USHSR releases five-point, high-speed rail plan with project list

Nov. 12, 2020
USHSR’s new plan has specific recommendations for the high-speed rail program to be a success, including specific high-speed rail projects to fund.

The US High Speed Rail Association’s (USHSR) “5-Point High Speed Rail Plan” with a project list was released for the new Biden Administration, which USHSR says has promised to “spark the second great railroad revolution” with a major investment and focus on high-speed rail across America.

USHSR’s new plan has specific recommendations for the high-speed rail program to be a success, including specific high-speed rail projects to fund as follows:

Create a new high-speed rail development authority within the U.S. Department of Transportation

This authority would direct and coordinate the national program by working with the states. This new authority would be tasked with initiating new high-speed rail projects, conducting route studies, filing for permits, assembling land, hiring contractors and consultants and hiring concessionaires to operate the trains. This includes streamlining the approval process by allowing simultaneous approvals, shortened timelines and single agency approvals.

Select the nation's top five high-speed rail priority projects

This would designate them "Special Projects of National Significance" and fast-track each to completion with the full support of the federal government.

  • California high-speed rail - $60 Billion investment
  • Texas high-speed rail - $20 Billion investment
  • NEC upgrade, New York City tunnels - $50 Billion investment
  • Cascadia high-speed rail (Pacific NW) - $40 Billion investment
  • Florida high-speed rail (Tampa-Orlando) - $2.5 Billion investment

Select the second-tier projects

Second-tier projects would immediately receive funds and assistance with early work such as planning, route studies, permits, land acquisition and pre-construction works. The projects USHSR highlight include:

  • Chicago-Milwaukee high-speed rail - $8 Billion investment
  • Atlanta-Charlotte high-speed rail - $18 Billion investment
  • Louisville-Nashville high-speed rail - $15 Billion investment
  • Denver-Albuquerque high-speed rail - $40 Billion investment
  • Chicago - St. Louis high-speed rail - $18 Billion investment
  • Tulsa-Oklahoma City high-speed rail - $8 Billion investment
  • Chicago-Detroit high-speed rail - $30 Billion investment
  • Nashville-Memphis high-speed rail - $15 Billion investment
  • Kansas City - St. Louis high-speed rail - $19 Billion investment
  • Chicago-Indianapolis high-speed rail - $17 Billion investment

Coordinate closely on Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) planning with local cities and jurisdictions

This would maximize community making and economic development opportunities that come with a new high-speed rail station. TOD creates vibrant, livable, affordable sustainable communities in the form of compact, walkable, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use communities centered around high-quality train systems, making it possible to live a lower-stress, more affordable life without dependence on a car for mobility and survival. TOD combines regional planning, city revitalization, suburban renewal, smart growth and walkable neighborhoods. By directly coordinating the land development around high-speed rail stations, the maximum community and real estate benefits can be delivered.

Work with the airlines and airports to replace short-haul flights with high speed rail

This would also extend high speed rail connections to major airports and encourage partnerships with airlines on combined tickets for trips with part of the journey on a train and part on an airplane. This begins to reshape the U.S. domestic travel market that makes traveling easier, faster and greener for the traveling public, while also benefiting the airlines and airports who can better utilize their equipment and spaces for longer distance flights.

“We’re excited to release this new plan as the new rail-focused administration comes in,” said USHSR President Andy Kunz. “For decades, Joe Biden has proven to be one of rail's great leaders, we're ready to work with him, Congress, governors and the American people to get many new systems built across this great nation so everyone can ride them.”