By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Cities
China officially unveiled the world's fastest train in operation, a silver bullet that can cover 126 miles in 45 minutes and top out at 262 miles per hour.
The Chinese-made CRH380 train will run at an average speed of 220 m.p.h. on a shiny new railway connecting Shanghai's western suburb of Hongqiao and the city of Hangzhou.
Its completion halves the time necessary to travel by rail between the two cities.
The new bullet train is yet another flex of the nation's industrial muscle, and the country's latest step toward its $120 billion goal of 13,000 kilometers -- about 10,000 miles -- of high speed rail in operation by 2012.
And, if reports are to be believed, the $4.4 billion project is a pretty big deal.
The efforts to develop China's own ultra high speed rail technology is a showcase project nearly on a par with the country's space program in terms of national pride and importance. Railway officials recently announced they were working on technology to boost speeds to over 500 kph (312 mph).
Among them: a $32.5 billion, 824-mile stretch between Beijing and Shanghai that will halve the travel time between the two cities, to five hours. It's scheduled to open in 2012.
Still, despite the few, prominent high-speed trains in existence in China, there are still many, many more that are grimy, slow and overcrowded.
The AP, again:
But the replacement of slower lines with more expensive high-speed trains has prompted complaints from passengers reluctant to pay higher fares, especially on shorter routes. Though the brand new trains were impeccably clean and the service attentive, Hangzhou's own grimy, unrenovated railway station lacks services and facilities to match.
The question: as China advances mega-projects in leaps and bounds to promote its image as modern and powerful, is it at too great a cost?
Oct 28, 2010
Virtually all the advanced countries have and are building and expanding High Speed Rail. It is simply the fastest most efficient and reasonably comfortable transportation. It annihilates cars, busses and trucks for efficiency and comfort. It even beats airlines (for up to 1000 miles) when you factor in the long delays for the security, waits for boarding/take off/landings and travel to and from busy airports not to mention many airports request you arrive 2 hours before departure. The main reason the USA does not have H.S.R. like the rest of the advanced countries is the big oil countries would lose money. They would lose thousands of cars piling up at red lights burning gas, brakes, tires etc. Think of the gas used by a few thousand cars going just 100 miles. Although it is not high speed rail but railroad companies like CSX can move a train almost 100 miles on a gallon of fuel. HSR has different engines/propulsion but the comparison is obvious. In the USA huge corporations buy politicians into office and they work to protect and boost the corporations profits. Exxon Mobil will make a profit of about $100 million a day this year. High seed rail would cut into those profits. While the people in other countries ride a bike or walk to the train station and get on the high speed rail and the read the paper, email and relax on their way to work. They arrive relaxed and refsreshed ready to start their work day. Americans hurry and try to grab a quick sandwich and coffee jump in their car, race through the traffic, pile up at red lights, smelling car exhaust and toxic brake dust, swerving in and out passing other cars, looking at their watches every few minutes sweating it out trying to figure out if they will be late for work again. They arrive for their work day all stressed, caughing from the toxic fumes and dust, eyes watering with coffee spilled on their shirts. The USA spends close to a billion dollars a day on senseless wars on the other side of the world yet in the richest counrty in the world half the people walk around parroting "We can't afford High Speed Rail". Pretty amazing isn't it?
"unrenovated railway station lacks services and facilities to match" Remember the expression "All fur coat and no knickers ???" :)
I took a ride today from Suzhou to Wuhan on China's curent high speed rail, which topped at 250 km/Hr (156 miles/hr). The distance was around 600 km. It was a pleasant ride where I read book and napped in its generous seat. Total trip was 4:50, faster than If I were to drive in U.S. The riders were mostly middle class people (rich people took plane). Yes, the bath room got dirty toward the end, but was usable. The trip costed me 247 yuan, which was $35. That run carried around 1,400 people. From my experience working with the local government, I know this investment is not just for national pride. They do calculate ticket price from return-on-investment analysis. From what I can see, the system will pay back on just operation. In addition, the time saving will be enormous! My company is talking about how much future rail road will shape the way we do business. I believe these systems will succeed in China and greatly increase their efficiency. Yes, many other things are still lagging, but the speed they are catching on is more than most American realize. Speaking about American, I am a naturalized citizen from Taiwan. I lived in U.S. for 31 years before coming to China to work two years ago. I have a heart for both countries. My kids were born and raised in U.S. They are as much American as any other kids around them. I do not want them to fail. I kept telling them. Don't be complacence. Don't let national pride fool yourself. Look at the facts and only the facts. That is what counts at the end. Otherwise you will be surprised over and over. Why do you think Warrent Buffet bought most of the rail road rights in U.S.?
This for Ratcliff #6 China currently has a Maglev line between Shanghai's Hongqiao airport and downtown Shanghai. However, so many people along the route, and elsewhere, where another Maglev was to have been built,have reacted against the emissions caused by the Maglev that the government has shelved plans for continuing this technology for the time being. David, Beijing
I think the authors should spend a little on a cheap Chinese made calculator! 10,000 miles does not equal 13,000 Kms. 10,000 miles = ~16,000 Kms. What other facts are wrong in this article?
China is just putting her money where the mouth is. No less. While the West spends trillions of Dollars on things that HOPEFULLY may happen- from the international space station to all projects that either failed or proven to have destructive effect on humanity as well as the environment. We need to wake up and really take a hard look at what our governments are doing. The above comments are indeed divided only in opinions. Look at the larger picture. Its not about EAST vs WEST anymore. Its time to think Globally and holistically. China, within our Global Commons is doing something for humanity and the environment. Period.
China was one of the first, if not the first entity to out-law smoking on commercial aircraft. It was not done because of health concerns. It was done to eliminate the need to spend tons of money, cleaning and/or replacing the intricate air filtration systems in the state-owned aircraft (built mostly by Boeing). This train is and will remain a national icon of sorts. I'm guessing that it won't follow the typical (or what once was typical) life expectancy of poorly built chinese products and buildings. As for the China succeeding with high-speed rail, where America has failed (real or imagined), depends on how you measure success. Unlike AMTRAK, which is subsidized (irregularly) by the federal government, it is not owned by the government. It's cost are somewhat inflated, no doubt to ancient labor (read railroad) agreements about how far employees travel (instead of how long), as well as each state through which AMTRAK trains pass getting a piece of the action. On the other hand, China owns the source of production (a monopoly), as well as the purchaser (themselves), so the balance sheet can say anything they want it to say, even if they bleed budget (they have to do something with all those dollars they get from us) into the venture. I think what America should be concerned about, is our ability (or lack thereof) to sell "made in America" high-speed trains to China (who may become the preferred vendor) and to everybody else in the world.
"I hear xenophobic conversations, mostly on the right/Tea- party - about the strength of the US and then contradictory arguments to halt spending and stop Obama from spending us out of existence. He does not plan on spending us out of existence, he is trying to spend us into existence. I think what you are hearing is the narrative that the big- government types endlessly repeat about the "right/Tea-party". Don't make that mistake, unless it is your mission as well to propagate that misrepresentation. What I am against are not the trains. It's the popular misrepresentations that the proponents of "trains everywhere" choose to make, either out of ignorance or their own agendas. Those misrepresentations include: a) High-speed trains are economically efficient. They are not necessarily so. b) High speed trains are "carbon efficient". They definitely are not. Low speed trains barely are, and only if fully packed. (like in Japan) c) Rail will solve all our jobs/transit/economic problems. They will not, especially if they are built for political over practical reasons. d) Europe & China does it, so we must do it too. Just silly. We are not Europe or China, nor do I think most people want us to be. e) Travel by train will not become a federal cluster like they've made the airports. Insane assumption. f) It won't become Amtrack. Those, just off the top of my head. Just last week, SmartPlanet was commenting on the dismal state of our highways. If the government can handle something as simple as paving and maintaining roads, expecting them to run an efficient high-speed rail network requires serious cognitive disconnect driven only by fantasy, politics, and other people's money.
"their older trains are disgusting....it is beyond horrific". seems to me a reflecion of the people who use them and run them. who's to say the new ones won't become the same way? the larger a population, the less pride and personal responsibility.
Albee_Freeoneday The "Hayburner" didn't make a stupid comment. YOU did. Get over yourself. afrancis99 WRONG! We, on the right, don't mind spending on worthwhile things. We HATE IT when the gov't takes our money and spends it on lazy people like you who want to sit on their duff and collect welfare. At least the Chinese are doing something productive with all that interest on our national debt.
For any such project you have to look at the cost-benefit, and when you do so for high speed rail it is obvious that it was done largely for image promotion because you cannot charge enough per ticket to begin to cover all the construction and operating costs. China may be able to justify it because of bragging rights, very low land and labor costs, along with many non-car owners who rely on public transport. But still, such trains carry a relatively small number of people maybe a few times a day for a high fare, subsidized by higher taxes which all pay. For such a system to work in the US the costs of the land, the cost to secure the entire rail line from terrorism, and the frequent stops required as they travel through numerous East Coast suburban enclaves negate most of the benefit. And don't believe for a second that there won't also be TSA security screenings for high-speed rail passengers here as well. A high speed train is particularly sensitive to any system or track failure, so preventing any criminal activity against it is necessary - along the entire route. Finally - when you consider alternate high speed transportation already available - i.e. air travel - where the entire infrastructure is already working and in place, for distances more than a few hundred miles is much faster, and already cheaper. Especially in the West, where there are long distances between most urban centers, exisiting air travel already offers security, speed and economy. High speed rail just cannot compete.
There were those who asked that question about John Kennedy's push to the moon. Was that at too great a cost? Some believe it was. I am not one of those people. A nation needs to have things it can be proud of.
We really have only ourselves to blame if you believe we should have had more and faster trains in the U.S. Nobody is going to go through the hoops and open their wallets to build trains when americans want to drive everywhere. No matter how fast the train is, we will always ask the question "so once we get off the train then what? I still need to rent a car or take a cab so I mind as well drive". There are a large portion of this country who refuses to take mass transit because its beneath them. So unless that mindset changes, there is no reason to have trains. As for china, those high speed trains are mainly for tourists because most people in that country can't afford to pay the extra $$$ for a high speed ticket. And their older trains are disgusting. I've seen and I know people who live there and uses it. Its beyond horrific. I would rather hold it in for that long train ride. And the more peasants you allow on the high speed train, it won't be long before they become gross too.
I can't help but hear the "can't do" attitude in the US crunching up against the "can do" attitude of the Chinese. I hear xenophobic conversations, mostly on the right/Tea-party - about the strength of the US and then contradictory arguments to halt spending and stop Obama from spending us out of existence. He does not plan on spending us out of existence, he is trying to spend us into existence. Otherwise, all of the news on technology and transportation will be coming from other countries from now on, and we pretend to not want that, but then we vote to stop spending when it is the only way to redevelop a thriving business climate in the US. We have got to stop being so short sighted - concern for the next two years is irrelevant when discussing infrastructure.
I wonder if in a decade or so from now they will be the first to use maglev technology to assist in the launch of a spaceplane or space shuttle variant. How fast does electricity travel through a circut? I wonder how much hydrogen a 2000mph boost would save.
...that trains will free us from "the humiliating and worthless hassles of the TSA"? Do notice that the name of the wonderful government organization your refer to is the "Transportation Security Administration". The first word is "transportation", as in not just limited to "air transportation". Anyone who thinks that travel by rail will be ignored by terrorists or ever expanding government security agencies is delusional. It's inevitable that boarding a high-speed train will be just as annoying as boarding an airline flight.
Gosh it is only going to take 30 years and billions of dollars for the U.S. to build 250 miles between Boston and New York. I wonder why so long and so expensive. Think airline obstruction funding? Think expensive payouts to Congressmen and Senators?
By having such fast trains people will be less likely to use cars, and buses. That means less air pollution. People will get to their destinations faster, and be more productive. The USA can take a lesson from the Chinese on this. If we had fast trains like this in the USA, less people would fly, and subject themselves to the humiliating and worthless hassles of the TSA. Board a train in New York City and arrive in Orlando (Disney World) in the afternoon. No strip search at the airport, or goons grabbing your privates. And you can even bring food and drink without a hassle. As for the stupid comment by EatingHay... if you don't like Chinese made products then don't buy them. Pay much more than you have to and support organized labor in the USA. They would also be less likely to drive the long distances they do when they can take a train.
Well, I hope the Chinese make better trains and rails than they make the crap that they ship to this country. Made in China = junk.
I doubt China, or any country for that matter would build 13000km of high speed rail just to promote their image. Fast, cheap travel across the country effectively shrinks its size, and along with it increases in economic efficiency, just a simple example would be each individual can now seek job opportunities in a much larger area than before without moving, and area increase in second order relative to radius, so the longer your network is the more benefit it can bring. Cost wise, just looking at a few photos can show you just how little land is taken up by a pair of tracks (especially elevated ones) as compared to a 6-lane highway, yet it moves just as many people. High speed rail also frees up older lines for freight, which in turn allow freight to travel faster and cheaper, if you run a business you should appreciate this, and now you consider China is a manufacturing economy with enormous amount of goods to ship the cost-benefit relations should become clear. Chinese leaders are engineers, anyone who practiced engineering will think in term of hard solution to problems and know that the best designs are the simplest. China made a engineering decision to build a high speed rail network, and all the socio-economic analysis check out.