Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Rail on Fast Track, U.S. Losing Track

November 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

In 2009 the Obama administration put $10 billion into the stimulus package for the development of high-speed rail.  States like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida jumped on the money.  But that was then.  Now, in post-election 2010, the three governor-elects of those great states, John Kasich (Ohio), Scott Walker (Wisconsin), and Rick Scott (Florida), all republicans, do not want the stimulus money, insisting that “Maybe it’s time for the administration to reconsider the billions of dollars spent on high-speed rail and instead put those funds into the use for roads and bridges, not only [in] Wisconsin, but across the country” (Walker).

As our newly-elected, “populist” officials turn their backs on government-funded high-speed rail, China, on Monday of this week (November 15), laid the final rail for a bullet train that will connect the northern capital of Beijing to the eastern economic hub of Shanghai.  Subsidized by a $33.3 billion stimulus package from Beijing, the rail, scheduled for completion in 2012 but likely to start service as early as the fall of 2011, will reach speeds of well over 200 mph and cut the travel time for the 800-mile trip roughly in half, from 10 hours to 4-5 (New York to Atlanta, approximately the same distance, takes Americans 18 hours by train).  The expectation, according to the People’s Daily, is that the Beijing-Shanghai run will transport more than 160 million passengers per year.







Consider the upsides for the Chinese: the creation of jobs to construct—and maintain—the rail system; cleaner air, as high-speed rail runs on electricity; fewer cars clogging highways between China’s two major cities; and travel comfort, no need to drive or to fly.

The downsides: hmmm…let me give Governor-elects Kasich, Walker, and Scott a call.  I’ll get back to you.


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§ One Response to Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Rail on Fast Track, U.S. Losing Track

  • Du Renjie says:

    The electricity has to come from somewhere, and it might well come from coal-fired power stations. Coal is a very important fuel in China and will be for years to come. As regards attitudes to different forms of transport, the US and China are very different in that the latter does not have a large percentage of car owners and subsequently has a well-established and big number of rail users. Fast trains in the US could work, but it would require a huge change in the national psyche and – perhaps more likely – a massive hike in fuel prices.

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