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"Higher speed rail" that is trains that run at a top speed of 110 mph are much cheaper to implement than stand alone high speed systems. This would involve building up the present freight line with extra sidings, better signals etc. The North Carolina passenger program is a good example to follow. Incremental improvements have greatly increased on time reliability and reduced over all travel time between Raleigh and Charlotte. This has resulted in steadily increasing passenger traffic over the years. While these trains between Atlanta and Savannah would require longer running times than the 75 minutes of the HSR system they could still cover the distance in a little over three hours which would be competitive with driving and or the hassle time of short range flights.
When building the TGV like system it would be well to study how this system was built up in France. It was actually done in incremental steps beginning with a long stretch of new high speed track in the open country between Lyon and Paris. Entry to the cities was by means of connections to the already existing passenger/freight tracks. Not trying to build new high speed tracks into major cities saves a huge amount of construction expense.
France did have the great advantage of not having let their rail passenger system fall into nearly complete ruin during the 50's and 60's as we did in the United States. However it is not too late to build out a passenger system in the South or anywhere else in this country. Even the 200 mph + HSR systems are far cheaper to build than new interstate freeways. Whether or not there is the interest or will to do anytthing, as the article points out remains the big question.
2 years ago on Creating a 'trail of prosperity' with high-speed Atlanta—Savannah rail