I’m still planning my next series of posts, which I don’t expect to begin until sometime next week, but two more articles of note crossed my desk in the last day or two, and are worth passing along if for no other reason than the fact that it clearly appears that other nations “get it” when it comes to the importance of high-speed rail and investing in transportation infrastructure.

 “Two years ago, nearly 90 percent of the six million people traveling between Madrid and Barcelona went by air. But early this  year the number of train travelers on the route surpassed fliers. The trajectory is ever upward.”

Like their counterparts in Germany and France, travelers in Spain are discovering the values inherent in high-speed rail travel, as this recent New York Times article makes clear.

And no nation seems more prepared and willing to devote the financial resources to this than China, as is evidenced here.

As that article notes, China is planning to connect its high speed rail line through 17 other countries in Asia and Eastern Europe, with additional plans to build in Southeast Asia and Russia. That is not an insignificant project, and if successful will clearly help position them as a solid economic leader for decades to come. That level of infrastructure and transportation commitment, as I have stressed frequently in recent posts, is absolutely vital to economic prosperity. Notwithstanding President Obama’s solid leadership, vision, and understanding of this, we fall woefully short in measuring up against China’s progress in these areas.

Our recent $8 billion down payment on high-speed rail transit, important as it is, doesn’t quite cut it when you consider that (as the New York Times articles noted) by 2020, half of Spain’s $160 billion transportation will be devoted to rail travel.

If we don’t figure it out that we have to join the high-speed rail game soon, we’ll pay a hefty price for a long time. As I keep insisting, short-term thinking and planning cannot be our strategy for economic revival and sustained growth. Transportation and infrastructure investments are of critical importance, and we ignore this at our peril.

More choices … and more opportunities