Friday, February 06, 2009

there's no snow on the line here

Picking up on Starkey's comment about "China Rail" I thought I would post this video of the Shanghai Maglev, which I took on my way to work last week.

This isn't one of these "London to Brighton in 5 minutes" high speed videos, it's real-time footage.  Believe it or not, however, I covered 30km.

Compare this to Southern Railway, where my 21km commute takes over half an hour.  Even off-peak, the Shanghai Maglev is cheaper and I'm pretty sure that if it did snow here it wouldn't come grinding to a halt.

It makes you wonder where it all goes wrong in the UK, though on the plus side I do get a free paper and time in which to read it.  You've got to love the Metro.*

*and thelondonpaper, of course.  No commute home should normally be complete without random photographs of the lovely Kelly Brook.


Chuck Revel said...

Wait a minute... We've got free papers with photos of Kelly Brook, and plenty of time to ogle/fantasise/whatever, and you're saying something's wrong? :D

But seriously, nationalisation is the key word here. Take it out of the hands of businessmen whose prime motivation is profit, put it in the hands of politicians whose prime motivation is to get people to vote for them, and bingo, it's suddenly in their best interests to provide a decent system. Seems to work for most European countries...

Wolfkeeper said...

Right now, as I understand it, this particular maglev system is losing money rather massively.

The only reason it is cheaper is because it is subsidised quite a lot.

It would have been possible to make a conventional train system that could run at about that speed for much less money, and the ticket would have been subsidised far less.

So perhaps the UK isn't doing so badly, and it will need all the money it can in the current economic crisis.

dave said...

Love it.

JP proposes we should get Western engineers from other countries, pay them a shitload of our tax money, then pay the British workers that construct it (who we bus in from the countryside) a pittance (couple of quid a month?), so we get a highly reliable cheap transportation system.

Starkey said...

Hold on JP, how the heck do you cover twenty-one miles in that time? Are you sure? Because if so then the top speed would have to be nigh on 200mph; is that so?

JP said...

Ooh there's lots to dig my teeth in to here.

1) I don't think nationalisation is the answer at all. There might be an ideal somewhere, but when the prime motivation is to win votes the reality is rarely a system which benefits everybody. Rather you are likely to end up with a system which has pointless over investment in some small areas known to be marginal constituencies. You will end up with a system with no long term investment or forward planning because a) government budgets run on a yearly basis and b) if you plan too far in to the future the opposition will be in power and it's a waste if it makes them look good. If anything it works in your favour if the system is bad when they come in to power because the people might dislike them. Finally, the system might not ever benefit everybody, but you would find that those governmental departments with a financial black hole to fill might do well out of raised ticket prices. It looks better than simply and honestly raising tax.

2)Yes, Dave, I am suggesting that we waste taxpayers money on re-developing our own existing technology and then breaching all labour and human rights laws in the book to build the system. What planet do you think I'm on? On a more serious note, it would be much better to invest taxpayers' money in a new transportation system than it would be to throw it at the banks for their bonus schemes or pay for unemployed mums to live in nice parts of Kensington.

I despair sometimes - in the dim and distant past we pioneered the railway system, we had the world's fastest steam locomotive, we went on through the 60's and built Concorde...and now all we seem to get is reasons why things can't be done and an attitude which would rather dumb everything down to make the under achievers feel better than push on for the greater good.

3) For part of the journey, the Maglev cruises at 431km/h (268mph) so yes I am sure about the distance :)