Let’s Make Our Trains Great Again.
Americans don’t understand high-speed trains—where they work and where they don’t. And why. And no wonder! A very small percentage of Americans haveever seen a high-speed train, much less traveled on one.
Amtrak’s Acela trains operating in the Washington-New York-Boston corridor average 80-plus miles-per-hour and top out at about 150 along a rather short stretch in Rhode Island. The Acelas are America’s high speed trains. We have a few routes over which Amtrak operates where the trains reach speeds up to around 110-115 mph. We call them higher speed trains. Of course, almost all of Amtrak’s long-distance trains stay at or under a 79 mile-per-hour limit.
And that leaves us trying to explain to members of Congress and the general public how it is that our high-speed trains can run much faster than our higher speed trains!
A bonafide high-speed train can reach and maintain speeds close to 200 miles per hour. For instance—the Eurostar trains that links London with Paris. Once on the French side of the channel, Eurostar trains buzz along at 187 miles-per-hour.
The fastest Chinese train, fully loaded, carries 556 passengers between Beijing and Shanghai in just under five hours. Its top speed along that route? A breathtaking 249 miles-per-hour.
The originators of high speed train travel are the Japanese, of course. They have been running their Shinkansen trains for almost 55 years. Since then the list of countries with high-speed trains has grown dramatically: Austria, Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uzbekistan. Yes, Uzbeki-fricking-stan!
If we really want to make America great again, this would be a good place to start.