Infrastructure generally refers to the basic physical structures and facilities, often government-owned, needed for the effective operation of a society or economy. They include the critical assets that are essential to enable, sustain, or enhance societal living conditions. More specifically, infrastructure facilitates the production of goods and services, the distribution of finished products to markets, and provision of basic social services such as schools and hospitals. Public works and public capital are common terms for government-owned infrastructure. Examples of such infrastructure assets and facilities include the following:
High-speed rail (HSR) is a type of passenger rail transport that operates significantly faster than the normal speed of rail traffic. Specific definitions by the European Union include 200 km/h (124 mph) for upgraded track and 250 km/h (155 mph) or faster for new track; while in the United States, the U.S. Department of Transportation's reasonably expected to reach sustained speeds of more than 125 mph (201 km/h), although the Federal Railroad Administration uses a definition of above 110 mph (177 km/h). In Japan, Shinkansen lines run at speeds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph) and are built using standard gauge track with no at-grade crossings. China high-speed conventional rail lines currently holds the world's fastest commercial top speed of 350 km/h (217 mph)
High-speed trains are used mostly for long-haul service and most systems are in Western Europe and East Asia. Due to their heightened speeds, route alignments for high-speed rail tend to be steeper grades and broader curves compared to conventional railways. Their high kinetic energy translates to higher horsepower-to-ton ratios (20 hp/ton); this allows trains to accelerate and maintain higher speeds and negotiate steep grades as momentum builds up and recovered in downgrades (reducing cut, fill, and tunneling requirements). Since lateral forces act on curves, curvatures are designed with the highest possible radius. All these features are dramatically different from freight operations, thus justifying dedicated, exclusive high-speed rail tracks if it is economically feasible.
In 1816 funding for the Erie Canal was in place, and in 1817, Wright was named Chief Engineer. In this position he led thousands of unskilled laborers as they built the canal with the aid of wheelbarrows, hand tools, horses, and mules. In Wright's honor, the first boat to traverse the canal system was named the Chief Engineer. After completion of the Erie Canal, he was approached by the Wurts brothers of Philadelphia to survey a possible route from the coalfields of Northeastern Pennsylvania to the Hudson, where anthracite could be shipped by boat downriver to New York City. This became the Delaware and Hudson Canal, and remained in operation until 1898. When that canal was finished in 1828, Wright was made Chief Engineer of the newly organized Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Within a year, Wright had let contracts for a massive construction effort that encompassed about 6,000 men and 700 horses.