The Passenger Rail Restoration Act
Act V of Energize America
To enable the development of privately-financed and operated high-speed passenger rail service between select, high-density urban areas.
Both tourism and commerce rely on rapid, dependable transport between cities. This has increasingly been handled by air travel, but the dual pressures of increased security and rising fuel prices have made air travel both more cumbersome and more expensive. High-speed passenger rail is more fuel efficient, quicker and more environmentally responsible than regional air travel, and can serve a key role in a low-emissions future. American passenger rail service could rebound if a single modification were made - increased speed on dedicated infrastructure. The Passenger Rail Restoration Act proposes a federal-state-private partnership to build, equip and operate three new high-speed rail lines using existing technology, such as Japan's bullet trains or Germany's Inter City Express trains. One system would be built in the Northeast (e.g., Boston to Richmond), one in the Midwest (Dallas to Chicago potentially), and one in the West (e.g., San Diego to San Francisco). European experience shows that high-speed trains are more convenient, faster and profitable on high-density or metro-to-metro lines, and can offer a compelling alternative to air travel on trips up to 500 miles, taking 90% of airline traffic for point-to-point trips of less than 2 hours (300 miles), and 50% of airline traffic for trips lasting 3 hours (500 miles).
Federal involvement would be limited to facilitating the permitting procedures and providing a stable regulatory framework over at least 25 years of operations of these high-speed lines, which would be built, financed and operated by the private sector.
The Passenger Rail Restoration Act will provide highly efficient, cost effective and environmentally sound public transportation in three of the country’s most densely populated regions, replacing up to 15 million airplane trips per year, saving the equivalent of 500,000 barrels of oil per year. Furthermore, this act will establish clear benchmarks for success that, if met, would lead to the development of dedicated, high-speed passenger rail service throughout the country.
The Passenger Rail Restoration Act will have a negligible cost as the investments will be borne by the private sector.