I haven’t read as much about the Amtrak accident as I’d like to have, but, one can only take so much. In fact, the thing that spurred me to share this post, was Ed, who writes Pizza in Motion’s post here. What we know, so far, is that an Amtrak train derailed late Tuesday night. It appears that the train was traveling two times as fast as it should’ve been. The first question that Ed comments with is:
How can there not be automatic controls to slow a train and prevent that type of accident?
While I can’t answer the previous question (although Ed does, as saying such controls have existed), I can’t help but think that we, as in America, have not been innovating. I know, its a jump, from an accident to innovation, but, bear with me here. Continuing to reference Ed, who posted last year about a high speed rail / Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) train that made it as fast as 360 mph might be in our future. As is stated in that article, there is an organization, Northeast Maglev, that is trying to create a maglev, a super speedy (my term) form of transportation between Washington, DC and New York. It would be faster than the Amtrak Acela, and modern technology–that hopefully would prevent an incident like last night.
There are many barriers to getting a MagLev between DC and New York, however, to quote another article:
The train itself is built around a Japanese technology known as magnetic levitation. Instead of wheels riding along a rail, maglev uses powerful, electrically charged magnets to suspend the train midair inside a U-shaped guide rail built on either side of the track. The magnets both lift the train and propel it forward, with the reduced friction being responsible for the train’s super speed. While it sounds like the stuff of sci-fi, the technology itself has actually been around for over a century.
And if you think MagLev’s don’t exist right now; other than the most notable one in Japan, they do exist elsewhere, such as from Longyang Station to Shanghai’s airport. Even Lucky of One Mile at a Time has ridden one! Suffice it to say, the concept that we could travel from DC to downtown New York in 60-100 minutes is a whole lot better than we have now by land or air.
What do you think? Is it time for the US to innovate? Would you rather a faster, safer solution to traveling between the nation’s political and economic capitals?