It is often said that building a network of high speed rails (HSR) in the United States would not be economical, nor would its impact be great enough to outweigh the costs of its development.   While I do think it is true that a complete widespread network of HSRs would not be economically feasible, I have reason to support the idea of introducing a network connecting most major cities, but also stopping at other locations that are not considered major cities yet.   It has been seen through history that the process of globalization, as well as advancement as a society at large has followed closely behind advancement in transportation.  As Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue writes about in his 2013 book, The Geography of Transportation Systems, “It is possible to summarize this evolution [Globalization, Technological advancement],”…”in four major stages, each linked with specific technological innovations in the transport sector;”.  Dr. Rodrigue speaks of how there was no motorized transportation in the Pre-Industrial Era.  He argued that civilizations were limited in their economic grown and thus development because of the limited forms of transportation they had.  Furthermore he said that the most advanced civilizations were established around water which allowed for greater volume of trade and transport via maritime transportation.  He continues to talk about the four key factors that led to the industrial revolution.  He cited that they were the development and use of:  The scientific method, Property rights, Capital markets, and Communication and transportation infrastructure.  He cited that advancements in transportation infrastructure took place “in two major phases, the first centered along the development of canal systems and the second centered along railways.”  Advancement in industrialization was only possible once the means for transporting large masses of materials, intermediate, and final products was available.  This was possible due to motorized locomotives and shipping vessels, as well as the ability to navigate channels that was previous impossible due to waterfalls or shallow rivers. He continues to talk about how the steam engine, and oil based engine propulsion technology paved the way for the Fordism era and the beginning of Globalization as we know it today.  The points discussed by Dr. Rodrigue can be found here Historical Geography of Transportaiton Systems.

Getting back to my previous argument, I believe the US should invest in the development of HSR infrastructure to megacities as well as some minor cities.   Doing so would pave the way to allow for a greater number of people to economically and efficiently commute to mega cities while living at a distance that would make it impractical under today’s infrastructure.  This would reduce cost of living for those who worked in mega cities because they could feasibly live in less populated, cheaper area and commute to work.  With this option on the table, there exists the possibility of getting more smart minds to work for companies inside these mega cities, and possibly allowing for the next great advancement in society.

Andrew Beal

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