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Rebuilding economies with a focus on high-speed rail


TreeHugger - While it attempts to kick-start its struggling auto industry, the U.S. is talking about building a high-speed rail network with an initial $8 billion in stimulus funds. Meanwhile, China is investing over $300 billion in high-speed rail through 2020, in a bid to speed ahead of the rest of the world's train systems.

The numbers alone are head-spinning: 16,000 miles of new track by 2020, requiring 117 million tons of concrete just to construct the buttresses on which the tracks will lie. Top speeds from Beijing to Shanghai will approach 220 miles an hour, halving the current travel time to four hours. This year China Railway Company plans to hire 20,000 young engineers. Can we say leapfrogging?

Rail at Center of Stimulus Package

China's high speed rail build-out is at the front and center of its stimulus spending, in large part out of fear: little is more intimidating to Beijing's leaders than the sight of thousands of unemployed workers. So far the construction of the Beijing-Shanghai route alone has employed about 110,000 people.

The rest of China’s stimulus program is focused on building airports, highways and environmental projects, particularly water treatment plants. Read more.

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