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Axial strength standards, first required for the mail cars where clerks worked sorting mail en route and later applied to passenger cars, require that an American passenger car be able to withstand 800,000 pounds-force (3,600 k N) applied to either end, as opposed to the 450,000 lb During the period from 1900 to 1941, most long-distance travel was by rail in the United States.
Rail transportation was not high-speed by modern standards but inter-city travel often averaged speeds between 40 and 65 miles per hour (64 and 105 km/h).
As a result, the requirement was revised to allow waivers for certain lines, and rarely enforced as the debate continued without any real resolution over the next two decades; in the meantime passenger fatalities began declining as the automobile emerged as a transportation option.
Two early streamliners were the Union Pacific M-10000 (nicknamed Little Zip and The City of Salina) in revenue service between 19/42 and the Burlington Railroad's Zephyr.
Inter-city rail in the United States with top speeds of 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) or more but below 125 mph (201 km/h) is sometimes referred to as higher-speed rail.
Amtrak's Acela Express (reaching 150 mph (240 km/h)), Northeast Regional, Keystone Service, and certain MARC Penn Line express trains (the three services reaching 125 mph (201 km/h)) are the only high-speed services in the country according to American standards, but elsewhere in the world "high speed" means services at or above 250 km/h (160 mph).
The debate over signaling and train control between the railroads and the ICC had never really been settled, just deferred as passenger deaths declined, in part due to more travelers using their automobiles for shorter commutes and an expanding and improving highway network.
The definitions range from rail services with top speeds of 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) to 150 miles per hour (240 km/h) or higher by the United States Department of Transportation which is an entity in the executive branch, while the United States Code, which is the official codification of Federal statutes, defines them as the rail services with "reasonably expected to reach sustained speeds of more than 125 miles per hour".Most of the major railroads had faster than normal trains called "express" or "limited" on their mainline routes (e.g.