This week, Obama will unveil his vision for high-speed rail in the United States after unexpectedly adding $8 billion to the economic stimulus package for high-speed train travel -- the biggest commitment of its kind ever made by the federal government.
America is miles behind. In Japan, the bullet train can wisk passengers from one city to the next at nearly 200 miles an hour. It's the same on France's TGV train, where passengers can get from Paris to Lyon in a little less than two hours. A dozen countries around the world enjoy high-speed rail, but America is not one of them.
I'm excited about the prospects. Anyone who's used high speed rail in Europe or Asia can attest, it would be a tremendous boon to short and medium haul intercity travel. Clearly you're not going to hop a supertrain for a regular bicoastal commute, but by stringing together regional high-speed networks we could significantly reduce air and auto traffic and improve air quality . . . while making these trips more pleasant.