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  • The US doesn't have high speed rail

  • Does Biden want to change that

  • And is high speed rail a good idea?

  • Welcome to America Uncovered, I'm Chris Chappell.

  • And hey, if you're watching this and you aren't subscribed, please, consider subscribing.

  • It's a huge help to the show.

  • Okay, so why doesn't the US have high speed rail?

  • The US is one of the most advanced, prosperous countries in the world.

  • And yet while trains in China look like this.

  • Trains in the US still look like this.

  • American infrastructure is completely designed around cars.

  • Currently, more than 85% of Americans use cars to commute, and just 5% use mass transit.

  • And sadly, less than 1% use the most efficient form of transport: ostriches.

  • Probably because they're not allowed at drive-thrus.

  • Quit discriminating, Wendy's!

  • You can thank President Eisenhower for making driving more feasible through the Interstate

  • Highway System.

  • Which means you can also thank Eisenhower the next time you're stuck in traffic for

  • three hours.

  • But President Biden wants to change that.

  • Last month, we covered Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

  • It allocates 600 billion dollars to transportation.

  • Part of it includes Biden's efforts to encourage trains instead of cars and airplanes.

  • In particular, Amtrak.

  • $80 billion [of Biden's transportation investment] would go toward tackling Amtrak's repair

  • backlog, improving service along the Northeast Corridor and expanding service across the

  • US.

  • Biden's a big fan of Amtrak.

  • In fact last week, Biden — a.k.a “Amtrak Joe” — visited the Amtrak platform in

  • Philadelphia.

  • That was to celebrate Amtrak's 50th anniversary.

  • And of course to pitch his "Getting America Back on Track" campaign.

  • Get it?

  • Back on Track?”

  • Track?

  • I'm sure his political advisors worked on that one for days.

  • You know who's happy about it?

  • Amtrak's CEO.

  • America needs a rail network that offers frequent, reliable, sustainable, and equitable

  • train service.

  • Amtrak has the vision and the expertise to deliver it.”

  • You see, Amtrak is a for-profit company, but the federal government is its majority stakeholder.

  • Big business and big government together at last!

  • And it's about as dysfunctional as you'd imagine.

  • Amtrak has lost money every single year since it was created in 1971—and has swallowed

  • up tens of billions of dollars in subsidies from both the federal and state governments.

  • Even the father of Amtrak admitted that he's “personally embarrassedby what [he]

  • helped to create.

  • Kind of like Tom Hanks with his son ChetWhite Boy SummerHanks.

  • But Biden's plan to give Amtrak 80 billion more dollars will surely fix everything!

  • Biden says it will be good for jobs and create economic opportunity.

  • And he also says trains have a low climate impact.

  • Come on Joe , everyone knows the best mode of transportation for the environment are

  • ostriches!

  • But Biden's plan doesn't specifically mention high-speed rail.

  • Because it turns out there are some serious problems with the world's high speed rails.

  • I'll get to that after the break.

  • Welcome back.

  • So Biden wants more trains.

  • So does Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

  • And Buttigieg specifically says he wants high-speed rail.

  • “I want the US to be leading the world when it comes to access to high-speed rail.”

  • But so far, we don't know any specific details on how the Biden administration will directly

  • help develop high-speed rail.

  • So far, the most reliable rails that get people to work quicker

  • are dangerous and illegal.

  • Why is it so hard for the US to get high-speed rail?

  • A big reason is because high-speed rail is extremely expensive.

  • In fact, high-speed rail systems worldwide are generally not profitable.

  • Even in China, where high-speed rail is touted by the government as a “miracle”...

  • ...it loses money.

  • Not to mention all the corruption involved.

  • And the occasional head-on collision.

  • Of course, the most dangerous, corrupt, and money-losingmiracletouted by the Chinese

  • government is... the Chinese government.

  • But even in a country where labor is dirt cheap...

  • and authorities can tear down any neighborhood to lay track...

  • or even build a track right through people's homes...

  • China's high-speed rail still loses money.

  • Miraculously.

  • In fact, in the entire world, with hundreds of high speed train routes, covering tens

  • of thousands of milesjust two of those routes operate at a profit.

  • Even the Polar Express loses money.

  • Probably because no one wants to ride it since the conductor looks so creepy.

  • And has such an embarrassing son.

  • The European Court of Auditors admits that European high-speed rail networks have issues.

  • That's even though it's more efficient to build high-speed rail in Europe, which

  • has a smaller land area and denser populations.

  • But America is a lot more spread out.

  • High-speed rail is good between important cities that are too far apart to drive easily,

  • but not so far apart that you might as well take an airplane.

  • Which pretty much only describes...parts of the East Coast.

  • And that's whyCountries that have built high-speed rail have typically done so to

  • reduce crowding on existing rail lines, not as a substitute for roads.”

  • Roads?

  • Where we're goingwe're still gonna need roads.

  • Thanks, Eisenhower!

  • At least the 5% of us using mass transit have more legroom.

  • High speed rail lines are hard to build from scratch.

  • Especially when you're a lot larger than Japan, or Francethe only two countries

  • that have profitable high-speed rail lines.

  • California is learning this the hard way.

  • Its own high-speed rail project ballooned from its original $35 billion price tag to

  • over $100 billion.

  • That's because of another big hurdle to high-speed rail in the US: politics.

  • California's high speed rail project originally planned to run 520 miles between San Francisco

  • and Los Angeles.

  • But then California decided, hey, why not start building between Merced and Bakersfield.

  • That's the train route we've all been dreaming of.

  • Because who wants to go wine tasting in Napa,

  • when you can go meth tasting in Fresno?

  • From there, it became...let's call it a failure.

  • Or even a nightmare.

  • A lot of it had to do with politicians trying to appease their constituents, and then dealing

  • with unions, and then having to buy private property, and then...well, we're talking

  • about $800 million dollars in cost overruns.

  • This has drained money allocated to fund California's high-speed rail, for very minimal results.

  • But to be fair, California is so expensive these days, $800 million dollars only gets

  • you

  • an off-season day pass to Disneyland and a half eaten churro.

  • A former chairman of California's High-Speed Rail Authority board claims itis no longer

  • what he and other proponents of the 2008 bond [for the high-speed rail] pitched to voters.”

  • Central California is now being wrestled over the bones of what's left of the high-speed

  • rail money.

  • And what does that mean?

  • It means that there are politicians up in Sacramento, politicians in LA, politicians

  • in San Francisco who say, 'Forget about Central California.

  • That's been a bust.

  • Spend that money on the bookends and whether it connects or not, well, that'll be down

  • the road.”

  • Yeah!

  • Won't someone please think about the Fresno tourism economy?

  • Okay, so the California high speed rail seems about as much of a disaster...as California

  • in general.

  • But surely if the federal government follows California's model, everything will work

  • out great.

  • Seriously.

  • That seems to be their plan.

  • The US Department of Transportation says itlooks forward to partnering with California

  • as it leads the waywith high-speed rail.

  • And here's an actual image we obtained of everyone following California's lead on

  • high-speed rail.

  • But if Californiacan't seem to do it without losing billions of dollars and still not completing

  • the most important routesthen how can we expect the entire country to successfully

  • build high-speed rail?

  • Could Amtrak lead the way?

  • I'll tell you after the break.

  • Welcome back.

  • Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg says that Amtrak is great.

  • Heroic, even.

  • Amtrak has done a heroic job with the restraints that had been placed on them.”

  • What a great euphemism.

  • Next time someone says I'm a catastrophic disappointment and failure, Dad, I'm gonna

  • say, “No, I just did a heroic job with the restraints placed on me.”

  • Amtrak already has a functioning high-speed train.

  • Sort of.

  • Amtrak's Acela line runs between Washington, DC and Boston.

  • It can go up to 150 miles per hour.

  • The problem is, it only goes that speed for just 34 miles of its 457 mile span.

  • To be fair, I also only work at maximum efficiency for like 7% of the day.

  • Oh, I guess I should finish.

  • Jim Mathews, president and CEO of the Rail Passengers Association, [says] that Amtrak

  • may still be decades away from true high-speed rail.”

  • And thatwould require new infrastructure, including straight lines of track so trains

  • can achieve their top speeds.”

  • But making straight lines for high-speed rail isn't easy, and it isn't cheap.

  • For high-speed rail, you've got to take into account that you need to move existing

  • gas lines, sewer pipes, and telecom cables.

  • You also have to buy property from private landowners.

  • This is called eminent domain.

  • But the federal government can't just declareeminent domainand buy what it wants.

  • The California state government tried that.

  • And it's beentied up in endless litigationfor its land acquisition.

  • Given all their past experience with it,

  • I'm surprised our government is somehow getting worse at stealing other people's

  • land.

  • If only there were some profitable way to move people through the air, so you didn't

  • have to deal with all that.

  • And even if the federal government gets all the property it needs to build new high speed

  • rail tracks, Amtrak doesn't seem to be interested in working on high-speed rail at the moment.

  • Amtrak said... that the corporation would upgrade and expand serviceby adding 30

  • new routes and adding trains on 20 existing routes across the U.S. by 2035.”

  • This is in addition to “$38 billion just to repair the existing infrastructure in the

  • Northeast Corridor, Amtrak's busiest route [between] Washington DC [and] Boston.”

  • So Amtrak will first spend money to repair tracks on its money-losing routes, and then

  • expand service by adding 30 new low-speed routes.

  • And then add trains on 20 existing low-speed routes.

  • And then they'll build a profitable high-speed rail.

  • At this point, to fix all their past mistakes, Amtrak is going to need to build a train that

  • goes back in time.

  • At least those trains don't need any rails.

  • What do you think?

  • Leave your comments below.

  • And please, support America Uncovered by contributing a dollar or more per episode on the crowdfunding

  • website Patreon.

  • Go to Patreon.com/AmericaUncovered to learn more.

  • Once again, I'm Chris Chappell.

  • See you next time.

The US doesn't have high speed rail

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Why Doesn’t the US Have High-Speed Rail?

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    zijun su に公開 2021 年 05 月 24 日
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