China unveils world’s fastest high-speed train

The Chinese government opened a new high-speed railway yesterday that is the fastest in the world. The Wuguang Passenger Railway links Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei, with the port of Guangzhou. The train runs an average of 350 kilometers per hour (217mph) and makes the journey in less than three hours. The old train took ten.

In test runs the train has made 394 kph (245mph).

As you can see in this video, the train looks like other high-speed trains but improved engineering gives it a superior speed.

The government plans to expand the existing network with 40 more lines and 13,000km (8078 miles) more track. The capital Beijing will get many of the links as it strives to improve connections with regional production centers.

More evidence that this will be China’s century? Yep. Perhaps instead of learning Globish we should all be taking Mandarin.%Gallery-73525%


London and Madrid to be linked by high-speed train

Starting in 2012, travelers will be able to go from London to Madrid in eight hours thanks to a planned high-speed rail link. The service, organized by a French and Spanish consortium, will link Paris and Madrid. It’s already quick and easy to get to Paris from London by taking the Eurostar. The trip lasts two hours and fifteen minutes. Travelers will then have to change stations before heading out to Madrid, a trip that will take five and a half hours.

There’s discussion of including Lyon and Barcelona in the route. A high-speed route already links Madrid and Barcelona.

This is a joint operation between Renfe, the Spanish state train operator, and SNCF, its French counterpart. Each will have an equal stake. The system will have ten trains and be managed from Spain, which is already a leader in high-speed trains.

Spain to become leader in high-speed trains

Spain is tipped to become the world’s leader in high-speed trains next year, surpassing Japan and France for the most kilometers of track.

With the rising costs and hassles of airfare, train travel has become more competitive. The high-speed train between Spain’s two most important and visited cities, Madrid and Barcelona, takes just two-and-a-half hours. That’s quicker than flying once you factor in taxi rides and waiting at the airport. Another advantage of trains is that you go from city center to city center.

This past summer the Madrid-Barcelona route proved its dominance by serving more customers than the airlines, and with more lines planned, including a much anticipated Madrid-to-Paris service, it looks like high-speed rail is the transportation of the future for Spaniards and visitors. In total more than 40,000 people use Spain’s high-speed trains every day, enjoying a 99% on-time rate.

Having gone on many train journeys in Spain I have to say that Renfe, the state railroad company, gets high marks. The trains are much more comfortable than airplanes and many offer bars, dining cars, and other conveniences. Madrid is set in the dead center of the country and the lines branching out to all major cities are convenient for visitors. Prices are slightly higher than airline tickets, but the cost comes out to be about the same once airport transportation is taken into account. I personally prefer to travel by train because I get to see the country as I pass by, and you don’t want to miss Spain’s beautiful countryside.

High speed rail in Europe on track to provide a painful blow to the airlines

On September 7th, the Dutch rail operator will finally start operating trains on the Amsterdam – Rotterdam high speed line, the next step in making continuous high speed rail travel possible from Amsterdam to Brussels and Paris.

This high speed line had been in the planning phase for over 30 years, and took ten years to build. As with many Dutch infrastructure projects, the environmental impact meant a lot of the track had to be tunneled or bridged, increasing the total cost. One of the longest tunnels crosses under the “Green Heart”, and is almost 8 kilometers long.

There is one minor snag – the trains required for continuous high speed travel have not yet been delivered, so even though there is one long high speed line from The Netherlands, through Belgium to France, parts will still be serviced at low(er) speeds using trains from the existing Thalys service.

Once the new trains are delivered, what will this mean for European travelers? Well, from the city center of Amsterdam to the city center of Paris in just over 3 hours. Or from Rotterdam to Brussels in just 30 minutes. Some times have been cut by more than 50%.

Flying the Amsterdam – Paris route takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes, but once you add the trip to the airport, check-in time and security, you are easily looking at 4 hours, so it is obvious that the airlines are really going to feel the pain from a 3 hour high speed trip. At the moment though, the current Amsterdam – Paris train takes about the same time as flying (4 hours 10 minutes) so there is no time gained.

French TGV operator goes kid friendly on 2 routes

During the summer months, families with kids can take advantage of special kid-friendly TGV trains on their Paris-Marseille and Paris-Montpellier routes.

Once on board, kids will be entertained by characters from Disneyland Paris, and all children will receive a goodie bag. Kids will also be able to borrow portable DVD players, gaming consoles, books and comics.

In total, 4400 seats are put on sale for each train, with tickets for children under 12 going for a nice 60% off their normal price.

This is of course good news for people taking the TGV cross country with their children, but if you are traveling without kids on those trains, it may be a bit of a madhouse, unless of course you love the sound of screaming kids running up and down the aisles.

The special trains are running from July 4th till August 1st, and depart from Paris Gare de Lyon at 9:20 am and 2:16 pm, tickets are available from the SNCF website.