High-speed trains—which can hit 300 miles per hour or more—are the ultimate example of how futuristic engineering can solve real-world transportation problems. In the past several decades, dozens of safe, sustainable high-speed train systems have started racing across the planet. And the place that does high-speed rail best is where it all started over 50 years ago: Japan.
In contrast, high-speed rail in the US often feels like vaporware. The closest thing we have to it is the Acela Express, an East Coast Amtrak train that tops out at 150 miles per hour. While proposals in places like Florida have sputtered out, California and Texas currently have the most enduring high-speed rail plans.
One of the biggest hurdles for any of these plans is getting Americans to embrace train culture; convincing car-loving Americans to get literally onboard is a challenge—and one not made any easier by the recent Amtrak tragedy in Philadelphia. To make sure we pull this off, we need to be importing the right kind of train. A train that’s safe, fast, quiet, eco-friendly, and something that people actually want to ride. That train should come from Japan.