January 28, 2010
You know what America needs? More jobs. Apparently, in Obama's 7 billionth speech last night, he said something about how investing in high-speed rail trains was teh ultimate fix to our broken economy. Which is funny, since I thought that a health care bill was teh ultimate fix to our broken economy. Or, wait, was it the stimulus program? Although I could have sworn there was something about carbon credits in there. Or maybe it was Hope And Changeâ„¢? I get all jumbled up sometimes. The story changes so often, it's no wonder that Teh Won can't keep it straight. Or a silly little tattooed right-wing extremist tea-bagging blogger.
While Big O was talking about how awesome building trains was going to be (seriously, man?), the AP was deciding that they are kind of done with all this Obama worship. I know, it's fucking bizarre, but I think we should take what we can here.
But the jobs to design and make the rail cars and engines, signaling and track for the fastest trains will mainly go abroad to the European and Asian companies because it will take time for the U.S. to develop its own domestic high-speed rail industry, rail experts said. There will be U.S. manufacturing and engineering jobs for slower trains often described as "higher speed" or "midspeed." Much of the domestic high-speed work, however, will be the kind of construction and earth-moving work typical of highway projects, they said.
European and Asian high-speed trains average over 110 mph and some reach top speeds of around 220 mph. There is nothing equivalent in the United States. Indeed, most of the grants announced by the White House Thursday will go to rail projects that aren't in the same league as the fast trains being built elsewhere.
For the U.S. to decide to build high-speed train systems using primarily U.S. companies, "would be like Bangladesh deciding they want to have a space program and only use technology they have developed and manufactured themselves," said Anthony Perl, chairman of the National Research Council's intercity rail panel.
The technology gap between true high-speed trains and the slower trains in use in the United States is equivalent to the gap between the planes flown by World War I flying aces and today's jets, said Perl, an American who teaches transportation policy at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.
Some of the equipment purchased for high-speed rail like train cars might be manufactured abroad and the parts bolted together in assembly facilities in the U.S., he said.
"There will be some jobs that come out of it, but unless people are prepared to double the cost and take at least twice as much time to ramp up the capacity to supply this high-speed technology in the U.S., it's not there," Perl said.
Good, solid B+, my friends. Solid B+.
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