Big plans for 220mph trains could forever change the way Americans travel

There's a lot of big talk about high-speed rail, but French railroad operator SNCF submitted a detailed proposal for 220mph trains zipping around the United States that could really work. The company has earned the respect of the transportation community because of its awesome 357mph TGV system currently rocketing through France.

The $8 billion of federal stimulus funds allocated for high-speed rail would be just a down payment for the cost of this spectacular system, expected to cost $140 billion. The proposal has the first phase of the system ready to ride by 2018, equipped with 600-foot-long trains carrying 500 to 550 passengers.

Sure, it's exorbitantly expensive to build, but the French proposal predicts that the benefits from less car and airplane travel will make up for 150% of the construction costs in 15 years of operation. Best of all, the system will be so fast that for many of the routes, it could get you there quicker than an airline could, for less money.

The Transport Politic, via Treehugger