An unintentionally funny piece from the The Telegraph‘s travel section in which the writer remarks about a recent trip on a high-speed TGV train across France to Spain.
“What I wasn’t prepared for – however many times I had seen references to speeds of 200mph and more – was the blur beyond the window. That looks interesting… could it be…? Too late. It’s gone.”
Where has he been living? Belarus? Europe is overrun with high-speed trains – you can’t miss them, unless you try really, really hard get yourself relegated onto a local stopping train.
His thought that a decent railway journey provides the luxury of slowed-down time, giving you a chance to gaze out the window and think of nothing in particular, is a good one.
But the real point isn’t that you miss the scenery which does, admittedly, flash past in a wicked blur, but that travelling across Europe by TGV and its various imitators is a vast improvement on hanging around in scungy, badly-ventilated airports before being shot across the heavens in an aluminium tube.
If there is anything worrying about high-speed rail then it’s what could happen if the train derailed or broke a wheel while hurtling along at high speed as happened with an ICE train in Eschede, Germany in June 1998.
The photo, by the way, was taken from the running board of a Mozambican diesel locomotive blasting across the flats to Nampula at 110km/h. From that vantage point, the ride was plenty fast enough.