The announcement of President Obama's high-speed rail initiative has given new energy to people in this area who've long dreamed of transforming Indiana and the Miwest with that mode of transportation. We should be careful to take all the hype with several grains of salt. Such rail lines are unlikely to take many cars off the road -- they're more likely to replace for-profit commuter airlines. And they aren't likely to be as environmentally friendly as advertised. This isn't just speculation; it's confirmed by the experience of Japan and Europe:
Since Japan introduced high-speed bullet trains, passenger rail has lost more than half its market share to the automobile. Since Italy, France, and other European countries opened their high-speed rail lines, rail's market share in Europe has dwindled from 8.2 to 5.8 percent of travel. If high-speed rail doesn't work in Japan and Europe, how can it work in the United States?
Answer: It can't. We like our cars much more than the Europeans and Japanese like theirs. Of course, rail can be forced on upon us by a government that wants to make sure we make the "right" choices, which seems to be the way this adminsitration is going.
(H/T to the corner)