This post reminds me of another discussion I was recently in: why is America's high-speed rail so dreadful? The Acela delivers you, at enormous added expense, to Boston one hour ahead of the regional. On the DC-to-NY run, the added benefit is 10-15 minutes. The answer is that the Acela uses existing track, which is twisty, the better to serve every congressional district between here and Boston. Real high speed rail needs to be fairly straight, for the same reason you don't take hairpin turns at 120 mph in your car.
Of course, if we were not going to build high speed rail, the sensible thing to do was not to have a high-speed program at all. Instead we got the dreadfully expensive, yet basically useless, Acela.
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