Higher Speed Rail

Some states are investing in projects to dramatically increase the speeds of their conventional Amtrak services to 110 mph. Generally these routes are upgraded freight railroad lines that have been rebuilt from the ground up, including strengthening bridges, new rail, concrete ties, etc. The (approximate) $5 million cost per mile to upgrade conventional railroads is about half the cost of building a new Interstate Highway and could provide far more efficient, cleaner, safer, and faster travel than highways. If regional railroads were upgraded to allow 110-mph trains, Shreveport and Meridian could be just four hours apart. Birmingham, Memphis, and Houston running times could be decreased to five hours from New Orleans. New Orleans and Dallas could be seven hours apart, Shreveport four hours, and Baton Rouge just one hour away. Mobile could be two hours away. Service frequencies could be multiple times per day, perhaps with hourly service on some routes. It will take vision and leadership in our southern states to bring these faster trains to reality. A funding mechanism will need to be found to pay for the upgrades and the trains, as well as new/expanded stations on the routes to accommodate the increased number of passengers.