High speed trains Europe
High speed high volume rail transportation has been a priority in a most of Europe for many years. The limited space has made it a necessity to move large numbers of people and goods quickly and economically between major European cities. To be classified as a high speed train, it must be able to operate at a speed over 125 mph.
The first high speed train in Europe was the ETR-200 developed in Italy in 1939. The train was supposed to be able to go over 126 mph. Unfortunately development was stopped abruptly because of the start of WWII. After the war was over, the focus on high speed trains became a priority again. Today high speed trains operate in Spain, Germany, Belgium, Britain, and France.
The newest and best advancement in high speed trains is the maglev trains. They operate on a special track system that uses magnets to hover the train above the track. They also use magnets to propel the the train. They are capable of speed approaching commercial aircraft. The only operational one at this time is in China. The cost to build the track is around $53 million per mile. The high cost will make this technology very slow in coming.
Early true high speed trains
The development continued in Europe of high speed trains. The biggest problem holding them back on the speeds was the tracks were not up to handling the speeds. Much of the track in Europe is still not able to handle the high speeds trains at their potential. Much of the track in Europe is similar to the track in the U.S. that also can't handle the higher speeds.
The first true high speed train was in Japan. It was opened in 1964 for the Tokyo worlds fair. The train went from Tokyo to Osaka. The train could operate consistently at over 120 mph. The same rail line is operating today, with trains averaging 180 mph.
Advantages of high speed rail
High speed trains are more cost effective per passenger mile. The rail lines take up less space than roads. the stations use less space than airports, so they can be located within major cities, And there are no traffic jams.
Currently France, Germany and Belgium have advance farther than the rest of Europe. This causes problems when the trains cross country borders. Speeds can't be maintained at the rate they should. The main reason for the lag of upgrading the tracks to where they need to be to handle the higher speeds are the cost of upgrading all the thousands of miles of track.
The future of high speed trains
Most experts agree that the limit of high speed rail train to operate effectively is around 220 mph. When you go faster than that, you get excessive wear and vibrations. The air resistance is much greater. The trains use way to much power and parts wear out so fast, it is not practical to operate the train at those speeds.
To go faster, they would need to go to the Maglev technology. There are problems with the Maglev's in that they use so much energy, and cost so much to build. The maglev trains are prohibitively expensive.
All of the European countries operating high speed trains are continually upgrading track to allow the high speed trains to operate everywhere at their potential. It is going to take a long time to complete, because of the thousands of miles of track that need replaced.
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htodd from United States on January 07, 2012:
Thanks for the nice post....
Chris on August 19, 2011:
Jerilee Wei from United States on November 29, 2009:
We tried this method of travel in both Spain and Italy and absolutely loved it!
Wendy Iturrizaga from France on November 28, 2009:
It is. The train is very comfortable non-smoking with nice clean toilets, a buffet car, and plenty of room.
spease (author) from Minneapolis Mn on November 28, 2009:
I have never been on it, it looks like a nice way to travel.
Wendy Iturrizaga from France on November 28, 2009:
I enjoying using the TGV in France, it s very comfortable and it allows me to have a day out in Paris as it covers the 300km from my town to Paris in about 2 hours. The only downside is the price, bought in advance I can pay as little as 30 Euros each way; but bought at the last minute you can pay as much as 80 euros each way.