Organizers of a gathering on high-speed train travel touted a half-dozen versions of superfast trains as potential solutions to growing airport and road congestion in the United States. But none of the prototypes was made in America.
The trains, some now operating and some in the experimental stage, can reach speeds of 130 to 300 miles an hour. Four had trains with wheels and two had wheel-less vehicles that use a magnetic levitation system. That system uses electromagnetic force for guidance and propulsion, with the train maintaining minimum contact with a guideway.In a speech during the High Speed Rail Association's meeting, John H. Riley, the U.S. government's rail administrator, predicted high-speed rail would be a reality "in our lifetime" and said he could not imagine that the United States would be the only advanced country "left behind when the high-speed train leaves the station."
The prototypes, which come from Europe, Japan and Canada, include:
-West Germany's Intercontinental Express train, which on a May 1 trial run with passengers set a speed record for wheeled trains of 252 mph.
-The French TGV, the world's fastest in regular operation, which has reached 236 mph and operates regularly at a maximum of 168 mph between Paris and Lyon.
-Canada's LRC (ight-Rapid-Comfortable) diesel locomotive with tilting-body coaches.
-Japan's "Shinkansen," known abroad as the Bullet Train, the world's first superfast train system.
-Japan's experimental magnetic levitation rail car, which has reached an unmanned speed of 321 mph.
The proposed U.S. systems include:
-Pennsylvania. A 300 mph magnetic levitation system suggested between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
-Northeast Corridor. Possible upgrading of the Boston-New York-Washington route to the French TGV standard.
-Colorado. Pueblo-Denver-Fort Collins corridor under study.
-Los Angeles. Routes to Las Vegas and San Francisco under study. Los Angeles-San Diego project abandoned for financial and environmental reasons.
-Pacific Northwest. Portland-Seattle-Vancouver (anada) under study.