Bullet trains offer alternative and challenge to airlines

Discussion in 'Blogstand' started by sobore, May 16, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://www.china.org.cn/business/2011-05/16/content_22570819.htm

    The trial operation of the high-speed railway linking Shanghai and Beijing is ramping up the competition between bullet trains and airlines, with the latter confronting the threat its passenger numbers will tumble on their most profitable domestic routes.
    More than 60 percent of the civil aviation market may be affected by the advent of high-speed rail in China.
    A month-long trial of the Shanghai-Beijing high-speed railway started on May 11. The new service is expected to be fully operational by the end of June.The fastest journey along the 1,318-kilometer route from Shanghai's Hongqiao Railway Station to Beijing South Railway Station took four hours and 48 minutes, with trains traveling at speeds of up to 300 kilometers an hour.
     
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  2. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I am addicted to fast trains. Center city to center city they beat planes for some fairly long distances, and they're more civilized and roomy too. I am on the new G train Shanghai-Suzhou in early September. I am looking forward to that one, the same line you're discussing, actually.
     
  3. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I don't see this being an issue in the US any time soon, though as much as I enjoy flying I would love to take a train on the short hops where it makes sense. Really, there are only a few corridors with enough people for high speed rail (or any rail) to work in the US.
    • Along I-5 on the west coast
    • Along I-95 on the east coast
    • Possibly a third route from Houston up to Chicago, maybe on to Minneapolis
    There are tons of short hops up and down the coasts that people take on a weekly basis, where you spend more time getting to and waiting at the airport than you do in the air. Transcontinental rail service would take forever, even in a bullet train at 200-300 mph with right-of-way. Other than the coasts and the possible third route in the midwest, there is insufficient population density to make it anywhere near profitable. And finally, in order to really make it work, the trains would have to run through city centers with right-of-way or dedicated track. The costs (financial and political) of acquiring land and constructing the lines would stop most politicians. Right now the west coast is in the best position IMO because it has dense metropolises with largely rural spaces in between. North of Sacramento, you would only need a half dozen or fewer stops for the remaining 900 mile journey. But you would have to cover the entire coast to really make it work. There's little point to having a bullet train just between Seattle and Portland, or between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The real benefits will happen when you can get from Seattle to San Francisco (800 miles) in 3-4 hours by train instead of 1.5 hours in the air, 30 min on each end to/from the airport, and 1 hour waiting for departure.
     
  4. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    WAS-PHL-NYC-BOS is the ideal market in the USA for the service but it'll never happen (no, Acela does not count) because of the easement issues. It would be nice though.

    Certainly it is nice for China to be able to simply show up one day and announce to a city that the folks living there no longer do and that they should get out quickly as an airport or train station or train line or highway or some other infrastructure project is being installed. The fact that the US is essentially paying for the construction makes it all that much more ironic.
     
  5. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Acela sure as hell doesn't count... :) Twice as expensive and twice as long as flying, in spite of having to deal with airport security.

    The days of free-for-all eminent domain land grabs seem to be gone -- in spite of the fact that they just did this very same thing to build the NJ Nets a brand new stadium in Brooklyn, after a protracted legal battle.
     

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