PHOTO CAPTION: Italy pioneered some of Europe's first high-speed rail lines.

Will New Age of Rail Supplant Age of Flight?

New high-speed rail lines all over Europe are giving airlines serious competition.

Published: 24-Jan-2009

This year really does appear to be the age of the train, or, at least, the age of the continental train. The opening of the high-speed link between Rome and Milan last month has cut an hour off the journey, with the trip now taking three hours, 30 minutes on Trenitalia's Red Arrow train (pictured right), which plies the route at up to 186 miles per hour.

But the line does more than connect Italy's first and second cities; it is just the first of a series of dramatic high-speed links and new train lines that will open, or on which work will begin this year.

By the end of this year, a new high-speed link will connect Brussels and Amsterdam, cutting the journey time from London to the Dutch city from five hours and five minutes to three hours, 36 minutes; a high-speed line from Brussels to the German border will open around the same time, reducing times to Cologne and other German cities by up to 30 minutes.


Pictured is computer 3D visualization of proposed San Francisco Transbay high-speed rail terminal. The House bill, approved 311-104, cites the Northeast corridor as one for which the Transportation Department might consider high-speed proposals, but the legislation adds that other projects might be considered as well.

Rail travel produces more than a third less emissions than road transport. Pictured is yard switcher being converted by Rail Power to hybrid-fuel cell power.

Quebec-based Bombardier manufacturers high-speed electric trains.

The report proposes 560 kilometres of high-speed electric track, as well as shift to plug-in hybrid cars.


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