The United States was once the world leader in infrastructure - especially in passenger rail. No trains traveled faster, in better style, and connected the cities like America’s railroads. Then a major shift in priorities from trains to automobiles and airplanes ended a golden era in America’s history. Gone were the days of easy, convenient travel, and in came gridlock, pollution, and economic stagnation. While much of the modern world enjoys the convenience of 200 mph bullet trains connecting cities, America’s railroad system has degraded to an embarrassing state of outdated equipment and bureaucracy.
The High Speed Rail America Club (HSRAC) was founded in 2014 by Demetrius Villa, his brother Darius Villa, and best friend Aleksandr Khalfin as a group to help make high-speed rail in the US a reality. Demetrius had long envisioned the idea after many trips on Amtrak to visit his family in New York City from Miami. The same trip that took 24 hours in 1939 now took 32 with Demetrius and his family. After researching the evolution of rail technology in other countries, particularly Japan, Demetrius boarded on a journey which would begin to take the country on a brand new track.
HSRAC has grown with thousands of followers online, learning, sharing, and advocating for high-speed rail and rail expansion in their community. Since it’s inception, it was worked with companies such as All Aboard Florida, Texas Central Railway, and California High-Speed Rail in promotion and advocacy ranging from methods of professional interviews, participation in legislative meetings, and rallying local support. It also works with other independent rail advocates in the US and across the world as a braintrust of information and ideas.
Documentary: The American Train
Youtube Channel: Fast Forward
Facebook Group: HSRAC
Event: Cool Japan @ FIU 2017
Meet the Team
The creator and visionary behind the group. He is an International Business and Honors student at FIU. Born in Miami to Cuban-Italian-French-Spanish-Lebanese-etc. mix parents, Demetrius came up with the idea after much frustration of riding Amtrak up and down the East Coast with his brother, Darius, and wants to share the idea with the world.
Aleksandr (call him Aleks) has been a good friend of the Villa brothers for a while. He’s a Finance student who shares the same vision as Demetrius of a reinvigorated America through high speed rail. Born in Ukraine, raised in the USA – he is a firm believer in the American dream!
Director of Research
The younger Villa brother, Darius has Aspergers syndrome (autism) but that doesn’t stop him from graduating Valedictorian and SGA President in high school. His fear of flying is what prompted the Villa family to take Amtrak, which he is frustrated of what he calls a “50 year old outdated system.” He is studying Marine Biology and plans that in less than 100 years, high speed rail will stop at underwater cities!