A few weeks ago, a train glided out of a station in Hangzhou, China, bound for Shanghai some 125 miles to the northeast. It arrived less than an hour later, cutting the usual commute time in half. Some trains on the line average 220 miles per hour, making it the fastest daily train in the world.
The push for high-speed rail in America is picking up speed -- it's just happening really, really slowly. Yesterday, efforts to connect American cities with new high-speed passenger rail links received a shot in the arm to the tune of $2.4 billion in federal funding for 54 projects in 23 states. And while it's not even close to enough to push America's rail system toward the modern railways linking Asian and European cities, it is a baby step in the right direction.
China, already outpacing the U.S., Japan and many European countries in the expansion of their railway system, has begun testing an even faster high-speed train, clocking in at 258.86 miles per hour during a trial run on Tuesday.
The new train will operate between Shanghai and Hangzhou, the capital of East China’s Zhejiang province, and is expected to start regular service next month October.
Chinese workers built this country's railroad system 150 years ago, laying track for less than $30 a month in a grand effort to connect the coasts for the first time. Future railroad systems might also be built by the Chinese — or Chinese-owned firms, at least. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping to spur Chinese interest in helping his beleaguered state build a new high-speed rail network.
The US has looked to China for help building railroads ever since Chinese laborers laid down the tracks for the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1860s. Now, California hopes a partnership with the Middle Kingdom can do for 21st Century high-speed rail what that far less pleasant 19th Century "partnership" did for the Transcontinental Railroad.
Chinese rail passengers already zip between cities on trains traveling three times faster than the average train in the States, and a 217-mph line linking Wuhan and Guangzhou will soon be the fastest train on Earth. But not content with screaming-fast trains linking cities within its borders, China now plans to extend its high-speed network all the way to London with a rail line that will fly through 17 countries at speeds reaching 200 miles per hour.
The long, skinny tube has to go. Tasked with improving the nation's air transportation, NASA wants airplanes to burn 40 percent less fuel than a 777 by 2020 and 70 percent less by 2030. Not only that, it wants those same planes to be whisper-quiet. The best -- and perhaps the only -- way to reach these ambitious benchmarks is to design commercial planes more like stealth bombers and less like pencils.
Jack Handy once mused that if you drop your keys into molten lava, you should probably just let them go. Apparently, the same is true for cellphones dropped into toilets on trains. As first reported on the BBC, a 26-year old Frenchman got stuck up to the shoulder in a high speed TGV train toilet after dropping his cellphone into the bowl.
The BBC article claims the victim “fell afoul of the suction system,” but some think that claim is either incorrect or raises more questions than answers.
For Japan's new 250mph commuter train, slowing down is every bit as important as speeding up
By Jonathon KeatsPosted 09.20.2005 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, no sprinter could compete for attention, let alone swiftness, with the newly opened Shinkansen, or "bullet train," which ran between Tokyo and Osaka at 125 miles an hour. A worldwide race to increase train speeds has been on ever since. France´s record-setting TGV operates at a top speed of 218 mph, but with the Fastech 360, East Japan Railway stands to become to railroads what Jesse Owens was to footraces.