rail speed records and the effect on airplane travel

September 2, 2006 Siemens used the recently-opened Nuremburg-Ingolstadt high-speed line in southern Germany to set a new world record for an electric locomotive. The Austrian Federal Railways class 1216 locomotive reached 357 km/h or 221mph

December 2, 2003 a manned Japanese maglev train set a new world speed record of 581km/h or 361mph on a test track.

In 1990, a TGV train (which does not use a locomotive) reached 515.3 kph or 320.2 mph

The Boeing 737 is the most common plane for short-distance hauls of less than 400 miles (50% of all flights in the U.S. are less than 400). The top speed of a Boeing 737-900 is 624mph.

Using the TGV speed record, over a straight-line distance of 400miles, 737 has a time advantage of (at best) (75min – 38.5minutes) of only 36.5 minutes. This is ignoring the realities of landing/take-off/taxiing on runways.

It is no wonder that according to the International Railway Journal October 2006 issue:

Air France-KLM says that the opening of the Paris-Strasbourg high-speed line next year could slash the number of flights on the route by half .

The airline expects around 500,000 passengers, equivalent to half of its current business on the route could be lost to rail. Air France will maintain its four flights per day between Strasbourg and Paris Charles de Gaulle airport but it will cut a third of its service to Paris Orly when TGV Est opens in July 2007.

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