Here's What An American High Speed Rail Network Could Look Like

High speed rail is moving forward in California, but progress is pretty stagnant around the rest of the country. Still, there are a lot of proposals out there, and when placed on one map, they form an impressive rail network.

This map was put together by California Rail Map, led by Alfred Twu, which combined existing proposals from high speed rail advocacy groups around the US. Twu described his process for the Guardian:

Instead of detailing construction phases and service speeds, I took a little artistic licence and chose colours and linked lines to celebrate America’s many distinct but interwoven regional cultures.

The US High Speed Rail Association, a nonprofit trade association, predicts a network similar to this one could be in place by 2030.

Transporation Secretary Ray LaHood has called for a large HSR network, saying it could link 80 per cent of Americans within 25 years, for $500 billion.

Based on this map, starting in Los Angeles, a high speed train could get to New York, with stops in Denver and Chicago, in well under 18 hours.

Considering the significant funding and political will any large rail project needs, it’s hard to imagine all this will be built. But Robert Cruickshank at the California High Speed Rail Blog argues just visualising the network is a good thing:

But before the Interstate Highway System was authorised, it had to first be conceptualized on a map. This map gets us closer to the goal of an interstate high speed rail system by showing us what it looks like. And envisioning such a system is the first step toward building it.

Here’s the map:

us rail system possible map

Photo: Alfred Twu

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