Construction of U.S. Bullet Train Generates Controversy

Construction of U.S. Bullet Train Generates Controversy

Know Brazil’s biggest event on urban mobility

Economic and environmental controversies permeate the construction of the second bullet train line in the United States (USA), which will link Los Angeles (California) to Las Vegas (Nevada). The venture intends to compete with other means of transportation and has been “embraced” by Brightline, the country’s only private passenger railroad company.

The company believes that the advantages of bullet train travel are indisputable. See them below.

  1. Reduction of pollutants
    In one year, 3 million vehicles should be taken off the roads, reducing the emission of 400 thousand tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the environment.
  2. Energy savings
    Bullet trains use about 12 times less energy per kilometer traveled when compared to cars or airplanes.
  3. Speed
    At a speed of almost 300 km/h, the bullet train is agile and saves boarding time compared to airport bureaucracies. The lines must also be connected to subway stations.
  4. Differentiated on-board services
    Offering on-board services included in the ticket price, including food, unlimited Internet access, and check-in at lodging options, should attract passengers.
Construction of U.S. Bullet Train Generates Controversy
Developing bullet trains requires investment and planning – investor perspective is optimistic but is questioned by experts. (Source: Gettyimages/Reproduction)

Controversy field

The outlook for investors is good, but it does not match the predictions of environmentalists and engineers who ponder issues already faced in the implementation of the country’s first bullet train, located in Florida and in operation since 2018.

Among the situations considered is the fact that the first venture anticipated more passengers than it actually gained, causing losses and route recalculation. According to Bent Flyvbjerg, an expert on large infrastructure projects, many people will need to use the bullet train for the mode of transportation to be viable.

In addition, unlike in the U.S., in European countries private companies are only responsible for operating rail services, since the costs of building and maintaining the network are subsidized by the state.

For this reason, Stefania Belisario, director of Infrastructure Ratings at S&P Global Ratings, believes that promoting bullet trains in the U.S. is risky because if the project does not meet Brightline’s projections, the government may feel obliged to keep the train running.

Even in this controversial scenario, the U.S. High-Speed Rail Association supports the project, and according to it, the number of passengers can be even higher than expected if large investor groups are allocated funds.

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