Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Riding the Caboose

I remember well the first time I checked into the Train Station in Paris to take the train south. I was hoping to see the new TGVs. It was in the late 80s. When I arrived at the station, I was amazed. There weren't just a few TGVs. They were all TGVs.

The insides were comfortable and clean and airy.

As the train picks up speed, you tend to not watch the scenery as much as you think you might. It tends to make you a little dizzy. Still, it is quite a thing to be moving at high speed across the landscape, almost silently, watching a blurr of a landscape whizz by.

You don't hear much about trains here in Bubbha land except in Country & Western music, but all is not bubbha land.

Here is part of the story from The Economist.

A high-speed revolution
From The Economist
July 5th 2007

European railways form an alliance to promote swifter international travel---

As the fastest train in Europe reaches its top speed of 320kph (200mph) the glasses of wine on the bar barely wobble. Champagne country is a blur as the train tears along Europe's newest high-speed line-the first to link France and Germany. France's Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) can now travel between Stuttgart and Paris in only three hours 40 minutes instead of six hours. The latest generation of Germany's Inter-City Express (ICE) trains has similarly shrunk the journey time between Frankfurt and Paris.

This week high-speed railways in France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland joined with existing international services, such as the cross-channel Eurostar and the Paris-Brussels Thalys, to form Railteam, a new marketing alliance.

The aim by the end of next year is to have one website that will allow travellers to view timetables and prices and, with one or two clicks, book tickets from one end of Europe to another. At the European Commission's insistence, Railteam members will compete on prices, though there could be some tricky moments as some of them team up to take on airlines.

Europe is in the grip of a high-speed rail revolution. Four new lines are opening this year and next, with trains running up to 320kph. (clip)

The prospects for Europe's trains have hardly been better since the great age of steam. For decades planes, cars and lorries have been quicker, more convenient and usually more reliable ways to transport people and goods throughout much of Europe. But concern over climate change, hassles at overcrowded airports, delayed flights and congested roads have conspired with better high-speed rail technology to make the train an increasingly attractive alternative, and an especially green one: a full high-speed electric train emits between a tenth and a quarter of the carbon dioxide of a plane, according to the bosses of Eurostar. (more)

The same thing is happening in Great Britain.

In fact most of the developed world is working hard on fast, efficient, high speed rail.

In China, they have their maglev working at even higher speeds. It was really expensive though.

But here in Bubbha land, we sing about slow ones.

It's hard to be the leader when your riding in the caboose.



Blogger Charlie Loving said...

First time I rode on one of those trains I got tossed off at some small hovel like station because I was very evil and got aboard the wrong train. I love trains and can't speak Belgique.

5:24 PM  

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