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By Paul Bendix

Noise and High-Speed Rail ? What's the Truth?

Uploaded: Oct 11, 2013

Regarding high-speed rail....

Years ago, in the midst of a protracted argument over what color to paint the living room, my late wife made a good point. What did I know? Not a put down – literally a question. My wheelchair makes it hard for me to get into people's houses. And I care only mildly about home decor. Did I really know contemporary wall colors?

It's important to know what you don't know. That is my point.

There's an awful lot I don't know about high-speed rail. But that goes for most of us.

We need to approach all rail development in this country with an appropriate level of humility. For more than half a century, the US has quietly slipped behind in train technology. We do not have experience in operating high-speed rail lines.

So let's start with noise. I once spent a week within a few hundred yards of the TGV line outside Tonnerre, France. Trains rocketing through Burgundy whooshed by with a sound much quieter than trucks on the main highway. This high-speed line seemed remarkably quiet. But that's my impression.

Many of us spend time abroad. Can anyone reading this share their own experience? If you've been near a high-speed rail line for some time, could you describe the noise level?