Rail route from California to Chicago by rail


YouTube video

Can there be any alternate rail routes by rail for travelling from California to Chicago?

The current journey takes 42 hours by rail. Is it feasible to design and construct a dedicated rail track for running express (fast) train which will reduce travel time ?

Collaboration with France, Sweden, South Korea & Japan to achieve this using Maglev technology.

  • 5
    Do you want to know whether those alternatives are already there or do you want to know whether you can build them?
    – Willeke
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 4:08
  • 6
    This seems like an off-topic question about the potential design of transportation infrastructure rather than a travel question which accepts the constraints of the transportation system as it exists rather than the way we wish it was. It's obviously possible to construct a faster train (though the United States is still quite large; existing high speed rail technologies would have difficulty competing with flying for a 2,000 mi journey), but there are currently no such alternate routes and no real plans to build them. Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 4:13
  • 1
    This question belongs on Politics.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 9:12
  • Russia has lots of passenger trains, but I don't think they're any faster (except perhaps Moscow - St. Petersburg). The train I took in 2019 from Moscow to the northern Komi Republic was quite slow.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 9:16

1 Answer 1


No, it's not financially viable to run a bullet train in the middle of nowhere. Nevada has a population density of 10 people/km^2, Utah is mildly better with 99 -- to give you an example of a country where this works, Germany is 232 people/km^2. And the distances: the longest drive in Germany is probably Flensburg to Berchtesgaden ~1100km while SF to Chicago is about three times as much. No, you can't make this work.

enter image description here

  • 3
    This map also does a good job of showing some of the areas where the US has semi-competitive rail systems, is building them, or is perhaps considering building them someday, such as the Northeast Corridor connecting many of the red areas in the northeast, Brightline, connecting some of the red bits of Florida, California HSR which aims to (eventually, someday, in the fullness of time) connect many of the red areas of California, etc... Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 4:38
  • 1
    Yes. There's also a speck of red in the upper left corner and 604now.com/… it will probably take a long time before it happens but certainly red areas make people responsible for those think about bullet trains.
    – user4188
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 4:40
  • 1
    @PrashantAkerkar There are certainly technical limitations and hurdles to that. I believe that there is currently only one high speed maglev train in revenue service now, the Shanghai Maglev Train, and that covers a 19 mile route. Building a 2,000 mile maglev train from San Francisco to Chicago, which would include crossing/tunneling through two rather large mountain ranges, would be extremely complex, beyond extremely costly, and as chx shows, likely wouldn't be financially viable because it would be slower than air travel and would spend much of its time crossing sparsely populated areas. Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 7:46
  • 1
    Nobody is currently proposing, let alone building, a high speed rail network from San Francisco to Chicago. To the extent the US is operating, building, or considering building high speed rail, it is focusing on shorter corridors on the order of a few hundred miles that cover areas with high population density (counties are a weird way to measure this, but broadly speaking, the red areas on chx's map). The Northeast Corridor has 37 million people within just 25 miles of its stations with an average trip length of 165 miles. Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 7:57
  • 1
    The contiguous USA is roughly the same area as Europe. The rail network does not stop at the German border. One can take fast trains from Berlin to Malaga. High speed rail from San Francisco to Chicago is not feasible, but proper rail between Fort Collins and Colorado Springs should be.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 9:10

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .