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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 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.


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