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Japan Pitches High Speed Rail to the US
Ever since Obama announced plans for a massive high speed rail system in the US, speculation has run wild about how they’ll be executed. The projected corridors were revealed a while back, but many details remain to be decided—perhaps most significantly, which high speed rail system will the president opt to use? Now, at least one compelling option is on the table: Japan’s cutting edge 186 mph N700 Bullet Train system may have just caught Obama’s eye.
As it well should: the N700 Bullet Train, which has been operating in Japan since 2007, is fast, efficient, and boasts a comfortable interior. Capable of hitting speeds up to 186 miles per hour, the N700 is about half as fast as an airplane. It was the first new train system to hit Japan since 1999, and it manages to reach the same speed as its predecessor with 19% less electricity usage—a huge savings.
And let’s not forget about the amenities: remember, one of the most important attributes of any new rail system in the US will be the ability to entice new riders away from taking their trips by car or plane. At least in its current Japanese incarnation, the N700 delivers: it offers free internet, folding trays, access to electrical outlets in each seat, and an exceedingly smooth ride.
N700 Bullet Train in the US?
So is Obama interested? Sources say he may very well be—the US Secretary of Transportation Raymond Lahood just met with Yoshiyuki Kasai, the Chairman of Central Japan Railway Co, in Washington DC, according to Japan Today. Kasai urged Lahood to consider adopting the N700 for the US’s proposed high speed rail system, and indicated that Lahood was interested, though any deal is still long from being sealed. From Japan Today:
Describing reactions from the U.S. side, Kasai said, ‘‘My perception is that U.S. considerations over the high-speed rail network have just started and it is necessary for us to make a long-sustained effort.’’ Today’s meetings ‘‘mark just the beginning of the effort,’’ he said.He also noted that the system would spur the creation of many American jobs, and highlighted the environmentally friendly features of the train. And let’s hope Obama is listening—whether he lands on the N700 train or not, the system is a great example of high speed rail that’s green, accessible, comfortable, and convenient.