5. While there's a lot of positive high-speed rail news these days, there's also a lot of concerning news now as well. For one, Scott Walker, the incoming governor of Wisconsin, is committed to returning $810 million in federal funding for high-speed rail in his state. While this project would bring in thousands of jobs and the federal funds would cover almost all of the capital costs of the project, he ran on a plan to stop the project and looks like he is sticking to this campaign promise.
Walker says he'd rather see the money spent on roads, but this money is specifically for rail and Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood said there was no way the funding would go towards building new roads. More likely, it will be sent to another state that will be happy to receive it. Meanwhile, Wisconsin, which spends over $1 billion a year on highway projects, won't have to dish out $7 million for operating an important high-speed rail line in its state. The strange thing is, if Walker is concerned about wasting money, pumping government funds into infrastructure for relatively large, inefficient automobiles instead of high-speed rail doesn't make much sense.
6. Ohio's new Republican governor, John Kasich, has said basically the same thing as Walker concerning a federally-funded rail project in Ohio. He is determined to send $400 million back to the federal government. In his first news conference after being elected, Kasich said: "Passenger rail is not in Ohio’s future.... That train is dead." He also doesn't understand the way federal transportation spending works or just intends to ignore it, as he also thinks the money should be spent on roads. Unfortunately, it has been this inability to see the value of high-speed, efficient transportation that requires much less infrastructure and foreign oil than roads and automobiles that has put the U.S. so far behind Europe and Asia in this field. Ohio will also be missing out on 16,000 jobs if Kasich goes through with this.
7. Of course, while a handful of Republicans would rather oppose Obama's high-speed rail initiative than help their states, several states are itching for a little more federal money for their own high-speed rail projects and are more likely to get it now. So, while parts of the U.S. lose out, other parts will be gaining from these political changes.
8. While the U.S. fights over federal funding for high-speed rail, France contended with Germany and leading international train company, Eurostar, because for the first time in history Eurostar chose a German company, Siemens, to supply it with a new set of trains to run through the channel tunnel (reportedly the greenest trains in the world) instead of French company Alstom. French transport minister Dominique Bussereau said, "We have told the management of Eurotunnel and Eurostar that material other than Alstom material cannot be used," claiming that the Siemens trains don't meet certain safety requirements after the decision was made, but Eurostar disagreed and plans to proceed with its decision to use the new Siemens trains. Siemens didn't even bother responding.