The prospect of a high-speed rail system remains elusive despite a $10 billion federal investment, lawmakers said Thursday.
Even after the big buy-in from the government, the project that is closest to being completed could still be a decade away, while only 300 miles on four lines in the U.S. currently have segments capable of operating at 110 miles an hour.
Lawmakers passed passenger rail legislation and a 2009 economic stimulus package that included a plan to upgrade speeds on existing rail routes and create new high-speed rail corridors. Congress has appropriated a total of more than $10 billion for the efforts.
About $3.9 billion in stimulus funding went to California, but the state’s high-speed rail project has been held up in delays, almost doubled its budget and lowered its initial speed projections.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), ranking member on the Oversight Subcommittee on Transportation and Public Assets, emphasized that a key element of the high-speed rail initiative was to improve existing railways in order to increase capacity, frequency and speed, not just create new ones.
Sarah Feinberg, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, said more than half of the 150 projects under the initiative have been completed.