Fast Trains

I find fast trains fascinating. Hence this little item caught my attention.

A Japanese magnetic levitation train has broken its own world speed record, hitting 603km/h (374mph) in a test run near Mount Fuji. The train beat the 590km/h speed it had set last week in another test.

Maglev trains use electrically charged magnets to lift and move carriages above the rail tracks.
Central Japan Railway (JR Central), which owns the trains, wants to introduce the service between Tokyo and the central city of Nagoya by 2027. The 280km journey would take only about 40 minutes, less than half the current time. [BBC. April 2015.]

fast trains

japan maglev

I find it interesting that the BBC did not explicitly mention the French TGV in the list of fast trains. The “Eurostar” category subsumes the TGV trains. Anyway, the TGV are the only fast trains I have had the pleasure of traveling in. Here are a few facts about the TGV:

  • The LGV opened to the public between Paris and Lyon on 27 September 1981.
  • The TGV holds the world speed record for conventional trains. On 3 April 2007 a modified TGV POS train reached 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph) under test conditions on the LGV Est between Paris and Strasbourg.
  • The TGV has carried over 1.6 billion passengers.
  • In almost three decades of high-speed operation, the TGV has not recorded a single fatality due to accident while running at high speed.

China’s Proposed Transcontinental Rail Project

The Chinese leadership knows how to think big — which is more than what one can say about the Indian leadership, which one must remember has been mainly from the Congress party led by the Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty. One case in point is how big the Chinese leaders think about railways. Continue reading “China’s Proposed Transcontinental Rail Project”

Make No Little Plans — Revisited

One of the consistent themes of this blog has been that India should think big. My favorite quote in this context is from Daniel Burnham, the fabled Chicago architect who said that we should think big:

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.

Continue reading “Make No Little Plans — Revisited”

Reinventing America’s Cities

Nicolai Ouroussoff writes that “We long for a bold urban vision” in his NY Times piece “Reinventing America’s Cities: The Time Is Now.” Below the fold are some selected excerpts.

India too needs a bold urban vision, as I have been arguing for a while. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) for India, most of India does not live in cities. India does not have to reinvent its cities — it has to build new ones. Fortunately though, the world has learned a lot about building livable cities and India does not have to go about reinventing the wheel: India has to be smart enough to learn from the mistakes the others have made. India can — and must — build efficient cities. That’s the only way out for the hundreds of millions trapped in villages in rural India.
Continue reading “Reinventing America’s Cities”

The Transantiago Story

This story comes from the other end of the world but has lessons for any part of the world. It is “a parable about the combustible combination of optimism and ignorance.” Go read “Planning Order, Causing Chaos: Transantiago” by Michael Munger in the Library of Economics and Liberty.

Below the fold I have quoted the last part of the essay. If you wish to skip the article, do read the last bit.
Continue reading “The Transantiago Story”

The French AGV

Imagine getting to New Delhi from Mumbai by train in less than 4 hours instead of the 18 hours it currently takes?

France unveiled the successor to the TGV, the AGV — Automotrice Grande Vitesse, or “self-propelled high-speed” train. It’s top cruise speed will be 360 km/hr. The TGV has two engines, one at each end of the train. The AGV has motors under each carriage and is lighter and more energy efficient. The TGV holds the speed record for conventional rail when it touched 575 km/hr last year in April. The current batch of TGV have a top cruising speed of 320 km/hr.

I love trains and particularly like the TGV. Years ago when I was traveling around in Europe, I traveled quite a bit on the TGV and it was far more exciting than flying. There is something romantic about trains.

All this is very exciting for me. I look forward to boarding the AGV one of these days. But it is also a bit sad. India will never have anything that exciting. India just does not have the imagination. We are quite happy with our trains that do an average of 25 km/hr and our top speed trains average around 80 km/hr. It’s strange that passenger train service began in India over 150 years ago. We are a slow moving people.

[Related post: An Integrated Rail Transportation System.]