Sunday, August 9

High Speed

Europe has close to 3,000 miles of high-speed rail, or track that can take trains >150 mph. The UK has .. 68, or the distance the Eurostar (pictured) travels from St Pancras to the English Channel. It took us forever to get there too. And way more expensive then the French side- WTF? And the U.S, with its big cities, vast open spaces and leading technology? Amtrak says high speed but it is really "high speed." The Acela Express service from Boston to Washington D.C. via NY, Philadelphia and Baltimore offers an average speed of 68 mph. And if you think that sucks, non "high-speed" New York City to Chicago choo choo's at 34 mph. For Pet's sake, this is slower than a Model T which made its debut 100 years ago.

Contrast America to France's TGV which hits service speeds of 173 mph and hast tested 357 mph or the world's fastest. Japan has its famous Shinkansen network carrying "bullet" trains up to 275mph and moving >151 million people to-and-fro every year, according to expert Chris Hood in London. Even Turkey is building high-speed rail lines aiming to double track speed to 184 mph within five years. So why not America? Or worse, the Brits who invented the steam engine in 1698 when it was patented by Thomas Savory.. and then later England's steam engines made the 18th century's Industrial Revolution possible.

Our countries no doubt scheming to put in new lines if only because the World embarrassing us (China: 3,370 miles). To make it so, there must be political will and public capital - infrastructure projects notorious losers for early private investors, as the Eurotunnel aptly demonstrated. England still recovering from under-investment from Thatcher and today's recession/ debt while the U.S. competes with planes and SUVs. Still, given trains provide a cheap, clean source of transportation and the continuing concentration of our populations, there is hope.

Eurostar photo from Eurostar.