Obama high-speed rail miracle

President Obama had earlier suggested a massive programme of high-speed rail construction in the USA. However, the plans were vague, and the figures did not match the scale of the projects. The first funding list has now been officially announced, so the reality of the claims can be assessed.

The Chicago – St. Louis corridor gets $1 100 million. The variant proposed by the Midwest HSR Association is 307 miles long, or 494 km. At present rates (€1 = $1.40), Obama’s budget for it works out at €1.59 million/km.

You don’t get a high-speed rail line for that money. In fact you would not even get a bus lane (€5.4 to €14.9 million/km) or a tram line (€3.3 to €28.5 million/km). Those ranges are from a Dutch report Kostenkengetallen openbaar vervoer (download). The Amsterdam – Paris high-speed line cost €58 million/km. A comparative study in 2007 gave an average cost for high-speed lines of €17.5 million/km.

The cost for the proposals on this blog is never discussed, because cost is a political matter. Conversely, howver: people who claim they can build high-speed rail lines for absurdly low budgets, are talking politics, not infrastructure.

Obama high-speed rail miracle

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