Chinese and American High Speed Trains

High Speed Trains China America

This Business Insider article provides an intriguing and rather discouraging comparison between Chinese and American high speed trains.

The following statements caught my attention.

  • China’s Shanghai Maglev train line has been around since 2004, and is still the fastest commercial service train in the world. (Maglev technology is a key component of the hyperloop trains I keep writing about. This is not science fiction — we really can do better.)
  • Amtrak trains chug along between 100 and 150 miles per hour. (Our proposed “high speed train” will run at 70 mph max.). Bullet trains reach speeds of up to 186 miles per hour. (I recall taking a high speed train in Spain. Each car had a television screen providing information on items such as the local weather conditions. The screen also showed the train’s speed. At one point we were traveling well over 300 km/hr.)
  • Amtrak’s high prices dampen its popularity. A 225-mile trip from New York to Washington, DC, on the Acela express line costs $165. China’s high speed trains are significantly cheaper. A 260-mile trip from Beijing to Jinan starts at $28.

    Chinese High Speed Train Attendant
    Carlos Barria/Reuters
  • Amtrak service attendants wear collared shirts and scarves. China’s bullet train service attendants add a hat. (The picture of the attendant on the Chinese train reminded me of my recent train journey in South Korea. Not only do the attendants dress smartly, they bow to the passengers every time they enter the car. Every time. And the passengers are equally courteous in response. Another notable feature of the Korean system was the strict separation of passenger and freight trains.)

But let’s close with the following statement from the article,

. . . last year’s (Amtrak) ridership was around 31.3 million passengers — a new record.

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