The Plan For The International Bullet Train

My ambitious plan grows bigger and bigger almost by the day. Up until now I’ve been going over the how bullet trains would work in the United States. One huge benefit to the system that I haven’t discussed up until now is the expansion of the railway beyond the border. Where should the bullet train expand internationally first?

Well, I think the obvious answer here is Canada. It makes the most sense because there would be a lot fewer political hurdles combined with many large Canadian cities being relatively close to the US border. However, despite having many cities within 100 miles of the US border, most Canadian cities are far apart from each other from the east-west direction. This would create a challenge (but very much doable) to connect the cities without going into the US.

The first Canadian cities to connect would be from Montreal to Ottawa to Toronto. They are relatively close to the US border and existing bullet train tracks would have already been built at or near the border, making it a lot easier to connect. Another area to connect would be Buffalo to Detroit via Canada. The track would make a few stops on that route locally but offer an Express route through there, stopping for border patrol at both borders. There would also be a track built making a turn before Buffalo and into Hamilton, Mississauga, and Toronto.

Once the bullet train has been built to Montreal it would be expanded to Quebec City. On the other side, the track would continue northwest past Lake Michigan and make at stop at Sault St. Marie at the US/Canadian border there. The bullet train will continue west until it hits Winnipeg. From there it will continue west until it hits Calgary. The train goes further west, however there will be a separate track going north to Edmonton. Back in Calgary, the train will go west until it hits Vancouver. Another north/south route would be constructed between Seattle and Vancouver. This would have the way for the bullet train to continue going north all the way into Alaska.

The bullet train would extend into Mexico as well. The chances of this happening in real life are very slim, especially as long as President Trump stays in office. There would quite a bit of political problems too. There would have to be a way to ensure that drug cartels do not board the train, as well as any others who would pose harm to the US or Canada. The ultimate goals of the bullet train would be to connect Mexico City and Cancún. There would be a stop in Monterrey along the way, and a separate track connecting Guadalajara then to Mexico City.

But what about a bullet train going over the Bering Strait, a 50 mile border between Alaska and Russia, connecting North America with Asia? The idea sounds really fun, but that would be a terrible idea politically. Terrorists would be able to board a train and get to the United States and that would be asking for trouble. The chances of a terrorist attack on the train tracks would be huge. A connection to South Korea sounds great, but you can’t go there on land without passing through and building in North Korea. That will never happen as long as North Korea is still a dictatorship. The train’s proximity to China and having tracks run through Russia on its way to South Korea would pose some potential serious problems.

Could it be done? Of course, but it would be far too dangerous to complete and maintain. And the tracks alone would cost a minimum of $276 billion dollars, probably more realistically tripled or quadruple that number because it has to be built over sea and with extreme weather conditions, as well as through several mountain ranges.

However, the possibility of building separate bullet train lines connecting neighboring countries could definitely be a possibility, there’s a lot more potential with that then the North American-Asian connector. Here are some possibilities: Connecting Japan’s Shinkansen with a South Korea bullet train to Seoul. The place where the Sea of Japan meets with the East China Sea is not relatively deep (about 500 feet tops, many areas well below that). It would be built under the sea floor. Something similar has been done on San Francisco’s BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), but only to a depth of 135 feet below sea level.  Distance would be another issue, as it would likely be over 150 miles of under sea tunnels between the two countries.

Another possibility is building another under sea tunnel from Seoul to Shanghai via the Yellow Sea. The sea level depth is less than 300 feet, making construction easier than the 500 one. However the distance would be increased to about 400 to 450 miles (depending on the route taken), but it’s possible. It wouldn’t be easy though, but it could be done.

Moving south to Australia, my proposal would include a bullet train line connecting Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, through the Sunshine Coast. The route would follow the coastline and make local stops along the way. The line would be approximately 2,000 miles long for most of the major cities (less Perth) and would cover more than 13 million people. A line extended to Perth for another 1550 miles would cover an additional 2 million people.

In Europe, there are already several high speed rail lines, and transportation between countries. It’s probably the most connected continent in the world. However, their high speed rail lines still wouldn’t travel quite at the speeds that my proposed bullet train would go, which is 300 mph (483 km/hr). Right now, high speed rail in Europe travels between 200 and 350 kilometers per hour (124 to 217 mph). That’s significantly faster than any train in the US outside the Acela Express in the Northeast Corridor. There are 2 lines currently under construction in Russia and the UK that will have a top speed of 400 km/hr (248 mph).

I think the best way to approach a bullet train project is find the missing gaps and close them. Look at the major metropolitan areas and see if there’s a high speed rail line that’s not connected and build one. It’s tough to gauge this need now because there are so many rails currently under construction and have been proposed.

Brian Cole

I'm Brian and I'm the founder of TransportationOfTomorrow.com. I have a strong passion for fixing America's transportation infrastructure problem and traffic flow issues. I ultimately want to see the American economy grow as far as it will go, create massive amounts of jobs, and in that way help the quality of how people live.

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