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China Transportation Technology

China Begins To Extend High Speed Rail Across Asia 387

Posted by samzenpus
from the spreading-out dept.
MikeChino writes "Last year we learned that China planned to expand its high-speed rail network all the way to Europe and now the nation has launched the first step of the project with plans to extend tracks into northern Laos. The nation has also set goals of expanding the high-speed rail line into Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore."
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China Begins To Extend High Speed Rail Across Asia

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  • by freefrag (728150) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:14PM (#36456738)
    Their existing high speed rail lines are racking up serious debt. This plan to expand it is difficult to believe.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:19PM (#36456814)

      Funny, you could say the same thing about America and its wars...

      • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @12:14AM (#36458854)

        Except in the end they'll have something to show for it. A piece of hardware.

        Kind of like we did back in the day when the CCC built all those bridges, roads, rail lines, parks, etc.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          Not just something they can use themselves, a great product demo for potential clients. Japan's JR and Siemens own the high speed rail market at the moment but it looks like China is throwing vast amounts of money around to get a stake.

          This point often seems to be missed on Slashdot. The same goes for green energy, electric vehicles, high speed passenger jets and a whole host of other potentially lucrative technologies. Germany's decision to ditch nuclear power is more about making it the number one vendor

    • You could say the same about highways or airports.
      • Truth. No mass transportation system has ever been profitable to my knowledge. (Sure, particular stretches of toll road have sometimes - but even most of them have been "gimme's" handed over after being built with state funds or at least government-backed low-interest bonds. But the state subsidies are (in theory at least) justified by the increased economic activity generated, which generates tax revenue. So in that sense, one could say they are profitable to the state. Transportation systems are also

    • Show me how your car makes a profit.
      • by t2t10 (1909766)

        Do you simply not get what's wrong with that analogy? Or are you trying to be funny?

        People choose cars over railways because they see a better cost/benefit tradeoff. That's why railways lose many and car manufacturers make money. One can make the argument that personal car use doesn't properly account for all the externalities. You're welcome to make that argument.

        But China's problem isn't lack of good public transportation, it's having too many people. If China had 100M people instead of 1000M, all of

        • People choose cars over railways because they see a better cost/benefit tradeoff. That's why railways lose many and car manufacturers make money.

          Automakers bought profitable bus and rail lines and shut them down to get us where we are today. People did NOT choose cars, they chose trains, and then the trains went away.

          • by bryan1945 (301828)

            A citation for that claim would be nice.

              • by mosb1000 (710161)

                There is now general agreement that GM and other companies were indeed actively involved in a largely unpublicized program to purchase many streetcar systems and convert them to buses, which they often supplied. There is also acknowledgment that the Great Depression, the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, labor unrest, market forces, rapidly increasing traffic congestion, taxation policies that favored private vehicle ownership, urban sprawl, and general enthusiasm for the automobile played a major

        • Some people choose cars because of a cost/benefit analysis, but that assumes there is a viable choice. Living in an East Coast city means I have the choice to own a car and I choose not to. If I lived in Dallas, I wouldn't have a real choice, and would need a car to survive. A better comparison is railways and the Highway Trust Fund, as both are responsible for maintenance of their respective transportation networks and both lose money: the Trust Fund doesn't earn enough in gas taxes (indirect user fees)
        • Railroad car and locomotive makers make money too. Indeed, they make a larger margin than automobile manufacturers.

          Tell me, again, how does your car make money for you, its owner?

          • by kenh (9056)

            It gets me to work.

            • It gets me to work.

              That's an expense. If you were a company, your car would be a cost-center, not a profit center. As would be what you pay for parking, work clothes, education, child-care while you are working, etc. The IRS will allow you to write off some of these expenses. Your labor for the company would be a profit center.

              • by mosb1000 (710161)

                Next you will tell me that a hammer doesn't make any money for it's owner, or that my computer doesn't make any money for me. It's a tool. You use it. If you need a car to drive to work, you need it to make money at work. Think about it.

        • There is no inherent cost/benefit to a car over a train. If the entire population used trains instead of cars, the cost benefit ratio would easily swing the other way.

          Its called selfish vs group ethics. People use cars because its convenient to themselves, rather than public transit in its various forms which are better for everyone as a whole.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by bryan1945 (301828)

            If I used public transportation, I would have to walk 1 mile to the nearest stop, take a bus to the nearest train (about 45 minutes), then take the train to the city (about 30 if I catch it at the right time), take the subway, then walk another couple of blocks. So I'm going to spend 2-2.5 hours each way every day as opposed to driving for 40 minutes just to make everyone else happy?

            No.

            • If you and people like you supported having good public transportation in your community, and the auto companies allowed you to have good public transportation, you would not be taking 2.5 hours each way.

              Where I live, a train is often the fastest and most reliable option.

            • by mosb1000 (710161)

              How much time do you spend watching television or surfing the internet or reading a book every day? Do you think maybe you could do that on the bus/train? Maybe you will actually have more time, since you can't do that while you're driving.

              I used to walk everywhere (that's no small feat in the OC) and I found that even though I was spending hours walking every day, I was able to get more done (than when I had been driving) because I would budget my time and only schedule one or two things to do every day.

              • by mosb1000 (710161)

                Incidentally, I was walking because I found that it was actually faster than the bus if my trip was under about 5 miles depending on the bus routs. That's a testament to just how bad public transportation is in most cities.

            • Suppose you lived in a community where everyone contributed to public transit an amount equal to what they spend on their cars now. The amount spent by Americans on their cars is frankly astonishing [bikesatwork.com]. In 2004, cars were the second-largest expense for U.S. households, representing 17% of total expenditures. (That falls behind shelter - mortgage or rent - at 32%, and ahead of food, at 13%.) Car ownership runs to roughly $7000 per household per year. About half of that is the purchase cost, the remainder is fuel, insurance, maintenance, and assorted other goodies. Multiply that by (more than) a hundred million U.S. households and you're rapidly approaching a trillion dollars per year.

              Right now, the United States (including governments at all levels) spends a total of between 50 and 60 billion dollars per year [northeastern.edu] on mass transit infrastructure and operations. Funding for Amtrak has averaged around $2 billion per year the last decade or so.

              If a quarter of spending on automobiles were diverted into public transit infrastructure and operations, it would quadruple the mass transit subsidy. (Note that that would still leave the United States ahead of European countries - many by a significant margin - in terms of fraction of household expenditures on car ownership.) Your bus stop probably wouldn't be a mile away any more. Your bus wouldn't take 45 minutes to get to the train station; it would run in a dedicated lane or on its own right-of-way [wikipedia.org], if it weren't replaced outright with light rail. It wouldn't have to stop for traffic lights, because signals would automatically clear the road ahead. The train station would probably be closer, anyway--and you'd probably be connected to an express or even high-speed line. There would be a unified fare system, so you could ride the entire system with one smart card. You can rent a car by the hour for those trips to IKEA.

              Your forty-minute commute by car might, under ideal circumstances, be the same length, or even shorter. Or it might stretch out to forty-five or fifty minutes, during which time you can have a nap, read a book, catch up on the news, or connect to the onboard wifi. And the four or five grand per year you're saving turns into an annual two-week vacation in Switzerland, where you can see just how good public transit can get if it's funded properly.

              The problem, of course, is that there's always a delay between when you start putting money into infrastructure and when it starts making a difference to a large number of people on the ground. And that interval between the investment and the return frightens the living daylights out of politicians. Even projects that will save their constituents money in the long term are a tough sell, because they're up against candidates who will promise to cut taxes now.

              • by mobby_6kl (668092)

                Your forty-minute commute by car might, under ideal circumstances, be the same length, or even shorter. Or it might stretch out to forty-five or fifty minutes, during which time you can have a nap, read a book, catch up on the news, or connect to the onboard wifi. And the four or five grand per year you're saving turns into an annual two-week vacation in Switzerland, where you can see just how good public transit can get if it's funded properly.

                Or it could stretch to 2 hours. This is the case for me, though

                • If I drive, I'm at work in in 17-20 minutes depending on traffic, but if I use public transport, it's one hour if everything is perfectly on time.

                  I can't dispute that even under the best of circumstances, there will be trips that are inefficient or circuitous by mass transit. In densely urbanized centers these 'difficult' trips can be minimized (or nearly eliminated) by grid-layout bus systems coupled to light rail and subway backbones, but not every urban area has the population density to support that level of infrastructure, nor the geography (and absence of geographic and architectural obstacles) to permit it. There will also be populations (p

    • by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:28PM (#36456918) Homepage Journal

      Some things aren't economic on a small scale but only become so on a large scale. Rail is something you have to roll out on a large scale, the larger the better. The countries they plan to move into don't have the greatest road systems in the world, giving the Chinese an advantage. Plus, rail is much less polluting and requires less fossil fuel, meeting international obligations (this matters to the Chinese government only because it's PR they can use against other nations) and freeing them from oil dependencies in nations potentially hostile to them.

      In the event of conflict in the region, the Chinese will have greater mobility and reduced troop movement times, which basically means that they'll be able to dominate the region in a way America is no longer capable of within the Americas.

      From the Chinese perspective, it's cheaper to build rail than to build a fleet of giant troop transport planes and it has none of the PR damage involved in the latter.

      • by Balthisar (649688)

        Of course is single bomb can be devastating enough to make an entire train route useless, whereas airplanes can fly pretty much anywhere.

        • by macshit (157376)

          Of course is single bomb can be devastating enough to make an entire train route useless

          ... for the day or two it takes to repair. And for the effort, the terrorists get terror-inspiring headlines like "train delayed; businessmen must reschedule meeting!"

          Horrors.

        • You weren't alive 10 years ago, were you :-)
        • by jo_ham (604554)

          Sure they can fly anywhere, but they can't *land* anywhere. That bomb on your hypothetical runway can make resupply into an area very difficult, for at least as long as it takes to repair the runway.

          • by jd (1658)

            Good point. And whereas a train can deliver maintenance crews and materials to the damaged area of track, an aircraft that cannot land cannot deliver either.

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          Takes a whole lot more then a few bombs to take out a railroad - look at WW2.

          Also, railroad is a single most efficient form of military transportation known to man when dealing with regions beyond beaches.

    • This has serious long term benefits to their state. For one, all that construction and maintenance will further add to their middle class and domestic consumption, not to mention tourism and trade from Europe. Consider what such access has done for Europeans when they opened their borders to each other and it makes perfect sense for the Chines to do the same. Plus, they're control freaks and I'm sure see incredible value in recording every word on one of their trams. True that it's expensive now, and th
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Their existing high speed rail lines are racking up serious debt. This plan to expand it is difficult to believe.

      I was going to bring up the same point. I believe that the only profitable HSR line in the world is Paris-Lyon. So these lines are really much more expensive than they appear when sold to the taxpayers of the country.

      I really hope that this idea doesn't spread to the USA in its present form. As Florida pointed out recently, even though the government was going to kick in a couple billion to get the thing built, Florida was going to be on the hook forever afterwards supporting it.

      Until they can build a

      • by Ichijo (607641) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:45PM (#36457116) Homepage Journal

        I believe that the only profitable HSR line in the world is Paris-Lyon.

        There are two [miller-mccune.com] HSR lines that have paid off all their construction costs, Paris-Lyon and Tokyo-Osaka.

        Taiwan's [focustaiwan.tw] is the only HSR line in the world right now that is falling behind on the loan payment, but it still covers all of its operating costs through fares. Every other HSR line in the world is making positive progress toward paying off the construction costs.

        So what this all boils down to is, what is your definition of "profitable"? I've given three possible definitions from which you may choose.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kerohazel (913211)

        That's fantastic! Hey, let's get rid of all profit-less things like fire departments and freeways too!

        • That's fantastic! Hey, let's get rid of all profit-less things like fire departments and freeways too!

          And while we're at it, let's get rid of those unprofitable airlines. The ones subsidized by the government (Airport support monies, FAA, etc.). It's really, really hard to figure out what the true 'cost' of transportation is. And don't even get started on externalities like pollution, carbon use, etc.

          Generally, government sponsored infrastructures pays for itself over time, often measured in decades. It also has the tendency to change the structure and makeup of society (think trains, automobiles).

      • by Asic Eng (193332)

        Well Deutsche Bahn Fernverkehr (the long distance branch of the German railway system) is turning a profit [wikimedia.org]. (In 2002 they introduced an innovative new pricing system, but they recovered from that 2.5 years later...)

        They are running their third generation HSR now (ICE 3) and have just placed orders for 300 IC X trains.

      • Why does it have to make a profit? Other transportation modalities, like your personal automobile, are not required to operate at a profit. The police don't make a profit for the community. Some things are infrastructure, and are costs rather than profits.
      • by timeOday (582209)

        Until they can build a line that makes a profit AND gives me a reason to want to ride it in preference to other transportation alternatives, we shouldn't be building them at all.

        Don't conflate rail in China with rail in the US. With the population density they have, our system (cars, cars, and more cars) is simply NOT an option. The only place in the US where most households do NOT own a car is New York City, and that is no coincidence.

        But since railway technology is more suitable for them than us, I

    • by diegocg (1680514)

      Sigh. Of course high speed rail is expensive. So were today's "normal speed" rail lines in the past. China's rail network is really crappy or non existent, so when they decided to improve their rail network, they invested in the latest rail technology - high speed rail. In the case of China, investing in "normal speed rail" (technology from several decades ago) is a waste of time and money. USA and other developed countries have a great "normal speed" rail system, so they don't need to waste huge amounts of

      • The US rail network is designed around low speed freight. Passengers, however, usually demand to be ferried around at speeds faster than 25 mph.

    • I never understood why they build high speed "mag-lev" rail with huge cars and long long trains. They have to fill all those cars, with tons of people all looking to go the same place at the same time.

      Mag-lev trains get very little benefit from being big and long. Small individually switched cars like this make much more sense to me: http://www.megarail.com/pr/library/2002/mar/20maglev/ [megarail.com]

      • There's no benefit to smaller trains; same energy per passenger required, and more rail switching nightmares (keeping trains far enough away from each other on a line that there won't be collisions or conflicts).

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          The benefit to smaller trains is ability to service smaller routes. For example there is a lot of very small trains servicing small towns around Helsinki allowing for cheap and fast commuting.

    • It's straining their bond market to pay for it. Apparently they think the investment is worth it.

      Lucky we have all the answers here, otherwise I'd wonder what they knew that we didn't.

    • because then their house of cards economy comes down harder than anything Japan or the US ever could imagine experiencing. I read an economist story basically stating they just continue to do it because they feel they have too. They don't have the social services in place to handle large number of unemployed city dwellers. In fact there is a definite possibility of serious social strife when it hits the fan there.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Third would country, super power, flush with cash and need to maintain a 9% annual growth? I have a solution for you! Just look at the WPA during the great depression of the 1930's!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_Progress_Administration [wikipedia.org]

      The WPA pretty much built out all of our existing hydro-electric power, roads, national parks, trails, firehouses etc. It was fucking expensive, but it kept the country from falling into ruin and put food on the plates for something like 25% of the nation for a decade.

      If t

  • by k6mfw (1182893) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:14PM (#36456740)

    It pains me to read where China is doing this and that, while everyone in USA talks about how great we once were. Although there are articles discussing woes of some of the Chinese high speed rail systems but systems here in USA are being torpedoed for one reason or another (i.e. Calif highspeed rail project).

    This talk of high speed rail is too expensive, doesn't go everywhere, etc. Dammit you gotta start someplace and somewhere. If you don't maintain and update country's commerce then it will choke into a third world country.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by couchslug (175151)

      Commerce is maintained by FREIGHT service, for which current rail is more than adequate.

    • Because GM [wikimedia.org] has vested interest to see that it fails, again.

      • by diegocg (1680514)

        The real reason IMO is that USA probably doesn't need to make big investments in high speed. USA is really huge, so the natural choice for transporting passengers are airlines (and once your airlines are optimized for that, it becomes a good choice even for not-so-long trips). For goods, the best/only practical choice is rail (and the USA rail system is really good at that), and in these cases high speed doesn't matter that much. So except for the places where population density is high, high speed in USA d

        • Cars are not as efficient as short-haul aircraft, which in turn are not as efficient as short-haul HSR. We're huge, yes, but it's a relatively short drive from one city to the next throughout most of the country. 6 hours SF-LA; 4 hours St. Louis-Chicago; 6 hours Raleigh-Washington; 3 hours Seattle-Vancouver. If we want to maximize efficiency in our economy, maximizing it in transportation seems like a winning place to look.

          Actually, the I-5 corridor from San Diego to Vancouver is a good example of why d
    • by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:42PM (#36457076) Homepage Journal

      The cities around Charleston decided against building a light rail network between them because they all wanted total control and didn't want to pay anything. That attitude is common, I have found.

      The US was great, some time in the 1950s, but frankly got eclipsed pretty quickly by other nations in just about every field. The US has remained a superpower on aggregate, because others specialized more, but this has been at the price of developing quickly at relatively little. Spread waaaay too thin.

      Unemployment is high enough that you could replace the entire rail system of the US with the kind of tracks needed for high-speed rail within weeks, if not days, of the necessary track being produced because it's absurdly parallel. Replacing one piece of track has no dependencies on the state of any other piece of track, so there is no serialization and no blocking involved.

      Rail too limited to get everywhere? Hmmm, seems to me there's plenty of trains that can carry cars. If you can travel between point A and point B faster than the cars could on their own, then drive the much shorter distances either end, everyone wins. You get total freedom AND get to sit back for most of the journey.

      It won't happen because those antagonistic don't care about such stuff. If "freedom" was really a part of the equation, what could be freer than going anywhere you like in the country in a third the time, without the stress, at lower cost, with greatly reduced risk of accidents, far less wear-and-tear on your vehicle and no danger of a speeding ticket, all by having the middle bit of the journey done by someone else?

      • by Balthisar (649688)

        That's what planes are for. They're superior in every respect, with the possible exception of energy use per passenger mile. It's not trains versus cars; it's trains versus airplanes.

        • That's what planes are for. They're superior in every respect, with the possible exception of energy use per passenger mile. It's not trains versus cars; it's trains versus airplanes.

          Also the groping. There's a noted lack of it on trains (outside the private "sleeper" cars of course).

        • by bryan1945 (301828)

          They have planes that carry cars? Cool.

        • by jo_ham (604554)

          So I can take my car on a plane for a cross-US trip? Cool. What's the baggage excess on that?

      • Unemployment is high enough that you could replace the entire rail system of the US with the kind of tracks needed for high-speed rail within weeks, if not days, of the necessary track being produced because it's absurdly parallel.

        The problem isn't lack of warm bodies or spare track laying about. The problem is one of lacking spare *skilled* bodies, and lacking the specialized equipment tracklaying requires. That's assuming that the existing railbed is capable of supporting high speed rail (it isn't) and

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "Unemployment is high enough that you could replace the entire rail system of the US with the kind of tracks needed for high-speed rail within weeks, if not days, of the necessary track being produced because it's absurdly parallel"

        Not a labor-intensive job, but a SPECIALIST job requiring expensive specialist equipment. Roadbeds etc need upgrading too. A bunch of unemployed people doesn't translate into "a bunch of fit (rail work is akin to being an ironworker), skilled work crews" overnight.

        I feel the rail

      • by bryan1945 (301828)

        But can you imagine the uproar that a work program like that would cause? Forgetting all of the logistics, 20 million people regrading, rerailing, and installing catenary (or mag lines) would be a project that would exceed Hoover Dam. Heck, being out of work right now, I'd do it (I'm a fan of railroads). Like you said, that kind of parallelism would see current rail lines fixed (to be able to handle high speed) and new lines popping up rather quickly.
        Too bad we're spending our money on wars, bailing out

  • This high-speed rail will make it easier to import all the hot foreign brides that China will need to deal with their sex ratio imbalance. :)

  • I wish we could be like them and pay our workers shit and spew waste all over our air and in our water like we used to like China is doing today....

    • I think the theory is that they will assert their own rights and push for democracy and western-style social norms if they become bourgeoisie. But if this ends up not working in the middle-east, and those folks put Islamic dictatorships in place, that's going to kill the theory IMO. But I think already there is no going back for the West. Poor us.
  • am i the only one who knows that the national hero of hte Vietnamese is the general who liberated the vietnamese from the chinese like a 1,000 years ago ? Am I the only one who knows that the chinese have been trying to subjugate the koreans, japanese, etc for most of their history ?
    • Funny you should mention that...considering it was Japan that beat the bejeesus out of China in 1894-5, fought Russia in 1904-5 and forcefully annexed Korea in 1910.

      And don't forget the Mongols!

      • That's like mentioning the invasion of France by England without bringing up the counter-events.

        Both sides have been attacking each other forever, its hard to call either the instigator. 1895 happens to be stupidly modern compared to when these conflicts likely began.

  • It's too bad this is a capital project - they can't save money by outsourcing the work to offshore corporations the way American companies do...

    • They needed new jobs for the suicidal workers who've been making iphones all this time.

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      Why not, we (the US) use our illegal immigrant friends for all types of construction work. Just so happens that cheap labor is cheaper within China.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:46PM (#36457124) Homepage

    There's more than high speed rail going on. China is building an inter-provincial expressway system, too. The interior provinces aren't sharing in the prosperity of the coastal ones. Better roads and better freight rail will help. Historically, China discouraged inter-provincial trade, and each province was expected to be self-sufficient. That's still to some extent true, and there's some internal friction over eliminating internal trade restrictions. They won't survive a really good highway system.

    The history of the US Interstate Highway System isn't quite applicable, though. Every state has at least one interstate highway, and most have at least two. That's a consequence of how Congress is set up. China's transportation system is thin in the western portion of the country.

    • by dbIII (701233)

      The interior provinces aren't sharing in the prosperity of the coastal ones.

      A Chinese coworker gave an example of how transport has been a factor in that. In Beijing they eat kiwifruit imported from New Zealand - that fruit that used to be called "Chinese gooseberry". It's easier to ship it a fair way around the world than truck it in from the countryside.

      • by cyfer2000 (548592)
        In Costco there are apples from Chile, cucumbers from Canada, kiwis from New Zealand, dates from Isreal, bell chili peppers from Mexico, wine from Europe...
        • The point is the fruit originated in China and grows in China but in Beijing they only saw it from NZ. In the Chinese growing season they don't get to see it at all because it is winter in NZ.
  • It's war infrastructure pure and simple. It's analogous to the Duomo in Siena. Those big, wide boulevards? Meant for crushing civil insurrection with cavalry. China has roads strong enough to accept tanks already, to Nepal and Laos, but rail moves things so much faster.

    • Who cares if they build war infrastructure on-land. It'll only be real trouble if they start building a decent navy, like start building aircraft carriers, oh wait! ...
  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @08:38PM (#36457540) Homepage

    China's highspeed rail is great. Not as great as the Japanese bullet train, the attendants are not nearly as hot and the snack cart only has the usual spicy chicken feet and instant Nescafe. But you can get a ticket for not much more than a bus, it's much faster, there's no traffic, and even the second class seats are comfortable. The first time I saw a Chinese hexie hao pull into the station, I immediately thought, "Ah, it's a shinkansen!" Indeed, the trains in my area are license-built copies of the Kawasaki Heavy Industries E2-1000 Series Shinkansen. I always liked taking the train in China, but the main problem was that the bus was always more frequent and sometimes you get some old stinky train full of redneck farmers if you don't know what to watch for when buying your tickets. With the new highspeed rail, the choice is easy.

    Who cares if it loses money? That's not the point. The Chinese are loaded with cash right now. The point is to make China, and the world, a smaller place. There's a city south of here that I like to visit. However, the bus trip was 3 1/2 hours of bumpy highways (they never connect the road to abutments correctly so you always get two lurches going over every bridge)...IF there was no traffic or wrecks on the road. I never got down there as often as I liked, and my reluctance was purely due to the unpleasant journey. Now, it's 90 minutes of comfort. The last time I returned from there, I discovered that there are express trains that only take 65 minutes for the trip. Think about it: this city to the south used to be "far". Now, it is "near". I can go there in the morning and be back in the evening. A shopping trip isn't out of the question. Business is easier to conduct. Commuting to work from smaller cities outside is now an option. How's that for change the world, eh?

    The black cloud in all of this is construction quality. The head of China's highspeed rail was fired, and either him or someone else highranking said he would under no circumstances ride the train himself. Oh well, I suppose I'll play the lottery on that one, and hope it isn't my train that derails at 161mph.

    Connecting the rest of Asia to China's highspeed network will be pricey, but when it's finished Chinese business and influence will spread. That's the whole idea, isn't it? Invest now, pay off later. I tell you, it's weird living under a government that actually acts in its own national interest, unlike my own government.

  • they are going to need sentries every five miles in certain areas they are planning to send high speed rail into, or you are going to have rebels blowing up your high speed rail.myanmar? seriously? study up on the karen and the hmong and some of the oppressed tribal groups there

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_tribe_(Thailand) [wikipedia.org]

    these are war zones. you don't send high speed rail into war zones without expecting sabotage

  • by Ken Broadfoot (3675) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:02AM (#36459346) Homepage Journal

    The Chinese are going to make to Alpha Centauri before we do, apparently...
    High speed rail across Europe? That is pretty cool...
    Hope we can survive the nuclear age..

  • by Candid88 (1292486) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @06:07AM (#36460538)

    The USA ruled the second half of the 20th century because unlike others, we had taken the plunge and invested in 20th century infrastructure (interstate highways, airports) whilst most the world was stuck with 19th century infrastructure. Now, whilst our politicians procrastinate, China are investing in 21st century technology, whilst we are stuck with 20th century technology. The result is obvious.

    Oil has double in price over the past decade. All indications are we will be lucky if it only doubles in price over the next decade, as costs and demand both rise. In thirty years time these infrastructure projects will be worth their weight in gold (as ours from the 50s/60s proved 30 years later) whilst countries like ours will become less and less competitive as fewer and fewer can afford to utilize our inefficient, oil-dependent 20th century infrastructure.

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