At least that’s how the headline for this story about federal stimulus funds coming to North Carolina for high-speed rail projects should have read.
As this Heartland Institute article points out, high-speed rail lines are nothing to celebrate:
Nowhere in the world does high-speed rail make a profit. The director of high-speed rail at the International Union of Railways in Paris last year told The New York Times [NYT] only two high-speed rail lines – in France and Japan – manage to break even.
Even if high-speed rail projects could be built on time and within budget, a March 2009 U.S. Government Accountability Office report concluded high-speed passenger rail would have little impact on the congestion, environmental, energy and other issues that face U.S. transportation.
Draining billions of dollars from private businesses and individuals to subsidize projects that almost never come close to paying for themselves and will have little impact on the nation’s transportation system will not speed the engine of economic growth. It will help grind the engine to a halt.
The fact that high-speed rail lines need subsidies in the first place indicates they are massive money pits. Subsidies mean that more resources are required to produce fewer goods – how is that good for economic growth? And now even the U.S. government admits high speed rail doesn’t mitigate traffic congestion or offer any tangible “environmental benefits.” But these projects do line the pockets of politically-connected construction companies and developers – what a boondoggle.
Once these projects are completed and begin bleeding money, who will be forced to continue to subsidize their operations?