Trains For America

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Maglev-HSR conflicts and other China rail news

There’s lots of rail related news coming out of China this week.. not surprising considering the massive investments they’ve been putting into the technology in recent years.

The first item relates to the Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev extension we talked about last week. According to the mayor of Hangzhou, the maglev line may face delays due to a conventional HSR route also being planned to connect the cities. He seems adamant that the project will go ahead.. but one would think that this sort of redundancy with such expensive proposals would put one of the lines on the chopping block eventually.

In a more dangerous example of bad coordination, an archaeological site containing ancient artifacts was badly damaged by construction of China’s newest HSR line, connecting Beijing and Shanghai.

The builders of the railway, which will allow trains to travel at 236 miles a hour, discovered shards of pottery and bones in the Yuhuatai district of Nanjing last October, during an initial site survey.

A subsequent survey found a 250,000 sq ft area filled with “countless relics dating back to the Shang (16th to 11th century BC) and Zhou (11th to second century BC) dynasties.” Nanjing has been the capital of China on several occasions in the past.

However, the company never replied and simply proceeded with the construction, destroying around 20,000 sq ft of the site in the process.

Municipal authorities have now halted the work and are likely to fine the building company up to 500,000 yuan for the damage. Mr Yang said the area had been “severely damaged”.

A spokesman at the Ministry of Railways said the mistake “should not have occurred”.

According to the BBC, this new HSR route will be the longest in the world and will go up in only four years.  In this country however, environmental studies and legal red tape can drag out construction time tables in the best of circumstances. Yet it’s examples like this archaeology hiccup that remind us why we undertake these studies in the first place.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail, , , ,

Amtrak suspends New Orleans service, helps evacuate residents to Memphis

Due to hurricane Gustav, Amtrak has suspended its services to and from New Orleans. This includes the Crescent coming from Atlanta and New York, the Sunset Limited approaching from the west, and the City of New Orleans coming from Chicago and Memphis to the north.

Having put its services in the city at the disposal of FEMA, Amtrak trains have been used to evacuate New Orleans residents to Memphis. According to the Overhead Wire, this was an offer that went unheard when hurricane Katrina hit three years ago. As a national asset, it’s good to see that Amtrak is being for the benefit of the country in a time of emergency.

Filed under: Amtrak, , ,

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