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 johomaps.com, American rail network image from Amtrak.