The US High Speed Rail Association's High Speed Rail Summit last week in Washington, D.C., brought together leaders in industry and government for high level conversations on advancing high-speed rail in America. We want to thank all our speakers, and in particular U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Federal Railroad Administration Deputy Administrator Karen Hedlund, and several high-ranking members of Congress for contributing so deeply to the summit. At the heart of the debate is federal funding for the nation’s high-speed rail program. President Obama provided the first round of starter funding to get high-speed rail started in America. Congress has failed to provide the second round of funding for high-speed rail. Conference attendees got to participate directly in the debate with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle about funding.
Out of the debate emerged strong support for high-speed rail and visionary planning from the Democrats, while the Republican members who spoke were primarily focused on problems, deficits and privatization. Despite the differences, both parties agree we need true high-speed rail in America, and there should be private investment in the mix … exactly the things USHSR has been advocating for since the beginning of the national program.
Transportation has always been bipartisan, and it wasn’t so long ago that Republicans were strong supporters of high-speed rail — some dating back decades. As recently as 2004, the Republican platform stated “Republicans support, where economically viable, the development of a high-speed passenger railroad system as an instrument of economic development and enhanced mobility."
Four years later, Newt Gingrich, endorsed high-speed rail for California, Florida and the Northeast Corridor in his 2008 book, "Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works." According to a 2012 "New York Times" article, even libertarian Paul Rand had “signed a letter that several members of Texas’ Congressional delegation sent to federal officials in 2009 urging them to give the state money for rail studies to help it build ‘a truly ambitious and world-class high-speed rail network.’”
The US High Speed Rail Association will continue to work across party lines for this truly ambitious and world-class high-speed rail network. USHSR views increased investment in high-speed rail as both visionary and pragmatic. It’s visionary for thinking big and working for something better. It’s pragmatic and fiscally conservative because it’s a smart investment in the nation’s future. High-speed rail creates millions of jobs, revives our manufacturing sector, stimulates real estate development, and sets up America to save energy, money and time — year after year. It delivers fast and reliable mobility, it protects the nation from energy price spikes, and increases national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
Join our next exciting event in San Francisco June 2-4.