The higher-speed rail connection between the Twin Cities and Duluth/Superior moved forward in 2017 with the Tier 2 Project Level Environmental assessment being available for comment.The project has yet to be funded and is eligible to apply for federal funds to cover 80% of the costs. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has more information on the project site.
addition to overseeing projects like the TCMC Second Train and NLX, the Passenger Rail Office provides an overall vision for effective use of the state's freight and passenger rail network and its future.
The United States
Rail continues to be a popular travel alternative in the United States. Amtrak posted record ridership, revenue and earnings for its fiscal year. Several projects are in the works and the US High Speed Rail Association has a vision for a complete national HSR system.
Illinois High-Speed Rail (Chicago to St. Louis)
In 2017, IDOT continued working to make infrastructure improvements along the corridor to support speeds of up to 110 mph. Station upgrades and construction has taken place as well as surveying, tree clearing, fencing installation and utility work. The project will offer an alternative to the thousands of trips that have origins in Chicago or St. Louis along the corridor. It hopes to improve on-time performance of existing service and provide a better, more convenient connection between the two cities.
The express train service will provide safe and fast intercity travel using the existing Florida East Coast Railway corridor between Miami and Cocoa with plans to extend between Cocoa and Orlando. Travel time between Miami and Orlando will be about an hour less than driving. Limited service began in December 2017 with expanded service to follow. Station construction projects and corridor improvements is just some of the recent work completed.
Construction of the 800 mile high-speed rail line up and down the state of California continues as the first leg is set to open in 2025. Despite facing funding, legal and scheduling issues, construction continues on a 119-mile segment of track in the Central Valley. Ultimately the project hopes to offer speeds of 220 mph and serve up to 24 different stations in most of the state's largest cities.
The private, Texas-based company Texas Central continues pursuing their plans to connect Dallas/Forth Worth and Houston with Japanese Bullet Train technology. The trip would take less than 90 minutes. Several potential alignments are being considered with the Federal Railroad Administration preparing an Environmental Impact Statement on the project.
Atlanta and Chattanooga
The next step in determining whether to connect the two southern cities is a Tier 2 study to further understand the impacts and costs. If approved, alignments, stations and more details would be identified though the preferred alignment would be along Interstate 75 that would serve eight stations.
Seattle and Vancouver
Washington Governor, Jay Inslee is looking toward a high-speed train to connect to Vancouver, B.C. that is backed by Microsoft. A study is underway that will determine the feasibility of the line that would transport passengers between the two major cities in less than an hour. Additional modeling is needed as well as further activity from the feasibility study advisory group.
The train serving the Northeast Corridor is still the only example of HSR in the United States with speeds up to 135 mph. Amtrak recently revealed the next generation of trains that will operate along the corridor that would be capable of traveling 160 mph. The prototype will be ready in 2019, with the first entering service in 2021 and all train sets to be in service by the end of 2022.
Around the World Round-Up
The US High Speed Rail Association has a comprehensive list of countries from all over the world with high-speed rail networks. Some are smaller projects, while others have expansive networks that serve a large amount of the population.
Here are a few pieces of news to keep an eye on:
The company that manages the high-speed rail network in Spain has taken a loan in order to improve links between Madrid and San Sebastian that will support speeds of 250 km/h.
Africa's railway system saw an improvement with a new train capable of reaching 200 mph launching soon in Morocco. Each train is capable of carrying 533 passengers and expansions in the country are planned for the next three decades.
continues to expand its massive high-speed rail network with plans to connect even more cities. The goal is a 30,000 km network by 2020 that covers 80% of major cities in the country.
upgraded it's high-speed rail line with new trains in advance of hosting the 2018 Olympics. The journey from Seoul to Gangneung, home of the ice sports at the Games, is just under two hours.
Japanese train technology is heading to India to connect Ahmedabad with Mumbai to shorten the trip from seven hours to just two. The project hopes to connect the manufacturing hub with the largest city and financial center with 12 stations.