Friday, October 9, 2009

The Bottom Line

Eight hundred billion dollars.

That's my guestimate for building out America's passenger rail system for a high level of performance. The total breaks down like this:

  • Core lines at HSR standards: $510B (8500 miles @ $60M per mile)
  • National lines at HSR standards: $160B (4000 miles @ $40M per mile)
  • Regional lines at MSR standards: $105B (5250 miles @ $20M per mile)*
  • Infill lines at SSR standards: $25B (5000 miles @ $5M per mile)
  • * - Includes upgrading the NEC to 150mph operations.

Now, $800B sure is a lot of money, but over 30 years it's less than $27B per year. For comparison, we've been spending an average of $115B per year on two wars, one of which was entirely unnecessary.

Opportunity costs, baby.

Update 10/10: Heck, we could build out the system with this year's defense spending alone.

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