By Alex Marshall
If trains zipped between Boston, Hartford, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington at average speeds of 160 mph-plus, with local service to smaller cities as well, this would give the Northeast a leg up on Chicago, Seattle or Los Angeles and help it keep pace with London, Shanghai and other world cities that are proceeding with similar investments.
Two questions above all hover around these studies: What is truly high-speed rail, and how much to spend on it? To get true high-speed rail, with trains going 180 mph and averaging more than 150 mph, you need a separate right-of-way and new tracks, a difficult thing in the crowded Northeast, not to mention expensive.
Alex Marshall is a senior fellow at The Regional Plan Association.