Saturday, January 02, 2010

An 82% decrease in travel time?

Much of what we need to make the world work for everyone already exists.

The tools are not the biggest challenge. We need to create the context wherein they make sense. Our existing political and economic frameworks are woefully inadequate. Rather than lamenting that technologies like high-speed rail or renewables are not economically viable, we need to re-frame the question and ask: what does it mean to be economic? (GW)

China's New Train Is Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

By Stephanie Schomer
Fast Company
December 29, 2009

China's new train is the fastest in the world, traveling at an average speed of 217 miles per hour. Passengers making the 663 mile trek from central China to south China will see their trip time cut from six hours to just two hours and 45 minutes--roughly the time it takes to get from, say, Coney Island to the Bronx on the MTA in NYC.

The trains are being developed by Bombardier and Siemens, and are part of China's $300 billion investment in a nationwide passenger-rail network (which includes the purchase of 80 super-fast trains). The resulting ticket prices will be nearly five times the cost of seats on slower trains, and economists have expressed concern that China will not be able to recover the costs of the project.

Still, we can't help but be reminded of how slow train travel is in the US. China's new train has maximum speeds of 245 mph. And while significantly lower, competitors' speeds--France, Germany, and Japan all hover around 150 mph—are still considerably higher than the average train speed in the U.S., at just 70 mph.

A train with those speeds would take passengers in the U.S. from New York to Chicago in just three and a half hours, Inhabitat points out—that trip currently takes 19 hours, according to Amtrak. An 82% decrease in travel time? Sign us up.


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