Worldwatch Institute research has revealed the amazingly rapid growth in high speed rail around the world.

  • Between 2009 and 2011, the length of high speed rail track worldwide increased from 10,700 kilometres to 17,000 kilometres – with another 8,000 kilomtres under construction and 17,000 kilometres more planned.
  • The number of high speed trainsets in operation worldwide increased 1,737 in 2008 to 2,512 in January 2011.
  • China is investing $100 billion a year in rail infrastructue. This is an amazing 60% of its total infrastructure budget.
  • Spain is planning to have 10,000 kilometres of high speed trach by 2020 – with 90% of its population within 50 kilometres of a high speed rail station.
  • Turkey is planning to build 2,424 kilometres of high speed track – more than the length of Germany's high speed tracks.
  • By 2014, high speed trains will be operating in 24 countries.

Italy's Frecciarossa has a maximum speed of 300 kilometres per hour
(Image by StuporesMundi via Wikimedia)

Studies have shown that high speed rail can beat air travel time on jpurneys of up to 900 kilomtres (which is the distance from Sydney to Melbourne) and can beat car travel time on trips of more than 250 kilomtres (about the distance from Sydney to Canberra).

Besides the economic and convenience benefits of high speed rail, a 2006 study by the Center for Neighborhood Technologies, found that high speed trains in Europe and Japan released just 30 to 70 grams of carbon dioxide per passenger-kilometre, cars averaged 150 grams and planes released 170 grams.