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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 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.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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