You know the Times they are a'changing when the pages of an American newspaper have pictures of fancy fast trains instead of fancy fast cars. But that is what is in the New York Times as they review some of the trains and routes that may benefit from the $8 Billion in stimulus money designated for high speed rail. The California rocket shown above is still a tradeshow dream, but the others were sleek European and Asian beauties.
This Japanese baby has neat lines, the Lexus of high speed.
The German ICE looks very cool, a Beemer on rails.
The Chinese number zips you from Shanghai to Hangszhou in econobox style
The French TGV: not as pretty as a CitroÃ«n DS but tres chic.
Matthew Wald notes in the Times that the hardware is nice, but the real issue is the quality of the infrastructure. Even the fastest train in America, Bombardier's Acela, is capable of 150 MPH but is limited to about half that.
Many rail advocates said that it would make sense to move to higher-speed rail before building true high-speed rail, and that getting the nation's long-neglected rail system into working order could lay the foundation for future high-speed projects.
"You've got to walk before you can run, and we've just been crawling up to now," said Ross B. Capon, the president of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, an advocacy group for riders.
Many passenger trains run on tracks owned by freight companies, and they are slowed on long stretches of single track, where trains must pull onto sidings so others can pass.
But if they build that Empire line from Buffalo to New York City, and get the border guards to turn down the intimidation and cut the Checkpoint Charlie circa 1960 stuff that makes the airport TSA and customs positively welcoming, I will be on it.
More in New York Times
More on Rail in TreeHugger:
Taking the Train to New York: The Only Way to Fly
No Way To Run a Railroad: Amtrak Arrests Photo Contest Participant- For Taking Photos
AmTrak Carolinian: Slower But So Much Nicer
Alternative Infrastructure: Canals and Railways Far Surpass Highways in Efficiency