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U.S. examining high-speed trains

High-speed railway construction may become a boon for the U.S. construction industry.

High-speed railway construction may become a boon for the U.S. construction industry.

Railroad construction once revolutionized travel in the U.S., connecting the eastern and western halves of the nation for the first time in the 1800's. Since the introduction and proliferation of the automobile and airplane, train construction has been limited and so has its usage. Now, cross-country train journeys are used almost exclusively for supplies and cargo, while passengers are more likely to take trains between nearby cities. Even then, many opt for cheap flights or to drive and split the cost of gas among passengers.

However, the development of high-speed trains could offer greater flexibility for travelers. These bullet trains will connect much of developed China by 2020, according to Next Big Future. New railways already drastically reduce the time it takes for a train to journey from Shanghai to Hong Kong. What was once a 15-hour trip can now take place in less than seven hours.

California ready for high-speed rail construction
In the U.S., high-speed trains have not caught on. Opponents cite high costs and infrastructural challenges. However, the pros appear to have outweighed the cons, as California is moving forward with its plan to build a bullet train railway, beginning this week in Fresno, according to the L.A. Times.

The $68 billion project had been delayed for two years but construction on the first 29-mile segment of the L.A.-to-San Francisco undertaking is set to begin. With it, the construction industry in California will likely enjoy a boost in jobs as well as sales for fasteners and other construction tools.

Other parts of the country still waiting
Elsewhere in the U.S., high-speed trains remain the subject of debate. While no one denies the benefits to be gained by industries like power tools and industrial fasteners, funding and regulations remain sticking points. Still, companies are bidding for the rights to be the primary contractor for potential railway construction in Boston, Washington and Texas, according to the Telegraph. Some projects would feature magnetic rails capable of up to 311 mph, while others call for conventional, 220-mph trains.

While trains may never become the preferred method of travel for long, cross-country distances, they may come to represent a convenient and comfortable way to move between cities like New York and Boston or Detroit and Chicago. With contractors bidding for upcoming projects and California moving forward with its own high-speed venture, the U.S. may experience a renaissance in locomotives.