Friday, May 16, 2008

How Fast do Trains Move?

When you are running late for work and waiting for the train to finish going by so you can cross, it doesn’t seem like they are going very fast. They do travel at fairly decent speeds though when you consider the amount of weight the equipment is hauling. The source they depend on for energy as well as what they are carrying determines their speed.

The first trains in the 1800’s were only able to operate at a speed of approximately five miles per day. Freight trains and passenger trains such as AmTrak generally operate at a speed between 55 and 65 miles per hour. While they can go faster they don’t for safety reasons. The faster a train is traveling the longer it takes it to stop if there is something on the tracks in front of it.

Many commuter trains travel at a rate of 65-75 miles per hour. It depends on the amount of distance between each stop. The more stops that they have the slower they operate in order to be able to protect the equipment from unnecessary wear and tear. The focus is always on how fast can the train effectively go yet still offer the highest level of safety at the same time. As new technology offers more safety benefits for everyone, the increased speeds of trains continues to be authorized.

High speed rail trains were first introduced in Japan but they seem to be cropping up in various locations. These are often passenger commuter trains that can go up to 90 miles per hour without any difficulty. This concept is just now being applied to hauling some types of freight in Japan. The United States has considered it for hauling the postal freight but it has not been implemented yet.

The fastest trains out there are the MagLev, which is short for magnetic levitation. These place magnets to keep the train moving along the tracks. They can go at top speeds of over 300 miles per hour. The MagLev is still in the developmental stages in both Japan and Germany. It is anticipated that the technology behind it could one day find its way to railways that commute both people and materials. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this concept in the future.

The fact that trains don’t offer the same top speeds as vehicles and airplanes has lead to them losing some of their contracts with businesses over the years. Yet the train industry has proven to be reliable and effective. It also removes the need for more trucks on the highways and more planes in the sky. Even though trains don’t offer the fastest mode of transportation, they are still very useful for personal use and to move valuable freight for various types of industries.

The internet is a great place to find out how fast a particular type of train moves. Since there are so many variables it is hard to give exact answers here. You can visit websites for particular types of trains or railways. There you will find all of the information that is relevant to the speed of any type of train. Keep in mind that freight trains have the most variables because it depends on how many cars the train has and the overall weight of the materials onboard.

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