High Speed Rail Debate Rages


Japan launches a new version of its high-speed bullet train this weekend operating at 300k an hour initially. More


Poster for the new bullet train

We’re not even talking about high-speed rail ghere.

But 13 nations in Asia and Europe now have 8,000 miles of true high-speed rail (155 mph or higher), with another 18,000 more miles on the way. China has built a 2,800-mile network and has the fastest schedules (setting a world record of 302 mph and its fastest revenue trains operate at 217 mph). This US writer argues this is the future. More

But a Newsweek writer hails Republican efforts to stop Obama’s high-speed rail plans saying rail was the future decades ago - not now and argues why socialists are fixated on pushing rail. More

And those Republican efforts may kill the plans for the Florida high-speed Obama wants. We’ll know soon. Gov. Rick Scott is expected to announce whether he will reconsider an 84-mile-long high-speed rail line that would link Tampa and Orlando. He has been consistent in his opposition. More

A British writer worries that at this rate there’s a chance Britain won’t get with high-speed rail and will end up like the eastern seaboard of the United States: motorways as car-parks, slow trains and overcrowded skies. More

This lobbyist argues there isn’t a sound business case for high-speed rail in Europe. More

And The Economist preaches caution saying Britain’s only existing high-speed line, from London to the Channel Tunnel, has never come close to achieving its projected passenger numbers. The assumptions behind high-speed lines in other countries, such as Taiwan and France, have often turned out to be over-optimistic too. More

Workers are poised to begin excavation work on a new high-speed train to run underneath the Italian city of Florence. Experts say reverberations from construction will be so bad they could cause the 5.17-metre Statue of David marble nude to topple over. More

An ongoing corruption scandal in China is unlikely to stop plans to build a high-speed train route in Laos, despite the need for Chinese funding and expertise to initiate the project. In recent weeks, allegations have surfaced of bribery, illegal contracts, and sexual liaisons in the Chinese ministry’s dealings, and an engineer in charge of nationwide research and development was removed, further embattling an agency already reeling from criticism over high ticket prices and below average service. More

In Wales, the government’s confirmed plans for electric trains between Cardiff and London which will cost £740 million and reduce journey times by around 20 minutes.


In other news:
Melbourne’s train system operator has been fined $1m. It fell short of its 98 per cent service delivery target by failing to deliver all of its 52,400 services. Metro blames an Act of God - rain. More

And Ford predicts the number of vehicles on the road will go from 800 million today to 2-3 billion by 2050. The global gridlock crisis, as Ford describes it, will “stifle economic growth and our ability to deliver food and healthcare … [and] our quality of life will be significantly compromised.” They have ideas how to ease the gridlock - but of course it doesn’t involve alternative transportation to cars! More




  1. Gary Young says:

    “And Ford predicts the number of vehicles on the road will go from 800 million today to 2-3 billion by 2050.”

    And the fuel to drive these vehicles will come from where exactly…? and the raw materials and the energy resources to construct them…?

    Surely this can only be a fantasy?

  2. Lti says:

    Can we please use SI units?

    Those of us born after 1970 have no intuitive understanding of miles or mph and can not easily compare them to speeds or distances we have experience with.

    For the NZers:
    But 13 nations in Asia and Europe now have 13,000 km of true high-speed rail (250 km/h or higher), with another 29,000 more km on the way. China has built a 4,500 km network and has the fastest schedules (setting a world record of 486 km/h and its fastest revenue trains operate at 350 km/h). This US writer argues this is the future

    I guess to be fair, you did just copy and paste from a US News source and changing the units was a lot of hassle.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. AKT says:

    @Lti Fair call. I usually do change it as I try to change US$=NZ to make it relevant.I forgot when I C+P

  4. Nick R says:

    Just on the Melbourne Metro topic. It’s not quite fair to call it just ‘rain’, it was a huge storm from the tail end of the cyclone that smashed Queensland.

    See here for a picture of my local station after the storm, I think ‘rain’ is a valid excuse for cancellations in these circumstances:

  5. George D says:

    They deserve a fine. It may have been minor flooding in parts, but their contract was lax where punctuality was concerned, so it’s a fair trade as far as I’m concerned.

    Still, their contracts are a lot better than those the Auckland operators run on.

  6. Andy says:

    Only 300 km/h initially? Isn’t that pretty much standard for high speed rail across the world?

  7. Nick R says:

    Actually Andy most HSR in Europe and Asia is in the 250-280 range, it is only this latest generation that tops out 300.

  8. Andy says:

    Interesting. I guess I was only thinking of the TGV in France and KTX here in Korea. Didn’t think about the other ones.

  9. Nick R says:

    Until fairly recently all the TGV lines were 270 maximum, only recent overhaul has increased that to 300-320.

  10. Andy says:

    Oh true. Was there are reason for keeping them at 270? Were certain parts of track still in the works? Or did they need straightening out? Sorry for all the questions :s

  11. Nick R says:

    The first TGV line was opened in France in 1981. Back then some parts of the line were rated for 200km/h maximum. Since then various improvements to track design, new lines, and improved rolling stock have upped the figure on the existing line and new lines.

    It’s just a case of continual development over the last three decades upping the speeds. Newer lines are built to the standard at the time, for example the Madrid to Barcelona AVE ran a top speed of 300km/h from day one in 2008, and the extension of this over to France will probably be designed for greater than 300km/h.

  12. Andy says:

    Wow thats a long time! Thanks for info. Appreciate it. I often wonder how things will have changed when Im an old man. Maybe even high speed in NZ? Haha


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