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Earlier this week, the French National Railways (SNCF), which owns and operates France's TGV high-speed rail line, responded to the Federal Railroad Administration's Request for Expressions of Interest to finance, design, construct, operate and maintain high-speed passenger-rail lines in the United States.
As authorized through the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, the FRA is soliciting interest from firms that could establish and operate high-speed service in the Northeast Corridor or one of the 10 federally designated high-speed rail corridors.
For its part, SNCF has expressed interest in the California, Florida, Texas and Chicago Hub corridors. SNCF's proposals outline its project rationale in the respective regions, including an evaluation of the benefits of high-speed rail to the targeted communities and environment; detailed descriptions of the project, including proposed routes, estimated operating costs, services and schedules; the project's business model, including simulated revenues, financial statements and possible financing opportunities with both the public and private sectors; and compliance with existing legislation and possibilities for federal, state and local partnerships.
In California, Florida and Texas, 220 mph passenger-rail service would result in public benefits that more than double the public investment needed, SNCF said. In the Midwest region, passenger trains could operate at speeds up to 220 mph throughout a 1,400-mile network, including a bypass line in Chicago, serving 28 stations in seven states. The network would provide 20 million people access to Chicago in less than three hours, SNCF estimates.
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