Railroads are becoming an increasingly popular form

Railroads were key in making America an industrial and developed nation in the Industrial Revolution. Since the Industrial Revolution, trains have evolved into a high-speed form of transportation, with “the number of countries running” high-speed trains “expected to nearly double over the new few years.” Experts say the construction of high-speed railways in the United States will help solve some of America’s economic and environmental problems (Brown); however, major backlash to American high-speed rail projects have arisen, with support for these projects in California dropping from fifty-three percent to forty-three percent (Nussbaum). The combination of heavy support and major backlash over the construction and investment of high-speed rail projects in America exposes the major debate over this issue.
High-speed trains are becoming an increasingly popular form of transportation in America and around the world. In America, Amtrak, the United States’ main railroad service, “carried a record total of 30.2 million passengers in 2013 — the eighth annual ridership record in the last nine years” (Brown). The graph shown on page 5 shows the massive change in Amtrak’s yearly ridership from 21 million riders in 1994 to 30.9 million in 2014 (Dumaine). Amtrak did lose a net $227 million in 2014; however, Amtrak’s high-speed rail line in the Northeast, the Acela Express, made a profit, showing the high popularity of high-speed trains in America (Dumaine). Likewise, “interest in high-speed rail has surged” around the world(Brown), and many high-speed railways have already been built in many foreign countries for decades. In countries with high-speed rail systems, high-speed trains are an extremely popular form of transportation for long journeys (longer than 250 miles); however, in the United States, only fifteen percent of train journeys are longer than 250 miles (Lazo). Without a doubt, high-speed rail is growing rapidly all over the world.
The construction of high-speed rail projects in America could potentially be beneficial to the American economy. For example, the construction of high-speed railways in Texas “will bring a brand new industry to Texas” and “create 10,000 jobs during each year of construction and with that about 1,500 permanent jobs” (Poe A17). The California high-speed railway would also generate jobs, including 66,000 construction jobs each year and 400,000 other related jobs (Nussbaum). The construction of high-speed railways has also been shown to spur economic growth. According to Congressman Ted Poe, the Texas bullet train “would be an unrivaled economic driver for” Texas for years to come — “bringing new jobs, new developments, increased property values and opportunities” all over Texas (A17). The chairman of Amtrak’s board of directors, Anthony Coscia, agrees with Poe and says that high-speed trains have significantly driven local economic growth and development across the globe for decades (Lazo). Proponents of high-speed rail agree that the construction of high-speed railways will give America an economic boost that they desperately need (Brown).
High-speed trains tend to be quite efficient and reliable. In fact, high-speed trains are significantly more energy efficient than planes and use nine times less the amount of energy per passenger mile than cars do (Johnson). As a result of the trains’ high energy efficiency, fewer amounts of pollutants are released into the air than cars, buses, or planes would emit travelling the same distance (Dumaine). Additionally, high-speed trains would also drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to travel from place to place in a car or on a current American train. For example, the 475-mile long journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco on a high-speed train would only take two hours and forty minutes, compared to five hours and forty minutes on a 380-mile long car trip (Nussbaum). As a result of the trains’ high speed, high-speed trains can connect isolated places without the hassle of flying and air travel, which are reasons why investments for high-speed railways are skyrocketing. (Brown). For instance, in the American Midwest, the introduction of high-speed trains could greatly improve connectivity throughout the region because few flights connect big Midwestern cities, such as Chicago, Detroit, and Cincinnati, to small Midwestern cities, such as Bloomington, Illinois and Springfield, Illinois. However, trains could help connect these big cities and small cities by having rail lines pass directly through the small cities, resulting in more frequent journeys between big and small cities than air travel (Johnson).
Strong support for high-speed rail has been expressed by its proponents; however, major backlash to the construction of high-speed railways in America has arisen. Opponents of high-speed railway projects fear that significant progress in these projects is unlikely to happen soon due to high costs. Opponents also are angered that the Obama administration’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program has made $10.1 billion available for high-speed rail projects, but only 150 projects have been invested in so far (Lazo). Additionally, business owners in California fear they may in the path of the Californian high-speed railroad, as 365 businesses are currently being sought by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to buy for the railroad’s right-of-way. Opponents to the high-speed railway project in California also believe the project “will cost more and deliver less than promised in a $10 billion ballot measure approved by voters in 2008.” Since 2008, support for the Californian high-speed rail has dropped to 43 percent, a minority of Californians (Nussbaum).
The construction and investment of American high-speed rail projects has brought major debate to America, with heavy support in favor of the high-speed projects and serious backlash against them. Personally, I believe the construction of high-speed railways in America would be only positive for the nation. The trains would bring new jobs (Poe A17), a fast and reliable form of transportation to this country (Nussbaum), and would revitalize the left behind regions of America, such as the American Midwest, as described earlier in the paper (Johnson). Americans are fed up with the hassle of air travel and the slowness of travelling by car, and we want a fast, but hassle-free form of transportation. The hassle-free and fast form of transportation that America has the opportunity to introduce to its people is high-speed rail. High-speed rail will not only help our economy, but will also positively affect our environment (Brown). In Texas, the bullet train “would save an estimated 81.5 million gallons of gasoline per year,” which would greatly improve the air quality and decrease water pollution (Poe A17). Eventually, high-speed railways will be constructed all over America, but the question is when these fast trains to the future will arrive.


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