Just imagine being in the cab as this machine sped like a great steel arrow through the countryside . . .
Things streaked past -- a water tank, a tree, a shanty, a grain silo. They had a windshield-wiper motion: they were rising, describing a curve and dropping back. The telegraph wires ran a race with the train, rising and falling from pole to pole, in an even rhythm, like the cardiograph record of a steady heartbeat written across the sky.Perceptive readers would recognise that quoted passage from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. What an experience that must have been; Rand the railway-lover would have eaten it up.
She looked ahead, at the haze that melted rail and distance, a haze that could rip apart at any moment to some shape of disaster. She wondered why she felt safer than she had ever felt in a car behind the engine, safer here, where it seemed as if, should an obstacle rise, her breast and the glass shield would be first to smash against it. She smiled, grasping the answer: it was the security of being first, with full sight and full knowledge of one's course -- not the blind sense of being pulled into the unknown by some unknown power ahead. It was the greatest sensation of existence: not to trust, but to know.
UPDATE: Not a bird, and not a plane -- and not exactly a train -- but as one commenter in Webster's piece points out, the Chinese Maglev achieved 580kph over four years ago, and regularly touches 430kph in service. Talk about a Shanghai surprise!
LINKS: Aboard the fastest TGV in the world - Ben Webster, Times Online
Dagny Taggart answers Kant - Peter Cresswell, SOLO
Excerpt, Atlas Shrugged, 'The John Galt Line' - Monart Pon