China began service Wednesday morning on the world’s longest high-speed rail line…
…covering a distance in eight hours that is about equal to that from New York to Key West, Fla., or from London across Europe to Belgrade, Serbia.
Trains traveling 300 kilometers, or 186 miles, an hour, began regular service between Beijing and Guangzhou, the main metropolis in southeastern China. Older trains still in service on a parallel rail line take 21 hours; Amtrak trains from New York to Miami, a shorter distance, still take nearly 30 hours.
Completion of the Beijing-Guangzhou route — roughly 1,200 miles — is the latest sign that China has resumed rapid construction on one of the world’s largest and most ambitious infrastructure projects, a network of four north-south routes and four east-west routes that span the country.
Significant spending on the project has helped jump-start the Chinese economy twice: in 2009, during the global financial crisis, and again this autumn, after a brief but sharp economic slowdown over the summer.
Due to Republicans, the United States has yet to embrace the future of transportation…
…while high-speed trains have been zooming commuters across the continents of Europe and Asia for decades.
President Obama, in his 2011 State of the Union speech, called for a high-speed rail system over the next 25 years. However, Mr. Obama’s proposal to spend $53 billion on high-speed rail over the next six years hit a roadblock when Congressional Republicans eliminated money for that plan for the year.
The year before, newly elected Republican governors in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin turned down federal money their Democratic predecessors had won for new rail routes, lest their states have to cover most of the costs for trains that would draw few riders.
The cuts will not halt the rail program since unspent money remains that can be used on new projects. But they leave the future of high-speed rail in the United States unclear. So far roughly $10 billion has been approved for high-speed rail, but it has been spread to dozens of projects around the country.