AHC: No high-speed rail

With a POD after 1900, come up with a scenario where high-speed rail is something that is the domain of science fiction and prototypes which don't get into production as opposed to the situation in our world where high speed rail is something which crisscrosses large parts of Europe and Asia.
 
Your usual run-of-the-mill Axis victory (Nazi Germany beats the USSR and an Allied landing doesn't happen or is beaten back, but Japan is still defeated by the Allies) could have the effect of delaying the emergence of proper high-speed rail (proper high speed rail in this case being a grade-separated system allowing speeds of at least 250 km/h, as per the European Union Directive's 98/48/EC's definition of category 1 high speed rail). A Japan that sees its allies Germany and Italy still alive and kicking is more likely to fight to the bitter end than in OTL, perhaps forcing more atomic bombings and a ground invasion of the Home Islands itself. The result being that Japan emerges from the war even more damaged and weakened than in OTL. Add in the Allies being focused on a more intense and expensive Cold War against Germany, and being less enthusiastic about funding the rebuilding of a former Axis power when it's farther the frontline of this Cold War than the OTL one, and when the other major Axis power is still a threat and now a superpower, and you could have Japan being in no economic or developmental position to build the Shinkansen by the 1960s.

The Shinkansen was a significant breakthrough for high-speed rail since it proved that grade-separation was viable, made a significant difference in average speed and time saved when they didn't share the line with slower trains, and that trains weren't an archaic form of transportation that was naturally and inevitably being superseded by cars and planes; they could still have a major place in intercity transport. It was the stated inspiration for high-speed systems in European countries, like the TGV, the ICE, and the Intercity 125/225, and even the increasing of train speeds in North America. Without it, the whole idea of high-speed rail could remain stuck in its interwar and postwar entropy for a longer time.

Nazi-ruled Europe, meanwhile, would still be touting the rapidly expanding Autobahn system and the auto industry as a source of national pride, and cars themselves as status symbols and something the average person would have the luxury of owning because of the state's prosperity and whatnot (the Volkswagen Beetle, the People's Car, was heavily featured in Nazi propaganda of the time), creating a car culture perhaps more comparable to our US in the second half of the 20th century than anything Europe has seen in OTL. Thus, heavy reliance on freeways and personal cars would have a similar effect on passenger rail travel as it did in the OTL US. While Nazi Germany did plan to build a grade-separated railway system for routes between major European cities (the ridiculously huge Breitspurbahn trains), from what few concept drawings I've seen those trains, they don't exactly look like trains designed to hit 250 km/h. The majority of Breitspurbahn locomotive designs seemed to be steam or diesel powered, and in OTL no steam locomotive has come close to hitting 250 km/h, and the fastest diesel locomotive (the Intercity 125) could only just barely manage that in a test run. The Breitspurbahn trains would probably be fast, but not the definition of high-speed kind of fast. Of course, this is assuming the project could even get off the ground, far from a guarantee given how uneconomically huge those trains were and the entropy and prestige loss that the rail system would likely suffer under car culture.

Still though, like the internet, the airline industry, and WMDs, this seems like an idea that, with an after-1900 PoD, will inevitably happen within the century (barring a civilization-ending apocalypse or something). The US has still gone through the Interurban Era, which, while it eventually ended, came pretty close to paving the way for proper high speed rail, and was a testbed for several of its key features (many lines were grade-separated, some sought to reduce or eliminate the use of grade crossings on the route, and nearly all used electric traction for the benefits in acceleration and speed it offered). The Northeast Corridor is still all too convenient a location for fast rail travel for people to ignore, and Britain would inevitably need to upgrade is then-archaic railway infrastructure sooner or later. Even in the year 1900, air-line railroads (relatively flat and straight railroads that deliberately chose a shorter and faster route over an easier route), lines dedicated to fast traffic, and the common designers' goal of making faster locomotives were not a new concept. As long as trains exist and are used to carry people, people will always have the idea, and make the effort, to make them move faster.

Proper high-speed rail can be delayed, but with a PoD of 1900, I think it would inevitably happen within the 20th century. Even if it can't be started in Japan, it will start somewhere, whether in the US, the UK, or another one of their allies.
 
Your usual run-of-the-mill Axis victory (Nazi Germany beats the USSR and an Allied landing doesn't happen or is beaten back, but Japan is still defeated by the Allies) could have the effect of delaying the emergence of proper high-speed rail (proper high speed rail in this case being a grade-separated system allowing speeds of at least 250 km/h.
Doesn't work. One of Hitlers pet projects was the Breitspurbahn . There is a high probability that this one will turn into a high speed rail in the 1960.
 
Add in the Allies being focused on a more intense and expensive Cold War against Germany, and being less enthusiastic about funding the rebuilding of a former Axis power when it's farther the frontline of this Cold War than the OTL one, and when the other major Axis power is still a threat and now a superpower, and you could have Japan being in no economic or developmental position to build the Shinkansen by the 1960s.
And where Chiang's KMT is probably a more "reliable" partner from the POV of the Allies.
 
I think stopping trains from going faster would be akin to stopping cars and planes from going faster, stuff gets faster over time! Trains were going 200km//h before WW2, Eventually something was bound to happen.
 
It is nonsensical. - High speed rail is designed as anything 124 mph or higher.

PS: Best not tell Mallard. Gresley wont be happy at all ;-)
 

Devvy

Donor
I think it's very difficult. There are several densely populated areas where the requirements of transport (whether private or public) lead to desires for fast rail services.

Japan, post WWII, had little natural resources and a densely populated region; it's about as perfect a mix as you can get for fast electric rail services between large cities. Followed by France, who had large cities spread out across the country.

I think your best bet is not to try to leave high speed rail in science fiction - the very term "high speed" has got higher as time has passed and speed has increased, and people will inevitably try to push the speed envelope yet further. Trying to keep it's implementation as small as possible is probably best, although with dense countries again that's difficult; planes are not that big, and dense populations lead to significant congestion problems and the lack of desire for paving motorways everywhere. You can probably limit it to Japan, Korea and probably France. Although inevitably, other European nations will want to increase their rail speeds, leading to de facto high speed rail even if it's not on dedicated routes.

Either that, or you semantically work around the OP statement by introducing something which technically isn't high speed rail, but covers most of it's business impact. Tracked Hovercraft or Transrapid? Both push at the definition of what a "railway" is (wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks).
 
I think stopping trains from going faster would be akin to stopping cars and planes from going faster, stuff gets faster over time! Trains were going 200km//h before WW2, Eventually something was bound to happen.
But, er, planes did stop going faster. A modern jet airliner is only about as fast as a jet airliner from the 1950s, and even slower than some (to wit the Convair 880/990). It just proved uneconomical and very technically difficult to make them keep going faster, so investment stopped going that way and Concorde flopped. In principle the same could be true and likely will be true of increasing rail speeds, it's just that the upper limit of economical and technically feasible rail speeds with conventional technology is way faster than trains were actually going in the 1930s or 1940s, and it's not clear whether alternative technologies will end up being infeasible.
 
Doesn't work. One of Hitlers pet projects was the Breitspurbahn . There is a high probability that this one will turn into a high speed rail in the 1960.
As I said, I think the Breitspurbahn would be fast, but likely wouldn't be able to hit 250 km/h, with the mostly steam and diesel locomotive designs they seemed to be proposing for them. And that there's a relatively significant chance that it wouldn't be built by 1964 (the year in OTL when the Shinkansen entered service), what with it being unnecessarily enormous (Hitler ignored literally every railway expert he consulted when they all said it was a bad idea), and I question whether it would be able to overcome the car culture that would be as pervasive in Nazi-ruled Europe as it was in postwar North America in OTL.
 
But, er, planes did stop going faster. A modern jet airliner is only about as fast as a jet airliner from the 1950s, and even slower than some (to wit the Convair 880/990). It just proved uneconomical and very technically difficult to make them keep going faster, so investment stopped going that way and Concorde flopped. In principle the same could be true and likely will be true of increasing rail speeds, it's just that the upper limit of economical and technically feasible rail speeds with conventional technology is way faster than trains were actually going in the 1930s or 1940s, and it's not clear whether alternative technologies will end up being infeasible.

Planes reached their highest effective and economical speed, just like steel on steel trains have maxed out at 300-350km/h about 20-30 years after the first real concerted effort to build a high speed network, and many HSR systems are considerably slower than that.
 
As I said, I think the Breitspurbahn would be fast, but likely wouldn't be able to hit 250 km/h, with the mostly steam and diesel locomotive designs they seemed to be proposing for them. And that there's a relatively significant chance that it wouldn't be built by 1964 (the year in OTL when the Shinkansen entered service), what with it being unnecessarily enormous (Hitler ignored literally every railway expert he consulted when they all said it was a bad idea), and I question whether it would be able to overcome the car culture that would be as pervasive in Nazi-ruled Europe as it was in postwar North America in OTL.

Car culture is impossible without a reliable source of oil. The allies control most sources and the former soviet union will be full of partisans. Nazi germany will never be able to reach west german levels of private transport. Even east germany levels will be a challange for ATL germany.
 
Car culture is impossible without a reliable source of oil. The allies control most sources and the former soviet union will be full of partisans. Nazi germany will never be able to reach west german levels of private transport. Even east germany levels will be a challange for ATL germany.
I figured the partisan issue would be mostly dealt with by the 1960s (by which time basically the entire population of European Russia was to be genocided or germanized), but yeah, point taken. The fuel could easily be an issue.
 
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