Survey of Current High-Speed Rail Planning Efforts in the United States

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, mode - rail


United States, Railroad corridors, Property acquisition, Planning, Land acquisition, High speed trains, High speed rail, High speed ground transportation, Corridors


Characteristics of the corridors being considered by state and regional agencies for high-speed rail service (HSR) in the United States were surveyed. Through use of a data set of 21 systems at various stages of development, the study shows that initiatives under way involve 64 corridors, tracks of 21 freight railroads, and 15,552 unique mi of route. Findings show that these corridors reach 163 of the 250 largest metropolitan areas in the continental United States. More than 87% of the existing railroad mileage identified for high-speed service is operated by freight-oriented railroads, with 74% being single track. The choice of technology and the need to acquire nonrailroad land to support the development of corridors differ sharply between interstate and intrastate routes. These and other findings illustrate the many opportunities—and challenges—facing proponents of HSR throughout the country.