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great article about the california high-speed rail project in the new york times magazine over the weekend: Getting Up to Speed

it’s going to require a political will that is practically unheard of… I can’t even imagine all of the backyards they’re going to have to criss-cross to make it work.

Apart from the breathtaking price tag, commentators often focus on the projected velocity of the California trains, on how they will reach an astounding 220 m.p.h. in some stretches near Bakersfield and will cover the distance from L.A. to the Bay Area at an average speed approaching 175 m.p.h. As someone who never understood the zealotry of hard-core train enthusiasts, I found the project’s other selling points more compelling: center city to center city in a few hours without airport lines or onerous security checks. No bus connections. No traffic. And no counting on luck. Which is to say that high-speed trains are obviously about going fast, but when you think about it, they’re just as much about time as speed.

I’m still hoping for the Minneapolis to Chicago connection. We just flew down there, to Midway airport, and it’s just so much more of a production than it needs to be.

It’s about 400 miles, doable in 2 hours and 15 minutes at an average of 175mph (as discussed in the article). I don’t know what the recommended lead time for boarding a train is, but let’s call it 30 minutes.

By plane, it takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add an hour for the check-in security lead time. And now add in additional travel time. Instead of arriving in downtown chicago, you’re arriving out at midway or o’hare. Add another 30 minutes.

We’re right at the same point. Except that a train can do this for 500 passengers, while each plane is only carrying ~150 passengers.

Well, anyways. Enough of that…

Categories: Trains, Transportation.

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