China’s Model Train – 中国的模型火车, 科罗拉多超级圈

Rail map of China.svg
Rail map of China” by HowchouOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Model both as a toy and as a way of doing things. The high speed rail of China and its universal development in all corners of its country is a model that the Colorado Hyperloop could copy. But before we wholeheartedly take its at face value lets look at some current news on why they build these system:

Riding Beijing’s subway end to end: 88km of queues and crushes on a 20p ticket

With bullet trains as a new Silk Road, China tightens embrace of its restless West

URUMQI, China — The brand-new bullet train slices past the edge of the Gobi desert, through gale-swept grasslands and past snowy peaks, a high-altitude, high-speed and high-tech manifestation of China’s newly re-imagined Silk Road meant to draw the country’s restive west ever tighter into Beijing’s embrace.

With growing determination, China is spreading its wings to the west, across its own, vast and resource-rich province of Xinjiang, and toward Central Asia and its huge reserves of oil and natural gas.

The $23 billion, high-speed train link, which is still being tested in winds that can sometimes reach up to 135 mph, is just one symbol of that broader determination: to cement China’s control over its Muslim-majority Xinjiang region through investment and economic growth, secure important sources of energy and escape any risk of encirclement by U.S. allies to the east.

So it is a tool of energy production and extraction and social hegemony. The United States did the same in its history. But the Colorado Hyperloop might seem to initially be a human transport system only. In reality it will be a human transportation vehicle but also will be a energy (with solar panels along the top of the Hyperloop tubes) and quite possibly a efficient material transportation system similar to the paper delivery tubes at banks.

Another development besides above ground trains from Shanghai to London is the incredible subway of Beijing.

Riding Beijing’s subway end to end: 88km of queues and crushes on a 20p ticket
Beijing’s metro system has already grown bigger than the London Underground – and by 2020 it will more than double in size again.

Work on the Chinese capital’s first line started in the 1960s and the vast majority of it opened in the last decade. Yet, at 465km long, it has already outgrown the Tube network by more than 50km. By 2020, an extra 400bn yuan (£40bn) of investment will see it more than double to 1,000km, according to Chinese media. The addition of 17 new lines will make it one of the world’s longest networks.

Each day 9.75 million passengers ride the lines across Beijing: nearly three times as many as take the London Tube and twice as many as use the New York system. The subway’s phenomenal expansion reflects that of the city it serves. Over the last decade or so, Beijing has grown by roughly half a million inhabitants each year – the equivalent of adding the entire populations of Sheffield or Tucson annually. The city is already home to 21 million; by 2020, a report warned last year, it is likely to have added another four million, on a conservative estimate.

The subway is clean and punctual and has seen no large scale fatal transport disasters in recent years, though several workers have died during construction since 2007 and two passenger have died due to escalator collapse and electrocution, in addition to a number of suicides. (In 1969, the year it opened, a spate of fires killed between three and six people and injured at least 100 more, resulting in a two-year closure for reconstruction.)

But the strains it now faces reflect the country’s challenge in maintaining a decent quality of life in increasingly packed cities. At Xierqi, one of the busiest stations, platform attendants help to push commuters into carriages during rush hour. There’s a little shoving at the doors, but it’s a remarkably calm and polite scene given the crush of bodies.

Mao declared the city needed a subway after he visited Moscow. But the system was initially intended more for civil defence than commuter transport, said Wang. In the event of air raids – like the US bombardments of North Korea and Vietnam – the trains would be used to evacuate residents to the Western Hills, on the capital’s outskirts. From there, they could be dispatched overground to safer parts of China. A sample line was even built at China’s atomic test site at Lop Nor, to check the tunnels would withstand nuclear bombs.

The engineering team was supposed to travel to Moscow to study its metro. But as bilateral relations deteriorated, the Soviet Union withdrew its experts and halted cooperation. Wang and his colleagues finished the designs of the subway without ever having ridden on one.

China’s biggest cities are struggling to cope with their swollen populations, choked by traffic jams and pollution. They have attracted huge numbers of migrants – to clean the streets, construct homes and staff restaurants – but have not adequately catered for them or their children.

Now the government wants to accelerate urbanisation to boost domestic consumption; city dwellers spend more than rural residents. But its new strategy also seeks to tackle some of the problems that have emerged, creating a more sustainable model for city life.

The spending spree on urban rail follows similar binges on highways and high-speed trains, and will help to shore up economic growth. In just four months of 2012, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s economic planning body, approved 840bn yuan worth of underground and light rail construction; 22 cities already have subways and another 16 will have systems operating by the end of 2018. One official has said subway networks across China will total 7,000km of track by 2020.

Improved public transport should also reduce smog and traffic. Reforms to household registration will improve migrant workers’ access to services. But they are also designed to encourage people to move to smaller cities: the bigger the city, the harder it will be to register there. Even so, there is little doubt that the lure of the capital will endure.

“Ever since the 1980s, the [Beijing] government has been trying to limit the fast growing population, but all these efforts have failed. China has 1.3 billion people. Big cities like Beijing are bound to attract a significant part of the huge population,” said Li Tie, director general of the NDRC’s China Centre for Urban Development.

Tokyo accommodates 36 million residents in a smaller area, he noted: in theory, Beijing should be able to absorb another 10 million. But it does not feel like that to those who live and work here.

Even Wang, the tunnelling expert, believes much of the answer to China’s urban transport problems lies above ground. He would like to see more bus use and new rail links between the busiest train stations. He is unimpressed by the frenzy of excavation around the country: monorails cost around 150m yuan per kilometre to construct, he said, compared to the 500-700m yuan required per kilometre of subway.

“Second-, third-, fourth-tier cities … those cities don’t need to build subways,” he said. “Even if they can afford to build them, they can’t afford to run them. But a lot of places think that if they have a subway, then they are a big city.”

Anyway, it is an incredible Guardian article. Lets home Colorado can learn from from the Chinese.

America’s Finest News Source on Colorado Hyperloop

Just when I thought it was safe to check on really hard news,  I came across this:

Report: Stagnant Economy Forcing More Americans To Take Jobs As Infrastructure

WASHINGTON—Citing recent employment gains in the telecommunications, transportation, energy, and solid waste management sectors, a report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the sluggish economy is leading an increasing number of Americans to take jobs as infrastructure. “As job openings in traditional industries continue to fall short of expectations, many Americans have determined that their best option is to take up work as support equipment like wind turbines, telephone poles, and highway guardrails,” said lead researcher Calvin Mueller, noting that the number of adults currently serving as some form of load-bearing structure has grown by 38 percent since 2007. “Additionally, we found that Americans are inclined to relocate to secure gainful work, as reflected by the trend of unemployed citizens of the Upper Midwest and Plains States moving to North Dakota in the hopes of finding work as fiber-optic cables. While few of these people have experience shuttling data between two points at the speed of light, most have reported a willingness to learn a new skill and be buried three feet below ground in order to improve their employment prospects.” Mueller added that infrastructure employment appeared poised for continued growth, noting that California’s proposed high-speed train system alone could create as many as 200,000 railroad-track jobs.

Yes, I fear that the hyperloop will be incorporated into this job program as well. Of course there have been some rumors about the hyperloop for some time:

New Super-Fast Transport System Powered By Passengers’ Screams

But we know its true because:

Obama Has Colorado Appraised

WASHINGTON—Hoping to get an idea of what the 138-year-old state might be worth, President Barack Obama dispatched a team of appraisers to assess the value of Colorado this week, White House sources confirmed. “Colorado has a lot of great things going for it in terms of spaciousness and its convenient central location, so I figured I’d have it checked out by experts just to get an estimate,” said the president, noting that with its great views, abundance of natural light, and highly ranked schools, the Centennial State’s value could reach well into the 13 figures. “I’ll admit there’s a little bit of crime and some recent fire damage that might lower the value a little, but overall, I think we’ll find the state’s in very good shape and a valuable asset to the American people.” Obama added that to boost the state’s value even higher, the nation might want to consider upgrading some infrastructure and completely gutting the Pueblo metro area.

Yes, there is a lot of infrastructure that needs upgrading and a lot of new stuff that needs to be built. But then I came across the very real news story from the New York Times:

China Looks to High-Speed Rail to Expand Reach

…A rail project that would pass through the mountains of northeast Myanmar to the coastal plains on the Indian Ocean would give China a shortcut to the Middle East and Europe. For China, the strategic importance of the proposed line can barely be overstated: The route would provide an alternate to the longer and increasingly contentious trip through the South China Sea. 

“When the people of the mainland countries soon find through the convenience of high-speed rail that Kunming is their closest neighbor but a few hours away, the Yunnan capital will eventually become, in effect, the capital of mainland Southeast Asia,” said Geoff Wade, a visiting fellow at the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University.

Ok well, when that happens I wonder if the Onion will make a new article on that… probably not because its just not funny…