A traveler recently documented his experience on the world’s fastest train in Shanghai, China, with a video on TikTok, and some are wondering when they’ll be able to enjoy a similar experience in their home country.
As user Jordan Egbert (@countingcountries) explained, the Shangai Maglev (short for magnetic levitation) train moves at a breathtaking 268 miles per hour and can get from the Shanghai airport to downtown in just eight minutes, while driving that same distance could take up to 45 minutes.
Comparatively, the fastest train in the United States is Amtrak’s Acela, which exceeds 150 mph but still falls well below the 186 mph needed to be considered “high-speed,” according to the Washington Post.
@countingcountries This train levitates 😮 #shanghai #maglev #traintravel ♬ Brown Sugar – Instrumental – D'Angelo
One of the most interesting features of the Shanghai Maglev train is the fact that the tracks use a magnetic system, so the train is actually levitating above the ground as it moves. Egbert said in his video that it appeared as though the train was moving at the same speed as an airplane in flight.
“It’s unbelievable to me the USA doesn’t have something like this,” said one commenter. “We are so far behind in infrastructure.”
A report by Our World in Data from August listed train travel alongside walking and biking as the forms of transportation that cause the least pollution per passenger.
However, the United States doesn’t have a high-speed rail system that compares to those of China and Europe, which limits the low-pollution options for long-distance travel in America. The transportation sector was responsible for about 28% of total planet-heating pollution in the U.S. in 2021, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Other commenters on the TikTok video also expressed their hopes that the U.S. will one day adopt a similar high-speed rail system that would reduce the headache of traveling to and from airports.
“I like the idea of airport and downtown connection in bullet train,” one user stated. “I think every downtown in major [U.S.] cities should have this!”
“When can we get one from Manhattan to JFK and Newark?” another user wondered.
It will take quite some time for that to happen. A report by Scientific American noted that while the first American-made high-speed trains are expected to start running as early as 2024 between Boston, New York, and Washington, the 450-mile route doesn’t have tracks capable of handling such speeds.
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