High-speed rail is the latest public transportation buzz in the United States — and it’s also making tracks around the world.
Spain, already admired for its high-speed rail system, got lots of international attention in May when it hosted U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood. Agence France-Presse reports that La Hood rode the trains there, as well as in France and Germany, looking for high-speed models to use back home.
Spain intends to have a high-speed connection between Barcelona and the French border in place by 2012, according to the ThinkSpain.com website.
Russia is also hoping for a rail-travel renaissance. The Moscow Times reports that Russian Railways has signed an agreement with Austria, Slovakia and Ukraine to build a railway line between Moscow and Vienna. The $4.3 billion agreement aims at quicker, albeit not high-speed, rail travel for passenger and commercial trains.
China is going full steam ahead with plans to connect all cities with more than 200,000 people by 2020, according to the state-owned Beijing Review. A new high-speed train took off on between Beijing and the provincial capital of Taiyuan on April 1, and the government hopes to increase the number of high-speed trains five-fold from the 200 which currently run to 1,000 by the end of next year, China Daily reports.
Korea is eying high-speed rail projects in Brazil, as well as a metro train project planned in Abu Dhabi, and a bullet-train project planned in California, reports the Korea Herald.
Amidst this buzz, the United States has lagged in developing modern rail systems. At present, the nation’s only high-speed rail line is Amtrak’s Acela train that runs between Boston and Washington, D.C., the Christian Science Monitor reports — though that may change following President Barack Obama’s recent pledge to spend $13 billion for high-speed rail projects over the next five years around the country.
“High Hopes for High Speed”
Christian Science Monitor, May 18, 2009
“U.S. Transport chief in Spain to inspect high-speed rail system”
Agence France-Presse, May 29, 2009
“A fast train to the future”
Beijing Review, May 31, 2009
“High Speed boost to railways”
China Daily, May 25, 2009
“Barcelona-to-France high-speed AVE train will be running by 2012”
Thinkspain.com, May 27, 2009
“Korean companies eye U.S. bullet-train project”
Korea Herald, May 30, 2009