Saturday, August 6, 2016


    Guangxi, the Chinese railroad company, unveiled its far-reaching plan to connect all major cities in China with high-speed rail by 2020. The project, which will create thousands of new jobs, is part of an ongoing program launched in the last decade, already serving China's major cities.

     The announcement follows a statement released yesterday that the state-owned Beijing-Shanghai Line made a whopping $982 million profit in 2015, and all other lines show profits as well. The Beijing-Shanghai Line carries 130 million passengers per year and covers about 700 miles in just under five hours.

     It is quite telling that most American politicians, who see no problem spending billions on bogus 'security systems' in airports, object to such systems here on the grounds that it would not be profitable and that the government has no interest in national transportation systems. But while we here in the Prozac Nation willingly submit to the most degrading humiliations at the hands of TSA perverts and bullies at airports, the Chinese are enjoying low-cost and enjoyable transportation which makes a profit for the government.

     The US has effectively no national passenger rail service at all, other than Amtrak, which hasn't been upgraded since the 1970s. There are municipal commuter-rail services; all of which operate at loss (despite their expense to the commuters) because of outdated technology, corruption, and legal and bureaucratic red tape. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimate that 45% of US households lack any access to public transit and estimate the annual economic loss from the failing system we do have at $90 billion.

     As an example of the differences, note that China plans to complete a high-speed rail line in Hubei Province by 2017. The project began in 2014, with a projected cost of $3 billion. In contrast, Seattle's much-touted Link Light Rail System began in 1999 and is expected to be completed by 2020 at the cost of nearly $6 billion. The Seattle project covers 23 miles, while the Hubei project covers over 100 miles. And, Seattle's system, which is less secure and less efficient than the Hubei system, is actually one of the better and least expensive systems in the US.

       China's success has attracted the interest of developing countries, and the African country of Kenya entered into joint project with the Chinese to construct high-speed rail there. The project began in 2014 and is expected to be fully completed by 2017. The Kenyan government reported that that nation's economy has already seen 6% growth related directly to infrastructure improvements.

      Saitote Torome, an official in Kenya's Interior Ministry stated to the press: "We are building a base for industrialization with these infrastructure projects. Likewise, these new systems reduce energy costs, which have been a major deterrent to industrial investment."

       Despite US Corporate Media propaganda to the contrary, teams of international observers have been invited to China to assess the environmental impact of these new rail systems. They found that China is taking especial precautions to ensure environmental integrity, including the construction of 15 wastewater treatment facilities along the Qinghai- Tibet line alone. In contrast, a proposal to build a high-speed rail in California was scrapped because of frivolous lawsuits and harassment from environmental extremists.

       Considering that the United States once had one of the most advanced and successful passenger rail systems in the world, one would think that the subject would be widely discussed in the current political campaign. But instead, the candidates are arguing over each other's mental conditions. Despite the fact that for the cost of Trump's border wall or Hilary's expansion of the welfare system, we could easily regain our position as leaders in rail technology and boost the economy as well. Meanwhile, though, China is getting the job done.

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