As a rail enthusiast and understanding the economic and to a certain extent the national security aspect of high speed rail, it is a pleasure and a unique opportunity to post a blog entry from a Japanese Shinkansen train bound for Tokyo.
Like all the Shinkansen trains I have travelled on for the past seven months, the train arrived on time and left at the scheduled time. I was able to buy my unreserved seat for 100 dollars and get a window seat on the train. All the Shinkansen trains in Japan, cars 1, 2, and 3 are unreserved. You pay less for these seats but you take the chance of not having a window seat or having to sit in the middle seat. However, in all my time on the Shinkansen trains, I have always been able to get a window seat when buying an unreserved seat.
This is because there are usually at least four and sometimes as many as six trains an hour. A majority of the trains I travelled on in Japan were between Hakata and Kokura. I was usually able to get a seat on these trains because Hakata is an end of line terminus for the Tokyo-Hakata Shinkansen line.
On every Shinkansen there are service personal on the trains offering beverages like water, soda and alcohol in addition to light snacks. Unlike the prices charged on airlines, the prices for a bottle of water and other beverages are the same prices as ones in convenience stores. While writing this blog posting, I just bought a bottle of water for 130 Yen or $ 1.30.
There is no reason why America could not begin the process of investing in and building its own high speed rail network. However, I understand that there are numerous interest groups that would attempt to block, delay, and sabotage any efforts by government officials to build a high-speed rail network and associated regional train network and also any kind of light rail city transportation systems. Just a few of the interest groups opposed to any kind of rail mass transit project include any group or business associated with the car, energy, and insurance industries. The other interest groups would be environmental with the lame excuse of building rail lines through forests or other environmental areas or even scenic areas.
This is disappointing as it is enjoyable to freely travel around a country from city center to city center not having to worry about running out of gas, finding a parking spot, getting a flat tire or being tired after driving a 250 mile journey visiting relatives in another state or city in a large state like California or Florida.