The Instigator
brian_eggleston
Pro (for)
Winning
27 Points
The Contender
me_a
Con (against)
Losing
26 Points

Should the US develop a high-speed rail network?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/17/2008 Category: Technology
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,062 times Debate No: 3671
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (14)

 

brian_eggleston

Pro

Whereas Europe has many high speed rail services such as TGV, Eurostar, Thalys and ICE, and Japan has its famous "bullet trains" people in the US are more likely to undertake inter-city trips by car or plane.

As trains use less fuel per passenger mile than a plane or a car, and are, therefore, more environmentally friendly and will reduce America's dependence on imported oil, the US Government should being doing more to encourage investment in high speed rail services.
me_a

Con

As a developed, powerful nation, the United States needs to take actions to protect the environment; however, high-speed railways are not the most efficient way to pursue this.

High-speed railways are costly. Compared to their benefits, they are not as effective as solar and wind power. Solar power in particular can be used by individuals at their homes or by companies. High-speed railways only make a difference to those who would use them. It's true that several million Americans fly every day, but it is also true that nearly every American turns on the lights every day. If the United States truly wants to take steps toward being more environmentally friendly, we must implement incentives to encourage individuals, companies, cities, and towns to be more environmentally conscious themselves (using solar, wind, etc).

My opponent stated that the government should encourage investment in these projects; however, if the government were to only encourage this, not implement any sort of incentive, it would not be pursued.

Connecting America's metropolises with high-speed rail would be incredibly complicated. Since high-speed rails must, indeed, be high-speed, they would have to be separate from the existing road and railway systems. Any sort of crossing would significantly slow them down, making them even less efficient. Because of this need for extra, unhindered land, high-speed railways would really only harm the environment more than help it. They would cause the destruction of plants and wildlife. And they could not be used only in the cities, because there is not room for them.

My opponent stated that high-speed railways would reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Though this may be true, a more significant decrease could be obtained through the development of alternative fuels. These could power not only cars (and trains) they could generate electricity and power America's cities; reducing our pollution and increasing energy independence.

America is a significant contributor to global pollution and our dependency on foreign oil is hindering our economy. However, high-speed railways would not help. They are costly, inefficient, complicated, and would only harm the environment. Alternative fuels and increased use of solar and wind power would make a real difference for America.
Debate Round No. 1
brian_eggleston

Pro

Make I thank you for your eloquent contribution to this debate.

You first of all point out that high-speed railways are costly. This is undeniably the case, however, so are freeways and airports, but they form vital parts of the nation's transport infrastructure and are, therefore, worth investing in. Furthermore, a high-speed rail link could be built with private capital, such as was the case with the Eurotunnel project which links London with Brussels and Paris.

You continue to point out the benefits of solar and wind power and I wholly agree that these alternative methods of generating electricity must be expanded. However, this does not negate the development of a high-speed rail network as the trains are powered by electricity, not diesel.

You went on:

"Connecting America's metropolises with high-speed rail would be incredibly complicated. Since high-speed rails must, indeed, be high-speed, they would have to be separate from the existing road and railway systems. Any sort of crossing would significantly slow them down, making them even less efficient. Because of this need for extra, unhindered land, high-speed railways would really only harm the environment more than help it. They would cause the destruction of plants and wildlife. And they could not be used only in the cities, because there is not room for them."

Yes, building the high-speed lines will be complicated and will require some huge engineering projects, but it can be done. For example, the line from London to France travels under the city in a tunnel then over the Thames Estuary on a bridge, across South East English countryside, using more bridges and tunnels to avoid crossings before disappearing underground once again, emerging 31.5 miles (50.5km) later in France at the other side of the English Channel.

The benefit of this rail line is that links city centre to city centre, there is no need to travel out of town to the airport or queue in city traffic.

In short, if it can be done in Europe and Japan, it can be done in America.
me_a

Con

me_a forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
brian_eggleston

Pro

My opponent has not responded in the allotted time, I assume she has more pressing matters to attend to, which is understandable.

For my part, I would like to outline a couple of advantages of travelling by train.

Advantages over flying:

You have more personal space than on a plane – there is plenty of room to work or relax.

You can watch the scenery go by – improve your knowledge of the American countryside.

Advantages over driving:

You can have a glass of wine or two without worrying about being stopped by the police.

There's no stopping at junctions and no traffic delays.

A high-speed rail network would benefit the environment, reduce America's reliance on imported oil and reduce road congestion – Vote Pro.
me_a

Con

First of all, I would like to sincerely apologize for failing to post an argument in round two. I did, indeed, have more pressing matters to attend to.

Due to the circumstance, I will respond to my opponent's second and third arguments.

To keep some sort of order, I'd like to start with their second.

My opponent stated that freeways and airports form vital parts of our nation's transport infrastructure and that they, too, are costly. Indeed this is true. However, our nation's current systems are not comparable to the complexity and cost of high speed railways. Though they could possibly contribute a slight convenience to society, the difficulties would outweigh the benefits. Our current transport system would obstruct construction. Unless we replace and/or rearrange highways, we will not be able to successfuly create an efficient high-speed railway network.
As my opponent stated, these trains could be built with private capital, like the Eurotunnel. However, unless companies and individuals could be convinced that their benefits outweigh the challenges and cost, investment in high-speed railway would be unlikely at best.

My opponent stated that high-speed trains are powered by electricity. If this is true, they would not decrease our dependence on foreign oil as my opponent stated in their opening argument. Unless there is some logic that I fail to comprehend, this is an apparent contradiction. Assuming that the trains are powered by electricity, they could be powered by solar. This means that we must focus on developing a more efficient and mobile means of solar power before we could develop efficient high-speed railways. If these trains were to be powered by conventional means of electricity, they would not decrease pollution as the majority of American electricity is created through the use of coal, which is a significant contributer to all forms of pollution.

As I stated, the development of alternative fuels would really make us less dependent on foreign oil and would also decrease pollution. Therefore, instead of focusing on the development of high-speed rail networks, the United States Government, as well as companies and individuals, should focus on the development and implementation of alternative fuels and energy, not high-speed rails.

My opponent brought up the example of the line from London to France. However, that line is only 307 miles long, while a line connecting Los Angeles to New York would have to be roughly 2800 miles. Not only that, there would have to be more than one line to create an integrated, accessible high-speed rail network. Japan's bullet trains are also quite minute in comparison to what would be needed. My opponent admits that the engineering challenges would be great, but this may be more than they anticipated. There would not be one tunnel, but hundreds, not simply several bridges, but perhaps thousands.

My opponent continually brought up the environmental and economical benefits of high-speed rail. However, I have proven these false. Due to their use of electricity, they would not significantly decrease pollution. Not to mention the tons of CO2 that would be released during construction. Also, they would not decrease our dependence on foreign oil, since, apparently, they do not use oil.

A high-speed rail network that would connect America's cities would be a far more grave engineering challenge than Europe or Japan faced when constructing theirs. The benefits do not outweigh the challenges, complexities, or the harm they would cause during construction and use.

Now I'd like to move on to their third round argument.

My opponent outlined several advantages of traveling by train. However, none of them are specific to high-speed rail. The United States already has a railroad system. Citizens could obtain these advantages by riding already existing trains.

Perhaps high-speed rail is practical when it's only 300 miles, but the well over 3000 miles of high-speed rail needed to make any significant impact on our society would be environmentally devastating and not beneficial.

In summary, high-speed rails are not worth the investment. Since they apparently run on electricity, they do not reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And since the majority of American electricity is not generated by solar or hydropower, they do not reduce pollution. Not only this, the amount of energy it would take to build them would outweigh any sort of advantage in the end. Also, they would have to avoid every existing system of transportation. This would require countless feats of engineering. Not to mention the damage construction would do to the environment.

An American high-speed rail network seems plausible, even preferable, in theory. And so does Communism to some. However, upon implementation, both ideas would fail in America. High-speed railways have few standing benefits, all of which are overshadowed by the negative aspects. For this reason and all aforementioned others, I urge you to vote in negation of the proposition.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by gahbage 9 years ago
gahbage
I'm pretty sure the U.S. is already working on something like this.
14 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by ConservativePolitico 5 years ago
ConservativePolitico
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for the FF.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con is on the right side of the issue, but didn't provide the needed backup of the economic arguments. Environmental permitting makes building any large new system an economic impossibility. In a spread out country there be a cost-prohibitive number stations as well.
Vote Placed by JBlake 8 years ago
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