Basic Facts About High-Speed/Intercity Passenger Rail

Updated September 7, 2011

FEDERAL INVESTMENT

Primary Federal Funding Sources:

  • $8 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA)
    • $90 million in FY 2009 appropriations
    • $2.5 billion in FY 2010 appropriations

Details:

  • Of the $8 billion in ARRA funding to "jump start" high-speed/intercity passenger rail in the United States:
    • $2.5 billion - The largest grant awarded to a single state (California)
    • 29 states and the District of Columbia receive passenger rail funding
    • As of September 7, 2011, FRA has approved $7.4 billion in Federal funding for 92 projects across the country 
  • $2.5 billion - Amount appropriated by Congress for HSIPR for FY 2010;

Ridership climbs:

  • 30 million people expected to ride passenger trains in FY 2011 - up almost 6% so far
  • Northeast Corridor up 5%
  • State-supported and other short distance corridors up 7%

Key routes seeing double-digit risherip increases in July 2011 (from October 2010):

  • Washington to Newport News, VA up 21%, carrying 465,000 passengers
  • Blue Water Line in Michigan, up 21%, carrying 154,000 passengers
  • Piedmont Line in North Carolina, up 50% with 118,000 passengers
  • Chicago to Carbondale, up 19%, with 264,000 passengers

BENEFITS

Cost savings

  • $87.2 billion - The amount of money lost in automobile traffic gridlock every year in the United States.
  • 4.2 billion -Total hours wasted in highway traffic gridlock every year.
  • $41 billion - The cost of domestic air-traffic delays.

Energy efficiencies of passenger rail

  • 2,709 - The number of British Thermal Units used per passenger mile by train, compared to 3,264 by airline and 3,445 by auto (U.S. Department of Energy, 2005).
  • 17 percent - Passenger rail is 17 percent more fuel efficient than airlines on a per passenger mile basis. (U.S. Department of Energy, USDOT Preliminary National Rail Plan)
  • 21 percent - Passenger rail is 21 percent more fuel efficient than vehicles on a per passenger basis (U.S. Department of Energy, USDOT Preliminary National Rail Plan).
  • 8 million - Number of autos that passenger rail service displaces from the roads each year. (National Association of Rail Passengers)
  • 50,000 - The number of fully loaded passenger airplanes that passenger rail displaces each year. (National Association of Rail Passengers)

Speed

  • Speeds defined by Congress:
    • 150 mph - Top speed for High Speed Rail Express Routes, 200-600 miles in length.
    • 110-150 mph - Top speed of High-Speed Rail Regional Routes, 100-500 miles in length.
    • 90-110 mph - Top speed of Emerging High Speed Rail, 100-500 miles in length, with potential to become regional or express service.
    • 79-90 mph - Top speed of Conventional Rail, 100 miles or more.
  • 135 mph - Top speed of Amtrak's Acela high-speed train, New York to Washington.
  • 81 mph - Average speed of Acela between New York and Washington.
  • 130 mph - Cruising speed of Japan's Shinkansen high-speed rail service (Tokyo to Osaka).
  • 186 mph - Speed of Spain's AVE service (Madrid to Barcelona).
  • 160 mph - Speed of France's TGV service (Paris to Nice).
  • 357 mph - World speed record, set by France's TGV in 2007

Environmental benefits

  • 71 percent - reduction of carbon dioxide emission by train, per passenger mile, compared to auto.
  • 76 percent - reduction of carbon dioxide emission by train, compared to air.

Safety

  • .04 - Number of fatalities per 100 million passenger miles experienced by Amtrak over the last 30 years. By comparison, the fatality rate for autos is 1.29 per 100 million passenger miles. (National Safety Council)

Jobs

  • 150,000 - The number of jobs projected to be created by high-speed rail in four U.S. cities over next 25 years. (Orlando, L.A., Chicago, Albany).
  • 24,000 - The number of construction and manufacturing jobs per $1 billion capital investment. (Economic Development Research Group)
  • 41,000 - Number of operation and maintenance jobs per $1 billion operating investment. (Economic Development Research Group)
  • 600,000 - The number of jobs created by high-speed rail construction in Spain in the last five years (Government of Spain).

Service/Reliability

  • 80 percent - On-time performance of Amtrak's Acela high-speed rail service.
  • 2 hours, 45 minutes - Travel time on Amtrak Acela, Washington - New York.
  • 98.8 percent - On-time performance of Spain's high-speed rail service.

What Other Countries Are Doing

  • $15 billion - The amount Spain plans to spend on high-speed rail over the next 10 years.
  • $120 billion - The amount China will spend to double its high-speed rail network by 2012.

Prepared by AASHTO; Updated December 7, 2010