High speed rail

Time Photo

While the American High Speed Rail Alliance would prefer to see development of true high speed rail at 220 mph in every recognized corridor in the nation, the Alliance accepts the reality of the moment and recognizes that the states, with all their current financial challenges, infrastructural issues and political limits, must evaluate the cost and benefit of each high speed rail proposal and adjust their plans accordingly.

In its 2009 Vision for American High Speed Rail, the FRA identified three investment goals for the Administration’s current high speed rail initiative.  These include:

  • Advance new express high speed corridor services (operating speeds above 150 mph on primarily dedicated track) in select corridors of 200–600 miles
  • Develop emerging and regional high speed corridor services (operating speeds up to 90–110 mph and 110–150 mph respectively, on shared and dedicated track) in corridors of 100–500 miles.
  • Upgrade reliability and service on conventional intercity rail services (operating speeds up to 79–90 mph)

This investment strategy will support the following
types of high speed and intercity passenger rail service:

HSR – Express
Frequent, express service between major population centers 200–600 miles apart, with few intermediate stops. Top speeds of at least 150 mph on completely grade-separated, dedicated rights-of-way (with the possible exception of some shared track in terminal areas).

Intended to relieve air and highway capacity constraints.

HSR – Regional:
Relatively frequent service between major and moderate population centers 100–500 miles apart, with some intermediate stops. Top speeds of 110–150 mph, grade-separated, with some dedicated and some shared track (using positive train control technology). 

Intended to relieve highway and, to some extent, air capacity constraints.

Emerging HSR:
Developing corridors of 100–500 miles, with strong potential for future HSR Regional and/or Express service. Top speeds of up to 90–110 mph on primarily shared track (eventually using positive train control technology), with advanced grade crossing protection or separation.

Intended to develop the passenger rail market, and provide some relief to other modes.

Conventional Rail:
Traditional intercity passenger rail services of more than 100 miles with as little as one to as many as 7–12 daily frequencies; may or may not have strong potential for future high speed rail service. Top speeds of up to 79 mph to as high as 90 mph generally on shared track; and, intended to provide travel options and to develop the passenger rail market for further development in the future.

Note: Corridor lengths are approximate; slightly shorter or longer intercity services may still help meet strategic goals in a cost effective manner.