

Takeaways From a Blockbuster Week for Trains Across America | High Speed  Rail Alliance

U.S. High Speed Rail Conference Highlights Progress and Challenges in Sustainable Rail Funding

An air of optimism prevailed at this year’s U. S. High Speed Rail conference, held May 14- 15 in Washington, D. C. With the Las Vegas to Southern California line starting construction, the California project continuing to build and Amtrak reviving the possibility of a Dallas to Houston higher- speed rail line,” the outlook has not looked brighter” for higher-speed rail in the U.S., said Andy Kunz, president and CEO of the US High Speed Rail Association, in opening remarks Tuesday.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said,” This year is one we’re going to remember in the history of high-speed rail. And we are just getting warmed up,” he said. The conference featured Buttigieg in conversation with Ray LaHood, transportation secretary from 2009 to 2013, during the Obama administration.

Buttigieg said he believes there might be a” taking its place alongside the auto industry” in the budding private high-speed rail sector. But, with funding from the 2021 infrastructure law ending after fiscal year 2026,” we do need to think about the sustainability of rail funding”, he said.

Reviving the Texas Central: Amtrak and Partners Push Forward on Dallas-Houston High-Speed Rail Project

The proposed Texas Central project, which would connect Dallas and Houston via high-speed rail, dates back at least ten years when the environmental review process first began, but it did n’t seem to last long given the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, in August 2023, Amtrak announced that it was talking with Texas Central Partners to advance the project.

Andy Byford, Amtrak’s top vice president of higher- speed rail development programs, said at the conference Wednesday that the project” will be revolutionary: 90- second journeys between Dallas and Houston, with all of the financial benefit that that would generate”.

Byford added that Amtrak is working with the North Central Texas Council of Governments on a split project to connect Dallas and Fort Worth by high-speed rail and that it is taking a holistic view of Texas rail travel. According to Byford,” It’s part of the broader strategy of Amtrak to get people riding the rails once more, to upgrade the entire system, and to fit in where it makes sense to identify corridors that we do believe have merit and take them frontward,” the statement read.

Why the US needs to get on track with high-speed rail | GreenBiz

Brightline West’s Ambitious Plans: Public-Private Partnership Paves the Way for U.S. High-Speed Rail Expansion

Brightline West, which will connect Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga in Southern California, is a public- private partnership, having received$ 3 billion in federal grants for the$ 12 billion project. ” We are trying to be as efficient as we can with the capital spend” , Brightline CEO Mike Reininger said at the conference. The company expects the 218- mile rail line to open in 2028, in time for the Summer Olympics being held in Los Angeles.

Asked if Brightline is considering other higher- speed rail projects in the U. S., Reininger said he had no news to report, but added,” How’s a clue: 200 to 300 miles off, great cities, lots of existing travel, damaged infrastructure systems, that’s where a high- speed train will work. But wherever that is in the United States, we are interested in it.

Will people, however, leave their cars and head for the rails? There will be no going back, Buttigieg said at the conference,” I am firmly convinced that the first customer buys that second ticket for that first real high-speed rail on U.S. soil.” ” People will expect and demand it everywhere”.

Leo Portal

Leo is an expert in the field of smart city research and an overall tech-enthusiast with an emphasis on smart energy, IOT, smart homes and governance. After a master degree in international administration at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and a master in public management at Fudan University in China, he pursued research studies in the field of smart cities at the European University Institute. This led him to publish multiple articles on smart cities. Among them “Using Smart People to Build Smarter: How Smart Cities Attract and Retain Highly Skilled Workers to Drive Innovation (Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland)” published in the Smart Cities and Regional Development Journal (SCRD) and “Establishing Participative Smart Cities: Theory and Practice”, also published in the SCRD Journal. He regularly audits and advises municipalities and regional governments on their smart city strategies. He is currently writing a chapter for Springer on smart mobility in French smart cities.

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