2012-07-17

Watch An Actual Functioning High Speed Rail Network

These videos, made with data from France’s rail network, show what a country that relies on and invests in passenger rail looks like.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about what it will take to get trains to run quickly in the Eastern corridor, almost enough to mask the sad fact that we are still the laughing stock of the developed world when it comes to both fast trains and, really, any trains at all. These videos from MIT’s Senseable City Lab that depict the French rail system just make that more clear.

In the first video, above, you can see all the trains moving through the country for an entire week. Green trains are on time, while red trains are late. Clearly, the French have a little bit of a flexible relationship with timeliness, but what’s more interesting is how many trains they have going at any one time. It’s a whole fleet of rail transportation. Contrast that to how difficult it is to travel between most major American cities on Amtrak.

The second video, while slightly hard to grasp, is potentially more interesting. It reimagines the map of France by using travel times to mark the distance between cities. So, a trip between two cities on one of the country’s 175 mph trains moves the cities quite close together on the map. As delays and changing schedules alter the time between cities, the map shifts.

What would a map of America manipulated the same way look like?

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