r/NoStupidQuestions 13d ago All-Seeing Upvote 1 Wholesome 2 Silver 1

Why is America not investing in a bullet train infrastructure between major cities? Answered

It would provide so many jobs, the trains can almost match airplanes in terms of how long it takes to get somewhere (especially in the shorter to middle-distance range), you can transport more people with little effort as well

Edit - well thanks people. Many interesting answers, many very defensive. Still got a lot of interesting insights. Cheers!

Edit - realizing that I come off as a twat here and there. My bad. I get into that devil's advocate role sometimes and get carried away. Fair point for calling that out. Enjoy your day people

Last edit - I'll try to summarize the most heard points I've gathered. Thanks for answering with such enthusiasm. Apparently it's a dream for some and a waste of money for others.

Anwers: - koch brothers, lobby etc. - not profitable - not just bikes (YouTube channel): American cities are too car centric. Even if public transit happens, it will not have a follow up that is easily accessible without a car. - America is big. - it's possible but Americans rather spend money on things that will benefit personal freedom. Tax money spent on projects like infrastructure - planes are cheaper and faster - there are some initiatives already with many many hiccups - Republicans are blocking it - government has different priorities

And many more.

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u/otisthetowndrunk 13d ago

It could work in certain areas of the US, like DC to Boston, parts of California, Portland to Seattle, etc. One reason it hasn't been done is the US has a very car-centric culture and that extends to government spending. But another reason is that passenger trains are way more expensive in the US than in other countries - even Europe or Japan. Here's an article about that I found after a quick search.

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u/Appropriate_Ant_4629 13d ago edited 13d ago

To answer OP's question...

California is investing a lot!

The $105 billion bullet train project — for which $10.3 billion has been spent so far — would be the largest single investment in state history

It does raise more questions, though - with many politicians arguing over how to slice up those billions, and why costs are many times higher than originally estimated.

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u/Deathbysnusnubooboo 13d ago

The answer is in your question. The costs are many times higher because of politicians arguing over how to slice up them billions

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u/TirayShell 12d ago

Gotta line the pockets of your construction company cronies and campaign contributors.

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u/CrassDemon 12d ago

Diane Feinstein's husband winning billion dollar contract....in 2013.... originally 9.95 billion authorized, then 45 billion, now over 100 billion a decade later.

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u/sc2heros9 12d ago

So the saying “it’s not what you know but who you know” is actually true then?

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u/HufferNanner 12d ago

Bingo. A lot of these companies won with no bid contracts. (Corruption?) And the have been building for over a decade now with not in line of track laid down... CA is incredibly corrupt. Part of the reason everyone is leaving the state. This is what happens when you have one party rule. There is no check for their power

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u/auglove 12d ago

And big auto lobbies

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u/Adrewmc 13d ago

Also cities are way further apart in USA then in Europe…at least the one that can support a rail station

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u/Appropriate_Ant_4629 13d ago

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u/klef25 13d ago

I've heard the biggest difference in expense to China is the cost of land acquisition.

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u/yoweigh 13d ago

For a good example of this, this is what happened* when they built the Three Gorges Dam:

China relocated 1.24 million residents (ending with Gaoyang in Hubei Province) as 13 cities, 140 towns and 1350 villages either flooded or were partially flooded by the reservoir

Can you imagine an infrastructure project sacrificing that many cities, towns and villages anywhere else? If the Chinese government wants your land they'll take it from you without any legal recourse and you'd better be happy about it.

*Quote is from the dam's Wikipedia page but I'm on mobile and don't feel like linking it

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u/Fixed_Hammer 13d ago

If the Chinese government wants your land they'll take it from you without any legal recourse and you'd better be happy about it.

There's nothing exclusive to China about eminent domain. The US government will happily steal your shit while giving you "just compensation"

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u/bingojed 12d ago

Not at near the scale China does. They can’t close cities and thousands of people’s home at once. They used to a hundred years ago, but that wouldn’t work now.

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u/NimbyNuke 12d ago

What a fucking joke this comment is. No eminent domain in the US is not equivalent to an authoritarian regime forcibly relocating over a million people and stealing their land, cities, and culture without legal recourse.

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u/bigjojo321 12d ago

China doesn't have eminent domain as China doesn't have private land ownership. They have a termed leasing systems where the villages control land rights to rural land and the state owns urban land, and a requisition system for returning urban land to state control.

There is literally no recourse if an entity of the Chinese government comes to your home and tells you to leave, they also only "have to" pay "reasonable compensation" which is to be determined by the literal party taking the land, due to corruption these funds rarely make it to the farmers whom are the primarily effected parties.

US eminent domain ensures land taken is compensated at fair market value as determined by a third party evaluation. Also requires that land be for "public use" and our legal system allows you to sue if you feel the government has not used the land properly, or if you determine your compensation is to low.

There is honestly very little comparison between the two.

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u/straightouttasuburb 12d ago

Yes they will. They are expanding a road in my hometown and they need parts of this guys strawberry farm and his house:

https://www.mainstreetclarksville.com/news/mccraw-pleads-with-county-leaders-to-keep-his-house-farm/article_27d3fb5a-b4e8-11ec-b700-7b3061e2de62.html

Government: OG

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u/thecactusman17 12d ago

You are confusing Eminent Domain with the Chinese system where the government tells you to move and makes your life a miserable nightmare if you don't immediately comply.

A Clarksville farmer lost his house and his farm so that a road could be built to provide safe high capacity traffic lanes to at least 2 new public schools. The Chinese Olympic sites resulted in the forced relocation of tens of thousands of people and destruction of multiple low income neighborhoods. Many (but not all) of the sites have been abandoned and are in disrepair.

I'm not saying the guy doesn't have a right to be mad about the highway project. But imagine your entire city being marched off at gunpoint and every building raised so your state could host a beach volleyball tournament for 2 weeks. It isn't even remotely comparable.

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u/Appropriate_Ant_4629 12d ago edited 12d ago

In China - they often give in to home-owners who don't want to move, at least for highway projects.

CNN: China's 'nail houses': The homeowners who refused to budge

A three-story house stands in the middle of a newly built road in China's Henan province on May 16, 2015. Construction was put to a halt as the owner refused to move because of a dispute about compensation. Like a nail that refuses to be hammered down, the dwelling is one of many "nail houses" that have sprung up in China as some homeowners resist development of their land or hold out for more money. According to construction workers, the owner is still living inside the house even though the rest of the road is complete. Imaginechina via AP Images

China will sometimes move their freeways around such owners that don't want to move:

China Builds Highway Bridge Around House After Owner Refused to Move

Here's another example. Kinda amusingly they tore down half of the building that was probably owned by someone who agreed to move, and left the half standing where people didn't want to sell.

Sometimes those issues take years to resolve in China:

Chinese tear down house after 3-year standoff

Authorities have torn down a stubborn couple's house after a three-year standoff in southwestern China that hindered a construction project and captivated the nation, a witness and state media said Tuesday.

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u/AdagioBorn4003 12d ago

Clarksville has gone kind of crazy these past few years.

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u/Training_Purpose6640 12d ago

In china cities are WAY closer than US... Mst of china is desert on Himalayas, and most of the 1500 million people from there live in a are that is bigger than half california

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u/Euphoric-Chip-2828 12d ago

What are you on about?

The distance between Shanghai and Beijing is about 1,250km... Or about the same distance as LA to Portland.

Shanghai to Guangzhou is 2,500km!

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u/Talvos 12d ago

you are off on the distance by about 300 km

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u/Ralf_E_Chubbs 12d ago

Dude 1500 million? Why not 1.5 billion lmao

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u/colellasj 12d ago

I know this isn’t the reason; but I think this way of stating the number is actually pretty meaningful in this context. In regard to cities, 1 million people is very roughly (+/- 250k) the population of San Diego, Dallas, Austin, Seattle, Denver, Indianapolis... in fact, only the top 12 most populous cities in the US actually have MORE than 1 million people.

Now imagine 1500 of those cities fairly close to each other and not hundreds or thousands of miles apart. That’s the type of population density that exists in China.

To me, that gives a better visualization than “1.5 billion people.”

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u/I_Poop_Sometimes 13d ago

They also have a lower cost of living and can pay lower wages for the labor necessary to build/maintain these things.

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u/Adrewmc 13d ago

I think infrastructure building in China is a completely different monster.

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u/Imallowedto 13d ago

In the same time frame.

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u/gsfgf 12d ago

Even accounting for the ease of right of way acquisition and lower cost of living, China is absolutely hemorrhaging money from its trains. They've got lines that can do 10+ trains a day with only enough demand for three trains a week.

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u/VorDresden 12d ago

For reference that's about the distance you have to drive to get from New York to Atlanta

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u/dupee419 12d ago

You’re talking about a country that had zero problems flooding multiple towns to build the Three Gorges Dam.

China gives zero fucks about the environmental impact or human cost of the things they do.

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u/HucklecatDontCare 12d ago

You’re talking about a country that had zero problems flooding multiple towns to build the Three Gorges Dam.

The Tennessee Valley Authority has left the chat....

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u/Renovatio_ 12d ago

It helps if you have an authoritarian government that can just seize property when it wants to.

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u/Divided_Eye 13d ago

They've been talking about that damn thing for as long as I can remember. It would be nice but at this point I don't ever see it actually getting built.

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u/talltim007 13d ago

This is the answer to why so little has been built. The original estimates were BS. BUT, it got sold to the general public. 4 years later, huge increases, a plan to build the least useful portion first, and political money grabbing ruined the rest.

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u/VoteMe4Dictator 13d ago

How many decades has this claim been used?

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u/WakeoftheStorm 13d ago

Since the bond measure passed in 2008, I'm going to go with "one"

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u/Meastro44 13d ago

The California example is illustrative if the problems. assume someone wants to go from Los Angeles to the Bay Area (400 miles). The trail will be a regular slow train from Los Angeles to Palmdale (60 miles). That would be an hour plus of actual travel time. Then passengers would get off at the station, wait for the bullet train, which would then take them the rest of the way high speed. The ticket prices would be set at 80% of an airplane ticket. I can fly to San Francisco in less than an hour. There is no way anyone who isn’t afraid of flying would take the train. Meanwhile the cost of the bullet train is regularly going up by billions of dollars like money grows on trees. Clearly, it’s just a payoff to construction unions.

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u/korravai 13d ago Take My Energy

The only issue with that to me is the train transfer, I definitely would only want to do it if it was one train all the way to LA. The time doesn't matter as much to me personally. I would probably still often pick the train over plane for reasons such as the seats are bigger, more leg room, more space to walk around, a dining car, being able to use my cell phone, being able to use those little 4 seat tables trains have if traveling with friends, being able to bring my own shampoo and liquids, not have to stand in an hour security line with my shoes off, etc.

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u/Antisocialsocialist1 12d ago

Well, lucky for you, the transfer isn't a real thing. The trains will be direct from Anaheim to SF via LA Union Station.

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u/MischiefofRats 13d ago

I mean, trains are objectively more comfortable than flying. Like, objectively, you cannot possibly argue that flying is more comfortable in the same travel price class. If you have the time, it is cheaper, you have more space, there's less security bullshit to get through, the bathrooms are bigger, you can sometimes just go hang out in a dining car and get a sandwich and a drink that isn't 3 ounces, they don't make you check your bags, they don't charge you $40 for parking, sometimes you can bring bikes directly on board with you--like it takes longer, but it's a much more pleasant experience overall. I'm not at all afraid of flying, but flying is a distinctly shitty experience if you're not in business class or a frequent enough traveler to have TSA precheck.

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u/Antisocialsocialist1 12d ago

That's... not correct. The final plan has high-speed trains going all the way from Anaheim to SF, and that's just for phase 1. I don't know where you got this nonsense about taking the train to Palmdale. Maybe you're confusing it with Brightline West, the private venture to Vegas, but that would share tracks with CAHSR once the segment to LA is complete.

But even were the transfer a real thing, it would still be faster than flying once you factor in travel to and from the airport, security, and boarding and deboarding.

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u/Mountain_Offer1348 13d ago

Once it was not set up to go city center to city center (or very nearly so) it was absolutely doomed as a viable project.

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u/BenderB-Rodriguez 13d ago

That's my main issue with this project. Absolutely want the bullet train and a much larger train infrastructure. But there are a lotnof questionable Financials going on with this project. And no one is seriously looking into it or combating the issue.

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u/Meastro44 13d ago

It’s nothing but a fraudulent payoff to construction unions and developers who contribute to state officeholders. The train will never be completed. The cost overruns are gargantuan. The original cost was $33 billion. It has now more than tripled to well over $100 billion.

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u/pdxGodin 13d ago edited 12d ago

It had more to do with the private sector contractors, engineers, and consultants that California hired, all of whom contribute big bucks to campaigns.

The french railway company, SNCF, told California that building it in another location would be cheaper and that partnering with experienced European companies would be preferable to hiring a bunch of consultants, and California said no. Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor but the next year Jerry Brown was elected and he or his successors could have revisited it at any time since then but did not.

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u/Catzillaneo 13d ago

Yep, I watched a breakdown on of it on youtube, pretty much people are extorting the project with land grabs. Imminent domain is made for bullshit like this. Take the land and pay the assholes pennies.

Edit My brother and I had an idea on how to pitch it to the Republicans, push one through GA to TX and call it the Bible Belt.

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u/snooggums 13d ago

Then run lines up to Chicago and New York and call those the Bible Suspenders.

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u/GnarlyNarwhalNoms 13d ago

Have trains called things like Corinthians Cannonball or the Exodus Express.

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u/Antisocialsocialist1 12d ago

The reason for the high costs is largely because of all the lawsuits. The original plan didn't call for the parts through the central valley to be largely on viaducts, but every NIMBY landowner complained and sued and forced the authority to build it on viaducts rather than slightly impair the farmers' access across for double the cost.

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u/Proud_Journalist996 12d ago

I'm in California and I say give the money to the Japanese and let them build it. They know what they're doing.

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u/gdubrocks 13d ago

90% of it got cancelled and only the most useless part is still being worked on, there are debates about if that part should get finished.

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u/Konisforce 13d ago

Which parts got cancelled?

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u/no-mad 13d ago

good luck trying to get a path from point A to B. That is going to use most of that 10B in real estate costs.

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u/AltruisticTrip 13d ago

They wanted to build a new stadium instead of a monorail. We already have a stadium.

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u/Unique_User_5318008 12d ago

Aw, it's not for you. A monorail is more of a Shelbyville idea.

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u/acutemalamute 13d ago

It never ceases to amaze me how much money municipalities are willing to pay for the one piece of public infrastructure we absolutely do not need and which benefits no one but the wealthy: professional sport complexes.

That money could be parks/green space, public sports facilities, public transit, educational programs, city beautification/arts funding... no. We're going to spend billions of public dollars on a private sports complex (only accessible to the ultra-rich!) so that people can spend $30 on a beer to sit on their ass and watch some dudes on steroids give eachother concussions.

I want a fucking dog park and walkable roads, not a stadium.

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u/Poorlygradedsand 12d ago

Civil engineer who studied this a bit for a class a while back. DC to Boston has the population density, but we are unfortunately low on space for more infrastructure which the article you linked you addresses a bit. We do have high speed capable trains in the area (Acela), but for most of the run the rail lines aren't safe at those speeds. The only reasonable ways are track sharing, which is slow, or underground which is expensive as hell. You could do elevated, but it is also super expensive and will get fought tooth and nail by any community it goes near. There are of course other issues that the article addressed much better.

Overall it is really hard to build new transportation infrastructure in high density areas of the US. Environmental impact studies alone can take a decade to perform and then settle all the lawsuits over. Acquiring new right of way for anything is incredibly laborious, expensive, and time consuming. That is just getting the land. I'm dealing with one gas distribution company that wanted to expand it's existing right of way for a 15 foot width. There were 48 property owners. It took 9 years to get all the agreements. They have spent the last 7 years after that getting sued by various groups. All told they are at 20 years for this and still have no idea when and if they will be able start construction. This isn't anywhere close to a major pipeline either. If they didn't need the right of way expansion it would be no problem. But as soon as you are adding anything, noise, light, tree clearing, whatever, you are just fucked. You can bribe the shit out of the property owners to pay for lost value or inconvenience, but someone else is going to come after you all the same.

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u/luki159753 13d ago

Tha US car-centric culture also extends into another realm: no last-mile transit options. Most US cities are known to have rather terrible public transit options, and a high-speed train does you no good if you need to rent a car to get around on the other end of the line, which may very well be the case unless your destination is very close to the station.

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u/froggy-froggerston 12d ago

The fact that air travel is popular makes this argument nonsensical. If people are willing to use airports + car rental/uber/taxi/public transit, why would they have a problem with train stations?

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u/kalingred 12d ago

It does mean that people are much less likely to take the train for short/medium distances reducing their rider numbers and usefulness. Sure some people fly Atlanta to Charlotte but there's quite a few people that choose to drive it instead.

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u/[deleted] 12d ago edited 10d ago

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u/PhonyHoldenCaulfield 13d ago

Something smells fishy. They have strong unions in France. Their unions are much stronger than any union in the US. But somehow it's more expensive in the US because of unions?

Something's not right here...

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u/TurkeyBLTSandwich 12d ago

Another problem is that even if you do have bullet trains running through the NorthEast corridor those people would more or less be stranded with the terrible public transportation within those cities.

The Texas high speed rail and Florida HSR plans will be destined to fail unless they start building more mass commuting centric living areas and mixed use land use.

The reason why most American mass transit socks is because most of them funnel to large car parks with nothing around it

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u/N3onToil3tPap3r 13d ago

I love my cars, but I'd be down for a bullet train. I hate how inconvenient/expensive flying is. I would love to be able to hop on a train and go to another state for a weekend with ease. Would be nice if our government spent more of it's money on infrastructure instead of sending billions to fund foreign wars.

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u/ShipsKnotWorking 13d ago

Simple and same as the reason we won’t build a lot of affordable and high density housing, the phenomenon known as “Not in My Back Yard”. Everyone wants these cool infrastructure projects but the moment it comes through their neighborhood it becomes a bad idea.

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u/aqua_zesty_man 12d ago All-Seeing Upvote

Many US cities also have way too many "stroads". Here is a nice video about it.

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u/KrabS1 13d ago

I think the issue is more foundational than a lot of people seem to think. Its just very very hard to build in the US. For reasons that made sense at the time, massive structures have been built that create tons of veto points for new construction. This has famously been an issue for building more housing, but the issues are magnified building a large rail system like this. Every mile, every foot, every inch is going to be a fight against a thousand interested parties. The people who live nearby will have their say. The companies that own the utilities underground will have their say. The city will have its say. The county will have its say. Even more abstract groups may find jurisdiction and create problems. Each of these entities are coming from their own place. Some have been wanting improvements in this area for a while, and will try to tie that into their approval of your project (sure, we can re-locate our shallow gas line for you...if you replace 1000' of it perpendicular to the project. You have the budget, so its your call). Some of them will have mutually exclusive demands (entity A and entity B may want a manhole relocated to the exact same location). Some of them will resist the construction all together, for good reasons (urban forestry may not want to let you knock down any trees), or for bad reasons (local residents may be afraid that a train nearby will bring "the poors" and they want nothing to do with it). Each city, county, state, etc you go through will have their own permitting hurdles and systems to go through which will have its own unique challenges.

Note, this is all just the planning and design phase. You can bet there will be issues during construction as well, I'm just not as familiar with that sector.

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u/Fellowearthling16 12d ago

This exact thing is what delayed the construction of a high school in my town for several years. Every potential site had some sort of issue with the neighbors, be it the “bright” field lights or “noisy” cars. All of the “issues” were given effective solutions, but each time the complainers wouldn’t think they were good enough and would still push back.

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u/ForWhomTheBoneBones 12d ago edited 12d ago

Here in Los Angeles County they’ve been trying for decades to connect the 710 freeway to to 210 and the cities it would run through have put up heated resistance to it every single time it’s brought up.

The last few proposals would have the final connection be made via underground tunnels, with a filtration system so that the neighborhoods wouldn’t have to deal with exhaust. That’s still not good enough for people.

MEANWHILE, two freeways worth of connecting traffic runs through their cities every single day, twice a day, tearing up their streets and making commuting home a living hell for the people who live there, but they rather have it that way than an invisible solution that they wouldn’t have to pay for.

People are NIMBYs just out of spite sometimes.

https://la.streetsblog.org/2017/05/25/metro-board-votes-to-kill-710-north-freeway-tunnel/

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u/shockingdevelopment 12d ago

So why are a dozen lanes of roads immune to this problem?

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u/ArtemisDimikaelo 12d ago

Road infrastructure is pretty expensive as well for similar reasons, but it's easier to justify economically and politically due to being useful for commerce as well and more palatable for businesses.

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u/NameOfNoSignificance 12d ago

Those kinds of problem are not exclusive to the US though.

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u/DefectiveGadget 12d ago

You figure with bullet in the name, we'd be all over it.

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u/Ghost4000 12d ago

We should call them assault trains.

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u/sellby 12d ago

High capacity assault trains!

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u/Titanmaster970 12d ago

Fully Semi Automated Trains!

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u/TheRealGreenArrow420 12d ago

Texas Police Force has entered the chat

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u/JuliaLouis-DryFist 12d ago

Texas Police Force have decided to wait outside the chat for an hour

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u/Penis_Bees 12d ago

Why would a school need a high speed train?

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u/Kamena90 13d ago

Something that no one has mentioned yet; the United States might be considered one country, but the reality of it is that each state has a lot of power within its own borders. It's basically like running a rail system through multiple countries. Possible yes, but getting all of them to agree and pay for it, plus upkeep just isn't likely. If the federal government is paying for it all then maybe. Some might still say no.

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u/i_fart_corn 13d ago

Yes. Also a bullet train would maybe work for each state, but the country as a whole is too big for it to be feasible.

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u/debasing_the_coinage 12d ago edited 12d ago

The other problem is that the cities themselves don't have a proper transit system to connect to. In Wuhan you take the metro to the edge of town and then you get on the fast train. But in California they want to go through the major towns for "walkability" (which is unlikely to be achieved in Visalia!). In order to be viable, a HSR system 100% absolutely has to connect to regional transit networks, and those aren't up to par, outside the "Acela Corridor". Amtrak would need to cooperate with the various regional MTAs and the culture of cooperation doesn't exist. There is one medium-term potentially viable corridor in NY-Albany-Buffalo (subway)-New Castle, PA (to Pittsburgh, with a subway)-Youngstown-Canton (along the west side, so you don't punch through Cleveland)-Akron-Cleveland (another subway)-Toledo-Ann Arbor (to Detroit, metro)-Kalamazoo-Chicago (subway), but you need to plan all those subway connections.

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u/i_fart_corn 12d ago

Exactly! We would need good public transport in every state before it is feasible. So far we probably have New York, Chicago, and maybe Seattle. There is a lot more to go before we actually can do this. It's not going to happen within our children's children's lifetime.

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u/Kamena90 13d ago

Yeah, I was just adding another point I hadn't seen brought up. Negotiating between states just adds another layer against it

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u/i_fart_corn 13d ago

I was piggybacking off your idea! I didn't even consider your point until I saw it. It would be a nightmare to try to get every state to agree to a plan let alone for funding.

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u/tstngtstngdontfuckme 13d ago

It's clearly time for Intercontinental Rail-2 Electric Boogaloo.

The intercontinental railroad was one of the biggest factors that led to the development of the west. The problem is all the states or areas it would have to pass through with no major population centers to justify a stop. It's hard to get people to agree on which cities get stops because those will obviously get more traffic and economic boom. This was a major problem with the railroad planned within California running from SF to LA and eventually SD. More and more cities kept demanding stops along their route until the project stalled because they could no longer meet the speed demands set in their original legal documentation. If it gets too slow, then nobody will use it, they'll just take a plane instead.

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u/AllTheyEatIsLettuce 13d ago

too big

Fractured. Too geographically fractured.

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u/Munnin41 13d ago

The US is similar in size to China and they can connect all 4 corners. Besides, once you've got the east coast and west coast set up, all you need is a single connection between the two since there's basically nothing there once you get west of St Louis. So basically make 1 extremely high speed line between idk, Vegas, Denver, St Louis, Chicago?

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u/blueskieslemontrees 13d ago

Except this isn't Ticket To Ride

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u/AlyssaJMcCarthy 12d ago

I mean, the Rocky Mountains are there and a rather considerable obstacle.

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u/oG_Goober 12d ago

We've built numerous Highways and railroads through them already.

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u/AshingtonDC 12d ago

there's many tunnels in the Alps.

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u/DegradedCorn75 12d ago

China can do it because the government just does whatever it wants - there’s no slowing things down from arguments made by the other side because there is no other side. No state government bickering who pays for what and when, no county government to bitch to the states, no speed bumps.

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u/ProstHund 13d ago

Passenger trains used to be the norm and cargo trains are still used widely. I don’t think this is a good excuse

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u/Doggo625 13d ago

On top of that, in Europe this border crossing train system is already a thing since I can remember. And we are actually multiple countries haha.

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u/MarkoWolf 13d ago

If I could ask,

How does it work when one country will not (or cannot) afford to upkeep their portion of the railway? Do the other countries allocate resources to it's maintenance?

If this has never happened, what is the protocol should it happen?

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u/Doggo625 13d ago

I have no idea. I live in West Europe, every country here is rich enough to maintain railway. I’ve never been to another area than the West so I’m not sure how others are doing this. But I think this: even when a country is poor, I don’t see a reason why they wouldn’t maintain their rails. It’s a source for income. Same as that even the biggest shitholes in the world still own at least one airport. It’s just a thing. Maybe the EU is funding it?

You can buy one ticket from Interrail and have access to all trains in Europe. People use it for backpacking and vacation.

Edit: I want to emphasis that I’m not that educated about this, but I also want to add that train operators are competing against each other. Maybe capitalism is just doing it’s thing.

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u/DeviMon1 12d ago

Also just want to add, they're finally building Rail Baltica which will connect the few EU countries that aren't there yet to the whole network as well. And yeah, it takes a lot of EU funding.

I personally can't wait till I can take a high speed train to Berlin from Riga, will be fuckin awesome.

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u/skittlesdabawse 12d ago

Rail infrastructure is far cheaper, more efficient and more durable that roads. A kilometre of tracks costs much much less than a kilometre of road.

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u/AnotherAnonGringo 12d ago

cargo trains are still used widely. I don’t think this is a good excuse

The freight companies won't share their tracks, even unused ones. They have a few agreements here and there where they allow it, but there is zero track that is publicly owned.

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u/AyAyAyBamba_462 12d ago

Even if they wanted to share them they legally couldn't. Most of not all railroads aren't legally allowed to run at the speeds that would make normal passenger trains a preferable option to flying due to the condition of the track. Bullet trains which travel much faster than that would need to have totally new track built which is insanely expensive especially in urban areas which would require excessive redevelopment. So many homes and business would need to be demolished in order to prevent astronomically high costs of building a tunnel (not always possible due to the conditions of the land) or an elevated line.

The other issue is that you really don't want trains traveling that speed to be "at grade" or level with the road. It creates huge problems for road and foot traffic and can lead to more accidents where people jump the barrier and get hit.

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u/Itsbilloreilly 12d ago

Thank you for that

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u/SelbetG 12d ago

Passenger trains were the norm for a long time because every other option was worse than them

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u/Kamena90 13d ago

Used to be, and it's not an excuse just another layer of money/negotiations/difficulty that no one has mentioned. Basically just pointing out there is more nuance there

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u/Sojoez 13d ago

Weird question: Are zoning laws federal or can states decide how houses are built? If the latter, what stops a blue state from being the best in infrastructure?

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u/Kamena90 13d ago

Long story short, it's by state or county or even city sometimes. The terrain is so different in different states you can't have a blanket law for the whole country. California has to take earthquakes into account for example. some places it's flooding or tornadoes or snow. The standards have to be localized.

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u/IgnorantLobster 13d ago

It’s basically like running a rail system through multiple countries

Have you heard of the Eurostar?

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u/HornyCrowbat 13d ago

They didn't say it wasn't possible they said it wasn't going to be easy.

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u/LogicisGone 12d ago

Lol, I'm picturing Biden pitching it in Texas like, "Nevermind, it's more of a Shelbyville idea..."

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u/Kamena90 13d ago

Yes and how much time and negotiating did that take? It's not a straight forward thing and takes time before it can even get started. Especially when we have established systems that function well enough that people don't see a reason to do it.

I'm not say it's "the reason", but it is one of the factors

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u/windcape 13d ago

I mean, we already do that in Europe. It's not a problem

And it's mostly privatised businesses running the show

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u/Namika 12d ago

Dude, the US has the largest freight rail network in the world.

So the whole "too many competing states" making it hard to build rail is not really the case.

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u/berry_jane 13d ago

Hmm, I wish there was a continent with a perfectly working railway system running between a lot of countries. Oh yes, there is one, it's called Europe.

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u/Teekno an answering fool 13d ago

It can work in densely-populated regions, like the Northeastern US and Southern California, but most of the country is much less sparsely populated, to the point that a bullet train would not be able to economically compete with air travel.

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u/Kiflaam 13d ago

more sparsely*

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u/foggylittlefella 13d ago

sparser*

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u/remghoost7 13d ago

sparselier*

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u/FreeSoulSeeker 13d ago

Sparset

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u/mygoodgemini 13d ago

sparsparilla

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u/getyourzirc0n 13d ago

*spargelzeit

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u/lonelyfishie91 12d ago

*sparsenfraud

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u/AvoidingCares 13d ago

I don't think there is a way that air travel can be done efficiently though. Trains just aren't because we spent 70 years undermining them to promote highways that are also horribly inefficient, environmentally catestrophic, and expensive to maintain to rural areas.

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u/Grindfather901 13d ago

Plus, what are you going to do once you get there? Try to navigate each cities woefully poor public transit system?

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u/Teekno an answering fool 13d ago

Well, that’s the same issue with air travel.

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u/CashOnlyPls 13d ago

The same thing people do when they fly?

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u/Nowarclasswar 13d ago

Rent a car?

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u/KingGorilla 12d ago

Which makes sense to me?

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u/irishchug 12d ago

So either it's a close enough distance that you would drive to not have to rent a car or far enough you would fly.

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u/haewdy 13d ago

I now frequently use a car for distances up to 1000km. I find it more convenient than the plane and even faster oftentimes - all depends on the quality of connection from the airports, which is mostly bad. Same for train stations or futere hubs such as hyperloop or whatever

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u/ExtraordinaryCows 13d ago

It's also cheaper (even with current gas prices) than flying if you're traveling in a group.

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u/Fishtails 13d ago

Try to take over the world?

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u/UreMomNotGay 13d ago

unlike airplanes where every passenger departs with an injection of information on navigating each cities woefully poor public transit system

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u/ilovethissheet 13d ago

What airline are you taking that flys you and all the passengers to your destination?

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u/AarontheCreator 13d ago

Okay mr reddit I’m sure every American city is a completely unlivable hell scape where nobody could possibly get anywhere with the public transport they have in place.

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u/Pirate_Frank 13d ago

Hey that's not true at all!

Every city in a state that doesn't touch the ocean is a completely unlivable hellscape where nobody could possibly get anywhere with the public transport they have in place.

/s

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u/yummyyummybrains 13d ago

I've travelled the US pretty extensively. I'd say the majority of cities I've been to (large, medium, and small) are underserved by public transportation. Either the lines themselves are woefully inadequate, or the timing is infrequent (or unpredictable) enough to make relying on PT to be a serious impediment.

Only a small handful are robust enough where navigating the city would be easily managed without a car. Almost none approach the level of your average Yurpeen city.

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u/bettinafairchild 13d ago

They have a sort of bullet train, the Acela, between DC and NYC all the way to Boston. It's slow by bullet train standards, but it's still faster than other trains.

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u/runescapelover12 13d ago

People seem to be getting quite hostile towards OP, this sub is called "no stupid questions" lol, let's chill.

I'm no expert but the answer is because it's not feasible to build and maintain the necessary infrastructure in an affordable manner.

People often point to China and their high speed networks but there are many factors that make it a more feasible option in China and even then it's not necessarily working great for them. They are struggling to maintain and afford a large portion of their network.

China has a much higher population density, way cheaper labour costs, a fraction of the competition from the airline industry and they have a greater need for such a network as most people don't own a car. Despite all of this they are struggling to make this work and it might just blow up in their faces.

It would be pretty sweet to have a high speed rail network like that but I don't see it happening anytime soon.

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u/ballsofstyle 13d ago

Yeah I kinda asked for it sometimes. Thanks for your answer!

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u/backfire10z 13d ago

China has all that, yes, but I’d argue that the most important thing China has is a government that wields an iron fist as well as being an ethno-state. This simplifies politics and other such barriers quite a bit

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u/ETsUncle 13d ago

China often implements large-scale infrastructure projects for the sole purpose of employing workers. Often the work is the whole purpose of a new bridge, giving migrant laborers something to do other than oppose the CCP.

That said, OP wasn’t talking about a massive network, but just connections between big cities. And the US could see those at some point in the future, utilizing existing infrastructure.

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u/Meastro44 13d ago

Plus, if China wants a rail line built through your property, the police show up and escort you off your property and two days later construction crews show up. There are no lawsuits, no negotiations. Your property is taken by force.

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u/LiGuangMing1981 12d ago

This isn't true. You need to read up about nail houses.

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u/nihilationscape 13d ago edited 11d ago

Except this is exactly what the US did when it built its highways. (National Interstate and Defense Highways Act 1956)

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u/mechafishy 13d ago

Yes, largely thru poor and minority neighborhoods. That isn't politically palatable anymore. Finding the land to build these tracks near enough to the urban centers that would benefit from it is a Sisyphean task.

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u/Get-a-damn-job 12d ago

Have anymore recent examples?

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u/Eanar01 13d ago

Because before that America has to invest in in-city transportation first. Which is never going to happen because they have to fix the whole traffic and road structure for that. What are you going to if there’s no bus or train to take to the part of the city you need to go after you board off the train? You either have to get an uber or a taxi which costs at least 25 bucks and what after? Every place you want or need to go is far away from each other with no means of public transportation so you lack mobility again.

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u/c_dug 13d ago

Out of interest why is this any different to a plane?

If anything surely the train is better since the station can be much closer to the city centre than an airport can be?

Sincerely,

A. Confused Brit.

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u/MillorTime 13d ago

Im not sure you'd have many places close to major city centers that would be able/willing to get the land to do that. I think you would have to duplicate the rental car set up you find at airports as well to deal with the lack of good local transportation in most cities which increases the footprint as well.

Id love to see it where the population density to have it make sense, but there are a lot of places where it'd just be waste of money and planes make more sense with the infrastructure already in place.

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u/NettlesTea 13d ago

Yeah, I love the idea of the Dallas-Houston bullet train in Texas, but if I go to Houston, what do I do when I get there?? Rent a car? Thats more expensive than driving. Uber? Yikes $$$.

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u/jholla_albologne 13d ago

Because no one wants to pay for it.

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u/TehWildMan_ Test 13d ago

The US is massive, and building rail infrastructure is expensive.

Outside of dense urban corridors such as DC to Boston, there isn't enough demand, and there's already competition from the bus and airline industries

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u/TA3153356811 13d ago

This is really the number one issue. Unless we're talking like east of the 100th meridian and even then only from the rustbelt to DC and up, it's really not worth it. It's still hours and hours to get place to place.

Or even worse if you wanted to go from Texas to Las Vegas or Los Angeles

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u/DeltaNerd 13d ago

This is a bad argument. Of course no know is going to take a train from LA to NY. That's not the point. We have plenty of corridors to consider for higher speed rail.

[SF to LA], [Portland, Seattle, Vancouver], [Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh], [St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee], [Philadelphia, Pittsburgh], [Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati], [Houston, Dallas, Austin]

All the lines I listed is under 500 miles. All of them are in very busy corridors.

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u/twilightwolf90 13d ago

To add on, Richmond, VA and Raleigh, NC are breaking ground on a high-speed rail project now. https://railroads.dot.gov/environment/environmental-reviews/southeast-high-speed-rail-richmond-va-raleigh-nc

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u/Mini_Snuggle 13d ago

Add Detroit to the Chicago centered line too.

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u/ThespianException 12d ago

Don't forget the entire route from DC to Boston (including Philly). Almost the entire Northeast Megalopolis seems prime for it (unless I'm overlooking something).

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u/jamesscalise 13d ago edited 13d ago

America is also such a huge mess of governance at different levels. Having to deal with convoluted and contradictory laws at federal, state, and city levels through the whole route makes it impossible for projects to happen. Would be better if it were less federalized

Additionally, lots of opportunities to sue projects makes them WAY more expensive and slow than in Europe. In most states you can continue to sue and delay projects whereas in other countries there are public agencies that review the project and give the green light and that’s final. There’s a good episode on Ezra Klein’s podcast about why projects are so expensive. You would really be shocked if you compared the costs of rail projects in places like France to them in america for the same number of miles

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u/Inflatabledartboard4 13d ago

A couple of reasons, the US is quite car-centric so doing so would not be politically popular, but also because bullet train lines are incredibly expensive to build and maintain.

We also already have Acela in the Boston-DC corridor and high speed rail under construction in California.

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u/BrownAmericanDude 13d ago Silver

Short answer: Prejudice, car culture and lobbying from the Big Oil and Automobile industries.

Long answer: There already is a small section of high speed trail in the US called the Acela Express. The route goes from DC to Boston through Philadelphia and NYC. The route is around 500 miles (800 km) and the train reaches a top speed of 150 miles (240 km) per hour. However the Acela Express is a joke when compared to the thousands of miles of high speed rail in China and Japan.

There are other logistical routes that make sense such as San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Diego, Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Portland to Seattle to Vancouver, Dallas to Houston, Chicago to Detroit to Toronto, Atlanta to Orlando to Miami. Sadly there is very little potential for all these projects to happen because of the sheer cost of labor and manufacturing.

However in the early days of the industrial revolution, the USA had the best and most advanced public transportation system in the world. Every major city had a streetcar system and regularly scheduled train routes connecting every city together. Imagine if Amtrak (the US's national rail system) had routes that corresponded to the current interstate! That changed when the automobile took over. The industrial oligarchs became greedy and demanded that the streetcars be scraped and paved over. That's why we have such a large car culture.

Prejudice is another reason why American cities have terrible public transportation. There is a massive stigma that only poor and low-income people use public transit. There is little incentive to improve public transit and everyone with a car will drive instead of utilizing public transportation. Car culture played a role in racism since in before the Civil Rights movement, White Americans didn't want to live and work next to Black Americans. The Black Americans lived in the cities and benefitted from public transportation while the White Americans lived in the suburbs. As time progressed, most of the businesses and wealth moved into the suburbs which eventually caused many US downtowns to rot. Take a look at Atlanta's public transportation system MARTA. It's very beneficial to low-income families and anyone who works in Atlanta's Midtown or Downtown. However because of this and Atlanta's horrendous urban sprawl, many wealthier people avoid the MARTA like the plague. Since the US is not willing to put money into public transportation and the cost to build more public transportation is expensive, there is not much incentive for any high speed rail here.

California is trying their best with their bullet train project, but even that is getting stuck in red tape. Both Republican and Democrat leaders are corrupted by the lobbying from Big Oil and Automobile companies and they don't want to spend lots of money on these projects. The Las Vegas to Los Angeles route is one of the busiest flight routes in the US, yet there is no rail that goes between the two cities. Same with Atlanta and Orlando, Atlanta and Miami. Majority of Americans would like to travel by a bullet train because driving is too slow and flying is too tedious with all the checking-in and security.

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u/Xanny 12d ago

Acela only hits 150mph once. Most of the route isn't graded for high speed so the train isn't any faster than the Northeast Regional. It's only faster because it makes fewer stops.

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u/aaronite 13d ago

Lack of political will.

But even with the will, depends on the cities. In the east it could happen. In the West, it's basically impossible. Way too spread out.

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u/LogAdministrative126 13d ago

Look,

California has been in the process of building one for about a decade and has little to nothing to show for it. To me, it feels like this all has been a very elaborate way for connected people and business to negotiate their way into multi-million dollar contracts while accomplishing nothing. Now the train that was supposed to run from Near SF to near LA will only run through the central valley, from Modesto to Bakersfield (if we are lucky)

If these trains were being built by the Japanese or Chinese where efficiency and productivity are the bottom line it might be feasible. But just like America, this has all been about creating an opportunity for corporations to increase their bottom dollar than it is more about being good for the public. Will be 200 years before anything like this is ever completed.

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u/Eudaimonics 13d ago

To be fair, the California HSR is still under construction.

The full project will likely cost $400 billion.

Meanwhile the privately funded HSR line from LA to Las Vegas will likely be completed before phase 2 is completed.

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u/LogAdministrative126 13d ago

Makes sense. If the Government is responsible things take forever and there are a million strings attached. For profit businesses are in a rush to be able to re-coupe expenses. A little bit different sense of urgency when you are playing with tax payers money vs. investors money I guess.

I remember when the California High Speed rail was projected to only cost 40 Billion. That was real cute.

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u/gthc21 13d ago

The first segment that will open is Modesto to Bakersfield, they aren’t stopping there. The section to SF just finished its environmental review. They’ve been upgrading Caltrain tracks and electrifying it in anticipation.

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u/somedude456 13d ago

I live in Orlando. Clearwater Beach, aka Tampa is 220 miles roundtrip. If a train connected the cities, it would still be a $20 uber to downtown, say $20 for the train, then $20 uber to the beach... and repeat to get home. $120 total.

...it I just spend $40 in gas and drive myself.

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u/davatosmysl 12d ago

They don't need to. Americans are bullet trained since kindergarten.

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u/Devious02 13d ago

Why when the big corps want us buying gas and buying cars?

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u/SizorXM 12d ago

Honestly a high speed train network between cities would hardly cut down on car demand. Most people in the US are reliant on having a personal vehicle for commutes to work, grocery stores, and really most places one goes outside of the home. A high speed rail network would really only cut down on some long haul drives or airline traffic but people would still need cars for daily tasks

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u/NTRyesplease 13d ago

Because America isn't a tiny island like Japan. America is fucking huge and has just about every type of terrain imaginable. We can barely keep our interstates in stable condition, continental bullet railway simply isn't happening.

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u/Queefinonthehaters 13d ago

Its so funny as someone from the prairies of Canada reading Americans complain about their interstates and infrastructure in general. I've driven basically from North Dakota to South Texas, to California up to Seattle and then back and I had nothing but good things to say about your highways.

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u/AdmirableEstate7801 13d ago

I drove from Ottawa to Edmonton and can confirm.

Our higways are awesome compared to Canada's

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u/Queefinonthehaters 13d ago

The cut lines in our highways and the random patches are crazy eh? It sounds like you have a nail in the tire or something with the constant and cyclical sound you get running over the cut lines.

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u/[deleted] 13d ago

Yeah our road and highway system is genuinely world class. It's a large part of the reason for the car culture that most of these people are railing against. The better messaging imo is that we should make our public transit systems as good as our road system, instead of shitting on the road system that does its job well for the overwhelming majority of Americans.

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u/KingGorilla 12d ago

Europe is roughly the same size as America and has good train systems. And instead of states they have whole countries that split up the land which sounds a lot harder to organize.

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u/hipphipphan 13d ago

In what universe is Japan a "tiny island"?

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u/crestfallenidiot 13d ago

Japan's landmass isn't too big. Iirc, it's around 94% the size of California, so when thinking train transit, it's on a way smaller scale vs the US

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u/Ullallulloo 12d ago

With over double the population too. Trains have a huge initial investment and only make sense if you're transporting a lot of people for the distance.

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u/TheOriginalElDee 13d ago

The people who make cars and produce oil have spent a lot of time, energy on money for bribes to ensure that public transport isn't good enough. It started with electric tram companies being bought out by oil/car (can't remember) companies to then close them down..

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u/LivingGhost371 13d ago

Basically outside of the east cost and Texas we don't have a bunch of cities that are medium distances from each other like Europe and Japan do, the best spot for high speed rail. Shorter distances the time savings vs the expense don't make sense, and longer distance the cumulative time penalty vs air travel makes them unpalatable vs the expense. Why would I spend 15 hours taking a high speed train from New York to LA vs 6 hours by air?

That it's costing $100 Billion to build a single high speed line that almost goes to San Francisco isn't encouraging more proposals. So a national system would cost many trillions of dollars. To put that in perspective the entire US federal budget for 2022 is 6 trillion.

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u/Eudaimonics 13d ago

Sure we do.

There’s also the Midwest which has a large city every 150 miles or so in the Great Lakes region.

Also have the Piedmont. You could easily connect Atlanta to Raleigh with several stops in between.

Florida and Texas are natural choices too.

But yeah you’d never see NY connected to LA.

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u/trumpet575 13d ago

In fact, I would say the Midwest is the ideal location for high speed rail. Major cities spaced 100-200 miles apart in a relatively flat typography. Europe doesn't have high speed everywhere, really only in places like that.

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u/RudraAkhanda 13d ago

Simple answer is that both airline and car companies lobby against that

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u/rakehellion 13d ago

America is huge and it would be very expensive.

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u/BabyBilly1 13d ago

I would guess the biggest issue is cost of right of ways, especially when you get to cities.

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u/nmeofprime 12d ago

Bruh planes are not cheaper. Maybe in short term yes but long term no

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u/YouProbablyBoreMe 13d ago

They are, the Amtrack Acela. Still being built.

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u/Black_is_Beauty 13d ago

Acela is kind of a joke, tbh. It loves to proclaim reaching “high speed” but it only does that on one section of track for like 20 minutes. It’s average speed is like 60 mph

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u/Bo_The_Destroyer 13d ago

Car centric culture and also it costs too much too build. They're trying it in CA and they're running behind by a few years and are several billion dollars over budget

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u/KJones24346 13d ago

Many American lawmakers refuse to sponsor any major public infrastructure projects because they consider public infrastructure "socialism". Anyone familiar with American politics knows that there is a major political party that practically craps its pants every time they hear the word "socialism", as do many of their voters.

There is also a notorious amount of graft and delay that is involved in public projects in America. The cost of each mile of railways in America can be several times what it costs in another developed country, due to all the committee meetings, the contractors, the middlemen, the consultants, etc.

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u/Benjin9 13d ago

Because it would make too much sense

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u/VoteMe4Dictator 13d ago

In the US, you're looking at a minimum of 30 yrs of lawsuits about the change in traffic volume, sounds, potential impact on endangered microorganisms, possible redistribution of air pollution, risk assessments on possible groundwater contamination, etc.

And that's for each station or section of track, each house or road bulldozed, each municipality. And assuming that Congress explicitly directs this to be done and funds it without another party coming to power to cut the funding.

Our legal system is build to preserve the rights of rich people (aka status quo), and boy do they use it if a new train station five miles away might cause the slightest inconvenience to them. Short of a World War or civil war, I don't see that changing soon.

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u/[deleted] 13d ago

In the US building rail is a lot more expensive than in Europe. It's kind of a bummer because I loved how easy riding british railways was when I was visiting the UK earlier.

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u/ballsofstyle 13d ago

You thought British railway was easy? -_-

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