Sunday Open Thread
Since the previous open thread attracted so many comments, here’s a fresh one to make it easier to follow the topics of discussion.
Fresh HSR news from around the world:
- In China, the new Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR line has begun commercial service to great fanfare (photo gallery). The 1069km (668mi) line is exceptional in that it can support operation at 350km/h (217mph) along almost its entire length, making it the fastest rail line in the world right now. Trip times will be slashed from over 10 to just three hours, though not everyone will be able to afford the higher fares. Nevertheless, the new service is expected to compete very effectively against airlines, in spite of deeply discounted air fares.
- In the UK, the HS2 commission is about to submit a very detailed proposal for the preferred route from London to Scotland via Birmingham and Manchester. The proposal includes a large new railway station in the heart of London, with optional links to Heathrow and HS1, the existing line from London to the Channel Tunnel. The plans are especially popular in the north of England and in Scotland, both Labour Party strongholds that the opposition Conservative Party would like to make inroads into. However, the proposal is also expected to call for new tracks to run along the edge of the scenic Lake District as well as through the tony Chilterns in Buckinghamshire, which will draw fire from environmentalists and upper-crust toffs alike.
- Ironically, the announcement came just as stranded Eurostar passengers were being rescued by a steam locomotive.
- In Texas, a new offshoot of the existing Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation (THSRTC) called the South Central High-Speed Rail and Transportation Authority , Inc. will further develop the T-bone HSR concept and future extensions.
- In Japan, JR Central (known locally as JR Tokai) just submitted a final report detailing three alternate routes for the proposed Chuo shinkansen, intended to relieve the congested steel wheels line between Tokyo and Osaka. If the minister approves the least expensive route through the Southern Alps over objections from Nagano prefecture, maglev trains will one day shuttle passengers between these two cities in just one hour.
- Meanwhile, Dug Begley at the Press Enterprise muses about how the eastern Inland Empire could one day become the crossroads of multiple HSR lines linking LA, San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Nothing of the sort is actually on the drawing board right now.
UPDATE by Robert: Just want to thank Rafael for posting two excellent open threads here on the blog. Watching the occasional news stories about the increasingly insane and ridiculous rules the TSA is imposing on air travel and thankful that I’m taking the Coast Starlight back to CA next weekend (we had a great trip up here, no problems at all, pulled into Olympia only 10 minutes late). We need to ensure that HSR is not saddled with a TSA-like set of requirements. Britain, France, and Spain have extensive experience with terrorism and train safety, including deadly attacks on some train systems in recent years (the 11-3 attacks on the Madrid commuter trains in 2004, the July 7 attacks on the London Underground in 2005). US and California authorities should learn from the security measures on European HSR trains, and ignore and avoid the TSA as much as possible.