Beefeating in December / Transportation

Hot off the presses – we just bought tickets for a week in December in England (a day or two in Hamburg first) as part of a special running this weekend only at www.germanwings.com.

It would be really nice to hook up with Ian & Michelle for a visit…I really hope that works out.

Note: we don’t plan specifically to eat any beef. We are specifically looking forward to Invicta Tandoori. As I recall, they don’t serve beef there, but lots of other good stuff.

I *really* wish we could take Transrapid train there instead of flying. My coworkers and I discuss this exciting piece of transportation technology every few months, and one of them recently got to ride in the only Transrapid train currently in use commercially (in Shanghai). I’m glad the management decided to make him go on that trip instead of me, but taking a 400 km/h (248.5 mph!) train ride would have offset that a little bit.

Now I see that the U.S. government is in the planning stages of introducing Transrapid systems there (according to this article). It’s a start, I guess, but the real power of the Transrapid system in the U.S. would be for travel between cities like Detroit and Chicago, or Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and maybe even Salt Lake City. Those are all destinations that take no more than a couple hours to fly to/from, but are a significant car trip.

L.A. to San Francisco requires 61/3 hours by car (thanks [Google Maps](http://maps.google.com)), or about 11/4 hours in the air (thanks [Orbitz](http://orbitz.com)). But figure in the 60 minutes you’re supposed to be at the airport prior to departure, and your air-route time cost balloons to 23/4 hours:

  • 1 hour sitting around waiting to board
  • 11/4 hours in the air
  • 30 minutes (on average?) to get off the plane and collect your stuff

At 450 km/h (290 mph), with 5 minute stops in Bakersfield, Fresno, and San Jose, the travel time (using the distance Google reported) is about 13/4. Figure on arriving at the trainstation 10 minutes prior to departure and you’re still talking about a trip less than 2 hours from Los Angeles to San Francisco. And it is supposed to be cheaper than a flight.

If the estimates for safety and efficiency and energy consumption are accurate, then in many cases, the Transrapid is clearly the way to go. There may be cases where the overall plane trip is still less time-consuming for the passenger than a Transrapid trip, but I know I would trade the extra time in transit for improved safety, comfort, cost and environmental impact in an instant.