The Wall Street Journal, People's Daily, and others are reporting that China has decided to reduce the maximum speed of its high-speed train fleet to no more than 300 kilometers an hour. Doing so will save on energy and allow the tickets to be cheaper. The changes are to take effect July 1st.
If so, that means I was among a privileged class of riders to enjoy travel at warp speed. Last month I took the train from Hangzhou to Shanghai, and we cruised along at a comfortable 346 km/hour.
As we went whizzing by buildings, fields, and roads, more than one person in my group worried about what would happen were we to jump the tracks. Simple: we'd be toast, and it'd be extremely messy. I immediately thought of the movie The Fugitive (1993). In an early scene of the flick, Harrison Ford, having been wrongly convicted for the murder of his wife, is traveling by bus to prison. Some other convicts try to escape (the old foam bubbling out of the mouth trick), and the bus crashes, falling down an embankment and ending up on railroad tracks. Before long a train comes along, and just before it rams into the bus, Ford jumps to safety. He then scuries down a hill in his shackles with the train tumbling toward him. He gets out of the way just in the nick of time.
If that plodding locomotive had been a high-speed Harmony #1, as they all are called in China, things wouldn't have been so harmonious, Harrison would have been crushed, and the one-armed man would have gotten away with murder! Thank heavens the Chinese high-speed trains are on raised platforms where no car, bicycle, scooter, 3-wheeled ag vehicle, tractor, or prison bus can go.