Bring on the Chinese high speed trains

Xpresswest train
Promo image Xpresswest

A Chinese company has agreed to build a high speed train between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. This is after years and years of arguing about high speed trains in North America, soaring costs and delays, delays and more delays. According to Bloomberg, the 230 mile long line could start construction next September, as many of the required approvals are already in place.

"This is the first high-speed railway project where China and the U.S. will have systematic cooperation," Yang Zhongmin, a deputy chief engineer with China Railway Group, said after a news conference in Beijing. “It shows the advancement of China-made high-speed railways."

train to las vegas© Xpresswest

It is estimate that the train might divert 3 million cars per year from the overcrowded highway where sometimes the trip can take four hours by car. It will take 80 minutes by train traveling at 150 MPH. It might be fun, too; according to the press release:

Every train is designed with state of the art amenities featuring all first and business class seating, and specially designed full-service entertainment club cars. Food, beverage, wifi, entertainment, concierge services, flexible club seating arrangements, and full handicap accessibility are just a few of the amenities available on every journey.

china high speed rail© China high speed rail network 2020

This is exciting news, because the Chinese know how to build rail infrastructure like no-one else, having built over 10,000 miles of it in a very short time. As the LA Times notes, they are going to probably do everything they can to come in on schedule and on budget. As Martin Wachs, an urban planning professor noted,

Wachs said the motive for the Chinese might be to establish a toehold in the nascent high-speed rail industry in the United States. Even if they lose money,” he added, “they could develop a market for Chinese technology and services by demonstrating that they can implement a project.

train carLloyd Alter/ interior of train/CC BY 2.0

I rode a few of them in Hunan, visiting shiny new stations and spotlessly clean trains that ran at over 300 km/hr, a totally smooth and comfortable ride, on time during Golden Week, one of the busiest travel times of the year. It was fully grade-separated and never slowed down. If Americans finally get a train like this, they will take to it in droves. And with working wifi!

train in stationLloyd Alter/ Train arriving in Changsha station/CC BY 2.0

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Tags: China | Los Angeles | Trains

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