High speed rail, a fantasy

Sometimes I mention my desire for high speed rail, and I’m doing it again.

Now, my most frequent (and half-joking) remark is that I’d like to sell Disney on the idea of a Disney Land to Disney World route. While it’d work it’s clunky and to be honest not really going to sell the system.

However, I have a ‘real’ proposal for the HSR people. See, most of the time HSR gets sold as a commuter concept. That’s possible, but it requires balancing the convenience of the automobile. I think it’s eventually going to be necessary and maybe obvious, but it’s a bad fight at this instant. Instead, I think the HSR should aim at a more logical opponent: air travel.

I would push one route as the proof of concept. New York City to Miami, with stops in DC, Atlanta, and Orlando FL.

NYC Miami is the US air route with the most passengers. There is plenty of demand for the route. NY Atlanta and Atlanta Miami are consistently in the top five routes by the same measure. ATL Orlando is in the top ten. Why DC? Partly politics, partly that DC is a very high destination. Should there be something between DC and Atlanta? Maybe – it is a long way, but there isn’t THAT large of an attraction route for the first run.

Now, NYC to Miami is 3 hours by non-stop travel — up to five for most connections. The route I mentioned is ~1500 miles. At 200 mph that’s 7.5 hours, and you can add another hour or so for the three stops. 3 hours vs 8.5 hours, airplane vs train. Subsidize the train as much as airlines are subsidized and the train, even HSR, should be a bit less expensive.

Once proven possible there are several options. Los Angeles to Seattle. LA to Atlanta. Seattle to NYC by way of Chicago. (Another favorite though less profitable San Fran SLC Denver Kansas City Chicago.) That’s the passenger lines – add the freight routes too when NY-Miami is proven as well.

But the sale is in passengers, and that’s where I’d push if I really could push.

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