In 1953, the BBC filmed a train trip from London to Brighton. They did it again in 1983, thirty years later. And now, they’ve filmed it a third time and spliced all three recordings together, side-by-side. It’s fascinating to see what’s changed in sixty years — and moreso, what hasn’t.
A new maglev train purported to reach speeds of 311 mph was tested for the first time on the Yamanashi test track in Japan this week. When put into service in 2027, the high-speed, magnetically levitated train will connect Tokyo with Nagoya, reducing the travel time from the current hour and a half down to only 40 minutes.
While China currently holds the speed title for in-service commercial trains with its airport-to-city maglev in Shanghai, Japan has long been the global leader in high-speed rail. Its famous Shinkansen bullet train network debuted way back in 1964.
With this new train, the L0, Japan will almost certainly reclaim the “world’s fastest” title. However, the Chinese have claimed they have a train in development that will zip along at over 600 mph.
In any case, the L0 will carry up to 1,000 passengers at a time. And in just over 30 years, Japan will have extended the line to Osaka, 300 miles from Tokyo. The government plans to eventually expand the network around the entire country.
Floating trains zipping around the country at almost half the speed of sound; we, or at least the Japanese, are living in the future.
If you’re a traveler, then you’re a Kayaker. Not a paddler, but a devotee of Kayak.com, the airline (and hotel and rental car) search engine that makes booking the lowest fares a breeze. If you’re a traveler, then you’ve also probably cursed the fact that a similar site doesn’t exist for bus and rail travel.
We can now count our blessings, thanks to Wanderu. According to Thrillist, this ingenious domestic search engine offers “hundreds of routes, operators, and schedules into a free, trip-aggregating database.” You can even make bookings, which is like a giant gift from the Travel Gods.
As soon as Wanderu or a competitor makes this info available for international travel, budget travelers won’t have anything left to complain about – except maybe the quality of their guesthouse banana pancakes.
[Photo credit: Flickr user DavidDennisPhotos.com]
Long-distance train travel is making a comeback with Eurostar announcing plans to expand its services. The high-speed train, which primarily serves London, Brussels and Paris, has its sights set on new destinations across the European continent.
Eurostar says its entire system is undergoing an overhaul – from the booking process, to the routes, to the trains themselves. The company’s website has been given a facelift in order to create a more user-friendly booking portal, and brand new uniforms have been designed for the crew. Updated trains are also in the pipeline and are expected to be up and running by 2015.As far as network expansion goes, Eurostar says it has its eye on a number of possible routes including London-Holland and London-Germany. Eurostar’s Chief Executive Nicolas Petrovic says he will be looking closely at routes that currently have a lot of air traffic. He told CNN he hopes travelers will eventually come to think of train travel the same way they think of flying.
Eurostar’s overhaul comes in the wake of stiff competition from German train line Deutsche Bahn, which has said it will offer trips across the Channel Tunnel starting in 2016.
[Photo credit: Flickr user Mike Knell]