Lecture: High-Speed Rail in the United States: Can the Dream Be Realized?

Remarks by Allison L. C. de Cerreño, Ph.D.
Director, NYU Wagner Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management
New York University

Many European and Asian countries have implemented or plan to implement high-speed rail (HSR) and/or Maglev. Though U.S. efforts have spanned 40 years, nothing comparable has been implemented in the United States to date. This presentation is based on the findings of two studies funded by the Mineta Transportation Institute that used a combination of literature review and interviews to derive lessons from the U.S. experience. Touching on the Chicago Hub, the Florida, Keystone, and Northeast Corridors, this presentation suggests that several factors are critical to success of HSR projects, while lack of them has led to repeated failures. Based on the research, this paper questions whether the two limited U.S. successes can be replicated without ownership of the right of way by a single passenger rail entity and whether incremental HSR efforts are more likely to succeed in the current political climate.