Where High-Speed Rail Works Best

Geography is about examining spatial variables and relationships, often to weed out answers to complex problems. America 2050‘s latest report, “Where High Speed Rail Works Best” (pdf) is a clear example of applied geography as it summaries the methodology used in planning a phased high speed rail network for the United States.

This paper offers one mechanism for assessing which potential high-speed rail corridors will have the greatest ridership demand based on population size, economic activity, transit connections, existing travel markets and urban spatial form and density. Defining the corridors in America that are most appropriate for high-speed rail service is critical to the long-term success of America’s high-speed rail program.

The authors evaluate 27,000 city pairs in the nation to create an index of city pairs with the greatest demand for high-speed rail service. The paper provides a list of the top 50 city pairs, which are primarily concentrated in the Northeast, California, and the Midwest, and provides recommendations for phasing corridor development in the nation’s megaregions.

An interactive web-map provides a quick view to the three-phase plan.