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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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By callmeroy on 6/8/2010 9:06:15 AM , Rating: 2
Not really...

Anyone with half a brain knows that the US doesn't exactly kick a$$ in the realm of public transportation.

MANY countries leave us in the dust in terms of public transportation infrastructure if I remember correctly from a ranking list I read a while back we aren't even in the top 10.

Considering we Americans are in love with the automobile (I think mostly because we like the idea of going where we want WHEN we want to) its not too shocking either.

By wookie1 on 6/8/2010 1:04:40 PM , Rating: 2
This is good news. It seems that the countries/regions that supposedly have these utopian transport systems are bankrupt (Europe). Not that the US isn't BK also, but we don't need to go down the hole faster just to catch up to those that are down deeper.

I think that Americans love autos because they provide freedom. I can go where I want when I want to. I don't have to wait for the next bus or train full of sweaty people crammed together, only to find that it is full and I have to wait for the next one - and even once I'm on it it takes 3X as long as driving.

What is the fascination with public transportation? Is it so good to have the government in control of you getting from point A to point B (especially if you need to get there on time)? Is it the Robin Hood complex of taking money from everyone to provide transporation for a few who may have less income? Why should we want public transportation for everyone? Surely we can do better.

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