Spain's bullet train system is a model to follow as America plans how to spend the money the government is using to stimulate the economy, the U.S. transportation secretary said Saturday.
Ray LaHood said the $8 billion allocated for high-speed railways in the U.S. will spur economic growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
President Barack Obama has cited Spain, France and Japan as countries with systems worth emulating.
LaHood met with Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to discuss how investing in such a train system could stimulate job creation in the U.S.
“Yesterday I traveled on a train at close to 350 kilometers (215 miles) per hour, the fastest I've ever ridden on a high-speed train,” LaHood said. He said he found the experience very civilized.
“Our leaders have made the decision that America will have high speed rail,” LaHood said.
Of $787 billion approved in Obama's stimulus bill, $48 billion is earmarked for improving overall transport infrastructure, with rail receiving for the first time an important share, LaHood said.
He said that by the end of the summer there will be American people working in well-paying jobs building high speed rail links in the U.S.
High-speed lines will eventually stretch from Portugal's Atlantic coast, through France to Britain and Belgium, providing Europe with fast passenger transport to rival air travel.