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China unveiled the world's fastest train (in average speed) last week.  (Source: Xinhua)

China plans to spend $1T USD to blanket its country with 16,000 miles of high speed rail, forming a unique state of the art transportation network. U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged a mere 2 percent of that sum ($13B USD) to our nation's own high speed rail efforts.  (Source: The Transport Politic)
China's $1T USD high speed rail gambit leaps ahead

High speed rail is right up there with electric vehicles when it comes to promising green solutions to transportation in the new millennium.  High speed rail uses electricity and mass-transit to drastically cut emissions when compared to automobile travel.  And it's expected to be far faster and more cost effective transportation method, albeit with some big up front costs for infrastructure.  Much as the original coal-burning locomotive and oil-burning automobile revolutionized transportation in the 19th and 20th centuries, the electric locomotive looks to transform society in the 21st century.

The U.S. under President Barack Obama has committed $13B USD in high speed rail investment.  That seems somewhat impressive until one hears about China's high speed rail commitment.  China
has already spent $259B USD on high speed rail and plans on spending a total of $1T USD by 2020 to install 16,000 miles of high speed rail track -- or roughly 1/3 of the length of the U.S.'s total interstate highway system.  

China put the exclamation point on its efforts last week with the unveiling of its flagship high speed rail model, the 380A train.  With a 236 miles per hour top cruising speed, the train is the world's fastest.

A handful of maglev trains can beat the 380A in top speed, but they are unable to sustain a faster average speed.  The "380" part of its name comes from its 236 mph cruising speed which translates into 380 kilometers per hour.  The train will offer a 4 hour ride between Shanghai and Beijing.  That cuts the trip time to less than a third of the driving time (12 to 13 hours).

A Chinese firm, Changchun Railway Vehicles Co., makes the impressive vehicles.  The first production model, the "He Xie", was unveiled last week at a ceremony in Changchun, the capital of the northeastern province of Jilin in China.  At the ceremony, the Chinese government pledged to purchase 100 of the speedy trains.

High speed rail will provide the Chinese economy with a unique advantage as it continues to grow and expand.  Business travelers will be able to make trips much faster and regain literally weeks in productivity each year.  And carbon emissions, long a sore spot for China, will be cut in a way that's
actually beneficial for the economy.

Meanwhile, the U.S. sees its own plans for high speed rail stalled as it ponders potentially less effective solutions for carbon control like "carbon-credits".  The 380A and China's high speed rail ambitions have led some to question if the U.S. will be left behind as the rest of the world embraces high speed rail.

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RE: Left in the Dust
By Hiawa23 on 6/7/2010 1:28:59 PM , Rating: 5
In essence the current generation coming up now is almost certainly going to achieve LESS and earn LESS than the previous generation....and that's not progress...that's not how its "supposed" to be...that should concern folks...but alas that's the final worry --- complacency. Just observe people some times today...folks are more and more "ok" with mediocrity than I've ever noticed before.

I agree, it worries me when you look anywhere in America, especially in many poor neigborhoods where our youth are just content with being mediocre, or average, instead of striving to do better. It's really scary when you look around. I was thinking the same thing the other day. I could be wrong here but it seems that many Americans are fine going through their lives being average & not striving to improve their lives & just accept whatever happens.

Look at HS dropout rates especially in the poorer communities which is probably about 50%, when you would think it would be the opposite. If you are poor or rich, the best way to lift yourself up is through improving your education or through learning some sort of trade.

I am an African American, College graduate back in 1997, still owe $10k on my student loan, but I am really scared for our community at the mentality of many of our young people.

It's like many of therm have no hope, or have these false hopes of only becoming Lebron James, or Emmit Smith, or 50Cent, & that's all they strive to be, not seeing what they really need to do is improve their grades & strive to be better in school.

I don't know what the answer is. I have a 13year old daughter. I can't really worry about others kids. I strive to teach her, & put a strong emphasis on education for her to become a productive member of society, that's all I can do as a parent. I hope I am wrong but the way we are going the America we know today or yesterday will look much different in some years & our standing in the world might change as a result of this mentaility many share, & it started long before we ever heard Barack Obama.

RE: Left in the Dust
By YashBudini on 6/8/10, Rating: -1
RE: Left in the Dust
By RequiemsAllure on 6/8/2010 10:34:33 AM , Rating: 2
maybe there is a way to cut the expense of higher education?
i bring this up for discussion because I am curious.

on this note i theorize that this dispair you talk of also ensues due to high education costs and no way to pay for it. In a world where a piece of paper is more important than realworld experiance and training/self-study i cannot understand how we can/will-be-able to continue to operate effectively.

RE: Left in the Dust
By monkeyman1140 on 6/13/2010 6:13:58 PM , Rating: 2
Ironically in the military, they have an education program for soldiers.

I guess the "cut education" argument is stupid.

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