Biden often uses Amtrak services and the plan looks to build on his campaign promise to “spark the second great railroad revolution” in the US. 

USHSR’s five-point high-speed rail plan comprises: 

1 Create a new High-Speed Rail Development Authority within the US Department of Transport (USDOT) to direct and coordinate the national programme, working closely with the states. The authority would be tasked with initiating new high-speed rail projects, conducting route studies, filing for permits, assembling land, hiring contractors and consultants, and hiring concessionaires to operate the trains. This includes streamlining the approvals process by allowing simultaneous approvals, shortened timelines, and single agency approvals. 

2 Identify and designate the nation’s top five high-speed rail priority projects as “special projects of national significance.” These projects would be fast-tracked to completion with the full support of the federal government. 

USHSR’s five proposed projects are:  

  • California high-speed rail - $US 60bn 
  • Texas high-speed rail - $US 20bn 
  • Northeast Corridor (NEC) upgrade, New York City tunnels - $US 50bn 
  • Cascadia high-speed rail (Vancouver - Seattle - Portland) - $US 40bn, and 
  • Florida high-speed rail (Tampa - Orlando) - $US 2.5bn. 

3 Select second-tier projects to receive funding and assistance for early works, including planning, route studies, permits, land acquisition, and pre-construction works.  

USHSR proposed projects include: 

  • Chicago - Milwaukee - $US 8bn 
  • Atlanta - Charlotte - $US 18bn 
  • Denver - Albuquerque - $US 40bn 
  • Nashville - Memphis - $US 15bn 
  • Chicago - Detroit - $US 30bn 
  • Phoenix - Tucson - $US 12bn, and 
  • Kansas City - St Louis - $US 19bn. 

4 Coordinate closely on transit-oriented development (TOD) planning with local cities and jurisdictions to maximise community and economic development opportunities brought by new high-speed stations.  

TOD combines regional planning, city revitalisation, suburban renewal, smart growth, and walkable neighbourhoods. USHSR says directly coordinating the land development around high-speed rail stations will maximise community and property benefits.  

5 Work with the airlines and airports to replace short-haul flights with high-speed rail and extend high-speed lines to major airports. Encourage partnerships with airlines on combined tickets for trips with part of the journey on a train and part on an aeroplane. USHSR says this would begin to reshape the US domestic travel market, making travel easier, faster, and greener while also benefiting the airlines and airports who could better utilise their facilities for longer-distance flights. 

“We look forward to working closely with the new Biden-Harris administration on rolling out a national high-speed rail network,” says USHSR president, Mr Andy Kunz. “For decades Joe Biden has proven to be one of rail’s great leaders. We’re ready to work with him, congress, governors, and the American people to get many new systems built across this great nation so everyone can ride them.” 

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