A reporter placed his finger on the 69-foot, 24,000-pound Maglev (magnetic levitation) train and with a small push, the train moved.
This was the latest technological leap by China and its 4.5 million engineers (U.S. has less than 500,000) – the prototype of a 385-miles per hour (mph) passenger train set to be operational in three years.
The train was unveiled Jan. 13 in the Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China, by Professor He Chuan (vice president of Southwest Jiaotong University), who explained:
Sichuan has rich rare earth resources, which is very beneficial to our construction of permanent magnet tracks, thus promoting the faster development of experiments.
To put this in context, China has a near virtual monopoly of rare earth elements, according to the Financial Times, which recently reported:
Not for the first time, it seems that China is considering using its control over rare-earth metals that are crucial for the production of many weapons, including the F-35 fighter jet, to cause difficulties for the U.S. … an F-35 contains 417 kilograms of valuable rare earths — minerals over which China has a virtual choke hold.
America has long relied on China for these elements, ignoring mining sources in this country in favor of the cheaper alternative of importing from its Communist rival.
This Maglev technology is perfect for China’s most ambitious transportation infrastructure project to date – an 8,000-mile train line from Beijing to the Seattle area. The railway will climax the nation’s 23,500 miles of high-speed lines now in service, the longest in the world, according to China’s railway operator.
The trip to Seattle, Washington, from Beijing would take 21 hours at top speed by Maglev. The fastest airline time checked today was 25 hours by China Airlines, and other air flights ranged from 33 to 41 hours. That doesn’t count waiting in the airport for hours before the flight.
Beginning in China’s capitol, the train route will enter Russia at Mongolia, traverse Siberia and then the Bering Strait to barrel through Alaska, Yukon, and into British Columbia on its way to Washington State. The most expensive section will be the underwater tunnel from Russia to Alaska – $52 billion.
Total cost is estimated at $200 billion or one-tenth the recently approved U.S. stimulus package.
With the new tracks, China will boast more than 30,000 miles of high-speed train tracks capable of speeds above 150 mph.
America has zero miles of high-speed service. China unveiled its first line in 1996, and Japan opened its high-speed system nearly 30 years earlier in the 1960s. Most of Europeans inter-city travel is by high-speed train. Few take airplanes, compared to the U.S.
Why don’t we have really fast trains that are an inexpensive way to travel, compared to airplanes?
The answer is follow the money.
Given the choice, the public would flock to comfortable fast trains for a third or less the price of air travel, especially for distances of a few hundred miles. That would crater airline profits, reduce revenues for airplane manufacturers, and seriously upset the many politicians who depend on “gifts” from what is currently a monopoly of medium and long travel modes.
The WOKE folks haven’t quite awakened to the emissions caused by buses, planes and automobiles, missing the chance to fight for high-speed electric train systems that don’t pollute. That idea, of course, would be even more perfect if the electricity came from modern, safe nuclear power – somehow, not a popular concept in progressive parlors.
California did try to push a high-speed line, but it was stalled by the usual cast of political and lobbyist scoundrels. An estimated cost of some $80 billion, or $61 million per kilometer, was twice the European expense and more than three times what China pays.
Why do we pay more?
- America must always privatize to make someone a profit, often doubling the cost.
- Government lacks will to declare fairly compensated right-of-ways and cut legal delays.
- Payoffs in various forms to authorizing officials from politicians to inspectors.
- Single bid and sweetheart contracts in exchange for favors, cash or future employment.
- A legal system that encourages near endless negotiation by lawyers billing hourly.
If the Golden State project is ever completed, it will cut the 380-mile travel time between San Francisco and Los Angeles to under three hours with trains traveling up to 220 miles per hour, versus 5.5 hours by car.
The current U.S. state-of-the-art Amtrak train route between those two cities takes 10 hours,