An interesting New York Times story on how the Chinese are moving rapidly ahead in the area of high speed rail. Couple this with the Chinese leap into renewable energy and it appears that the Chinese identify critical national needs and shockingly then act to address those needs. The Times story tells of a national problem for China as they began to boom, which was the scarcity of electricity to power their factories. They needed to move coal, and do it quickly.
Officials drafted a plan to move much of the nation’s passenger traffic onto high-speed routes by 2020, freeing existing tracks for more freight. Then the global financial crisis hit in late 2008. Faced with mass layoffs at export factories, China ordered that the new rail system be completed by 2012 instead of 2020, throwing more than $100 billion in stimulus at the projects.
Administrators mobilized armies of laborers — 110,000 just for the 820-mile route from Beijing to Shanghai, which will cut travel time there to five hours, from 12, when it opens next year.
It is an interesting story, and seems to point to a major difference in relative ability to solve problems between the U.S. and China. And the gulf just seems to be getting wider. We are still trying to permit Cape Wind, which will provide clean energy to Cape Cod, after EIGHT years of battles. And now we have a massive solar project in the Mojave Desert being held up by environmentalists, who are protesting a potential dislocation of rare tortoises. The Governor is disgusted by the potential delays to this project, and he has been by and large a friend to environmentalists. If deep pocketed folks are going to be able to hold up energy projects like Cape Wind and solar projects in deserts for this long it is a dubious proposition that we will ever move away from where we are now on energy. And that is a truly bad proposition for this country. Governor Schwarzenegger is correct. We need to create a process that allows input and adjudicates legal claims quickly, and at a minimal cost. Fast tracking is needed, and the nonsense that currently is allowed needs to be jettisoned. The national interest, in my opinion, require it. Read the Wall Street Journal article here. Read the LA Times story here.
We spent billions on the right-of-way between NY and Boston for the Acela.
Average speed after all that: 80 MPH
I rode this line and except for a short distance in Rhode Island the train traveled normal commuter speed.
We are incapable of carrying out engineering projects anymore. We got to solve that before we think we can do massive energy and transportation projects.