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What is high speed rail?

High Speed Rail

There are multiple definitions for high speed rail in the US. It is different from the light rail and future commuter rail services known to many in the Denver area, as trains will travel much faster and will connect major population/activity centers that today may be serviced by longer car trips and short air trips. The ICS follows the guidance by the FRA to define what the study means by high speed rail. FRA breaks high speed rail into the four following types:

  • Express – Characterized by frequent service to major activity/population centers approximately 200-600 miles apart. Express service has few stops and a top speed of at least 150 MPH.
  • Regional – Provides relatively frequent service to major/moderate activity/population centers 100–500 miles apart with some intermediate stops. The top speed is approximately 110–150 MPH.
  • Emerging High Speed Rail – Typically in linking developing activity/population centers 100–500 miles apart with a top speed of up to 90–110 MPH.
  • Conventional Rail – Traditional passenger rail service between activity/population centers more than 100 miles apart. One to 12 daily frequencies with a top speed up to 79 to 90 MPH.

*Note: Corridor lengths are approximate; slightly shorter or longer intercity services may still help meet strategic goals in a cost effective manner.


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