Friday, April 06, 2007

French Train TGV Sets World Record For Fastest Train

Last week France set a new world record for the fastest train on rails. The train a TGV V150 achieved a speed of 574.8 kph or 357.2 mph. The previous record was also by a TGV at 515km/h (320mph), set in 1990.

Photo courtesy: BBC, UK

The new record was set in eastern France. This is faster than man has ever traveled in a train on rails. The train had reached similar speeds but this is the first time it was officially monitored. This is something like air travel on ground. At one point the train traveled 150 meters a second. The train was equipped with larger wheels than the regular French TGV trains. The TGV technology was invented in France three decades ago.

However the world record for the fastest train speed is 581 kmh reached in 2003 by a Japanese magnetic levitation, or Maglev, train.

France has had fast electric powered trains operating since 1981, reaching speeds of 320 kmh. The latest line to open in July reduces travel time from Paris to the eastern city of Strasbourg from four hours to two hours and 20 minutes.

South Korea, China and Taiwan are the most important customers for high-speed trains.

You can watch the 2 minute video of the TGV train setting the world record here.

Appreciate the mind boggling speed at which it is cruising.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bangalore Facts - A City Crumbling And Losing it?

I am here in Bangalore (to be renamed Bengaluru very soon) for the past few days and am saddened at the deteriorating state of the city. Bangalore; dubbed the “Garden City” and the “Silicon Capital of India” might lose these tags if its present state is any indication. Home to prestigious colleges and research institutions, the city has the second highest literacy rate among the major cities in the nation. The city also has the highest per capita income in India. Unfortunately the city is beset with major problems such as air pollution, traffic congestion, crime and a host of other problems. My love of the cosmopolitan high tech city is being replaced with despise and disgust.

Just consider these facts:

  • The population of the city has risen from 2.8 million in 1990 to 6.5 million today.
  • The infrastructure of the city is unable to handle the chaotic growth.
  • The vehicular population at 2 million is very high. In 1994 there were just 0.7 million registered vehicles. It is now 3 times more than what it was 10 years ago. Vehicular traffic is growing at an average of 8% annually and the city’s roads are not just geared to handle this.
  • The city no longer has the salubrious and nice climate that it once enjoyed. Deforestation, massive increase of automobiles aided by the wrath of global warming are the culprits.
  • Corruption, greed, bureaucracy and red tape have only increased. Nothing moves without a bribe in government circles. Lawlessness has reached epidemic levels.
  • The pollution levels are mind boggling leading to various health problems.
  • The cost of living is very high. It is one of the costliest places to live in India.
  • Aided by banks, unscrupulous real estate agents and speculators real estate prices have shot through the roof and I am not sure if the rise is completely justified.

These deteriorating factors can cost Bangalore dearly with its software dominance being challenged. The city no doubt accounts for 35% of the country’s software exports at present but with the way it is going its top spot is likely to be snatched by ambitious neighboring cities like Hyderabad and Chennai where already numerous MNC’s have set up shop. The city; currently home to a host of global software firms is likely to see them disappear

Bangalore desperately needs a high class metro, international airport and excellent road network if it is to compete and retain its position as the desired city in India to live and work. If these are not addressed immediately Bangalore will lose in the race for superiority. Bangalore has not lost it completely but is showing signs of losing it.