26 September 2007

Chinese High-Speed Rail

By the end of the year China will be operating their first domestically produced high-speed rail line. Operating between the 71 mile (115 km) Beijing-Tianjin route, the new rail line will reduce the trip from 70 minutes to a half hour. Capable of moving 600 passengers, the line will be just in time for the Beijing Olympics next August.

Nine months ago, I brought up the idea that America should have its own high-speed rail. It seems that I'm not the only one with this idea, as Wired magazine wrote an article on the topic. To me, it just seems like this would be the perfect competition to airlines and bus travel, neither of which are looked at fondly.

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association is also looking to increase the awareness of high-speed rail in the central United States. There are many existing tracks that could be upgraded and straightened to create viable high-speed rail lines. In many places tracks have been upgraded and used as high-speed lines and the ridership has increased.

I believe that people would use high-speed rail if it was available to them as a comparable alternative to driving and flying. For most comparisons, the distance is limited to 500 miles, or a three hour flight. I would be more inclined to take rail if the prices were comparable, even if it meant that it would take an extra hour in travel. Passenger rail cars are more spacious and comfortable. They can provide better than an aircraft can, so I would have no qualms about taking rail.

Now, if we could just get the government and investors on board.

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