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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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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
"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad














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