For decades in Tokyo, high-speed rail has meant 180 miles an hour.
Years from now in Kansas City, it just might mean getting to St. Louis by train almost as fast as you can get there by car.
That's the best-case scenario should Missouri win a chunk of the Obama administration's multibillion-dollar commitment to speeding up train travel in America.
The president's funding plans, totaling $13 billion nationwide over five years, have been derided by Republicans as excessive. Transportation experts, however, said the money wouldn't be enough to pay for a single bullet train.
"Not even $13 billion gets us to being Europe," said Ross Capon, president of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, an advocacy group. "It's a matter of going from first to second base, which is the way it has to be," given how far this nation's passenger rail systems lag behind others around the globe.
Consider Missouri's only "high-speed rail corridor" as designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation: The 275-mile Union Pacific route across the state's midsection, which carries Amtrak, is structurally capable of handling a top speed of 79 mph.
That's less than half the pace of bullet trains in Japan, Europe and parts of Asia.
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