Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

The train the Olympic athletes are taking

Earlier this month, China unveiled its first high-speed train line, running the 75 miles from Beijing to Tianjin, where events such as soccer matches will be held. One can hope that American athletes and visitors riding this train will be sufficiently impressed to start thinking about passenger rail in our own country. This is just the latest addition to the country’s large and expanding rail network. From the BBC:

The high-tech trains, which feature swivel seats and smart interiors, can accommodate about 600 people.

Construction began on the new line in July 2005. It has cost a total of 21.5bn yuan ($3.1bn, £1.55bn), Railway Minister Wang Zhiguo said.

A first class ticket will cost 69 yuan ($10), while a second-class ticket is 58 yuan.

It’s always a bit depressing to see China continue to dash ahead of the United States in terms of rail infrastructure, but it’s good to keep the picture in perspective. Large rail network constructions and improvements are almost always driven by a large civic project (The Olympics, the TGV, Britain’s nascent HSR plan). Plans like this just tend to go more smoothly in countries with unitary governments, like those of Europe. There are just fewer hoops for the government to jump through. Naturally, this is even easier in a country like China where citizen input and checks and balances are token at best. Of course I like trains. But I still like human rights more.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail, , , ,

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August 2008