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Time Again for Rail?

Abstract

This is the age of the train: certainly in Japan and in Europe; probably, soon, on the East Coast. The urgent question is whether California will catch the train, whether indeed it should catch the train, and if so how. 

Modern high-speed train travel involves trains that achieve sustained high speed - a minimum of 125 mph, a maximum in revenue service so far of 187 mph - between cities that are typically between 100 and 500 miles apart. It all began exactly thirty years ago, when the Japanese opened their Tokaido Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka. It took nearly another two decades before France followed suit with its TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse) over the 270 miles between Paris and Lyon in 1981. But since then, high-speed trains have proliferated.

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