Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

China’s new HSR line continues to make U.S. look backwards

Last week, China began laying the groundwork for a new high speed rail line from Beijing to Shanghai. The service will be capable of reaching speeds of up to 220 mph and will take about five years to build. It’s harrowing to see that the PRC is modernizing its already extensive passenger rail system while Amtrak has to fight a hostile executive branch for every penny of its modest funding. Not to mention that Amtrak’s Acela high-speed train service still runs on antiquated tracks, and could never reach the speeds promised on this route.

While China’s government may be oppressive and disdainful of human rights, they at least seem to realize that a thorough passenger rail network is a service to its citizens (And despite my taste for trains, I don’t think I’d like to trade the former for that latter). In terms of comparing the cost of traveling by rail, I would suggest you look at this site, which shows the cost of rail tickets in China, but I suspect you would find the information just a tad bit depressing.

China railmap image from, American rail network image from Amtrak.

Filed under: Amtrak, International High Speed Rail

Ground transport needs work? Nah!

A senate committee will hear testimony on what everybody already knows. The ground transit system is a crumbling complete mess. The Associated Press reports:

The 20-month study by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission paints a dismal picture of the nation’s infrastructure system with roads, bridges and highways, passenger and freight rail services rapidly deteriorating with limited funding resources to pay for necessary repairs and upgrades.

The findings and recommendations by the 12-member commission, which were supported by nine of the commissioners, is expected to re-ignite political debate over raising gasoline taxes. Recent efforts by Congress to increase it have faltered, in part due to objections by the Bush administration.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is expected to hear testimony from five of the commissioners including Frank Busalacchi, secretary of the Wisconsin Transportation Department; Matt Rose, president and chief executive of BNSF Railway and Patrick Quinn, co-chairman and president of U.S. Xpress Enterprises, among others.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

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April 2008