The report suggests a blend of federal planning and oversight in partnership with states, which are implementing high-speed and conventional passenger rail projects. In multi-state corridors like the Northeast, it recommends the creation of federally chartered infrastructure corporation that can finance infrastructure development with public private partnerships. Passenger rail operators, such as Amtrak and other competing carriers, would pay track access fees to run their trains on the lines.
The international experience with high-speed rail suggests that similar transportation, economic, environmental and safety benefits would apply in American cities and regions. While it requires high upfront investment, high-speed rail promotes economic growth by improving market access, boosting productivity of knowledge workers, expanding labor markets, and attracting visitor spending. When planned thoughtfully with complementary investments in the public realm, high-speed rail can promote urban regeneration and attract commercial development, as shown in several European examples. High-speed rail has greater operating energy efficiency than competing modes and takes up less land than highways.
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy has been engaged in a series of projects with the Regional Plan Association for more than a decade. The partnership spawned the national initiative known as America 2050, which is aimed at meeting the infrastructure, economic development and environmental challenges of the nation, in preparation for a population increase of more than 100 million by 2050. A major focus of America 2050 is the emergence of megaregions — networks of adjacent metropolitan areas, where most of the population growth by mid-century will take place. Examples of megaregions are the Northeast Megaregion, from Boston to Washington, or Southern California, from Los Angeles to Tijuana, Mexico. High-speed rail is capable of linking employment centers and population hubs in corridors up to 600 miles in length in 11 U.S. megaregions.