For years, a number of high-speed rail projects in the U.S. have languished, watching the rest of the world's locomotives pass them by, both literally and figuratively. While a national high-speed rail network is still a while off, five states are about to get the next-gen trains their commuter lines need.
The trains are new hybrid "Charger" models, built by Siemens. Costing a total of $225 million together, they run on a mix of diesel and electricity and can get you from point A to B at speeds of up to 125 miles per hour. Now, for the rest of the world, 125 miles per hour isn't actually high-speed. For the U.S., however, that's actually a step in the right direction.
Currently, the fastest train in the entire Untied States is the Amtrak Acela, with a top speed of 150 miles per hour. Sadly for the Acela though, it hardly ever hits those speeds. Aging tracks and tight corners actually keep the Acela at a depressing 85 miles per hour average speed at best.
All told, Illinois, California, Washington, Michigan and Missouri will each be receiving a handful of the 32 new trains. If those do the job, a further 75 regional trains will be snapped up, as well as 150 interstate engines. That's enough next-gen train tech to give pretty much anybody in the U.S. the chance to hop aboard a train that will, at the very least, give them the sense of what high speed rail can really do. The best news here is that the first wave of these new trains will be ready to hit the tracks as soon as 2016.