I came across this great post detailing a proposal for an interstate rail network. There’s a few awkward routing selections, but who doesn’t love a fantasy map? Enjoy!
Envisioning a Future Interstate Rail Network
The Transport Politic
January 30, 2009
…Below is the transport politic’s vision of the 21st century’s Interstate system: a network of 10,000 miles of high-speed rail and roughly 30,000 miles of upgraded standard-speed track. The system would provide electrified 200 mph service (in yellow) between the biggest cities on the East and West coasts and connect every metropolitan area of more than 100,000 people in the continental states with at least standard-speed rail (in brown). Standard-speed rail could be implemented relatively simply along existing freight right-of-way; in many cases, these tracks only need minor touch-ups to be readied to serve passengers. The system would rely on existing Interstate and rail right-of-way and extends on both the NARP and FRA proposals, but narrows in on the most cost-effective and interconnected corridors, focusing on the most densely populated regions. This is why each map of the rail system included here has as its backdrop the concentrations of population in metropolitan areas in red.
The system would have an emphasis on connecting destinations separated by 500 miles or less; for such distances, high-speed rail outpaces airplanes and in other countries has commanded up to 80% of the market share on such routes. The high-speed system would not traverse the Great Plains or the Rocky Mountains, as such a trip would likely attract few passengers and be relatively cost inefficient. It would not provide high-speed service for Denver or Salt Lake City, but both are so isolated that high-speed rail to and from them would be relatively underused. But the whole system, including standard-speed rail, would allow for a high degree of interconnectivity between the cities in the densest areas of the country and allow for the time efficient replacement of the automobile and airplane on a large percentage of trips.
Such a system would require an active federal government funding an expensive national system, maintaining its infrastructure, and running its trains. Our government is currently not capable of doing as much, but with a defined vision such as this – to provide rail service to all of the nation’s metro areas and to connect the biggest ones with true high-speed rail – Washington could mature to the task. Back in 1956, the federal commitment to highways was minimal; in one bill, under one president, the system changed.
Proposed National Rail Route Network – Standard and HSR Routes