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High Speed Rail - A Definition In Crisis

High Speed Rail - A Definition In Crisis

I am growing weary of news reports talking about high speed trains when in reality the speed of these trains are not true high speed.

According to Wikipedia, there is no single standard that applies worldwide, new lines in excess of 250 kilometres per hour (160 miles per hour) and existing lines in excess of 200 kilometres per hour (120 miles per hour) are widely considered to be high-speed, with some extending the definition to include lower speeds in areas for which these speeds still represent significant improvements.

There is general agreement with the definition that 250 km/h on new lines and 200 km/h on existing track would constitute high speed rail. In reality many new high speed lines travel over 300 km/h.
It is the last part of the Wikipedia paragraph where the definition of high speed rail gets abused. This is especially true in North America where our passenger trains run at speeds, that  in many cases, are over a half a century behind train speeds in  the rest of the world.

Previously, USA President Obama provided funding through the Department of  Transportation for the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program to modernize the current state of passenger rail in the USA. The term high speed rail became very ambiguous and is used time and time again incorrectly in the media.

A typical example of this misuse of the terminology is the Empire Corridor High Speed Rail Program for improved passenger rail service from New York to Niagara Falls. Even with the most expensive improvements to the line would it rarely meet true high speeds.

In Canada we have to give VIA Rail Inc. some credit. They have clearly stated their opposition to high speed rail. They have even gone so far to make up a new term High-Frequency-Rail to describe their slow trains travelling more frequently idea for between Toronto and Ottawa.

In the future when you read an article talking about high speed rail,  evaluate the article to see if it is really high speed rail they are talking about.



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