Tuesday, March 17, 2009

High Speed Trains in the USA?

The stimulus bill signed by President Obama last month contains $8 Billion in aid to trains. By the time I was born train travel in the United States was pretty dead. The highways built during the 1950s and airlines have been the dominant ways to travel for as long as I've been alive. Trains? why would anyone want to take the train? It's actually not that cheap and it's slow.

I guess times are changing, and I for one welcome that change. While traveling in Asia train travel was the best way of traveling bar none. The high speed trains I rode in Taiwan, Japan, and China were and absolute joy to ride. They were very fast, very quiet, very smooth and very convenient. High speed trains travel at up to 200 mph and you don't have to deal with the hassles of checking for a flight. What's not to like?

One of the Republican Party's super stars Governor Bobby Jindal was quoted as laughing at outrageous technology he thought came from science fiction movies in the stimulus bill, specifically magnetic levitation high speed trains. Well, Bobby Jindal certain proved what a retarded douche bag he was (or should i say he's just another republican?) and he's also wrong about the mag lev trains. This technology is real, and it's cutting edge. Quite frankly American has fallen WAY behind the rest of the world in train technology and I would be so happy to welcome a mag lev train. Basically magnets lift the train above the track so that it travels with much less friction. Since the republican party hates science (at least they have in my life time) I don't think they understand that means the trains can travel faster. It's really amazing engineering. Shanghai China has one such train from Shanghai to the airport. I got to ride it, and was delighted to be able to do so. Like I said earlier about high speed trains, they're fast, quiet, and smooth. The mag lev was no exception.

Now in addition to high speed trains I rode subways and conventional trains. In Asia conventional trains are quite affordable so they're great for backpackers. Comfortable? Fast? Smooth? Not so much, but they're really cheap and that's the trade off. It's not terribly uncomfortable and as a backpacker you need to get use to that. It wasn't an issue for me, I adapted quickly and was pleased with mt savings. I did ride in first class from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, and it was quite nice, though still not totally smooth.

Link to USA Today Article on High Speed trains in America's future.

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