Debating how fast high-speed rail should be

Some legislators in Illinois are questioning whether plans for 110 mph trains actually are high-speed trains. However, as you might expect, working out the details and the funding is complicated with many involved parties:

Officials at Amtrak, which has minimal expertise in operating high-speed rail, don’t see a problem topping out at only 110 mph. An infusion of billions of dollars in federal and state funding will mean better Amtrak service in the Midwest — just don’t mistake it for true high-speed trains.

The genuine article, service at up to 220 mph, is being planned in California and Florida. It already exists to a lesser degree on Amtrak Acela Express trains that get up to 150 mph on small portions of the route between Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington.

While 110 mph would be faster than current trains, there are some who argue that the speed must be dramatically increased from current levels to have the trains compete with airline travel and attract customers.

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