An example of what is behind the belief High Speed Rail is good for the world

Yesterday I wrote a post on the topic of whether Obama's High Speed Rail was on the ropes and it would be better to put the money into high speed internet connectivity.

With Obama's train initiative on the rope, why don't they take the money and build Internet Infrastructure instead of rail lines has an article on the dire straights of Obama's high speed rail line.

Is Obama's rail initiative a 'train to nowhere'?

High-speed train plan draws little enthusiasm as California costs soar

One the points I made was the reason high speed rail was popular is because of lobbyists.  An example of the response due to the negative PR is this Research ;-) from Worldwatch Institute.

Global Expansion of High-Speed Rail Gains Steam

Washington, D.C.----As interest in high-speed rail (HSR) surges around the world, the number of countries running these trains is expected to nearly double over the next few years, according to new research by the Worldwatch Institute for Vital Signs Online. By 2014, high-speed trains will be operating in nearly 24 countries, including China, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the United States, up from only 14 countries today. The increase in HSR is due largely to its reliability and ability to cover vast geographic distances in a short time, to investments aimed at connecting once-isolated regions, and to the diminishing appeal of air travel, which is becoming more cumbersome because of security concerns.

"The rise in HSR has been very rapid," said Worldwatch Senior Researcher Michael Renner, who conducted the research. "In just three years, between January 2008 and January 2011, the operational fleet grew from 1,737 high-speed trainsets worldwide to 2,517. Two-thirds of this fleet is found in just five countries: France, China, Japan, Germany, and Spain. By 2014, the global fleet is expected to total more than 3,700 units."

Is the alternative to cars and planes a train?  Or traveling through a virtual presence?  What is the carbon footprint for grams of carbon dioxide per passenger-kilometer for a WebEX on Skype meeting?

Not only is HSR reliable, but it also can be more friendly than cars or airplanes. A 2006 comparison of greenhouse gas emissions by travel mode, released by the Center for Neighborhood Technologies, found that HSR lines in Europe and Japan released 30-70 grams of carbon dioxide per passenger-kilometer, versus 150 grams for automobiles and 170 grams for airplanes.

China has even cut its budget.

China considers shrinking railway investment goal -report

Nov 8 (Reuters) - China's annual investment on railway construction could fall to about 500 billion yuan ($78.7 billion) a year, retreating from ambitious heights mapped out in a plan for the sector that has struggled with high debts, an official Chinese newspaper said on Tuesday.

The China Securities Journal cited an unnamed source who said yearly spending on rail construction for the remainder of the current five-year plan (2011-15) could shrink from the 800 billion yuan a year proposed in a long-term plan.

My vote is to stay home and have a virtual presence in real-time anywhere in the data center world when they need you there.

In fact, that is part of what I am working on with some data center experts.

High speed presence means minutes if not seconds.  As products like Skype get integrated into Microsoft will be the biggest threat to travel be video and audio communications?  (Disclosure: I have good friends who work at Skype and use the product regularly)