On July 19, 2010 China's Ministry of Railways held a ceremony in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, to mark laying of the first tracks for the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway.
The 1,318-kilometer-long high-speed railway project, which is also known as the Jinghu High-Speed Railway, involves an investment of CNY220 billion. Construction started in April 2008 and the line is expected to open in 2012.
The ministry says that it expects that the laying of the railway track will be completed by the end of 2010.
Trains on the new line are expected to maintain an average speed of 350 kilometers per hour, with maximum speeds of up to 380 kilometers per hour.
This will be world's longest high-speed rail link and will cut the railway travel time between Beijing and Shanghai from the current 10 hours to four hours. It is expected to carry 160 million passengers a year
Meanwhile, the same week, in the United States, formerly the world's leading industrial power, work crews began "geotechnical exploration" - surveying the rock and sand - under two parts of Interstate 4 in Florida for what will be the first U.S. high speed rail route, between Tampa and Orlanda. Yeah, we havn't even broken ground yet for a measly 84 miles (135 kilometers) route to speed a few million tourists to Disney World.
In an interview last week with International Railway Journal, Andy Kunz, president of the US High Speed Rail Association, argued
"I want to end the debate about 110 miles/h as I don't believe in upgrading the network," he says. "I don't think we have the time and we would end up with something like Amtrak's Acela Express for the whole country, which would be a disaster."You know, sometimes it’s hard not to think that the U.S. has been stuck in stupid for the past 30 years – and still is.
Instead, Kunz wants the US to go straight to new construction. He wants to build a national network of around 27,000km in four phases over the next 20 years. "I know this is very aggressive, but at around 1300km a year this is less than in China and Spain," he says.
Kunz has done some very rough calculations about what it might cost to build the network. He bases his calculation on the California high-speed project, although he recognises that California's construction costs are likely to be higher than for many other locations due to the need to tunnel though mountains and provide protection against earthquakes. Nevertheless, Kunz has come up with a ballpark figure of $US 600 billion.
"This works out at $US 30 billion a year, but to put it in context, we spend more than that each year on widening and constructing highways," says Kunz. "We want government to switch spending from road to rail - about 90% of our transport money is spent on roads and air."