"High-speed rail has come to the Unites States," La Hood told delegates. "On Friday, California took the historic step to build the country's first high-speed line. This is a historic step not just for California but the whole country. What we are leaving to the next generation is the next generation of transportation: high-speed rail."

"We cannot afford to set high-speed rail aside as something for the future. High-speed rail is critical for our future.

Referring to major transport successes in the past, such as the trans-continental railway and inter-state highway network, La Hood said: "we have done it before and we do it again. Abraham Lincoln would be smiling down us today with what we are doing. We will not be dissuaded by the critics, naysayers, and those people who don't have a solution of how to get people out of their cars and onto the trains."