Perception of Speed

There is no doubt that Japanese railways are faster, more efficient than the joke that passes for an express service in this part of Illinois. The build up announcement to warn passengers of the of the impending doom that awaits them if they get too close to the yellow line (or in this case the yellowing concrete platform edge) certainly builds up to something that, in reality, is running as fast as the slow commuter stopping trains that serve Japanese cities. US rail does not do express. Having said that, the various YouTube videos that show Japanese high-speed trains seem to be less rapid than they should be, rather more gentle in their approach to high speed.

Compare this to French TGV trains that seem to have been designed to sound like that they are fast, really fast. I suspect that the Japanese approach is to design a train that gets on with the job rather than sound, or even look whilst it is passing you, like it is getting on with the job of being fast. Either way I can only watch these and, for the time being at least, envy the fact that the words “express” and “fast” really do mean what they are meant to mean.

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