America Invests in High-Speed Railways

 

The Acela Express is America’s version of the French TGV or Japan’s Shinkansen. It is a high-speed train that is run by America’s government-owned train service Amtrak. In 2010, the Acela carried over 3 million passengers between cities in the northeastern part of the United States.

Many passengers travel regularly via Acela Express form New York to Washington. They argue that trains are more comfortable and quicker when it comes to travelling short distances. Another advantage is that they take you right into the city centre.

 

But still, American high-speed trains are no rival for their European counterparts. Those who have already travelled on European trains know what high speed really means. While Amtrak’s bullet trains only reach a speed of up to 150 mph (about 240 km/h) the TGV travels at speeds of over 200 mph (about 360 km/h). In the near future Amtrak wants to step up plans to expand its high-speed train service and reach speeds of 200 mph and higher.

Even though many people in the northeastern part of the USA prefer train to plane travel, Americans still rely on their cars when it comes to moving about. In the past decades the government has invested heavily in building new roads around the country and improving air travel. However, only little money has been spent on improving America’s railway system.

 

Amtrak's Acela Express

Amtrak's Acela Express - Adam E. Moreira

 

But that is to change. Rail industry managers are working on a plan which is supposed to create a network of high-speed trains running throughout the country by 2030. The costs are estimated at about $ 600 billion.

In a time when oil and kerosene prices are rising, traveling by train could be a good alternative. While the US depends on foreign oil, trains could be run by clean and alternative energy. Building such a network would also create thousands of new jobs. Many politicians in America, however, do not seem to realize the importance of investing in train infrastructure. Some state governors have turned down government money for building high speed railway lines .

While high-speed railways will probably pay off in densely populated areas like the American northeast they may not be attractive in other areas of America. The situation is different in Europe and Japan where millions of people live close together in small areas.

Compared to Europe, America’s rail system hardly exists. Amtrak carries about 30 million passengers a year. Great Britain, with a much smaller population, reaches that figure in two weeks.

 

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Words

  • advantage = good side
  • argue = to give clear reasons about something
  • attractive = to have qualities that make you accept something
  • bullet train = very fast train
  • compare = put side by side, in contrast
  • counterpart = here: trains in other countries
  • create = make
  • decade = a period of ten years
  • densely = here: people living close together
  • depend on = need
  • estimate = thought to be
  • even though = while
  • expand = grow, increase
  • figure = number
  • foreign = from another country
  • government-owned = it belongs to the government
  • governor = the person who is the head of an American state
  • hardly = almost does not
  • heavily = a lot
  • high-speed = something that can travel very very fast
  • however = but
  • infrastructure = things that a country needs, like roads, schools, telephone lines, railway lines etc..
  • kerosene = fuel used to power airplanes
  • little = not very much
  • moving about = travelling
  • pay off =to make profits
  • politician = a person who works in the government or in politics
  • reach = get to
  • realize = understand
  • regularly = often, most of the time
  • rival = no opponent, no match
  • speed = how fast something is
  • step up = increase, to do something faster
  • throughout = all across
  • turn down = reject, to say no