The Future of Passenger Trains – Here and There.

Item One: The Japanese government has given the go-ahead to a private firm, JR Tokai, to begin work on a new high-speed train that will run between Tokyo and Osaka. Initial cost estimates are 9 trillion yen or about $111 billion. But here’s the thing: this train will use maglev (magnetic levitation) technology!

Item Two: At the moment, the only scheduled maglev operation is in China, taking passengers from downtown Shanghai to Pudong Airport (above photo). But on June 30th, the Chinese will formally begin high-speed rail service between Beijing and Shanghai. Express trains on the route will cover the 820 miles in something like 4:45, which is averaging over 170 miles an hour.

Item Three: Back here in Washington, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee are getting ready to decide where the dollars will go for the coming fiscal year … and that, of course, includes money for Amtrak. Here’s the cheerful prediction from NARP, the National Association of Railroad Passengers:

“…it seems certain that the subcommittee will impose a crushing funding reduction on Amtrak, possibly zeroing out the national network and limiting capital funding to the bare minimum needed to avoid bankruptcy.”

Really makes you feel proud, doesn’t it.