The slow-speed progress of U.S. high-speed rail projects
- May 1, 2024: Vol. 11, Number 5

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The slow-speed progress of U.S. high-speed rail projects

by Benjamin Cole

There are proliferating bullet trains speeding across Europe, Japan, China and South Korea. Even Indonesia has China-built high-speed rail. But there are no true bullet trains in the United States, which for passengers remains a vast land linked together primarily by highways and skyways.

To be sure, there are a couple U.S. routes that approach the accepted definition of a bullet train, of rail service that whisks people along at more than 150 miles per hour. But by far the world’s fastest bullet trains are in China, led by the Shanghai Maglev at the apex of the rail world with a top operating speed of 460 kilometers per hour, or 290 mph.

Japan is building the much-anticipated Chuo Shinkansen line, to link Tokyo and Nagoya by 2027, and whooshing between destinations at speeds approaching 315 mph.

Yet, like the nations of Africa and South America, America’s fastest trains can barely manage half of the Shanghai Maglev standard.

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