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Rant: Bullet Trains

Posted in Alt Fuels, General, Rants & Raves by Dustin Driver | January 11th, 2012 | 5 Responses |

In China, they have a new bullet train that can hit 311mph. The aerodynamic design is based on, appropriately, an ancient Chinese sword. It’s quite a feat and begs the question, where in the hell is our bullet train in the U.S.?

Yeah, I know this is a car blog. But bullet trains are universally awesome. Nothing else on the ground can take common folk like us to 300+ miles per hour.

What’s that, you say? Trains are boring? I respectfully disagree. Take a ride on France’s TGV or Japan’s Shinkansen. They’re quiet, comfortable, stable. There’s little sense of speed. Until you whiz past something big like a city of 80,000 in just a few seconds. That’s when you realize that bullet trains are truly something special—and something worthy of lust.

Let’s talk tech. This new Chinese train is fast, but it’s not the fastest. That title goes to Japan. There a maglev train hit 361mph on a test track. A hot-rodded version of the TGV hit 357mph in the French country side (or maybe on a test track, but I prefer to think of it tearing through the Loire Valley, rattling the stones of grand chateaus in the distance).

That kind of speed should make any gearhead flip the hell out. These trains can accomodate you and your whole family and they make Bugatti Veyrons look like toys.

So where’s the enthusiasm? Why isn’t there high-speed rail between San Francisco and New York? Or Chicago and Washington, DC? China’s state-run rail system announced that it’ll have high-speed track laid to every major city in the country in just 10 years. They also have a maglev train running in Shanghai.

I say we American gearheads embrace the bullet train. Let’s write our representatives. Let’s unite and demand some truly awesome technology. Building high-speed rail will boost the economy, make travel cheaper and easier, will inspire a new generation of engineers, and should cause gas prices to fall. Plus, we’ll get to go 200+mph on a regular basis.

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