Image via America2050
Good news for travellers who like to take the scenic route… or avoid the pain of airports. America is putting on more trains across the country.
Even a good 200 years after rail transportation was first invented, railways remain one of the most efficient and effective means of mass transportation of goods and people. The current US administration acknowledged this fact when it approved an obligated grant of $300 million for the development of high-speed inter-city rail corridors back in April.
What is interesting is that the Obama administration bucked a national trend with this step. In the next few years, if railways develop in the US as Obama has envisioned, it will radically alter the dynamics of American transportation. The grant, pledged by US Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, is not only expected to fast-track the development of a world-class rail network across the country, but also offer fresh impetus to the national economy by promoting economic development in rail corridors, and creating construction and manufacturing jobs.
Image via ArchDaily
One crucial aspect of this decision is the ‘Buy America’ requirement that the federal government has set. It will endorse American businesses in the development of the rail network as far as possible, and it has already got a commitment from 30 domestic and foreign rail manufacturers, who have bid for the contract, to expand operations in the US if they are chosen.
The regions getting a major rail investment include Washington, Connecticut, Missouri, New York and New Jersey. All in all, the total amount committed by the government so far towards rail development is a whopping $5.7 billion. The major question mark now is exactly how this development will affect the American economy and lifestyle in the coming years.
President Obama has a vision that high-speed inter-city and inter-state railways should connect 80% of Americans 25 years from now. That certainly is an ambitious vision for a country that relies more on road and air transportation for long distance travel. However, with this aggressive spurt of investment, it may well be realized.