Train Talk Blog

Jun 26, 2015

All Aboard Florida Takes On the World

When All Aboard Florida makes its first trips from Miami to Orlando, and from Orlando to Miami, it will join a worldwide consortium of countries and communities that value viable public transportation, including global frontrunners Germany, Spain, Japan and China.

Around the World

According to “Global Competitiveness in the Rail and Transit Industry,” a study written by Michael Renner and Gary Gardner published in September 2010 by the Worldwatch Institute, Apollo Alliance and Northeastern University, China led the way in 2008 in national investment in rail infrastructure at $12.50 per $1,000 of gross domestic product (GDP), while the U.S. came in at $0.78, even combining rail and all other public transportation infrastructures.

In regards to combined capital and operations spending for intercity purposes, Germany led the way in 2009 with $159 per capita, followed by France ($141), the United Kingdom ($112), Italy ($87) and China ($66); the United States spent just $9.2

In the study, Renner and Gardner address the projected growth market in the United States and the world, noting that in 2010, 400 light rail systems with more than 44,000 rail vehicles were in operation, with another 60 systems under construction and 200 in the planning stages. Of those, Europe had the highest density with 170 systems and nearly 100 more in various stages of construction or planning; North American (the United States and Canada) had 30 systems operating and 10 under construction. (Note: When the study was published in 2010, All Aboard Florida was in the planning stages, and is currently under construction.)

The good news when it comes to train travel worldwide is that the study projected the number of trainsets (trains and tracks) was expected to rise by 70 percent by 2015 – this year – including here in the United States.

To be competitive with the rest of the world when it comes to rail travel, the study also reported that the United States needs to not only intelligently invest in rail infrastructure, but “drive at building public transport systems that work well, provide easy-to-use alternatives to automobile or plane travel, and attract and retain growing ridership.” It also noted that higher-speed rail needs to interweave with bus and light rail lines to provide a cohesive public transportation solution.

Another study, “High Speed Rail in America,” written by Petra Todorovich and Yoav Hagler and published in January 2011 by America 2050 as part of a joint venture with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and support from The Rockefeller Foundation, stated that “High-speed rail works in very specific conditions, primarily in corridors of approximately 100–600 miles in length where it can connect major employment centers and population hubs with other large - and moderate-sized employment centers and population hubs.”