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China's Shanghai and Hangzhou rail line is the world's highest average speed rail line.  (Source: Reuters)
China continues to advance its high-speed rail program

When it comes to high speed rail transportation, the U.S. is getting left behind. Europe and Japan have long championed high speed rail, and China is currently working 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 -- and spending $1T USD on the project.  By comparison, U.S. President Barack Obama has committed a mere $13B USD in high speed rail investment.  And where the U.S. deployment has struggled with landowner and property concerns, the more efficient Chinese system has simply relocated land owners (despite their protests) and started construction.

A few months back set a speed record (average speed, not top speed) of 236 mph (380 km/h) for its Shanghai to Beijing line.  This week it bumped that speed up even higher recording a speed of 258.9 mph (416.6 km/h) for its new train line between Shanghai and Hangzhou.

The previous train took approximately 80 minutes to cover the 125.5 mi (202 km) between the cities.  The new line will typically travel at around 217.5 mph (350 km/h), cutting that time to around 40 minutes. 

China currently has 4,300 miles of railroad track -- the most of any nation in the world.  While its trains aren't quite as fast at top speed compared to foreign models -- Japan's JR-Maglev train (unrailed), which achieved a speed of 581 km/h (361 mph) and France's TGV at 574.8 km/h (357.18 mph) (railed) -- in average speed it is unbeaten.

So why does the world care if China is beating it in high-speed transportation?  Well China's train system is not only high-speed, it is also high volume as well.  And at the end of the day it's offering its citizens days in extra productivity every year, which will likely have tremendous and unheralded benefits on the economy.  For example, the average citizen commuting on the new record-setting line will save approximately an hour and 20 minutes a day.

Of course the costs are tremendous and China has much work to go before it can reach its hyper-ambitious goals, like 1,000 km/h super-trains, it's clearly setting a blistering pace with technological advancements.

China's train lines are almost entirely managed by state-owned enterprises, though many are publicly traded on stock markets in Hong Kong and China.



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This says it all....
By tng on 9/30/2010 10:48:30 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
U.S. deployment has struggled with landowner and property concerns, the more efficient Chinese system has simply relocated land owners (despite their protests) and started construction.


Having spent months in Japan using the JR system there, I could see that a similar system could greatly benefit many areas in the US.

Problem is that the people in the US have turned into NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) types and just getting rights of way for a small muni light rail project costs more than building the system.

While I wouldn't want something like China is doing to people happening here, isn't there some kind of middle ground? Or am I just dreaming?

Seems like you have people being kicked out of their homes by city governments claiming that the higher tax income justifies use of Eminent Domain, why not these types of things where there is actually a need?




RE: This says it all....
By Spivonious on 9/30/2010 10:55:54 AM , Rating: 2
I think most people are hesitant to let railroads through their town because Amtrak is extremely expensive. In lots of cases, it's cheaper to fly than take the train. This needs to be reversed before anyone will be interested in investing in rail.


RE: This says it all....
By Iaiken on 9/30/2010 11:46:36 AM , Rating: 5
That and because most of the routes where high speed rail would actually make sense like Seattle-Portland-SF-LA-SD, NYC-Miami, simply aren't going to happen because the geological layout makes it cost prohibitive.

Lastly, American's aren't culturally ready for something like this and it shouldn't be forced on them by their government even if it were affordable to build and affordable to use. The USA is the leading car culture in all the world and any such effort would be better spent on simply building better cars and better roads.


RE: This says it all....
By mxnerd on 10/4/2010 3:37:42 AM , Rating: 2
The problem for us is we don't live in cities packed with people like China, Japan, Europe, or even Taiwan (Yes, even Taiwan has high speed rail)

The high speed rail system in the U.S. probably will not make any profit in the first 10 or even 20 years.


RE: This says it all....
By theapparition on 9/30/10, Rating: 0
RE: This says it all....
By Reclaimer77 on 9/30/10, Rating: -1
RE: This says it all....
By tng on 9/30/10, Rating: 0
RE: This says it all....
By tng on 9/30/2010 12:09:58 PM , Rating: 2
By the way I would also want all of the buildings on the land that is seized from those people to be bulldozed. Then they could put in a stripmall or fast food outlet that generates more tax income for the local municipality.


RE: This says it all....
By Reclaimer77 on 9/30/10, Rating: -1
RE: This says it all....
By tng on 9/30/2010 3:31:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...indifferent...
No not indifferent, more like just resigned to it is all. Don't see that with the new changes to the SC that it will be reversed anytime soon.

The ends really don't justify the means, but if you can use it for something more useful than a apartment complex or shopping, that is better.


RE: This says it all....
By tng on 9/30/2010 11:39:16 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Can I be Devils Advocate for a minute?


Yes, you can. I should say, why stop now? (sarcasm)

I fly allot, every month. About 70% of the year I am away from home. To be perfectly honest with you, even if there was 400+mph trains that linked all of the large urban centers in the US, for me flying is still more efficient.

But.... If I were to want to take a quick trip to LA with the wife for the weekend, that may be an option instead of flying.


RE: This says it all....
By Drag0nFire on 9/30/2010 2:34:55 PM , Rating: 5
To be honest, I think part of the problem (and why rail won't succeed in the US) is this very thought process: that you think it's efficient to spend 70% of your time flying around the country. I'm sure for your business or your personal circumstances, it is efficient. But from a societal perspective, it is a colossal waste of resources (human and natural).

Americans collectively spend too much time travelling. For example, if you work for a West Coast company and live in the East Coast, it would probably be more efficient to live on the West Coast. No one wants to be the guy who has to pick up and move, but that's how it works in China. Rail travel is reserved for returning home on holidays once a year. "Business travel" doesn't exist for factory workers.


RE: This says it all....
By Reclaimer77 on 9/30/10, Rating: -1
RE: This says it all....
By tng on 9/30/2010 3:25:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Business travel" doesn't exist for factory workers.
Well.... just say that I do work allot in factories, and the factory workers would not be working if their equipment broke down. This is not something that can be handled by conference call or a video chat.

I love it when everybody knows everyone's elses business better. Fact is that I have sites that I visit all over the US, Europe, and Asia. However I do live on the West Coast and have spent allot of time on the East Coast in the past 2 years. I actually have an apartment there that I spend every other month in.

quote:
For example, if you work for a West Coast company and live in the East Coast, it would probably be more efficient to live on the West Coast.


When I am home there is no guaranty that I will not have to leave and go to some other location. So really there is no ideal location for me to live.

My personal vacations involve staying home.


RE: This says it all....
By AnnihilatorX on 10/5/2010 4:44:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I fly allot, every month. About 70% of the year I am away from home. To be perfectly honest with you, even if there was 400+mph trains that linked all of the large urban centers in the US, for me flying is still more efficient.


Why so, have you counted the time you need to check-in the airport? That's at least 2 hours in large airports.


RE: This says it all....
By Murloc on 9/30/2010 11:49:53 AM , Rating: 4
that's fine, but lands have always been expropriated from privates to build roads etc. even in democratic countries. They get refunded for their market value of course.


RE: This says it all....
By tng on 9/30/2010 12:15:58 PM , Rating: 2
That has always been the case here until 3 years ago. Our wonderful Supreme Court ruled for a city somewhere (I think in New Hampshire, Delaware?)that razing peoples homes to put up high density housing that brought in more local taxes was a just use of Eminent Domain.


RE: This says it all....
By surt on 9/30/2010 7:32:24 PM , Rating: 3
You understand that eminent domain still involves paying off the property owner, it just means they don't get to choose whether or not to sell.


RE: This says it all....
By SPOOFE on 9/30/2010 10:58:26 PM , Rating: 2
And I'm sure YOU understand that one of the bigger criticisms of applications of eminent domain have involved those payoffs for being much, much too low to be considered anywhere close to "fair".

If you were looking at being screwed over, you'd be a NIMBY-type, too.


RE: This says it all....
By FITCamaro on 9/30/2010 12:17:20 PM , Rating: 1
No one is saying eminent domain doesn't have a place. If a road no longer can handle the volume of traffic it has to bear and there is no other place to put a road, eminent domain being used to widen the road is appropriate.

What is not appropriate is what is going on in certain cities where city governments are seizing land to give it to private developers which then build condos or apartments on it. This results in more tax revenue for the city which is how they claim eminent domain is justified. That it is for the greater good.

That kind of totalitarian use is unacceptable. But the federal government is using it too. It is claiming huge swaths of states where the state might want to develop for use of the lands resources (most notably the tar sands for oil shale) so that these states cannot do so. Why? Because it doesn't meet their environmental agenda. 88% of Nevada is owned by the federal government.

Here's a map that shows federal ownership of state lands as a percentage of land area.

http://strangemaps.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/map...


RE: This says it all....
By AssBall on 9/30/2010 2:16:12 PM , Rating: 2
Our Wyoming numbers look big on that map, Fit, but most of that is because of national parks, national grasslands, and national forests, most of which are absolutely free for the public to use. Even the feds have trouble cutting through their own tape to "develop" those areas.


RE: This says it all....
By Reclaimer77 on 9/30/10, Rating: -1
RE: This says it all....
By AssBall on 9/30/2010 4:35:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, go figure.

Write a well written neutral post with good information and discussion, get rated down.

Write an off the subject incoherent mean spirited rant, get rated up.

It's the DT way I guess...


RE: This says it all....
By FITCamaro on 10/1/10, Rating: -1
RE: This says it all....
By Skywalker123 on 10/4/2010 1:31:12 PM , Rating: 2
Yeh, we don't need no stinkin' national parks. Lets sell 'em all and let them pave them over and put up strip malls and condo's. And all them trees are standing around doing nothing, we should cut them down and sell the lumber to China.


RE: This says it all....
By Reclaimer77 on 9/30/10, Rating: -1
RE: This says it all....
By superPC on 9/30/2010 1:48:37 PM , Rating: 3
if humans can find a middle ground we wouldn't have any war.


RE: This says it all....
By FITCamaro on 10/1/10, Rating: 0
RE: This says it all....
By Skywalker123 on 10/4/2010 1:33:12 PM , Rating: 1
Like the British did?


RE: This says it all....
By Pneumothorax on 9/30/2010 2:14:48 PM , Rating: 2
I think California/Nevada many homeowner's IWIIMBY "I Want It In My Backyard" Most of us here are upside down at this point and would love the gov to kick us out of our homes and reneg the mortgages!


RE: This says it all....
By MekhongKurt on 10/2/2010 1:48:06 AM , Rating: 3
Since the Supreme Court ruled a few years ago it's constitutional for a government to invoke eminent domain to condemn private property for someone to build a shopping center on -- i.e., for private benefit, not the public good -- our various governments are quite happy to do THAT for their business buddies.

A railway, like a road, sewer or water line, and so on, is clearly within the sphere of the greater public interest. We could use eminent domain -- but politicians often aren't willing to fight with citizens opposed. And some are opposed, utterly unwilling to accept even the most minor inconvenience, no matter how much good their doing so would bring to their fellow citizens. In other words, they're selfish.

I lived in China for several years, and their way of simply moving people out of the way -- with the military, if necessary -- is not something I want to see in the US. However, I would like to see public officials to have the courage to step up and say, "This needs to happen, and the route cuts across the corner of your 10,000-acre ranch -- so, this is GOING to happen. Do you want to keep it simple and accept fair compensation quietly, or do you want us to condemn your property that's needed?"

I *own* agricultural property I inherited from my Father. Many years ago, while he was still alive, the power company needed to run a new line across the land. Dad *could* have fought; he would have lost anyway. Far more important, however, is *why* he didn't fight. It wasn't the money -- he got a one-time pittance. But years later he told me, People further on up needed power, and I just couldn't see fighting that then trying to look at myself in the mirror."

Sadly, that attitude is largely gone in contemporary America, though in many ways it continues to be a great and wonderful nation and though my fellow Americans continue to have many wonderful qualities.


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