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China gets onto the fast track

China now has the second fastest railroad train in the world. Only France has a bullet train a little faster.

China now has the second fastest railroad train in the world. Only France has a bullet train a little faster. The U.S. long ago turned its back on passenger trains and is far out of the running.

The first of the new Chinese-built bullet trains rolled out of the factory this weekend. At speeds up to 190 miles per hour, the first train in service will connect Beijing and other cities. The first runs are to happen before the 2008 Olympics in China next summer.

If we had those Chinese trains and modernized tracks, you could ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles in about two and one-half hours. It would take four hours from New Yokr City to Chicago. And you'd never have to take your shoes and belt off for airport security, or buy a $6 bottle of water beyond the security line and you could even carry your Swiss Army knife or a pair of scissors in your luggage (which never get checked or mis-routed). The one drawback, everybody on board would be using their cellphones. And--here's a dream for you--if we get as civilized about transit as Europeans, you would even take your dog with you onto the train. No, not in America...

Besides France and China, Germany and Japan manufacture high speed trains as well. Of course, hauling several hundred people on a high speed train produces much less greenhouse gas than hauling the same people the same distance in an airplane.