Sunday, November 17, 2013

China Versus the US in High Speed Transportation

China: Top speed: 220 miles per hour on over 6,200 miles of track.

US: Not so high speed.

China’s first high-speed train connected Beijing with the nearby port of Tianjin in 2008. China’s high-speed track network in service has now reached 10,000 kilometers (or 6,200 miles). On the other hand in America Amtrak stated in 2010 that the backlog of needed repairs of the track it owns on the Northeast Corridor included over 200 bridges, most dating to the 19th century, tunnels under Baltimore dating to the American Civil War Era and functionally obsolete track switches which would cost $5.2 billion to repair (more than triple Amtrak's total annual budget). In 2009 when President Obama tried to fund upgrades and expansion of rail network, Republican controlled states refused or blocked measures.

Map of American passenger railways.
Notice the small red line on the east cost, that is what passes for high speed rail .

Shenzhen to Harbin is equal to LA to Houston in distance.

In a time span of just five years, China’s high-speed rail lines have grown to be larger than that in all of Europe, where it started in 1971. China’s high-speed rail network now links more than 100 cities. In December 2012, the latest section was opened, connecting 1,500 miles from Beijing to Shenzhen. Skeptics claimed there would not be enough demand and would mostly serve political prestige purposes but be an economic failure. America's skeptics echoed a very similar but more cynical polemic. Today China’s high-speed rail carries approximately 2 million people daily, which is about one-third of the total number of the country’s rail passengers.

There is hope for America though....

According to it's inventor Elan Musk, the hyperloop would be safer, faster, and lower cost than either a bullet train like China's or taking an air plane. The hyperloop is anticipated to travel in excess of 700 miles per hour, versus the average for a commercial airline at 500 miles per hour. The hyper loop would also be much more convenient than air travel, no intrusive TSA agents scanning or strip searching you. Riding the hyperloop would be no more eventful than catching a subway today, except instead of crossing a city you would be traveling across the state or country in virtually the same amount of time. Musk claims the hyperloop would be cheaper than building Chinese style high speed rail system because it would use existing highway right of ways in an elevated tube similar to Disneyland's monorail. Last but not least is Musk's claim that the whole thing would be powered by solar panels mounted on top of the hyperloop.

For further info on the Hyperloop:

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