05 April 2007

High speed railways

This week France's famous Train à grande vitesse (TGV) set a new speed record for rail transportation, clocking an impressive velocity of 574.8km/h (356mph), as seen immediately below:

As a lifelong railfan, I have a certain affection for trains of all sorts, but especially for electric railways, such as subways, trams and interurbans/radials. Would the Windsor-Québec corridor here in Canada benefit from the kind of high-speed rail service found in France and Japan? It would be expensive, to be sure, and it's possible that numbers of potential riders would not warrant it. But given that airport capacity cannot be expanded indefinitely and that there's only so much air space over a metropolitan urban centre, there is much to be said for at least improving passenger rail travel between cities separated by short or intermediate distances, such as Toronto and Ottawa or Québec and Montréal. Moreover, anything that would decrease the numbers of private automobiles, with their heavy use of nonrenewable energy resources and emission of air pollutants, on our roads is to be welcomed.

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