September 25th, 2007

Giants Fanatic

One Last Fling This Season

On the spur of the moment, I decided to buy a ticket to Wednesday night's Giants game. It's the last home game of the season, and the Giants were out of contention by the All-Star break, but hey, they're trying to do their job as "spoiler," (so it's not like they're sleepwalking through these games) and there is a chance, if his injured toe relents sufficiently to let him hobble on to the field to play for an inning or so, that I'll get to see Barry Bonds play his final home game as a Giant -- or possibly ever, if he can't find anyone willing to pay what he wants to be paid for next season.

(Actually, I think some AL team will fork over the money for Bonds as a DH to play out the string.)
High Speed Train

Maglev Maniacs

Cheryl passes on to me this story about Bavaria building a maglev link to their airport. Upon first reading, you might think I'd say "Great! Another high speed train! Trains are great!" But in fact, I think this one is a really stupid idea, just like the Shanghai maglev referenced in the article. (The CEO of my company has been on that Shanghai system; he was telling me about it a while back when I happened to be seated with him at the Company Christmas lunch.)

I'm lukewarm about maglev systems in all cases, because they can't share existing railway infrastructure. This means you can't build a high-speed line that shares the legacy tracks into existing stations, which significantly increases the cost of construction. Also, thanks to imovements in conventional railway technology, maglev is not really that much faster than existing steel-on-steel high-speed systems. The new TGV line will run at up to 350 kph in opearation, and came close to beating the maglev speed record in a test run earlier this year.

In any event, if you insist on building maglev systems, then why build a system where the stops are so close together that you never get a decent benefit out of it? Maglev speeds are so high that you should be thinking of stops hundreds of kilometers apart, not dozens like an airport-to-city-center line. Although I still think it's a dumb idea, a maglev between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is (ahem) on the right track, distance-wise.

Munich would be better served by a more conventional railway link between airport and city center, running on relatively short headways at fast, but not necessarily hyper-fast speeds.