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Someone Needs To Tell The Kids About Railroads

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Apparently Generation Z is really excited about railroads. High speed railroads even, ones that cover America.

There’s a reason Generation Z is still at school – they know nothing. It being the job of actual adults to educate them of course.

To those not quite used to the size of American those travel times might look reasonable enough. They are, however, great big dangly hairy bits. Because what they’ve done is plot out how long it takes to cover the distance at that 220 miles per hour. Which isn’t, in fact, how trains work.

Such is the popularity among Gen Z-ers of high-speed rail.

“We look at other countries that have good examples of it, and we wonder why our country can’t do that,” Cara said. “It seems like a simple solution that we can’t find the reason as to why we’re not doing it.”

Well, more than anything else it’s the size of the damn place.

High-speed rail infrastructure exists across Europe and Asia, where publicly owned and maintained tracks can connect passengers from Beijing to Hong Kong in nine hours, or Madrid to Barcelona in under three hours.

Well, OK, Madrid to Barcelona then. That’s 300 miles – ish. It takes 3 hours – ish. It’s true that the top speed of the train is that 220 mph. But trains don’t in fact run at such speeds all along the track. There’re these little things called stations along the way.

And the high-speed TGV in France, for example, goes 200 miles per hour.

“At that speed, you could get from New York City to Chicago in about four hours,” Juliet Eldred, a Numtot co-founder and transit planner, said. “The current train is about 20 hours. That makes me viscerally enraged.”

Well, that NYC to Chicago distance is about 800 miles. Not dissimilar to hte Paris to Madrid run on the TGV. Which takes about 10 hours.

Why?

Stations.

Trains accelerate away from stations. Then they run at full pelt. Then they slow down and brake in order to stop at the next station. And so on. How long a train journey takes isn’t really determined by the top speed of the train. Rather, by how many stations stops there are along the way.

You probably could run from NYC to Chicago in for or five hours. But of course you’d only be able to cater to the travel needs of those who want to go from NYC to Chicago. You couldn’t actually stop the train anywhere else and still make the times.

There’s a reason we send the young folks to school. It’s so that they learn stuff. The corollary to this being that we don’t listen to their damn fool ideas until they have.

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