High-speed rail has been in the news a lot recently, in the US, in Europe, and in China. Some great news, and some not-so-great news. Here are 8 big stories from the past couple months.
1. The U.S. government awarded $2.4 billion to 54 rail projects in 23 states a couple weeks ago. This is in addition to the $8 billion awarded by the Obama administration at the beginning of the year. Projects in Florida, California, Michigan, and Iowa received the funds this time. While both U.S. and foreign companies are eligible to get high-speed rail contracts paid for with this funds, all companies "hired to build America's next generation high-speed rail lines" have to "establish or expand their base of operations in the United States." As a result, hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs are expected to come from these projects.
2. China continuously sets high-speed rail records. It recently opened a 220-km high-speed rail line between Shanghai and Hangzhou, extending the largest high-speed rail network in the world to 7431 kilometers (4617 miles). Running on this line is (by some standards) the fastest train in the world. While the "absolute world record holder" is a Japanese maglev train that went 581 km/h (361 mph) in 2003 and a French train set the record in 2007 for a train running on conventional rails at 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph), a train running on this new line in China went 416.6 km/h (258.9 mph), setting the world record for "unmodified commercial trainset," in October. Watch the video below.
3. Florida looks like it is likely to have the first high-speed rail line in the U.S. The Siemens Velaro trains it is looking to get travel up to 403 km/h (250 miles per hour), comparable to almost any high-speed train in the world. These trains already run in Germany, Spain, China, Russia, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria, but they have not touched American rails yet.
4. While Florida is looking to have the first high-speed trains in the country, California is moving ahead steadily as well. The California High-Speed Rail Authority recently released a video on the details of its proposed project and visualizations of its trains. A few key points mentioned in the video are that high-speed trains will take people from downtown L.A. to downtown San Francisco in under 2.5 hours, these trains will go up to 354 km/h (220 mph), this will be the largest public works project in California in 50 years, and 600 construction jobs plus an additional 450 thousand permanent jobs will be created from the project (which is likely to keep moving ahead steadily with Democrat Jerry Brown recently elected there). Watch the video below for more details.