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The Federal Railroad Administration Passenger train traveling through New England, autumn

High speed rail  

Welcome to the High Speed Rail section of the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA’s) Website. High Speed Rail, sometimes called High Speed Ground Transportation, refers to a series of technologies involving trains traveling at top speeds of 90 to 300mph.  A 1997 report   to Congress concluded that each of these technologies has potential to solve passenger transportation problems in some of our Nation’s most well traveled intercity corridors . FRA administers programs to help develop high speed rail systems in such corridors. 

A number of States are planning high speed rail systems and making improvements necessary for high speed rail. The technologies these States are planning to use typically involve upgrades of existing rail lines, rather than entirely new rail lines exclusively devoted to 150 to 200 mph trains, such as operate in Europe or Japan , or 250-300 mph magnetic levitation technology (maglev), such as planned in Germany and JapanAmtrak  has 150 mph train service, known as “Acela ” which operates in the Boston-New York-Washington Northeast Corridor.  Amtrak has also offered to operate “Acela Regional” service in other State-sponsored corridors if funds are made available for the necessary capital upgrades.  In addition to upgrading a number of rail lines, the State of California has prepared a business plan to construct a 200 or 300 mph system. 

FRA programs related to high speed rail include R & D on high speed rail safety and several activities authorized under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA21) . The latter include: the Next Generation High Speed Rail Technology   program, which develops and demonstrates technology elements that are important for reducing the cost or improving the effectiveness of high speed rail through partnerships with States and industry; the Grade Crossing Hazard Elimination Program, which provides grants to States with designated high speed rail corridors , and the Maglev Deployment Program , which aims to select one maglev project for possible construction subsequent to pre-construction planning efforts by several competing States. 

FRA also conducts outreach activities in cooperation with organizations such as the High Speed Ground Transportation Association , the Standing Committee on Rail Transportation of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Committees on Guided Intercity Passenger Transportation and on Intercity Rail Passenger Systems of the Transportation Research Board , to promote awareness of high speed rail as an option for providing intercity transportation in the future.

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