The House of Representatives will be holding a hearing tomorrow morning (Dec. 15) on the California High Speed Rail Project. The hearing is entitled: California's High-Speed Rail Plan: Skyrocketing Costs & Project Concerns, and starts at 10 a.m. in room 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.
The US High Speed Rail Association has issued the following statement on this hearing and high speed rail in America:
An open letter to Congress and Members of the House Transportation Committee:
We commend Chairman Mica and the Committee for holding the hearings continuing the focus on developing true high speed rail (HSR) in America as another transportation option. We submit this letter for the record for the hearing California's High-Speed Rail Plan: Skyrocketing Costs & Project Concerns, held on Dec. 15, 2011.
The US High Speed Rail Association (USHSR) supports the development of true high speed rail in California, the Northeast Corridor, and several others to expand our mobility options. The nation's current transportation options are deteriorating rapidly, creating major problems nationwide:
Severe highway congestion in every region of America, getting worse each year Aviation in continuous decline with increased cancellations, delays and bankruptcies permanently rising transportation fuel costs (oil currently around $100 per barrel)
America desperately needs additional options for moving people and goods around the nation. Our roads and airports were built when oil was $5 per barrel. Today, America struggles to keep these running with oil now at $100 per barrel, and rising. Experts predict oil will surpass $200 per barrel this decade, establishing a real urgency to constructing HSR in multiple corridors as quickly as possible.
Businesses across America are paying the price every day in lost productivity for a transportation system that gets more expensive as the service levels worsen. Our growing congestion and rising fuel prices combine to make it more costly to do business in America. Congestion delays alone cost more than $156 billion each year in wasted time and fuel stuck on our highways and runways. This 'hardening of the nation's arteries' - makes America less competitive with nations that have HSR - the only form of transportation not subject to congestion.
Investing in high speed rail as part of a balanced transportation system is smart business for America. HSR costs less to build than roads and airports. High speed rail delivers:
Proven technology with a 45 year track record; Highly successful everywhere it's built Safely transporting billions of passengers Relieving congestion, saving time, money and fuel Creates jobs, economic development, efficiency, and real estate development
HSR is currently in operation in more than 20 countries (including the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan). HSR is under construction in more than 10 countries (including China, Spain, and Italy); and in development in another 14 countries (including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Morocco, Russia, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, India, Argentina, and Brazil). HSR has been in operation in Japan for 45 years carrying more than 9 billion passengers without a single fatality.
The US High Speed Rail Association urges you to keep the nation moving forward on high speed rail by continuing to fund the following priority corridors simultaneously:
California HSR - Special Project of National Significance Northeast Corridor HSR Project of National Significance Chicago Hub HSR Project Texas HSR Project Various other smaller upgrade projects on existing rail lines Preliminary planning studies for the next round of new projects
California HSR is a Special Project of National Significance worthy of ongoing federal funding. It's the largest and most advanced HSR project in the nation, with the first phase readying to go out to bid. There is widespread public and business support for the project. It's already creating jobs, and will quickly become a national demonstration project for advanced HSR technology in America. Given its location near Silicon Valley, this could lead to the launch of a new high tech industry. California will be the first test of 220 mph trains on American soil, quickly advancing the nation from last place to first place in global state-of-the-art HSR.
California needs this new rail system because they have the worst congestion in America, with no possibility of expanding their freeways. With the state's population expected to double, HSR is the only feasible mobility solution. California is the 8th largest economy in the world, and represents more than 13 percent of the U.S. economy. The state needs a modern, efficient transportation system. The recently released business plan laid out the worst case scenario of taking decades to build out. A number of investors have already expressed interest in building the second phase - the two end pieces - creating the full San Francisco to Los Angeles 220 mph connection. This will quickly become the busiest, most profitable rail line in America, and a top five in the world.
We have a unique opportunity to launch a national high speed rail competition between the east and west coasts for developing HSR in America. There's no time to wait for the Northeast corridor to be built before launching other important HSR systems. Regions across America need high speed rail's benefits now. The best way forward is to advance multiple systems simultaneously in different regions.
The US High Speed Rail Association supports the development of multi-use infrastructure corridors containing rail lines, pipe lines, communication lines, utilities, energy systems, and smart grid lines. Together, these save money by combining investments across a number of sectors, creating additional revenue streams.
As the nation enters a new era of tight budgets, high energy prices, and paralyzing congestion, HSR will play an important role across America by delivering new transportation options that save time, money, and energy.