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China Leads World In High-Speed Rail Tracks


China already has thousands of miles of railroads — including the world’s longest network of high-speed rail, which is 4,000 miles long. That total is set to double within two years, giving China more high-speed rail tracks than the rest of the world put together.

(Click the link below for the full audio report.)

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Study: High-Speed Rail Can Boost Economy, Reduce Traffic

Drawing lessons from other countries, a new study from U.S. PIRG contends that high-speed rail can boost the U.S. economy, save energy, curb pollution and provide a popular alternative to congested roads and airports.

The report, “A Track Record of Success: High-Speed Rail Around the World and Its Promise for America,†details a number of examples from around the world that make a variety of cases for high-speed rail.

Benefits listed

Some of the benefits, according to the study, include:

  • Jobs: About 8,000 people were involved in the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link between the tunnel and London.
  • Development opportunities near stations: The amount of office space in the area around the rail station in city of Lyon, France has increased by 43 percent.
  • Economic growth: In Germany, the counties surrounding the towns of Limburg and Montabauer experienced a 2.7 percent increase in their gross domestic product as a result of the increased access to markets provided by the Frankfurt-Cologne high-speed rail line.
  • Reduced road congestion: High-speed rail service between Madrid and Seville reduced the share of car travel between the two cities from 60 percent to 34 percent.
  • Reduced oil dependence: A typical Monday morning business trip between London and Paris via high-speed rail uses approximately a third less energy as a car or plane trip.

Growing demand

Over the last two years, the federal government has distributed $10.4 billion in grants to construct or plan high-speed rail, including incremental measures that increase the speed and reliability of existing passenger rail.

In these two rounds, 37 states and the District of Columbia have applied to the Federal Railroad Administration to support 341 project applications. Those requests totaled over $65 billion – about six times the amount made available by Congress.

“Now that the elections are behind us, it’s time to get serious about high-speed rail. There is no such thing as a Republican or a Democratic rail track,” said U.S. PIRG transportation associate Dan Smith, “Leaders from both parties should support long-term investment in high-speed rail for the economic, environmental, and quality-of-life benefits.”

In a statement about U.S. PIRG’s report, Glen Bottoms of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation agrees: “This report reinforces our view that building a high-speed rail network is a prudent and cost effective use of America’s resources over the long-term.”

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A Bright Future Ahead for Korea’s High Speed Rail Industry


Knitting together the country’s major cities is Korea’s high speed railways.
And as over 100-thousand riders enjoy trips on the smoothly gliding bullet trains each day the high speed rail industry has grown into something more than just a mode of transportation here.
Back in 2004 Korea first imported the technology from France.
Six years have passed since then and now Korea is poised to export its homegrown high speed railway technology abroad.
Although competition in exporting rail technology is fierce among countries like China and Japan Korea’s chances of successfully exporting its know-how are quite high considering that Korea’s technology is competitive in price.
Back in September California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger visited Korea to discuss with President Lee Myung-bak ways to drum up a possible collaboration on an express train linking San Francisco and Los Angeles a project worth 42 billion US dollars.

[Interview : ] “I’m very impressed with the efficiency of the high speed rail and the kind of speed it travels, how quietly it travels. We look forward to having South Korea being part of the bidding process.”

And the domestic expansion of the KTX seems to be far from over.
In September, a new plan was unveiled by the government to create new lines and upgrade train speeds.
And such is expected to help connect the entire country so that most of the Korean population can have access to high-speed rail while making 95 percent of the country accessible within just two hours.
A new line connecting Seoul to Busan was recently established shaving the travel time between the two cities from 2 hours and 45 minutes to 2 hours 18 minutes.

[Reporter : Lee Ji-yoon,] “Korea will continue to seek ways in advancing its high speed rail industry with the hopes of exporting its know-how to other countries in the near future.
Lee Ji-yoon, Arirang News.”

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Report: High-speed rail could help conserve energy, reduce congestion

Investing in high-speed rail in the U.S. could help conserve energy and relieve traffic congestion as travelers switch from cars and short inter-city flights to more efficient trains, according to a new report released Wednesday from the Washington Public Interest Research Group.

The report, titled “A Track Record of Success: High-Speed Rail Around the World and Its Promise for America,” points to examples in Europe and Japan, where high-speed rail networks already exist and whisk travelers between cities such as London and Paris in a few hours.

“In the United States, similar shifts would ease congestion in the skies and offer alternatives to congested highways, reducing the need for expensive new investments in highways and airports,” the report says. “Short-haul plane trips are the least efficient in terms of time and fuel, and replacing those trips allows air travel to be more efficient and focused on long-haul trips.”

The report also points to Amtrak Acela Express service in the northeastern U.S., which is slow by international standards, but still accounts for 65 percent of the air/rail market on trips between New York and Washington, D.C., and 52 percent of the air/rail market on trips between Boston and New York, according to the report.

The Obama administration awarded $8 billion in stimulus money this year to enhance the nation’s rail networks. Washington state received $640 million to make track improvements and increase the number of trains between Seattle and Portland. It won’t mean bullet trains in the Northwest anytime soon, but will lead to improvements in the reliability and performance of Amtrak Cascades, meaning faster trips.

According to the report, high-speed rail could serve as a back-up or alternative to short flights between cities such as New York and Washington, D.C. The report cites research by the Brookings Institution showing flights of 500 miles or fewer accounted for almost half of all flights in the U.S. and 30 percent of all passengers in the 12-month.

“Trips of 155 miles consume approximately 40 percent more energy per seat-mile than trips of more than 625 miles in the same aircraft,” according to the report. It’s a distance that is increasingly served by high-speed rail in other countries.

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A fast way to jump-start economy


“We don’t need a high-speed train.” This all-too-common sentiment is short-sighted.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars is the latest major headway Florida has made on the high-speed rail front. However, individuals continually attempt to politicize new transit projects without understanding the full benefits.

First, transit creates jobs — thousands of them — and not only just short-term jobs from construction. The Surface Transportation Policy Partnership estimated that transit creates 19 percent more jobs than building roads because transit additionally creates sustained, long-term jobs from train maintenance, operation and dispatch. The construction job market has one of the highest unemployment rates, and for us to move beyond the recession we need to jump-start the economy. Transit can do this better than roadways.

Second, America has an addiction to foreign oil that is a major threat to our national security. With so much of our nation’s energy needs met by petroleum, Florida’s and America’s energy economy is dangerously at the mercy of other international oil producers like Venezuela, Libya and Iran. Not only does public transit use less fuel per person (taking pressure off demand), but it has the capacity of being fully electric. We need a transportation infrastructure that is dependent on nothing but the work of Americans.

Further, high-speed rail has a market of riders. There is a travel range where it is uncomfortable to drive but just not worth the hassle to fly. For distances of 100 to 500 miles it is ideal to take a train. A recent study for the American Public Transit Association (APTA) found that 62 percent of Americans definitely, or probably, would use rail, compared to 11 percent who probably or definitely would not, and 27 percent were not sure.

High-speed rail will not drive Central Florida bankrupt, especially since Central Florida is not paying most of the bill. The vast majority of high-speed rail lines run at surplus profits. So much so, that in other countries profits often help subsidize local light-rail lines. As far as investments go, this train is pretty secure.

Study after study and example after example have shown high-speed rail to be a worthwhile investment. The London School of Economics and Political Science demonstrated that towns connected by rail saw a 2.7 percent increase in growth compared to neighboring, unconnected towns.

In addition to creating jobs, rail provides increased mobility and, thus, better access to jobs, goods, services and other markets. Just like the national highway project after the Great Depression, Florida and our nation need to make investments that will encourage new growth.

The new 2060 Florida Transportation Plan estimates a 70 percent population increase in the state over the next 50 years. Viably, we cannot continue an infinite road expansion. Our current pace of road construction is outpacing our ability to maintain the current network.

Our highways cannot sustain 70 percent more people who drive more and longer distances. A single railway, however, can support the traffic of a six-lane highway. Highways may be adequate now, but we cannot give in to naivety. We must keep the future in mind.

Patrick Gittard is a transit issue associate for the Florida Public Interest Research Group, based in Tallahassee.

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Canadian investors swoop to snap up High Speed 1 rail line

Daily Mail

Just a day after BHP Billiton was rebuffed by the Canadian authorities in its attempt to snap up Potash Corporation, two heavyweight Canadian investors have bought Britain’s only high speed rail line for £2.1bn.

Ontario Teachers’ pension plan and Borealis, the infrastructure investment arm of Ontario Municipal employees Retirement System, beat rivals including Eurotunnel, Morgan Stanley and Allianz for the 30-year concession for the High Speed 1 line linking London’s St Pancras station to the Channel Tunnel.

Eurostar trains St Pancras InternationalLet the train take the strain: Travellers disembark from Eurostars at St Pancras


‘It is an enormous amount of money, a big vote of confidence in UK plc and a big vote of market confidence in the future of UK high-speed rail,’ British Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said.

The Government is conducting a thorough audit of state assets with a view to selling off stakes in the likes of the Tote, Dartford Crossing and National Air Traffic Services (NATS).

The £2.1bn sale of the 30-year concession to operate HS1 was better than the expected £1.5bn to £2bn range. it will help to pay down the country’s £150bn of debts

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Why The U.S. Desperately needs a Vast High Speed Rail System

High-speed rail is one of the greenest ways to travel. It uses 1/3 the energy flying uses (per passenger) and 1/5 the energy driving uses (per passenger). It is also super cool, in my humble opinion.

High-speed rail (HSR) is moving forward all across the world, but at different… speeds. I just recently received and ran across a couple of new videos on HSR in California and China and thought it would be fun to show both of these here.

California high-speed rail video screenshot.jpeg

As you probably know, HSR got a big boost from the Obama administration at the beginning of 2010.

$8 billion was awarded to HSR projects across the US. California is getting a big chunk of that, $2.344 billion, for an extensive HSR network (of course, it is putting in a lot of money itself as well).

This project is the largest public works project in California in 50 years and is expected to create 600 thousand construction jobs and another 450 thousand permanent jobs.

While the California HSR network looks like it will be pretty sweet, China actually has a huge HSR network already in place with trains running as fast as or faster than the trains California will get.

Why hasn’t the U.S. developed a vast HSR network already? Most critics simply site the size of the U.S. as the primary deterrent. Building the HSR infrastructure over such a huge area would just cost too much.

But look at what China has done.

China’s (and the world’s) fastest train recently started running on a 220-km high-speed railway line between Shanghai and Hangzhou. While California’s fastest trains will travel at up to 220 mph, this Chinese train has reportedly been clocked going over 249 mph (a new world record).

This new HSR line brings China’s extensive HSR network to a total length of 4,617 miles (7,431 km). It is the longest HSR network in the world. When it completes its 2020 plans for this network, it will reach 9,900 miles (16,000 km).

It is also looking to expand its connections outside its own borders and all the way to England. This would be the largest infrastructure project in the world’s history if completed.

Would you support the development of a large-scale HSR network in the U.S. or are you satisfied with planes and automobiles?

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Amtrak high-speed trains modernize US rail transportation

Empowered News

Amtrak has earmarked $466 million to buy electric trains from German firm Siemens as part of a modernization plan to replace its aging locomotives.

Siemens will build 70 Cities Sprinter ACS-64 electric trains that will offer more speed and reliability to passengers travelling the Northeast Corridor of the United States.

Trains that have been in service for 20 to 30 years will be retired and replaced with the brand-new electric trains which will start servicing routes in 2013.

The electric trains would reach up to 125 mph or 201 kph from Washington, D.C. to Boston, and up to 110 mph or 177 kph from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The purchase by Amtrak was hailed by the Federal Railroad Administration as it tries to modernize America’s aging transportation infrastructure as part of a new program by the Obama administration.

Some $80 million worth of grants for high-speed rail projects this year were given to many states.

Florida earlier announced that it would build a high-speed rail corridor between Tampa and Orlando and later Miami, using Siemens Velaro ICE trains.

Siemens is looking to sign similar train purchase deals to take advantage of the boost in federal funding for U.S. electric locomotives.

The ACS-64 trains will have regenerative braking systems, crash energy management, anti-climbing features, and couplers that minimize the chance of derailment during collisions. Amtrak said the new trains would lessen maintenance costs and improve service availability.

The electric trains for Amtrak will be made in a Siemens plant in Sacramento, California that would generate some 200 jobs there.

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Nearly Two-Thirds of U.S. Travelers Will Use High-Speed Rail

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the distribution of $2.5 billion for high-speed rail projects nationwide, and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released the results of a large travel survey which shows that nearly two-thirds of adults (62 percent) said they would definitely or probably use high-speed rail service for leisure or business travel if it were an option. The survey, among 24, 711 adults, was conducted for APTA by Synovate.

“In most political circles, garnering nearly two-thirds support for a forward-thinking vision like high-speed rail would be considered a landslide,” said APTA President William Millar. “We strongly support the government’s commitment to implementing high-speed rail. It will provide more options for travelers, as well as create jobs and be a strong boost for the local economy.”

APTA proposes that Congress invest $50 billion over the next six years in high-speed rail. The association says the investment during that time frame, along with $123 billion in public transportation investment, will help support and create 6.2 million jobs.

Convenience and saving money were key factors for whether travelers would choose high-speed rail service over other modes of transportation. When asked how important various factors would be in choosing high-speed rail service, survey respondents ranked the top four as follows: (91%) shorter travel times compared to driving to my destination; (91%) less expensive than flying to my destination; (89%) less expensive than driving to my destination; and (85%) integration with local public transit so I can avoid use of rental cars, cabs and parking fees.

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Tourism Flourishes along High-Speed Railway

CRI English

The Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway, which opened last December 26, has greatly boosted the tourism industry in the provinces through which it passes.

The railway, which crosses central China’s Hubei and Hunan provinces and southern China’s Guangdong Province, has slashed the previous travel time between Wuhan and Guangzhou from 10 and a half hours to just three on trains that can travel up to 350 kilometers per hour.

The much shorter travel time has attracted many visitors to the region.

Qiu Han, a tourist who was heading to Hunan with her colleagues to visit Hengshan Mountain, one of the most famous mountains in China and the hometown of Chairman Mao Zedong, took the new train for the first time and said its high speed helped to save time.

“It used to take three to four days to visit Hunan from Guangzhou when we could only take old trains,” Qiu said. “Now we can finish the whole journey within two days.”

The high-speed rail service’s comfortable, smooth ride, more convenient facilities and better service also have contributed to an increase in the number of tourists traveling to the area.

Zhang Huijuan, General Manager of the domestic travel department at CYTS Tours Guangdong Railway Co., Ltd. (GR CYTS), said the revenue from domestic tourist groups traveling with her company to Hubei and Hunan has increased by about 700 percent since the high-speed railway went into operation.

The high-speed railway has also strengthened the cooperation between travel agencies in different places, Zhang said.

“We have interacted a lot with travel agencies in Hubei and Hunan since the opening of the high-speed railway,” she said. “We arrange for visitors to go to tourism sites there, and they also send tourists to Guangdong and even to Hong Kong and Macao afterwards.”

The cooperation has greatly increased the income of the tourism industry in the three provinces, Zhang said.

Some travel agencies have created new itineraries that combine traditional tourist sites with new ones or those that used to be too far to reach to attract more visitors from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao.

The number of foreign visitors to the region has increased as well. More than 10,000 foreigners have traveled with the overseas department of GR CYTS since the opening of the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway.

The increase in the number of overall tourists has served as a test for travel agencies to ensure they can adequately handle even larger groups during peak travel seasons.

“In March when a great number of visitors appreciated the cherry blossoms in Wuhan, the quantities of hotels, tour buses and guides were not enough sometimes,” Zhang said.

She added that she was confident that the situation would improve after the adaptation period during the early stage of the high-speed railway.

The upcoming Guangzhou Asian Games in November is expected to draw a new wave of visitors to the city and nearby areas via high-speed rail.


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