As part of his infrastructure investment agenda, President Obama has called for building a national network of high-speed passenger trains that would serve 80% of all Americans by 2036. Such a network would be great for America. Unfortunately, we can’t afford it.
True high-speed rail, which is defined as exceeding 200 mph, is extremely expensive to build. The $53 billion President Obama proposed spending over six years for HSR would be just a down payment. A San Francisco-Los Angeles line alone would cost $42 billion. With national debt at record levels, we do not have the funds for big, new spending programs, no matter how beneficial they might be.