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Technology Idle

The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train 195

MatthewVD writes Almost half a century ago, New York Central Railroad engineer Don Wetzel and his team bolted two J47-19 jet engines, throttled up the engines and tore down a length of track from Butler, Indiana to Stryker, Ohio at almost 184 mph. Today, the M-497 still holds the record for America's fastest train. This is the story of how it happened.
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The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train

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  • Re:A Century Ago (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @12:48AM (#47472645)

    Keep in mind, the majority of the negatives you're attributing to malice weren't even a concern to the majority of scientists at the time.

  • Re:A Century Ago (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @12:51AM (#47472657)
    This. Fast trains are not rocket science...unless you live in the US of A. Here it is a Jetson's fantasy future world to have trains that can get you from point A to B faster than a car.

    In the rest of the world, meh, not so much. Been there, done that.

    Hate to break it you America, but our shit does stink. We're headed toward 3rd world status, all for the want of motivation.

    I'll get modded to negative infinity pretty soon by the folks who can't face the truth, but America needs to get off its ass and get moving on a really basic level.
  • And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @12:53AM (#47472661) Homepage

    So in 1966 it took two jet engines to reach 184mph.

    Whereas in 1938 it took only a quite ordinary, in-service steam train to get to 125mph.

    Does anyone think that, by comparison, the jet-engine thing isn't really that impressive?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 17, 2014 @02:02AM (#47472821)

    Meanwhile, the Japanese Shinkansen (Bullet Train) started regular commercial service a full two years earlier in 1964. Shinkansen now routinely exceed 200mph, although the first ones (Series 0) ran at 137mph.

    For those that have never used the Shinkansen, they are truly awesome. They leave and arrive to the scheduled minute. There is no TSA bullshit, so you can arrive at the station a few minutes before departure. There's loads of leg room. For any journey less than around 3-4 hours there is no point thinking about air travel.

    Amusingly, the Shinkansen actually makes Japanese domestic airports more efficient as well. After all, the more crap a traveller has to deal with at the airport, the more likely they are to take the train. Thus, there is no TSA bullshit at Japanese domestic airports and you can arrive 10 minutes before your flight and easily make boarding.

  • Re:A Century Ago (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 17, 2014 @04:53AM (#47473245)

    Europeans laugh when Americans think 100 years is a long time.

    Americans laugh when Europeans think 100 miles is a long distance.

    Any trip in America much longer than one tank of gas you're most likely better off flying, because if you're going that far you're probably going a LONG ways, and jets are faster than any train will ever be. America, unlike Europe, simple lacks a sufficient number of destinations beyond casual driving distance but close enough for trains to still beat planes because they don't have multi-hour turnarounds at every destination (i.e. ~100 - 400mi range, ballpark). And unless you take the train into a city center, congratulations, you have no way to cover the last few miles once you get off the train, whereas if you drive, the car's wonderful "goes exactly where you want" property comes into effect.

  • Re:A Century Ago (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sique ( 173459 ) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @05:08AM (#47473279) Homepage
    Jets might be faster for the actual distance, but considering the whole time of travel, they aren't really faster. Boarding a train takes 5 mins. boarding a plane with all the security checks takes 1 hour. In this 55 mins, a bullet train of 150 mph goes 100 miles (and that's including acceleration). And then you have to go to the airport, while the train station is downtown, this takes another 1 hrs to get there, and 1 hrs to go from the airport downtown at your destination. In this time, the train has covered another 200 miles. Yes, the plane may take for the 400 mls flight only 1 hour, but the whole trip takes you 4 hrs, and in this time, the train makes it also to the destination.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian