Obama seeks to get America on track

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The Independent Travel

US President Obama has promised to improve the experience of America's rail users by pumping eight billion dollars (€5.72 billion) of investment into the system.

In an appearance with Vice President Joe Biden, Barack Obama promised funding for high speed rail infrastructure which will lead to improvements to 13 rail corridors. One project in Florida will receive $1.25 billion (€895 million) to develop a high-speed rail corridor between Tampa and Orlando at speeds of up to 168 miles per hour (260 km/h), while California is to receive $2.25 billion (€1.61 billion) to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco at up to 220 miles (354 km/h)per hour.

"How can we, the leading nation in the world, be in the position where China, Spain, France, and name all the other countries who have rail systems that are far superior to ours?" Biden, a long-time rail commuter asked. "It's about time we moved. But most important, we're creating jobs, good jobs, construction jobs, manufacturing jobs."

Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood described high speed rail as "an absolute game-changer for American transportation," praising its ability to dramatically reduce congestion between major US cities and reduce the environmental impact of travel on the environment.

The US lags behind much of the rest of the world in rail infrastructure. Obama described the creation of a high-speed network as "long overdue" in 2009, when original plans were brought in to create a system more similar to that in Europe or Japan. Amtrak's Acela Express is currently the only high-speed trains in the US, capable of up to 240 km/h (150 mph) and running between Boston and Washington D.C. France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Japan and China all have advanced high-speed networks covering much of their respective territories.

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