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.
Wow!!! amazing and impressive with you’r blog. It’s very informative, love it. Keep up the good work.
In a couple of hours, I’m of to London, then Scotland. I’ll arrive there, hopefully, by tomorrow morning, using Eurostar and the Caledonian sleeper. Midway in my Scottish trip, I’ll head to Rome for a birthday party. Also by train. It’ll take me a little over 36 hours, but with a convenient sleeper train from Paris to Venice, so as not to have to get up before the break of dawn, an do some sightseeing. Can’t wait!
Sounds like a glorious experience!
I can already see a huge potential problem with this idea and it comes in the form of who owns the rails. Could AMTRAK really trust companies like CN to provide the needed rail maintenance for a 150-200mph train to cruise over? Especially when rail companies don’t even abide by the law that mandates that AMTRAK be given preference over freight trains?
There are parts of the southern half of the CONO line that the train seems to almost wobble off of the track and people need to hold on tightly just to move through the cars. There would need to be a lot of infrastructure repairs and maintenance guarantees before I would set foot on a 200 mph rocket down the track.
Yes, it would be an interesting idea but once the government touches it…..fuggedda bout it!
You’re right, of course. I’m afraid it goes without saying that true high-speed trains require their own exclusive right-of-way.
I’m traveling to China this summer and I am so excited to ride some actual HIGH-SPEED TRAINS. The Acela Express is overpriced, slow, and well just disappointing for America. At Beijing-Shanghai Speeds you could travel from Galesburg, Il (3 Hr Drive From Chicago) to Denver in SIX HOURS! It’s so unbelievable that we can ride trains to different cities in China in such a short amount of time! I just don’t think America knows that much about trains or what sort. Anyways, we’ve gone from leaders in the railroad industry to well who knows what.
I rode that line in 2011. It’s a thrill!