Friday, January 29, 2010

Obama's "Derailment of the Union" speech


In his State of the Union speech Obama said, "There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products."  But there are reasons!

You just had to listen to Obama's own answer to this conundrum last night.  Obama talked some more about the $8 billion out of last year's stimulus of $787 billion that was being allocated for high-speed rail.   As it happens, I blogged about this $8 billion back in April 2009:
Look at it this way: the stimulus package approached $800 billion. Not even 1% of this spending will go into such a smart and environmentally-friendly transportation initiative!  As usual, Obama's thinking is more or less on the right track, but he continues to think small and move too slow. These times call for a for bolder approach. 
Obama's still talking about the $8 billion!  Meanwhile, Transportation Guru reports that across the big pond:
 As of March 31, China has committed $259 billion to building its high-speed rail network project, and plans to spend nearly a half trillion dollars more in the next three years, boosting the total investment to $730 billion by 2012.
Moreover, it was disingenuous for Obama to have claimed that even $8 billion has been allocated for high-speed rail.   HufPost reports "In the U.S., only the projects in California and Florida are planned to reach maximum speeds of 150 mph or more, what most transportation experts consider high-speed rail." (The money is to be divided-up among dozens of rail initiatives.)  Quoting a congressman, the article noted "Midwest lines awarded grants will achieve top speeds of only 110 mph and were "'selected more for political reasons than for high-speed service."

No reason?

UPDATE:  Spain plans to spend $100 billion over the next 10 years on high speed rail (PBS h/t Tobias)

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