Belgium has the HSL-1. This train has been in service since 1997 and is capable of 186 miles per hour.

The Italian ETR500 does Belgium a little better with top speeds of 190 mph.

The Eurostar connects London and Paris and reaching speeds of 200 mph as it flies through the Channel tunnel or "Chunnel."

France's TGV Reseau can break 236 mph, Germany's TR-09 hits 279 and China's CRH380A cruises at 302 mph.

Other countries with rapid rail include Spain, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and a handful of other.

Imagine: Pensacola to Tallahassee in a little over 90 minutes, or Pensacola to Los Angeles in less than 7 hours. Speed shrinks the world. It also makes travel by car seem silly, slow and ridiculous.

Most of the above-mentioned trains easily carry 1,000 or more people.

We say all of this to note the significant reduction that could be made in the dependence on foreign oil if America, like almost every other modern country, had a rapid mass transit system.

Some will say such train systems are relatively easy in most European countries were the entire country is often only a few hundred miles wide. This is, of course, true, but if a country such as Belgium (just 90 miles wide and 175 miles north and south) can make use of rapid mass transit how much more use could be seen by a country such as the U.S. (2,800 miles east to west and more than 1,500 miles north to south)?

But such systems are expensive - much more so for one the size the U.S would need. And Americans have a love affair with their automobiles. This love affair has caused many plans for high-speed rail systems to be scrapped. In the past, officials have said Americans will not even consider giving up travel via their beloved cars until gasoline reaches the $5/gallon mark.

Well, that point is almost here.

We think it's time the average American gave some thought to the issue. Taking advantage of mass transit can save a lot of money, a lot of fuel and a lot of dependence on other countries.

And there's one other point: construction of one of these high-speed rail systems would take a lot of time, money and manpower. In short, in these tight economic times, it could put a lot of people to work.

If Uncle Sam is going to spend billions of dollars, it may make more sense to do it on something like this rather than $600 toilet seats or $200 hammers (as has been reported in the past.)

Yes, such a concept is still a terrible stretch in the United States, but as gas prices rise and the economy stays stifled, the idea becomes more and more plausible.

It might be an idea we could all get "ABOARD".