German Trains for US Cities?

furtheisenbahn1835According to Der Spiegel, Siemens and Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) want to build a network of high speed trains in the US modeled after Germany’s Intercity Express (ICE) system. I’ll “hold my thumbs” for them (German for keep my fingers crossed.) The ICE trains are a fantastic way to travel, especially if they came complete with the civilized dining cars they have in Germany. According to Spiegel,

Both companies want to get into the US train business ‘in a big way.’… According to Spiegel’s information, the basic idea is to cooperate in building the high speed rail lines that are planned in conjunction with the US government’s stimulus package. Both Siemens and Deutsche Bahn consider it an interesting market… The US Administration wants to build high speed lines between San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as Miami and Orlando, among other places. Within the German consortium, Siemens would be responsible for providing the technology, such as ICE-3 high speed trains, as well as the necessary infrastructure… Deutsche Bahn would then operate the lines. The company’s internal consulting firm, DB International, is already working on the project.

I hope they can make it work. Their main challenge will be to keep the costs down. Given the increasingly painful hassles at airports, travel in a sardine can at 35,000 feet couldn’t compete with rail on some heavily traveled routes if fares were even remotely comparable. Take the Acela route between Washington and New York, for example. You step into a comfortable train with plenty of leg room at DC’s Union Station, and two hours and 45 minutes later you step out at Penn Station, right in the middle of Manhattan. It makes sense for business travelers, because you can easily go up and and back on the same day.

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