Monday, March 7, 2011

Zipping over the Japanese landscape on HSR at $200 a ticket

Here's one of several recent articles about Japan's new High-Speed Hayabusa train.  The Democratic-leaning Huffington Post (I read it faithfully) supports HSR and this article, by Chris Anderson, the Travel Editor for Huffington Post, is obviously a HSR promoter.

Therefore, don't you find it strange that nowhere in the article does he indicate what the ticket costs will be on this jet-propelled marvel?

Here's a price from a travel web-site from the House of, which states:"The premium for one such seat is 16,490 yen between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori stations. . ."  That equals  $200.47. 

According to the CHSRA the current going price for a SF to LA ticket on the blue and yellow flash will be $105. one way.  Of course, that's what they are calculating for today's rate in today's dollars, and, unless they get their ridership projections straight, that number doesn't mean a thing ten years from now when the trains are supposedly operating.  As I've said many times, just check ticket prices around the world for high-speed rail.  Talk to people who come back and report so glowingly about how great it was.  Ask them what they paid.

High-speed rail, around the world, is the premium, top of the line, ticket. These trains are intended as luxury trains for the money-classes, not the working stiffs.  And, the Administration wants to "win the future" by building such trains.  How's that for Democracy in action? Take tax dollars from the many and build a fancy luxury train for the few.

The word that comes to mind is "perverse." 

Hayabusa High-Speed Train Debuts In Japan (PHOTOS)
The Huffington Post   |  Chris C. Anderson, Senior Travel Editor Posted: 03- 6-11 06:42 PM

George Will might be confused by the concept of trains but the Japanese sure don't appear to be confused, and neither does China. In December 2010, the Chinese broke the speed record for the world's fastest unmodified conventional commercial train with a top speed of 302 miles per hour (486 kilometers per hour).

The debut of Japan's Hayabusa (also known as "Falcon") train marks the continued investment into high-speed rail in Japan, with plans by Central Japan Railway Company to complete a high-speed train network with speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour by 2045.

With Obama's proposed $53 billion in funding for high-speed rail, the United States is a desirable potential customer of Japan's infrastructure technology.

But will there be any interest from the US once everything is said and done? While Japan and China are breaking records and launching bullet trains, the United States is breaking speed records in what seems like the opposite direction with The Supreme Court having issued "a brief but unanimous decision siding with Scott less than 24 hours after hearing oral arguments" by Florida Governor Rick Scotts against using $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funding in the state.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said those funds would go to other states looking to build high-speed train networks.

States like California. Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took a spin on the Hayabusa when he visited Japan in September, giving him a taste of what California's high-speed rail could be like if it ever manages to see the light of day.
For now American citizens can only sit and watch as high-speed trains like Hayabusa debut elsewhere, with what looks like little hope of seeing a similar working high-speed rail system in the United States any time in the near future.