I’ve never had much of a passionate thought about train travel because in the United States—we just don’t do it. We have cars and massive highways, and we love our independence. My main experience with trains is in the novel Atlas Shrugged, the monorail at Disney World, and the train ride at Kings Island, the amusement park near my home in Cincinnati, Ohio. So during a recent trip to Europe and being without a car, I had to learn quickly how to use trains, because honestly, they are the most efficient way to get around. European cities are just so densely packed as they frustrate suburban development forcing most of their residents into their metropolises. So having a car in London, or Paris, just as it is in New York in the U.S. just doesn’t make much sense—because parking is nearly impossible and traveling down the roads is ridiculously slow. With that in mind, getting around London, Paris or between them into the countryside requires trains which I’ve used heavily lately and to a great effect. The trains in England are quite nice and I have enjoyed using them covering ground from as far south as Brighton, to Canterbury and using the Eurostar from London to Paris under the English Channel. It was the combination of those experiences which launched my mind on the new train technology being developed in the United States called the Hyperloop—which is an Elon Musk initiation that is being extensively tested this summer outside of Las Vegas. In fact it looks like the UAB will be among the first cities of the world to buy into the concept which will make the Eurostar look like an archaic dinosaur regarding train travel. The Hyperloop will take passengers at near the speed of sound and faster which will significantly change the world.
I love that America is built around individualized transportation, but I personally have a need to get around the country quickly—so these high-speed trains are appealing to me. I would love to take a train to Orlando, Florida from Cincinnati to justify a season pass to Disney World so I could take my grandkids there many times throughout the year. Flying is just a bit too expensive leaving an alternative form in need to fill the market demand. Since America doesn’t yet have a complex train system like they do in Europe this leaves the United States prime to develop one of their own using the new hyperloop technology as the centerpiece.
This whole train thing really came to life for me at the St. Pancras station in London which shares space across the street from Kings Cross. My wife and I were eating some sushi from the dining area and I was watching all the people coming and going as we awaited our train into the countryside to visit Canterbury. It was like a mini airport that was carrying a tremendous amount of people to and from. I was able to visit many more thereafter at Ashford International and as far south as Gare Du Nord in Paris and I have to say it was an impressive system that allowed me to get around an enormous part of Northern Europe quickly and without insulting my time. While on the trains I was able to read and rest which I appreciated and I found myself hundreds of miles away within an hour and that was something that would greatly benefit the American economy because of the vast spaces we enjoy in North America.
Trains are best in relieving traffic. I experienced this of course in London and Paris, but over the last year have seen it most effectively used in Kobe, Japan where dinner guests came up from the south quicker than they ever could have by car, simply because dense cities don’t have anywhere to park leaving the roads stagnant messes. To solve the problem of America’s dying cities, wealth needs to be imported back into them by a means that allows people to utilize what they offer. For instance, Cincinnati, Atlanta and Detroit should be part of a shared market—people should be able to conduct business between those places easily and within the same day—such as a lunch meeting in Atlanta for an hour or two then jumping back up to Detroit by the end of the business day.
When Ayn Rand wrote, Atlas Shrugged she believed that America would have a series of train systems like the Eurostar all over the country, and that they would be privately owned—which would be optimal. One of the weaknesses of the publicly owned ones in Europe that has solicited private investment and is doing a better job in turning a profit, but the ghosts of their government owned days is evident–they are not always on time. And at this point, I would love to have a Eurostar type of system in America. Since we don’t I would think that the Hyperloop would be the technology that would demand the investment priorities. In the video included from Twitter I was thinking about how fast we were really going while my wife was buying us some snacks in the dining car. It was easy to walk around and the drinks didn’t slide around on our tables never threatening to tip over. The ride was very smooth and comfortable which has been the promise of the Hyperloop. At the time I took the video the Eurostar was going about 150 MPH, and sometimes it was going faster. The distance between Paris and London which was the length we were traveling is 459 miles and we did it in just under 2 hours. It would have taken three times longer by car. This allowed my family to go to Paris for the day and still be back in London in time for dinner. Without the Eurostar we would have never been able to do such a thing. Flying would have been too expense and too complicated and driving would have taken way too long. And regarding security and passport verifications, everything was done for us before we even got on the train. Once we were in Paris, we simply got out of the train and headed to our destinations with the immigration issues already don’t at the front of the line—quickly. Having something similar in America would certainly lead to economic expansion for the cities and would even have an impact on the voting patterns—because currently only liberals live in cities making it impossible for Republicans to get elected. The best way to change a city’s culture is to allow people of value from other places to come in and have an impact—but you don’t want to trap them otherwise they’ll keep their money and input into the suburbs.
I can see Hyperloop terminals all over the United States much like Europe has train stations. They could be vibrant places that move people across vast distances quickly, and cheaply expanding our economic output. And it could be a uniquely American thing, just as Europe has established itself on trains. Trains are too slow for me, but Hyperloop could be the best answer for a nation that hasn’t yet invested in mass transit. I would love to have something like St. Pancras station in West Chester, Ohio—or Monroe. There was something exciting about sitting at that station and knowing that I could buy an affordable ticket to Italy and be there in a few hours while eating sushi. It was strange to send a text to my daughter who was in Canterbury from London and saying to her that we’d be there within an hour. It’s only 61 miles, but with the tiny roads that they have in England, it would be more than a two-hour drive. That allowed us to step onto a train and be at her doorstep before she could get ready for dinner and that was an efficient use of time. Something that America could use and the Hyperloop is just the right technological advance.
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