Last week, with US Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle, I had an opportunity to tour the new Russian High Speed Sapsan train in Moscow's Leningradsky Train Station. Apart from the new features the system offers, I also noticed a nation excited about this new rail service.
The Sapsan (Russian for Peregrine Falcon) will begin its 250 kilometers-per-hour runs from Moscow to St. Petersburg in December. The line will feature Velaro RUS trains, developed by Siemens, much like those already operating in China and Spain but adapted to Russia's climate.
The train, much like the one I rode in Spain, is beautiful to look at, and the one I toured had a simulator so I could preview what it would be like to ride in the engineer's cab. This allows engineers to get hands-on training and see the actual countryside they'll be driving through when the line becomes operational next month.
Now, that system is going to take some time getting on-line, but I'm excited about announcing our first high-speed and intercity passenger rail grants this winter.
We are on the verge of jumpstarting high-speed opportunities in the US, and I regularly hear from folks around the country who are thrilled by this game-changing endeavor. That Russia is about to join China and Western Europe in the high-speed rail club should only motivate us even more.