A Plan for American High-Speed Rail Arrives in Congress

A bill with a $205 billion allocation to bring high-speed trains to America and create over two million jobs in five years.

The development of high-speed rail in the United States now also has legislative support. A group of congressmen has introduced a bill to the House called the American High-Speed Rail Act, which proposes an investment of $205 billion over five years, with the clear intention of building an infrastructure network for high-capacity, high-speed trains, akin to the creation of the highway system in the mid-20th century.

The bill, signed by Representatives Seth Moulton and Suzan DelBene, representing Massachusetts and Washington State respectively, along with 25 other members of the House, follows an $8.2 billion investment in high-speed rail outlined in a law passed in November 2021 by the American administration to address infrastructure deterioration or deficiencies in the country.

Two million jobs: Fast trains accelerate employment

The new bill aims to create a virtuous cycle, with annual funds of $41 billion, capable of generating, according to calculations underlying the plan, more than two million jobs.

Representative Seth Moulton had already presented a detailed plan for high-speed rail in the United States to the press in 2020, aiming to address chronic delays in this sector, to the extent that railway tracks in some areas are the same as over a hundred years ago. The program is based on the belief that the first high-speed project to become operational will attract all others, as has long been the case in Europe and Asia.

Among the most advanced projects is the Texas Central to connect Dallas and Houston in just 90 minutes (compared to four hours by car), being worked on by the public railway company Amtrak and the Webuild group, responsible for the construction of the entire infrastructure. The Dallas-Houston train is designed to travel at 205 mph (330 km/h) using Japanese technology, the safest and most reliable in the world.

Big projects to get America moving again

Alongside the Dallas-Houston project, there are many others aiming to change transportation habits in America. Among these, some of the most important include the connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles in California and the Brightline West, which will start from Las Vegas in Nevada to reach the Los Angeles metropolitan area with a train traveling at 186 mph (300 km/h). Since September 2023, the Brightline company has inaugurated the Miami-Orlando line in Florida with modern trains that, due to urban constraints, maintain speeds within 125 mph (200 km/h).

Although introduced in the final phase of the legislature, with elections looming, the American High-Speed Rail Act is a document on which the US transportation industry can still base future planning. The plan includes a detailed list of new railway routes in individual states and a long list of benefits that could be obtained if Congress embraced high-speed rail. These include increased and safer mobility for people, cleaner transportation, less air pollution, economic development around new railway stations, and, not least, the possibility for the United States to reduce the competitive and infrastructural gap with China.