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“A Lawmaker Wants Fast Trains to Rev Up the US Economy”

“US representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts proposes spending $205 billion over 5 years to connect Chicago with Atlanta, Portland with Vancouver.”

“Accuse Representative Seth Moulton of loving trains too much at your peril. Yes, the Massachusetts Democrat worked for a time on a high-speed-rail project in Texas, one that is now finally inching toward a groundbreaking ceremony. He’s pressed for a new rail tunnel in Boston. He’s a booster for commuter rail. But ask him why he loves trains, and he’ll correct you, firmly. “It's not that I just like trains so much,” he says. “We should have a transportation system that’s balanced and gives people options.”

On Tuesday, Moulton unveiled an ambitious—and expensive—plan to do just that. In a bill and accompanying white paper, the congressman proposed the federal government spend $205 billion over five years on a national high-speed rail network. That money could, in turn, encourage another $243 billion in matching state, local, and private investments, Moulton says. The bill would create a unified, national vision of a rail network that could guide future investments and would iron out regulations to speed construction. It would encourage private companies to operate the new rail networks, instead of, say, Amtrak, which is projecting a $700 million loss this year. It cites firms like Virgin Trains USA, which runs and hopes to extend a rail line in Florida, and Texas Central Railway, Moulton’s former employer, which is working to build one in the Lone Star State, as models.

Enough with the money stuff and picture this: Dallas to Houston without the 3.5-hour car ride. Chicago to Atlanta, with fewer weather delays and stops in Indianapolis and Chattanooga along the way. Portland to Vancouver at 220 mph. LAX to SFO—the busiest domestic airline route in the US—in under three hours without actually entering the cursed departure or arrival halls. Less pollution (these rail lines would be electric) and fewer deaths. (No one has died on the Japanese Shinkansen high-speed rail system in its 55-year history, compared with 36,120 on American roads last year alone. A wide, cushy seat with plenty of legroom, the sun shining through the windows.”

Aarian Marshall reports for Wired May 19, 2020.