October 29, 2010

High Speed Rail in the USA, South Korea, China and the world

High-speed rail projects in 23 U.S. states will share $2.4 billion in federal aid, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today, adding to $8 billion in stimulus money already awarded for passenger train service.

South Korea had an assessment of high speed rail capabilities for countries in the world.

Korea, China, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are the only countries capable of exporting high-speed rail technology. It takes more than just trains to operate a high-speed rail service. Signal systems, communications networks, construction and operating knowhow are also necessary and must be developed in conjunction. Korea is seeking to export its technology to Brazil and the U.S. state of California.

Korea ranks fourth in the world in terms of technology in high-speed rail networks after France, Germany and Japan. The country was the fifth in the world to build a high-speed rail network and rose to fourth place just 16 years after it began development of the KTX bullet train.

Korea now stands on par with advanced countries when it comes to the maximum speed. The KTX makes 300 km/h, which is the same as other bullet trains. China's high-speed train is faster, traveling between 330 km/h to 350 km/h, but it trails behind Korea in terms of technology. However, Korea still has some catching up to do when it comes to train manufacture and signaling equipment.

UPDATE : I have a follow up article that discusses the speed and magnitude of China's high speed rail push

High speed rail for California at the federal railway administration.

Phase I calls for an approximately 500-mile system connecting Anaheim and Los Angeles through the Central Valley to San
Francisco by 2020. Phase II would extend the system north to Sacramento and south to San Diego by 2026. Trains will reach
speeds of 220 miles per hour, providing a travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco of under 2 hours 40 minutes,
compared to 6 hours by car. When fully developed, California expects up to 100 million passengers per year, making it one of the
busiest passenger rail lines in the world

Right now, the only nominally high-speed option in the United States is the Acela line, which runs through the busy Northeast corridor, from Washington to Boston. The trains are capable of traveling 150 miles, or 240 kilometers, per hour. But their average speeds are far lower, because of the need to share the track with other trains and because of the large, busy metropolises along the route.

The major plans for new rail lines in the United States center on California and Florida. Both are contemplating fast trains with dedicated tracks. Peter Gertler, the high-speed rail services chairman of HNTB, an engineering and construction management company based in Kansas City, Missouri, says that Florida is likely to have a high-speed rail line operating first, perhaps by 2015. About 95 percent of the right of way has been acquired between Orlando and Tampa Bay, Mr. Gertler said

The U.S. definition of a minimum speed for high-speed rail is at a lower figure than that used in Europe of 200 km/h (120 mph).

High-Speed Rail – Express: Frequent, express service between major population centers 200–600 miles (320–965 km) apart, with few intermediate stops. Top speeds of at least 150 mph (240 km/h) on completely grade-separated, dedicated rights-of-way (with the possible exception of some shared track in terminal areas). Intended to relieve air and highway capacity constraints.

High-Speed Rail – Regional: Relatively frequent service between major and moderate population centers 100–500 miles (160–800 km) apart, with some intermediate stops. Top speeds of 110–150 mph (177–240 km/h), grade-separated, with some dedicated and some shared track (using positive train control technology). Intended to relieve highway and, to some extent, air capacity constraints.

Emerging High-Speed Rail: Developing corridors of 100–500 miles (160–800 km), with strong potential for future HSR Regional and/or Express service. Top speeds of up to 90–110 mph (145–177 km/h) on primarily shared track (eventually using positive train control technology), with advanced grade crossing protection or separation. Intended to develop the passenger rail market, and provide some relief to other modes

China opened it's 15th High speed rail, the Huhang (Shanghai-Hangzhou) PDL by 26 October, 2010 which will use the CRH380A trainset manufactured by CSR Sifang. Currently China has the world’s longest high-speed rail network with about 7,431 km (4,618 mi) of routes capable for 200+ km/h running in service as of October 2010, including 1,995 km (1,240 mi.) of rail lines with top speeds of 350 km/h (220 mph).

China will have a rail network of 110,000 km by 2012, with 13,000 km of it high-speed rail. The highlight of China's high-speed rail network will be the 1,318-km Beijing-Shanghai line. Currently under construction, the 220.9 billion yuan (33.1 billion U.S. dollars) line is scheduled to open in 2012.

China launched its first high-speed line - a service linking the capital and the port city of Tianjin - during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Since then, more fast-train lines have been put into service: the Wuhan-Guangzhou line linking central and south China; the Zhengzhou-Xi'an line connecting central and western China; and the Shanghai-Nanjing line in the country's east.

I rode the Shanghai downtown to airport Maglev one week ago. It got up to a speed of 300 kilometers per hour (180 mph) and made the trip in 8 minutes At some times of the day it will go faster and get to almost a 7 minute trip with a 268 mph top speed.

The extension of the maglev to Hangzhou was finally approved in March 2010, with construction to start in 2010. The new link will be 199.5 km (124 mi) long, 24 km (15 mi) longer than the original plan. The top speed is expected to be 450 km/h (280 mph) but limited to 200 km/h (120 mph) in built-up areas. So there will be two high speed trains going from Shanghai to Hangzhou (one bullet train and another maglev).

A total list of high speed rail lines in the world up to May 2010 is in this 10 page pdf

Summary of high speed rail over 250 kph

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