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The Notion of a High-Speed Rail Network

Rail networks in the United States have transformed the economy in meaningful ways. For industries, according to a report by the Association of American Railroads, these sprawling networks increased productivity and decreased emissions and pollution while also decreasing shipping and trade costs. For commuters, as outlined by the Commuter Rail Coalition, railways serve to facilitate population density spread and provide a safer alternative to the life-taking traffic congestion people have endured for years.


In areas with high population density, in combination with effective and efficient routes, railroads may possess the potential to transform daily life for millions of commuters. The passing of a new infrastructure plan by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which allocates $20 billion for intercity railroads, might be the best chance in decades to meaningfully invest in the future of America.


As it stands, disparate networks of regular and high-speed rail networks are being proposed or built around the U.S., with mixed results in different areas. For example, California’s efforts are reportedly drawing criticism due to cost overruns, regulatory hurdles and disparate leadership, while other states seem to be making steady progress. At times, traffic can be a reality of life. However, more often than not, it is simply due to too much congestion for roads built back in the 60’s. According to Texas A&M's Urban Mobility Report, in one large metropolitan area, commuters, on average, spent 46 hours per year stuck in traffic. Reducing the amount of time people spend stuck in traffic can help people reclaim time and reduce stress.


Matthew Reyna is a recent graduate of the University of California, Irvine, where he studied International Studies and Political Science. He served in the US Army Reserve and is currently preparing for graduate school where he hopes to gather the necessary skills to become a geopolitical analyst. He is currently contributing to ONC as an intern on both the Foreign Policy & Defense and Science, Environment & Technology teams.


Sources

“Commuter Rail.” Commuter Rail Coalition. 2022. https://www.commuterrailcoalition.org/commuter-rail

“The Economic Impact of America’s Freight Railroads.” Association of American Railroads. Feb. 2022. https://www.aar.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/AAR-Economic-Impact-Fact-Sheet.pdf

Probasco, Jim. “Understanding Infrastructure Legislation.” Investopedia. 23 Feb. 2022. https://www.investopedia.com/here-s-what-s-in-the-usd1-trillion-infrastructure-bill-passed-by-the-senate-5196817

“Urban Mobility Report 2021.” Texas A&M. 2022. https://mobility.tamu.edu/umr/congestion-data/


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