Though many countries have developed high-speed rail such as Britain, China, France, Spain and Japan, the process of developing high-speed rail in the United States seems slower than normal. The effort of raising US railway speed can be dated back to 1934. In history, The Pioneer Zephyr set a speed record of 112.5mph, and its success made other railway companies join speed-raising competition to attract more passengers. However, after the Naperville train disaster in 1946, the US government forced every company to install automatic train control (ATC). Due to the high prices of ATC, railway companies had to slow down the competition of building high-speed rails.
After years of stagnation, in contrast of the development of high-speed rails in other nations, the U.S. only has one high-speed rail nowadays, Acela Express, serving in the Northeast. Fortunately, high-speed rail project in California beginning in this year is regarded as the first step of the actual development of high-speed rail in the U.S. This railway will connect major cities in California, and can be fully completed as early as 2029. According to the data from US High Speed Rail Association, if the high-speed railway system is constructed completely (across the whole nation), there will be millions more jobs and 19 billion revenue per year from the new system.
Regarding the general public’s preference towards means of transportation, a survey (refer to the link attached below for the source of survey) shows that, 79 percent of respondents prefer taking high-speed train than airplanes if high-speed rail exists and 61 percent would choose rail even for the same price. Besides the obvious price advantage, people prefer high-speed trains because of the saving of time to get to airport and arrival delay. All those show high-speed trains, as the means of long-distance transportation has opportunity cost advantage over airplanes.
Despite of the advantages of high-speed rail, the building is slow and facing a lot of obstacles. Only the first line of California high-speed rail project has been started because of the tremendous construction cost. For other parts of the nation, there are still no signs of showing that building such a profitable and economic transportation system interests politicians and general public. For example, the plan to raise the speed of the line that connects Portland, Seattle and Vancouver was halted in 2012 because of safety concerns from Union Pacific Railroad. While other major developed nations have enjoyed the speed and welfare of high-speed rail, the U.S. is still driving its trains slowly into the future.