Last week I wrote about my appearance on Channel 4’s News on the topic of “high-speed rail.” Of course, when government officials discuss rail in a “high-speed” context, some inevitably get stars in their eyes and believe that this means 150 mph or more.
Blogger Heath Haussamen makes this mistake in his weekly blog roundup when he writes that 2 hours to Denver would be “cool.” He’s actually citing a post by the Santa Fe Reeper blog which fantasizes about actual high speed rail to Denver which is being advocated by a special interest, but is not even remotely on the table policy-wise because it would be ridiculously expensive.
The reality is that Denver and Albuquerque are 450 miles apart. Even running at the Reeper’s fantasy speed of 200 mph, trains won’t go from ABQ to Denver in 2 hours. At 110 mph, the speed proposed by President Obama, Governor Richardson, and Sen. Udall, a train trip from Albuquerque to Denver would take at least 5 or 6 hours.
Rail advocates can dream about 200 mph rail in New Mexico if they want to, but if Obama had any brains at all, he’d focus resources on increasing speeds on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, an area with far greater population density than New Mexico and Colorado, yet the Acela only gets up to 150 mph, it’s top speed, for a few miles of its trip between Washington, DC and Boston.
The RailRunner is already enough of a boondoggle. Can’t we stop wasting our money with that?