This high-speed rail update focuses on technological advancements at either end of the spectrum: from the very large to the very small. In typical fashion, China leads the way with an achievement on an enormous scale, while over here in the United States we continue to move forward one small, but significant, railway improvement at a time, with this particular instance in Connecticut. Meanwhile, India makes plans for an achievement that will lie somewhere in the middle: a semi-high-speed train that will be able to run on the pre-existing tracks. In comparing three different news stories such as these, it’s interesting to track the development of rail travel at different stages around the world.
China Gets Back on Track
In a country that boasts “the biggest annual human migration in the world” (during the lunar New Year holiday), it’s no surprise that China is now also home to the world’s longest high-speed railway line. This advancement has transformed the once 22-hour Beijing-Guangzhou commute into a comparably quick 8-hour sprint, start to finish. This is significant not only for the obvious reasons, but also because the mood surrounding high-speed rail in China has been fairly dim ever since the accident that killed 40 people in July 2011. Let’s hope that this new high-speed route means that China is back on track technologically, psychologically, and, of course, literally.
Another Step for U.S. Trains
While China has been busy working on a railway line that spans the distance between New York and Florida, we’ve been working on one that spans the length of Connecticut. This isn’t to put us down – any advancement in railway travel in the United States is significant and necessary. By 2016, the travel-centric Northeastern corner of the country will be able to add another efficient train journey to its repertoire, alongside the Acela, Metro-North and Shore Line east. Maybe someday we will be able to boast a high-speed train that actually does span the distance from New York to Florida, but for now we’ll take every step forward we can get.
India Speeds Up
In between the large and the small, there are those advancements that are significant not for their size but rather their overall impact. In India, plans are underway to acquire train sets from European or Japanese manufacturers as a means of creating a semi-high speed rail system. The trains will be modified to run on the pre-existing tracks, meaning that they will not reach the speeds of certain trains in other countries, but they will improve travel conditions between major cities all the same. The predicted routes are Delhi-Amritsar and Delhi-Lucknow. The hope is that some of these trains will be operational as early as this year.