What Are The Benefits Of High-Speed Rail?


High-speed rail is considered a strategic investment that prepares a city for future infrastructure. They’re a modern way of traveling, with many countries moving away from the conventional transportation models. Besides improving transportation and ushering a city into a new era, there are more benefits to having these trains around.

High-speed rails help to stimulate economic growth and facilitate transportation. Besides that, here are more benefits that come with these trains:

  • Reducing decongestion
  • Reduced smog
  • Job creations

Additionally, high-speed rails improve walkability within the city, something that many countries are encouraging.  

That’s not all, as you still need to know the benefits in detail and the challenges that are brought by high-speed rail, and a comparison between high-speed rail and electric trains, which you will learn if you read on.

acela high speed
Jonathan Lee
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Top Nine Benefits of High-Speed Rail

Ever since they were created, high-speed trains have played a major role in developing and growing cities around the world. The modern trains have undergone a serious upgrade, where they’re equipped with the latest technology, comfort, and increased speed. There’s still room for more developments to take place, but the current high-speed trains have several benefits that include:

Improved Travel and Mobility

A few transportation models are as fast as high-speed trains in existence, making them a very reliable means of transport. With a modern high-speed train known to reach speeds of 165 miles per hour, you should expect to reach your destination very fast and have extra time to do other things. You should expect to travel across cities within minutes at such speed, a journey that might take a few hours using the conventional modes of transportation, such as driving.

Comfort is another thing to consider when you mention high-speed rail. With soft fabrics and proper seating conditions, sitting inside one of these trains offers a similar comfort as sitting on your couch.

Reduced Smog in the City

Vehicles might be great for moving around the city, but smog is not something we like very much. It makes the city’s horizon look unclear, with a lower supply of fresh air, making life within these regions unbearable. The introduction of high-speed trains within many cities is seen as an excellent way of curbing smog congestion.

Smog might not have an immediate health impact, but its accumulation is known to pose long-term health risks which might lead to chronic illnesses, such as respiratory infections and cancer. By adopting high-speed trains, cities around the world would encourage people to leave their vehicles home as they head out to work. As a result, there will be fewer emissions and lesser smog to worry about.

Reduced Congestion

Don’t you hate it getting stuck in traffic, especially when heading to work or going back home? It’s becoming a common problem around the world, and countries are trying to implement different measures to curb this problem. Building high-speed rail is seen as the ideal option by many.

For starters, the train can carry many people at once and is cheaper than fueling your vehicle. Bringing your vehicle to the city means you have to pay for parking space, which adds to the vehicle’s operation costs, while a train only requires you to pay for a ticket. There’s also no reason to worry about traffic, and you would be at work or back home within minutes.

railroad signals
Jonathan Lee

Job Creation

As the cities develop and grow, there’s always pressure accompanying the local authority to create jobs. High-speed trains can create job vacancies during their development stages. There’re also the running and maintenance job vacancies that would require people to fill in.

Here are a few job vacancies you should expect with high-speed trains:

  • Train engineer
  • Conductor
  • Crew member
  • Trainyard manager
  • Cook
  • Utility Clerk
  • Dispatcher

With many potential jobs expected to become available with every high-speed train improvement, we can only conclude that such infrastructure presents unlimited opportunities to the locals.

Economic Boost

Whenever a city constructs and starts using high-speed trains, you should expect its economy to go through the roofs. For starters, there’s increased revenue from the train ticket sales that goes up with the growing demand. Secondly, the demand for housing goes up due to the availability of a reliable mode of transportation, which brings in more money to the local government.

Additionally, businesses open up in local centers, such as restaurants and coffee shops, which help to stimulate the local economy and hire more people. As the standard of living goes up, the income level goes up with it, helping to improve people’s lives.

Fast and Convenient Travel

Many high-speed trains are known to move at speeds higher than 120 miles per hour, which is more than enough to get you across the city or country. The trains are not bothered by traffic or uneven roads, and you should expect to reach your destination on time and without fatigue.

High-speed trains are perfect for someone who’s in a rush, and driving is not an option. They’re also very reliable and take off sooner than flights. Their schedules are also more reliable than an airport, where you have to go through a million things before the flight takes off.

A Safer Way to Travel

There’re so many dangers involved with traveling and let’s face it, even the safest methods can get dangerous at times. However, high-speed trains are a bit safer compared to driving. Statistics show that over 38,000 people die from car crashes or car-related accidents every year in the US, with only 600 dying from train accidents. The train fatalities result from vehicles getting hit by trains or accidental electrocution by falling on the railway.

High-speed rail crashes or accidents are very rare due to safety measures in place. Technological innovations help train operators detect anything that might pose a risk to the train. The railway is also enclosed to prevent public access, which might interfere with the train’s operation.

By embracing high-speed trains, cities might manage to lower motor vehicle accidents and fatalities in the next few years. Few accidents mean fewer injuries and medical bills.

Thomas Eckhardt

Reduces Dependency on Foreign Oil

A city with many vehicles means there’s a higher demand for fuel. It also means the gas prices rise, bringing the overall price of everything high as well. Diesel locomotive engines also consume a lot of fuel, making them an unsustainable long-term mode of transportation. Countries would be required to import more oil to curb this demand, which increases the reliance and dependency on foreign oil. Doing so puts the country at a disadvantage as it gives the suppliers power over the pricing.

High-speed rails run on electricity, cutting down fuel consumption. When there’s a high-speed train connecting several cities, people often find no need to use vehicles, which ends up lowering the demand for oil. Such actions also help the city to move away from fossil fuels and dependency on foreign oil.

Improves Walkability

We’ve all heard how walking can be beneficial to our health, and it’s hard to do so in a city filled with vehicles. By reducing decongestion in a city, there will be more room for people to walk to work or around. Besides helping to improve your physical health, walking is also therapeutic and has been encouraged by many health experts.

With a growing need for walkable cities on the rise, local authorities have laid down their importance in attracting businesses, stimulating economic growth, and, most importantly, improving the quality of life.

What are the Challenges of High-Speed Rail?

While high-speed rail offers many benefits to the people and cities, there’re some concerns to keep in mind. The challenges might not be as many as the benefits, but they’re worth a mention. By highlighting them, authorities and people in charge can find solutions to keep improving the transport system.

Here are some common challenges facing high-speed trains:

Cost

Cost is the primary factor when considering the challenges facing high-speed rail. Although the entire system is meant to offer affordable transportation, it costs a lot to set it up. Here are the costs associated with the entire project:

  • Set up cost – financing the entire project is often the first obstacle faced by any city planning to get a high-speed train. However, financial institutions usually step in and offer loans for the project.
  • Technological cost – bringing in new technology, such as modern railroads, sensors, hyperloop, and magnetic levitation, can be costly.
  • Electric cost – since high-speed trains run on electricity, there’s always a high demand to sustain the trains and keep them functional. The bill could amount to millions of dollars, as a single train can consume 3.8 KWh for every 100 passengers
  • Operation cost – this cost includes hiring and training crew members, train engineers, train operators, conductors, and anyone else involved in the running and maintaining of the train.

Increased Noise and Vibrations

Although high-speed trains are a bit quiet than other trains, they still produce certain levels of noise that might be concerning, especially if the train passes through a residential area. It could become a nuisance to the locals, making it hard to have a quiet night’s sleep.

There’s also the problem of vibrations as the train moves at high speed. Such vibrations are unbearable, and it’s easy to know a train is passing by, given the shaking and vibrating utensils in the house. Living near a high-speed rail might not be as comfortable. However, the same vibrations are not heard while inside the train due to improved suspension and shock absorbers.

high speed train
Jonathan Lee

Accident Disasters

High-speed trains rarely get into accidents, but the results could be catastrophic if they do. For starters, the train moves at a very his speed, and if it were to get into an accident, nothing would survive the crash. The electric railway track is also another concern, given the number of accidents that take place on them. A single railway track can carry more than 750 volts, making it lethal to touch.

However, safety measures are laid down to help reduce the risks of electrocution, and the cases are expected to subside in the future.

Not Wide Spread

High-speed trains might be efficient and safer than other transport models, but there’s not enough network of them to be used by everyone around the world. Compared to an already extensive network of vehicles and airports around the world, it’s safe to say that high-speed trains are still in their infancy stages.

High-Speed Train VS Electric Train

For a good reason, many people confuse the two, given that they both run on electricity. However, there are some distinct differences between these trains, which is only fair if we highlight them.

Speed

Although electric trains are fast, they’re not as fast as high-speed trains. Amtrak Acela Express is the fastest train in the US, capable of speeds of 150 miles/hour, and it’s not even considered a high-speed train. L0 Series Maglev in Japan is the fastest high-speed train in the world, capable of going above 370 miles/hour. The US is yet to establish a high-speed train.

Comfort

Electric trains might be comfortable, but it’s nothing compared to the levels of comfort offered by high-speed trains in other countries.

Noise and Vibrations

Electric trains are very noisy, ask someone who lives in Chicago, and the vibrations can be very annoying. Although high-speed trains are noisy, they can’t be compared to electric trains. They also don’t vibrate that much.

Conclusion

High-speed rails are a great way of traveling, especially if you’re in a rush. They offer lots of benefits, such as decongesting the cities and helping to curb the smog problem. Additionally, they aid in economic revival and job creation which helps to improve the overall life quality. They’re very safe compared to other transportation methods and improve walkability. Cities that utilize high-speed rail have a lower dependency on foreign oil. However, the cost of setting up the whole project can be too much, not to mention noise levels and accident disasters. They’re also not widely available like airports and highways.

Josef

Lifelong Rail Enthusiast and Owner of Worldwide Rails

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