Obama's Plan of High-Speed Rail --- Not An Impressive Change

President Obama announced an $8 billion stimulus plan of building high-speed rail projects across the nation. I don’t know when local governments will receive the money and start working on this project, but I believe high-speed rail will more or less impact the service industry. I just question how much the impact would be.

High-speed rail makes travel between cities faster and easier. Airlines may not like Obama’s plan because people would probably be more than happy to travel by high-speed train than air. I will probably visit NYC or Chicago more often if it takes less time to commute by train. Likewise, more people from the hubs might also want to get away and see what Upstate New York offers. As a result, restaurants, bars, fairs, parks, and events may be able to attract more patronage. The bad news is people might not want to stay in a place overnight unless they have to. Then, local CVBs really need to pull things together and market a place well in order to keep visitors staying for more than one day.

I feel the level of impacts depends on the speed of these high-speed trains. Honestly, I expect more from Obama’s plan. Compared to the bullet trains that are already operated in Asia and Europe, the speed of the U.S. trains falls far behind. China just built a high-speed rail, on which a train can run more than 240 mph (394.3 kph). With that speed, people can travel from NYC to Boston, D.C., and Syracuse within an hour. That sounds real change to me. Under Obama’s plan, we will be able to increase an Upstate passenger train from 79 mph to 110 mph and cut the travel time between Syracuse to Penn Station from 5.5 hours to 3.5 hours. I feel the U.S. can do a lot better than that. What do you think?

References:
Associated Press (February 1, 2010). http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2010/02/high-speed_rail_has_benefits_b.html (picture was also copied from this website)
CRIEnglish.com: http://english.cri.cn/6909/2010/01/28/1781s546242.htm
Syracuse.com (January 29, 2010). http://www.syracuse.com/kirst/index.ssf/2010/01/post_26.html

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