Saturday is National Train Day and what better way to celebrate than to win some free train travel? Not in the mood to get on board—then jet away with your betrothed for a eco-friendly destination wedding in the Cook Islands. And, if
you’ve already done the love and marriage thing, the least you can do is get some peace and quiet by sending your teen off to Oxford for the summer. There’s something for everyone in this edition of ContestWatch.
On its daily four-hour trip across a swath of southwest oil country Tuesday, Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer was blazing a new trail of sorts: one fueled by biodiesel. The run marks the Earth Week inauguration of a 12-month test of alternative fuels along the 206-mile route.
The fuel, a blend of 80% diesel and 20% beef by–product (if the train industry is shunning Texas oilmen, at least they’re tossing a shank bone to region’s cattle industry), performed well in lab test. Carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions were reduced by 10%, particulates by 15%, and sulfates by 20%, so hopes are high for the track test.
And, no, the fuel does not smell like burgers.
Bloomberg | California will get $2.3 billion and Florida $1.3 billion to help build high-speed passenger-train service, the biggest winners among 31 states sharing $8 billion in rail grants from the U.S. economic stimulus package.
President Barack Obama will be in Tampa today at an event to announce the awards, most of which will go toward developing or laying the groundwork for 13 new high-speed rail corridors across the country, the administration said in a statement...
“There’s no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains,” Obama said yesterday in his State of the Union speech, citing Florida’s rail development. “There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help move our nation’s goods, services and information.”
AFP / Yahoo News | China on Saturday unveiled what it billed as the fastest rail link in the world—a train connecting the modern cities of Guangzhou and Wuhan at an average speed of 350 kilometres (217 miles) an hour.
The super-high-speed train reduces the 1,069 kilometre journey to a three hour ride and cuts the previous journey time by more than seven and a half hours, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Work on the project began in 2005 as part of plans to expand a high-speed network aimed at eventually linking Guangzhou, a business hub in southern China near Hong Kong, with the capital Beijing, Xinhua added.
I have a bee in my bonnet lately about something: When did everyone lose their manners? In the span of ten years, everyone—from the undergrad to the blue-haired grandma—has a wireless device. And everyone seems to be blabbing on it with no regard for their fellow human beings. Cell phone etiquette is at an all time low, if you ask me. And nothing puts my nerves to the test more than having to endure some type A conducting a full-scale business meeting at high volume three feet away from me on the train, in the airport, or on an airplane before it takes off. What will happen when cell phones are fully operable on planes in flight?
Which brings me to the point of my rant: Thank God for Amtrak’s Quiet Car. It’s the one place left on earth where it’s fully permissible to shush your neighbor when he or she answers that cell phone (usually following some really annoying, personalized ring).
In the past decade, ambitious high-speed rail projects have condensed Europe, reducing travel times–often by more than half–on principal routes like Madrid-Barcelona (was: 9 hours; now: 3) and London-Brussels (travel speed: 208 mph).
This December, a shiny new bullet train will begin plying the tracks between Moscow and St. Petersburg. The red-and-silver Sapsan–which emerged from years of halting talks between the Russian government and Germany-based Siemens company–will traverse the 400 miles between the cities in just three hours and 45 minutes, beating airline timetables by more than an hour. The name means "peregrine falcon."
There are plenty of reasons to avoid Amtrak like a bout of indigestion: the frequent delays, the diner food, you get the idea. (No wonder sales have dwindled; only five billion passenger miles were logged in 2000, compared to 17 in 1960.) Still, I’ve always wanted to take a long-distance train trip.
What is being touted as the most luxurious train in the world is now accepting bookings for its first season. And trust me, this ain’t Amtrak.
The Maharajas’ Express has four itineraries of six and seven nights and takes passengers to some of the most exotic destinations on the subcontinent, including Jaipur, Agra (home to the Taj Mahal), Varanasi, Delhi, Mumbai, and Udaipur (voted the best city in the known universe in the 2009 World’s Best Awards), among many others.