Given there are magazines for just about every topic under the sun, I suppose you can tell a lot about a person’s interests from which ones they buy. A lot of those that I buy (or subscribe to) are pretty geeky.
But I don’t normally buy railway-related magazines. Many of them I find overly-gunzelly, which is not my thing. But I will admit to last week buying the November 2007 edition of Modern Railways, the British-based magazine which was featuring the new High Speed 1 link from the English Channel to London, which means now you can travel from London to Paris by train in just over two hours.
Looking at some of the pictures, one can understand why engineers enjoy what they do. It’s as close to sexy as inanimate objects get… sweeping curves, sleek rails and wires, impressively huge bridges and viaducts, and the graceful arched roof of the renovated St Pancras station.
And then there’s the trains. They rocket along at 300 kmh. Makes our 160 kmh V/Locity trains look slow. Even the very zippy UK east coast train to Scotland I rode in 1998 crawls along in comparison at a mere 200 kmh.
This kind of high-speed rail service would be nice to see in Australia, but probably isn’t cost-effective — it would cost billions and billions to build, and Melbourne to Sydney is perhaps just a bit too far for it to be competitive with air… though the TGV record is 574.8 km/h, so theoretically the trip could be just a few hours.
There are many other higher priorities, particularly in urban rail.
But it’s nice to see others are able to build these kinds of super-fast super-efficient (and carbon neutral) railways. Next time if/when I get to Europe, I’ll certainly be taking a spin on it.
Now, if only we could get all the engineers currently employed on building roads to build new rail lines instead. They’re doing it in Perth, but alas, not here.