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Since sparking the industrial revolution, the train has been a symbol of human power and achievement; there was a time when you could measure a civilization's progress in miles of railroads. Air and space travel have stolen some of the locomotive's luster over the past century, but their growing unsustainability paired with advances in rail technology like Hyperloop should help place trains back on top. But until then, here are some game-changing projects in development that we can't wait to ride.
A symbol of the recovering health of commuter rail systems worldwide, the Grand Paris Express is an extension of the Paris Metro system, which has become a victim of its own success. The French capital's network currently faces over-congestion, having added almost 100 million trips annually between 2013 and 2018.
By building almost 200km of tracks across four new lines and two extensions, it should make it easier for people on the edges of Paris to cross the city without traveling through the tourist-filled city center and facilitate the journey to Paris-Orly Airport.
With 85 stations across 176km of track, the Riyadh Metro will be the crown jewel of Saudi Arabia's capital city. The Metro's six lines will be autonomous, with trains operated from central control rooms. Fully-equipped stations will feature solar cells to generate 20% of their projected energy requirements, and overall, the system is expected to reduce the city's fuel consumption by 400,000 liters a day.
Not only is this high-speed railway line just one leg of a proposed Moscow – Beijing project that would stretch almost 8,000km to connect the two capital cities. Running at 360km/h, it will cut the 14-hour trip from Moscow to Kazan to just three; and the journey to Beijing from 6 days to under 48 hours.
Its potential success marks a new chapter in long-haul international train journeys, replacing airplanes as a more environmentally-friendly option for travel.
But perhaps even more ambitious is the construction of even a single mile of high-speed rail in America, and that's exactly what the Texas Central Railway hopes to do, times 240! Connecting Houston with Dallas/Fort Worth using Japan's Shinkansen technology, the TCR will be America's second high-speed railway, and also its fastest, running between 300-330km/h. Texas Central hopes to offer departures every half-hour during peak hours, and reduce travel time between the two Lone Star hubs from roughly 4 hours to 90 minutes.
If the TCR proves successful, it will hopefully open the floodgates for high-speed trains across the United States, helping to replace the country's current reliance on polluting and traffic-causing private transportation.
While America is just beginning to adopt high-speed rail, Japan is getting ready to take their system to the next level. Connecting Tokyo to Osaka, the Chūō Shinkansen will be Japan's first maglev Shinkansen line. It's projected to reach speeds up to 500km/h, completing its full route in just over an hour. Once finished, it will be the fastest train in the world.
Maybe the most exciting aspect of the SCMaglev is that JR Central, the company behind it, plans to export it around the world, with projects in the American north-east already under consideration.
If all of these trains have gotten you excited about improving public transportation infrastructure in your neck of the woods, our powerful tools can help you get started gathering all the information you need to start to make a change.