What America can learn from Germany’s high-speed trains

September 14, 2015

Riding the high-speed train between Berlin and Hamburg, Germany’s two largest cities, is a radically different experience from riding its American counterpart, Amtrak’s Acela, which connects major East Coast cities. Germany’s InterCity Express (ICE) ride is as smooth as a Mercedes on the Autobahn. The conductor comes around politely offering to bring you coffee. The bathroom doors open electronically with the push of a button for disability access. There’s no perennial stopping and starting of the train, no grumpy barking conductor, no herky-jerky rolling of the bathroom doors, none of Amtrak’s chronically late arrivals. And on German trains, the wifi actually works.Website Insert Fleet for Sale or Lease copy

 At 45 euros each way, roughly $50, it isn’t cheap. But it’s cheaper than Amtrak. Berlin to Hamburg is 179 miles, which is about the same distance as New York to Baltimore. The regional Amtrak for that trip, booked about two weeks in advance, costs $77 each way and takes 40 minutes longer than the German trip. The Acela is $150 and still takes 20 minutes longer.

California is the only place in the US where high-speed rail (HSR) plans are really moving forward, albeit not that quickly or smoothly. The state is currently building a 520-mile high-speed line from San Francisco to LA, which will eventually extend to Sacramento to the north and San Diego to the south.

Read writer Ben Adler’s full story at Vox by clicking here.

 

 

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