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Transportation Technology

China To Connect Its High-Speed Rail To Europe 691

Posted by kdawson
from the time-for-several-murders dept.
MikeChino sends in this excerpt from Inhabitat: "China already has the most advanced and extensive high-speed rail lines in the world, and soon that network will be connected all the way to Europe and the UK. With initial negotiations and surveys already complete, China is now making plans to connect its HSR line through 17 other countries in Asia and Eastern Europe in order to connect to the existing infrastructure in the EU. Additional rail lines will also be built into South East Asia as well as Russia, in what will likely become the largest infrastructure project in history." They hope to get it done within 10 years, with China providing the financing in exchange for raw materials, in some cases.
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China To Connect Its High-Speed Rail To Europe

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  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:26PM (#31489434)

    Through some of the most politically unstable regions of the world. What could possibly go wrong?

    • by ndogg (158021) <the...rhorn@@@gmail...com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:38PM (#31489558) Homepage Journal

      More trade, which then possibly leads to more stability. History has shown that economic interdependence helps to foster peaceful, albeit sometimes tense, negotiations. It's the only reasonable hope we humans have to world peace. It's not the lovey-dovey ideal peace, but it's something.

      The only thing we need to worry about in this equation is religious nutbags that won't listen to reason.

      • by aaron alderman (1136207) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:56PM (#31489764) Homepage
        Religious nutbags become ineffectual when you introduce prosperity and equality to their followers at the expense of meddling, war and neocolonialism.
        • by telomerewhythere (1493937) on Monday March 15, 2010 @08:41PM (#31490242)
          Tell that to texas schoolkids... Oh wait, you can't.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DesScorp (410532)

          Religious nutbags become ineffectual when you introduce prosperity and equality to their followers at the expense of meddling, war and neocolonialism.

          Yes, because Saudi Arabia is an Oasis of secular humanism now. The very model of a modern enlightenment.

          • by Psyqlone (681556) on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:19PM (#31491094)

            Yes, because Saudi Arabia is an Oasis of secular humanism now. The very model of a modern enlightenment.

            Saudi Arabia has lots of money, but it's not distributed very broadly or fairly. Only a few Saudis are actually wealthy.

            So they don't really have either prosperity or equality or enlightenment in that part of the world.

            • by jlar (584848) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @05:22AM (#31492994)

              Yes, because Saudi Arabia is an Oasis of secular humanism now. The very model of a modern enlightenment.

              Saudi Arabia has lots of money, but it's not distributed very broadly or fairly. Only a few Saudis are actually wealthy.

              So they don't really have either prosperity or equality or enlightenment in that part of the world.

              That is actually not true. The Gini coefficient (measure of economic in-equality, lower is more equal) is approximately 32 for Saudi Arabia and 40.8 for the USA. So it seems like your theory about economic equality and enlightenment is down the drain.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @01:19AM (#31492136)

            Although, the US came to mind first when I saw "meddling, war and neocolonialism"... Looking just at Latin America for only the last 30 years, you get:

              1980
                    U.S., seeking a stable base for its actions in El Salvador and Nicaragua, tells the Honduran military to clean up its act and hold elections. The U.S. starts pouring in $100 million of aid a year and basing the contras on Honduran territory.
                    Death squads are also active in Honduras, and the contras tend to act as a state within a state.
            1981
                    The CIA steps in to organize the contras in Nicaragua, who started the previous year as a group of 60 ex-National Guardsmen; by 1985 there are about 12,000 of them. 46 of the 48 top military leaders are ex-Guardsmen. The U.S. also sets up an economic embargo of Nicaragua and pressures the IMF and the World Bank to limit or halt loans to Nicaragua.
            1981
                    Gen. Torrijos of Panama is killed in a plane crash. There is a suspicion of CIA involvement, due to Torrijos' nationalism and friendly relations with Cuba.
            1982
                    A coup brings Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt to power in Guatemala, and gives the Reagan administration the opportunity to increase military aid. Ríos Montt's evangelical beliefs do not prevent him from accelerating the counterinsurgency campaign.
            1983
                    Another coup in Guatemala replaces Ríos Montt. The new President, Oscar Mejía Víctores, was trained by the U.S. and seems to have cleared his coup beforehand with U.S. authorities.
            1983
                    U.S. troops take over tiny Granada. Rather oddly, it intervenes shortly after a coup has overthrown the previous, socialist leader. One of the justifications for the action is the building of a new airport with Cuban help, which Granada claimed was for tourism and Reagan argued was for Soviet use. Later the U.S. announces plans to finish the airport... to develop tourism.
            1983
                    Boland Amendment prohibits CIA and Defense Dept. from spending money to overthrow the government of Nicaragua-- a law the Reagan administration cheerfully violates.
            1984
                    CIA mines three Nicaraguan harbors. Nicaragua takes this action to the World Court, which brings an $18 billion judgment against the U.S. The U.S. refuses to recognize the Court's jurisdiction in the case.
            1984
                    U.S. spends $10 million to orchestrate elections in El Salvador-- something of a farce, since left-wing parties are under heavy repression, and the military has already declared that it will not answer to the elected president.
            1989
                    U.S. invades Panama to dislodge CIA boy gone wrong Manuel Noriega, an event which marks the evolution of the U.S.'s favorite excuse from Communism to drugs.
            1996
                    The U.S. battles global Communism by extending most-favored-nation trading status for China, and tightening the trade embargo on Castro's Cuba.

      • by Dunbal (464142) * on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:56PM (#31489768)

        More trade, which then possibly leads to more stability.

              No, you didn't read the article, did you? This isn't about trade. China is accepting raw materials from your country in exchange for being hooked up to this rail service. Consider it a giant straw through which China will suck up Asia and Europe's raw materials. China has been doing a lot of this bartering lately - avoiding paying cash for things in exchange for construction, trade contracts, or goods. Goodness knows they have the manpower.

      • Telecom cables, too (Score:3, Interesting)

        by billstewart (78916)

        There have been a number of proposals for doing telecom cables along rail lines across Asia, providing shorter alternatives to the undersea cables. They often get into trouble with either financing or right-of-way across South-West Asia, but if they're building a new railroad, it's easy to add conduits full of fiber at the same time. Earthquakes, landslides, and train wrecks do create risks, but shorter distance really helps latency, and it's usually a lot easier to patch fiber around a section of railroa

      • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOSpam.Gmail.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @09:55PM (#31490902) Homepage Journal

        More trade, which then possibly leads to more stability. History has shown that economic interdependence helps to foster peaceful, albeit sometimes tense, negotiations. It's the only reasonable hope we humans have to world peace.

        I keep seeing this argument, and it's absolutely ludicrous. Guess who France's number one trading partner was before 1941? You may have heard of that country's leader. He's invoked here a lot on Slashdot.

        This is just another variant of the "prosperity = peace" argument. While the two often go together, one does not ensure the other. Most of the prosperous nations in the history of man have been so while invading their neighbors, or even across the other side of the world. We had this same prediction 20 years ago... the increased trade with China would make it a free country and bring political liberalism. How'd that work out?

        I'm all for expanded trade and opening more markets. But that just brings wealth, not freedom, and certainly not utopia.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday March 15, 2010 @08:43PM (#31490258) Homepage Journal

      What could possibly go wrong?

      Well, for one thing, I don't see how they're going to connect the Chinese railways with the European ones.

      I heard that the Chinese rails go side-to-side instead of up and down.

      Yep, that's what I heard.

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:31PM (#31489478)
    Even if it's high speed, I don't think that anyone will want to take the train from China to Europe. Maybe it's a bit of a vanity project. But you have to admit, it's pretty damn cool. I think it would make more sense if the rail connection were not high speed, since most of what's transported will be freight, and moving freight at 350k/h is a big waste of energy. But whatever, it's freaking cool!
    • by Meshach (578918) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:35PM (#31489538)

      Even if it's high speed, I don't think that anyone will want to take the train from China to Europe.

      From my read of the article this rail will be primarily used for manufacturing materials. The main goal is to make it easier for import/export to/from China not to make traveling easier.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mqduck (232646)

        First of all, it's about time Eurasia got its own Transcontinental Railroad. Second of all,

        Even if it's high speed, I don't think that anyone will want to take the train from China to Europe.

        From my read of the article this rail will be primarily used for manufacturing materials.

        I, for one, would absolutely love to take that trip. Especially if I could make stops along the way and catch the train again the day after next.

    • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:49PM (#31489700)

      I don't think that anyone will want to take the train from China to Europe

      Maybe not today, but in 30 or 40 years when dwindling oil makes the cost of air travel unsustainable? Absolutely people will be willing to take a fast train. Wouldn't surprise me if, in 100 years, there's a train over the Bering Straight linking Asia with North America. These Asian folks think long term, unlike short-sighted Western politicians.

      • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOSpam.Gmail.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:07PM (#31490982) Homepage Journal

        These Asian folks think long term, unlike short-sighted Western politicians.

        Rubbish. China is one of the oldest civilizations on Earth, and yet it's just now climbing out of a third world status that it's been in for centuries. They're human, fallible as anyone else. They have no more wisdom, insight, or patience than any of their competitors. Looking at their industrial pollution situation, and the race to catch up to the West, they may well have less. They slaughtered and starved hundreds of thousands of their own people... perhaps millions, considering their great famines... in their "Great Leap Forward". The Chinese are not any more wise or farsighted than anyone else. What they are, right now, is driven.

        • by pydev (1683904)

          China is one of the oldest civilizations on Earth, and yet it's just now climbing out of a third world status that it's been in for centuries.

          China likes to present and view itself that way but that's a fiction, starting with the notion that something like a continuous Chinese civilization has even existed over the past two millennia. Generally, the societies and civilizations that have existed in the area of modern China have been significantly behind Europe and far behind the Middle Eastern civilizations

          • by hanabal (717731) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @05:12AM (#31492960)

            wait wait wait. lets analyse your facts here. while it can be said that china as a unified society might not be as old as some people think, we can look back at recorded history to see what we know.

            Modern Chinese society is based on the Qin culture which dates back to at least 9th century BC. While this is not terribly old, the unification under the Qin emperor in 221BC wiped out all of the other cultures of the Chinese people which dated far further back. Unfortunately we can't know exactly how far back as the emperor destroyed all recorded knowledge from the other cultures.

            As far as the language goes, there is a story that suggests written Chinese dates back as far as ~2500BC but we have no evidence of this. What we do have is actual written characters dating back to ~1200BC. The earliest Greek texts that we have date back to ~1400BC. So based on this evidence you could say Greek was earlier, but not by nearly as far as you suggest. You were correct in suggesting that other cultures developed writing around 2000 years earlier. The fact that current Chinese is not as old is a result of the cultural purge mentioned above.

            As far as contemporary cultures are concerned, there are very few that can date back as far as 200BC.

    • by zondag (1114149) on Monday March 15, 2010 @08:11PM (#31489896)

      Even if it's high speed, I don't think that anyone will want to take the train from China to Europe.

      You already can [wikipedia.org], though not high-speed. At the moment people take that train for the sake of the journey, not just to get from A to B.

  • Track width (Score:4, Interesting)

    by guruevi (827432) <evi @ s m o k i n g c u be.be> on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:31PM (#31489482) Homepage

    I wonder how the track width across different countries is going to work. If I remember correctly, that was a similar problem when connecting the UK to Europe. On the other hand, if this becomes cheap enough for car travel (which it probably already is), Eurasia might become a unified economic powerhouse over the next half century while the US will become a third world country (unless the US decides to invest in itself).

    • Re:Track width (Score:5, Informative)

      by thue (121682) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:37PM (#31489550) Homepage

      An image illustrating the track widths across the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rail_gauge_world.png [wikipedia.org]

      I assume that the whole planned track will be standard gauge, if they plan trains from London to Beijing? But the article doesn't say.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slimjim8094 (941042)

      Invest in our infrastructure? That would be communism! You're not a communist, are you?

      And yes, standard gauge is 4'8.5". US, UK, Australia, Canada, and China all use standard gauge, as well as most of Western Europe. Russia's gauge is 3" wider.

      So they'd have a job on their hands to connect up with Europe. They may run a third rail through Russia that matches with one existing rail to form standard gauge (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_gauge [wikipedia.org]). Or they could just not connect to the Russian rail networ

  • US is in trouble (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:33PM (#31489508) Homepage

    So China is building infrastructure that will let them transport goods throughout Asia and Europe very quickly and cheaply. Meanwhile, here in the US, people are fighting against the idea of building highspeed rail even between a handful of cities that are right next to each other.

    If we don't turn it around, our economy is going down the tubes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by afidel (530433)
      Actually boats are WAY more economical and with polar ice melts the northern passage is now open enough of the year to be economically viable. If you need very fast transport when the northern passage is available there's always airplane (Ford was flying engines from Cleveland to an assembly plant in Canada so it can be doable for items with a high enough value add).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by assemblerex (1275164) *
      Well the Chinese just bulldoze your house if they need the land. We have something called property rights unless you live in Connecticut.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Un pobre guey (593801)
      We aren't even at the level of efficient high speed rail project designs. The plans in California are idiotically circuitous and discontinuous. We see such projects as opportunities to scam state and federal treasuries, not as useful and durable infrastructure to evolve and develop our economy. Soon Chinese media will be talking about us as an incompetent, backward, authoritarian Third World oligarchy.

      Are we just going to let that happen? [That's a rhetorical question, BTW]
    • Re:US is in trouble (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TikiTDO (759782) <TikiTDO@gmail.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @08:19PM (#31489986)

      Sorry to say, your economy has already gone down the tubes, spent some time in the sewer, and is now resisting any attempt to scrub it clean by any means necessary. You have a sizable population against bank reform, even more against providing basic health care, insane unemployment, an entity composed of a slew of political parties too busy trying to resolve internal conflicts to notice the huge problems, and another political party so spoiled by a decade of near absolute power and focused on the short term that they do not see the huge wall as the nation hurls towards it like... Well... A train on high speed rail. Something that, as you pointed out, is also being resisted tooth and nail.

      So no, the US is not in trouble. Unless something major changes pretty soon, the US is totally and completely screwed

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nine-times (778537)

        If you think this is bad, wait until we go another 20 years without investing any money in infrastructure.

      • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @12:01AM (#31491778) Homepage Journal

        Sorry to say, your economy has already gone down the tubes, spent some time in the sewer, and is now resisting any attempt to scrub it clean by any means necessary.

        I wish I disagreed with that.

        You have a sizable population against bank reform,

        That's not quite correct. I think most Americans agree that our banking system is totally screwed up. You might get the opposite impression by watching the news, where the Tea Party idiots dominate. But they're not a majority, they're a noisy minority. Consider that the person most of them would like to see in the White House is a lady widely regarded as the least competent politician in America.

        The problem is that banking reform has to get approved by legislators who have to spend a lot of money to keep their jobs. And that gives the banking interests way too much clout, regardless of what the public at large believes. Note that the main proponent of banking reform is the President, and I think his views on the subject are closer to representing the popular will than anybody.

        even more against providing basic health care,

        We do provide basic health care. We just don't provide it very efficiently (our per-capita costs are three times anyone else, and still growing), and provide a criminally low level of care to maybe 1/3 of the population. Again, the main opposition is a minority and some well-financed interests. Here the majority has a vague notion that something's wrong, and that same President keeps trying to rally them for reform. I think the big problem here is that most people experience a health care system that's flawed but servicible, if you ignore its high cost — and the way we structure things, that's easy to do.

        And in the general economic context, this is indeed a Very Bad Thing. High health care costs aren't the only reason U.S. manufacturing isn't competitive, but it's a big one.

        Well... A train on high speed rail. Something that, as you pointed out, is also being resisted tooth and nail.

        I don't see a huge resistance to high-speed rail as such. The main problem is cost and NIMBYism.

        The cost comes from the fact that we've had an anti-rail bias in our transportation planning for about a century. Highways are more popular with with voters (you get a lot more freedom of movement with a personal vehicle) and various property interests (a gigantic amount of money has been made by developing land that wouldn't have any value if housing were concentrated around rail corridors, as it is in Europe). So now that people are beginning to realize that tearing up all those urban rail lines was a mistake, it's way too expensive to buy up the right of way to build them back.

        (Incidentally, France faced the same cost issue some decades back, when they realized they didn't have nearly enough passenger rail capacity. Building more rail lines was not affordable. But, unlike the U.S., they did have established straight rail corridors that could be upgraded without buying more land. So they made the trains faster, increasing their carrying capacity. Being able to travel from the English channel to the Med in less than 8 hours is just gravy.)

        The NIMBYism is simply because of the huge impact of high-speed rail on the local urban environment. Take the LA-SF project. Funding for that was approved by a popular vote, but now that it's moving forward, communities around the route are not happy about the impact. Of course the impact wouldn't be nearly as bad as that of existing freeways — but we've already accommodated ourselves to that. But the cities on the San Francisco peninsula have suddenly realized that this new system would have to go through their downtowns, and aren't happy about it.

        So anyway, you're right, we're totally and completely screwed. But don't blame it entirely on current stupidity. That's a factor, but there's also an excess of self-interest by everybody and the sheer mind-boggling cost of fixing past mistake.

    • Re:US is in trouble (Score:5, Interesting)

      by this great guy (922511) on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:31PM (#31491176)
      Yeah indeed. An interesting comparison to make too is the 25 years estimated to build the measly 800-mile high-speed train project in California [ca.gov] (est. completion by 2035), whereas China is planning what appears to be a roughly 10000-mile project to be completed in 10 years...
  • Traffic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by benjfowler (239527) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:35PM (#31489536)

    I suppose it would result in an endless Third World zerg rush on Europe. I'm sure that'll go down well.

    Remember that highway networks were traditionally built to move armies around quickly.

  • This would be big (Score:4, Interesting)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@NOspam.comcast.net> on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:45PM (#31489642)

    This would be big, but in practice how efficiently can it run with stops in every country desired by the host country?. I think they could build this, and potentially there are a lot of benefits from doing so. Certainly the Chinese have done well with rail in China by many measures. Fundamentally, this story is more about navigating bureaucracy (a triumph of it's own right) than any particular technical challenge.

    I think the bigger news would be if they started work on a railway from China to the US. That would only need to pass through Russia on the way to the US (with Canada if they want direct to the lower 48). The number of negotiations would be much lower, and the ability to safely send cargo through a rail tunnel under the sea would be worth untold billions. Tunneling under the Bering Straight is technically feasible, just look at the Chunnel and other such projects. It's slashdot, give us technical challenges, not bureaucratic ones!

    • FSVO "Feasible" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by overshoot (39700) on Monday March 15, 2010 @08:05PM (#31489846)

      Tunneling under the Bering Straight is technically feasible, just look at the Chunnel and other such projects.

      Ignoring for the moment the differences in depth and geological stability between the Channel and the Straights.

  • You can't run high-speed rail and freight on the same tracks. It's because of the weight of freight cars. They can physically bend the rail enough for you to see it happening. So, the track doesn't stay in sufficient calibration to use for high-speed rail. Indeed, the first thing you do, if you want high-speed rail, is build an exclusive track line.

    To be used for freight a system like this would need four tracks at a minimum. Two for passenger and two for freight.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I really doubt that freight train cars would physically bend the tracks, and if they did, it would hardly be the reason why they don't run freight on high speed rail. Wikipedia states this:

      Experience has shown however, that trains of significantly different speeds cause massive decreases of line capacity. As a result, mixed-traffic lines are usually reserved for high-speed passenger trains during the daytime, while freight trains go at night. In some cases, nighttime high-speed trains are even diverted to lower speed lines in favor of freight traffic.

      In conclusion: it is the speed differences, not some kind of "track bending" that is the major reason they don't mix high speed train and freight trains.

      As usual Slashdot is full of self proclaimed experts that exceeds at making up cool "facts" so they can me moderated +5 informative.

  • by GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) on Monday March 15, 2010 @08:55PM (#31490380)
    I'm a French guy living in China. Reading that China has the "most advanced [...] high-speed rail lines in the world" makes me jump on my chair. The HSR trains are rarely going to the announced 240 km/h top speed, most of the time, they aren't even reaching 200. China is just building it's first Shanghai to Beijing in 3:30 thanks to the French technology (to be ready later this year). It still takes 40 hours to travel from Shanghai to Wulumuqi. Exactly where is the advance here? The most advanced country in the world for train is France, with over 6 lines at 320+ km/h all over the (small) country and extending to the rest of Europe (Spain, London, Amsterdam)!

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