Browsing Tag: Wendover Productions

    Why the UK Runs Trains to Nowhere
    Articles, Blog

    Why the UK Runs Trains to Nowhere

    September 6, 2019


    This video was made possible by Squarespace. Build your website for 10% off at
    squarespace.com/HAI. This train should not exist, and, if were
    up to the train company, it wouldn’t, but it’s not. You see, in the UK, trains work off a franchising
    system where the UK government awards contracts to different private companies to
    operate rail services. For example Virgin Trains East
    Coast operate the east coast route, ScotRail operates most trains in Scotland, TransPennine
    express operates many trains to and from Manchester, and there are about two dozen other
    operators, but this particular train that shouldn’t exist is operated by Chiltern
    Railways. They
    mostly operate trains to smaller towns between London and Birmingham and all of their trains
    to London terminate at Marylebone station…
    except for one—this one. This particular train
    operates from the nearby London Paddington station—the terminus for Great Western and
    Heathrow Express services. But Chiltern railways has to operate services
    to London Paddington because this document says so—their franchise
    agreement. This document is basically the
    contract between the railway company and the UK government so to modify this document they
    have to ask the government and, as we all know, sometimes governments aren’t very
    efficient. So here’s your super simple guide to closing
    a railway route in Britain. Step one: perform
    a “transport appraisal.” This is basically an analysis of the effects
    that the line closure will have on passengers, the environment, and the economy. The strait-forward three stage fourteen step
    process of creating a transport appraisal is explained in this handy 35 page document
    featuring this super user-friendly flowchart. Once you’ve completed that, just give it
    to the UK Department of Transport who will analyze your
    analysis. Step two: publish your proposal of
    closure including the findings of your transport appraisal six months before the proposed closure
    in one local newspaper circulating near the proposed closure and in two national newspapers
    for two weeks continuously. Step three: open a twelve-week consultation
    period including public hearings where anyone who disagrees with the
    closure can protest. Once you’ve completed those
    three easy steps, then you’ll hand everything over to the Office of Rail and Road who will
    decide whether or not you can close the line. As you might have been able to tell from my
    not-at-all-sarcastic explanation, it’s not easy
    to close a franchised rail route, but nowhere in the agreement does it say how often Chiltern
    Railways has to operate their route to Paddington—it just says they need to. So they operate it…
    once per day. Now compared to the US where cities as big
    as Houston, Texas only see three trains a week and have stations that look
    like this, a daily service from Paddington probably
    seems normal, but the station this service goes to, High Wycombe, sees 95 trains a day
    from the normal London station—Marylebone. One train per day is nothing for a UK train
    route, especially from London. Chiltern Railways, like many other train companies,
    have decided it’s just easier and cheaper to operate an infrequent
    service to fulfill their franchise agreement instead
    of going through the rather expensive formal closure process. But some rail companies have pushed the boundaries
    of what is considered “service” to an extreme. Northern’s franchise agreement requires
    them to operate a train between Stockport and Stalybridge which they fulfill by running
    one train, one-way, once per week. Between
    Stockport and Stalybridge there are two stations which are therefore serviced by one train
    per week. Closing stations is just as difficult as closing
    lines so they won’t do it. Denton station
    therefore recorded only 144 passengers in the past year while Reddish South saw just
    94. Thirty
    miles to the north, London Midland is required to operate services to Barlaston Railway Station,
    but companies are allowed to temporarily operate rail replacement buses during maintenance. This company, however, has interpreted “temporary”
    as 13 years as they’ve operated rail replacement busses to this station since 2004
    to fulfill their obligation. The Chiltern Railways service from London
    Paddington to High Wycombe is definitively unprofitable. On many days there are zero passengers. On the day this footage was filmed, there
    was only one. This bureaucratic closure process is meant
    to protect the public by preventing companies from closing unprofitable smaller
    stations, but in reality most of what is does is make
    these ghost trains. If you’ve just realized “ghost train”
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    Why Trains are so Expensive
    Articles, Blog

    Why Trains are so Expensive

    August 27, 2019


    This is a Wendover Productions video made
    possible by Videoblocks. Get an exclusive 7 day free trial of Videoblocks
    with up to 140 free stock footage clips for your videos by using the link videoblocks.com/future. Before I start, I want to quickly mention
    that I started a podcast with Brian from Real Engineering called “Showmakers.” In the very first episode which is out now
    we chat with none other than Hank Green. I’d really appreciate if you give it a try
    and the link is down in the description. Trains are expensive. So expensive, in fact, that on three of the
    most travelled routes in three countries—New York to Washington in the US, Edinburgh to
    London in the UK, and Paris to Lyon in France—they’re pretty much the same price as the plane. These routes start at $49, £30, and €30
    respectively on the train and $52, £13, and €53 on the plane. On a longer route like New York to Chicago,
    the difference is even more pronounced: $59 for the plane, $108 for the train. And that’s keeping in mind that trains are
    subsidized or government run in almost every country while airlines are highly profitable
    commercial enterprises. The planes flying between DC and New York
    are $49 million dollar machines, while the trains traveling the route cost no more than
    $10 million total. The plane has to burn 1.7 gallons of fuel
    per mile flown (3.9 liters per km) while the train relies on cheap, clean electric power. All this therefore begs the question, why
    are trains so expensive? Now, I mentioned that fares between DC and
    New York start at $49, but that’s far from the average price—$73. Let’s look at the expenses that go into
    that fare. The single largest expense for Amtrak is staffing. Trains require a lot of people to operate. 85,000 passengers journey on Amtrak daily,
    but for that Amtrak employs 20,000 people meaning that, daily, Amtrak requires one employee
    for every four passengers. On top of that, the majority of those working
    for Amtrak are highly specialized, unionized workers who demand high salaries. Amtrak’s financial reports tell us that
    they spend $105,000 per employee, but that’s not to say that everyone at Amtrak is making
    six figures. Taxes and benefits typically cost an employer
    30-40% of a salary so the actual average salary for an Amtrak employee is around $75,000. These salary costs are so high that they account
    for over a third of the ticket price between DC and New York—$25.82 total. The cost of employees is so high for train
    operators largely because trains are so slow. For a flight from DC to New York, an airline
    would only have to pay employees for an hour of work while Amtrak has to pay their employees
    for three and a half hours of work. The difference is even more striking on long-haul
    routes—Chicago to Los Angeles for example. An airline would have to pay for four hours
    of work, while Amtrak pays for 44 hours of work. In addition, trains have physical infrastructure
    to maintain along the journey—the rails. Airlines also have infrastructure to pay for
    on each end—the airports—but between those they just use the sky, which is free. Amtrak only owns 730 miles of the 21,000 miles
    of track they use, but they still indirectly pay for the employees who maintain those 20,000
    miles of rented track through the fees charged by the track owners for their use. The next largest cost for train operators
    is that of the trains themselves. Trains aren’t that expensive compared to
    airplanes, but they still cost millions of dollars. The locomotive pulling the train from DC to
    New York costs $6.5 million dollars and then each one of the passenger cars costs an additional
    $400,000. With a seven car train, that works out to
    $9.4 million dollars which accounts for $9.67 on this particular ticket. The other part of infrastructure—rails—costs
    Amtrak an additional $3.66 on this ticket. Railroad tracks are extraordinarily expensive
    to build—typically more than $1 million per mile—but on routes like DC to New York,
    they’re just used so much that the per train or per ticket cost is negligible. Amtrak is a business, so it also needs to
    pay to run the business. $2.15 of this ticket goes to administrative
    costs, and then another $1.31 to advertising. Moving on, trains are extremely safe compared
    to cars, but you’re still more than 3 times as likely to be killed on or by a train than
    a plane. Trains do occasionally crash, and they also
    crash into people. When this happens, Amtrak often has to pay
    a settlement to the victims, and the fees associated with that account for $0.79 of
    the DC to New York ticket. That does mean that when traveling between
    DC and New York, in essence, you’re paying $0.79 in order for Amtrak to kill or injure
    people. Those were all the major costs to run a train,
    but there’s still another $5.91 on that ticket that just represents other minor costs. So the total expense for Amtrak to run that
    train is $50.14. The remaining $22.86 is pure profit. You see, the train from DC to New York, the
    Northeast Regional, is one of the few Amtrak routes to make a profit. The demand, speed, and frequency of the train
    helps it succeed financially where other routes failed. Per passenger per mile, Amtrak makes eight
    cents of profit on the northeast regional, the low speed train, and 29 cents per passenger
    mile on the Acela Express, the high-speed train. These profitable routes help pay for Amtrak’s
    unprofitable routes… and there are a lot of them. Some routes like the Sunset Limited between
    New Orleans and Los Angeles lose as many as 21.7 cents per passenger per mile, and when
    passengers can travel 2,000 miles on that route, that’s a lot of loss. As I mentioned, that $49 fare is not the average
    ticket price to travel between DC and New York. The $49 fare is the price at which Amtrak
    starts selling tickets, but as the date of travel nears, the price can increase to hundreds
    of dollars. That might seem like price gouging, but its
    actually a way to make sure everyone can afford a ticket. That’s not to say Amtrak and other train
    companies are these altruistic organizations trying to bring travel to the masses—it
    just makes more money. Especially with trains where it costs the
    operator roughly the same to transport 5 passengers as it does to transport 500, the operator
    always wants to have as many seats as possible filled, even if that means selling cheap tickets. In a perfect world for the operator, they
    could ask every potential passenger what the maximum amount they’d be willing to pay
    for a journey is. If they adapt the ticket price to every passengers
    maximum price then they can fill each seat with passengers paying the highest possible
    amount. However, in practice, nobody would ever answer
    the question truthfully so it would never work. Ticketing systems, however, try to ask this
    question subliminally. Going back to that route from Edinburgh to
    London, the operator, Virgin Trains East Coast, sells three types of tickets—advance, off-peak,
    and anytime. The advance tickets range anywhere from 30
    pounds to 140 pounds, the off-peak fares cost 137 pounds, and the anytime fares cost 148.50
    pounds. For the advance fares, there are a certain
    unknown number of tickets at different price levels on sale and once they’re gone, they’re
    gone. For example, there might be 15 tickets at
    30 pounds and once they’re sold, the price would increase to 35 pounds, then 40, 45,
    and so on a so forth. That encourages those who can buy early to
    buy early. Normally that means tourists. Tourists tend to plan far in advance and are
    more budget conscious since they’re paying their own costs. They’re also more likely to travel down
    to London on the often cheaper plane since they’re less attracted by the convenience
    of the train. These advance fares are only valid for the
    exact route, day, and time bought which is fine for leisure travelers, but business travelers
    typically want more flexibility. Buying advance fares often doesn’t work
    for business travelers since their plans are only made a few weeks or days in advance and,
    since they don’t personally pay for their tickets, its no problem for them to pay for
    the convenience of taking the train on a flexible ticket. That’s why they often pay £148.50 for an
    anytime ticket. With these, you can just hop on a train whenever—it
    doesn’t matter if its in 10 minute or 10 days. You just step on the train and take a seat. The middle ground between those two is the
    off-peak single which lets you take any train that arrives in London after 11:17 am or is
    on the weekend. These fares are still geared towards business
    travelers, but by restricting against the early morning trains they give a discount
    to those who can avoid the busiest morning trains.. For each of these fares there are equivalents
    in first class—the advance first fares range between 40 and 200 pounds, the off-peak fares
    are 185.50 pounds, and the anytime fares are 236.50 pounds. On top of that, young, disabled, and elderly
    people get up to 1/3 off their fares with a rail-card. This all means that there are essentially
    12 different types of tickets for sale and that one person heading to London might be
    paying 20 pounds while the person sitting right next to them is paying 200 but what
    they’re really paying for is convenience. Now, back in the US, if Amtrak only operated
    profitable lines, their route map would look like this, but the routes that don’t make
    money are the ones that really matter. Amtrak serves over 500 destinations in 46
    states—many of which are small towns with no other means of public transportation. While trains are normally the more expensive
    means of transport, they are less expensive than planes to service small communities. The small airports in the rural parts of America
    are extraordinarily expensive to operate. Even if there are just two or three flights
    a day, they still need a runway, terminal, security, and air traffic control while a
    rural train station needs barely any infrastructure or maintenance. In fact, it’s cheaper to fly from Chicago
    to London ($741) than it is to fly from Havre, Montana to Chicago ($811 May 17-22) whereas
    Amtrak brings passengers from Havre to Chicago for only a few hundred dollars—much more
    in budget for the average resident of Havre who makes only $22,000 per year. Of course this is a political issue, but a
    part of why trains are so expensive is to allow train operators to fulfill obligations
    to serve small communities who need solid transport links. Research has shown that ease of access to
    transport has a stronger influence on whether someone will earn more than their parents
    did than the level of crime in their area or whether they grew up in a two-parent household
    and so keeping trains running through rural America is incredibly important. Next time you take the train from DC to New
    York, just keep in mind that that $22.86 of profit goes to making sure that someone from
    Havre can get to Chicago for less than you can fly to Europe. So you see this number? That’s how much these last few seconds would
    cost if I were buying footage from a traditional stock footage provider. Luckily, I get my footage from Videoblocks
    where with their membership you can use as many of the 115,000 clips in their unlimited
    library as you want. Since I started Wendover Productions, I’ve
    used 686 clips from videoblocks—almost every piece of footage you see in my videos is from
    them—and that means that I’ve saved $54,194 with my Videoblocks subscription. Without Videoblocks, there’s no way that
    my videos would look as professional—I simply would not be able to afford it—and whether
    you already have a youtube channel or plan to start one, Videoblocks will do amazing
    things for your production value. I can honestly say that it’s one of the
    best purchases I’ve ever made and I’ve used Videoblocks since day one. You can try out Videoblocks exclusively for
    seven days with the link videoblocks.com/future—that is not a publicly available trial—so please
    go try them out. Not only is that a great way to help Wendover
    Productions make more videos, you’ll also get a chance to use what is truly an amazing
    service. You can also support Wendover Productions
    on Patreon here, follow me on Twitter @WendoverPro, watch my last video here, check out my fan-moderated
    subreddit here, and lastly subscribe to this channel by clicking here. Thanks again for watching and I’ll see you
    in two weeks for another Wendover Productions video.

    The Time China Had a 12 Day Long Traffic Jam
    Articles, Blog

    The Time China Had a 12 Day Long Traffic Jam

    August 25, 2019


    This video was made possible by Brilliant. Learn intuitively with Brilliant for 20% off
    by being one of the first 200 to sign up at brilliant.org/HAI. If something’s crammed, communist, and a
    country it’s probably China. China used to look like this but now it looks
    like this. The country’s grown enormously in the past
    few decades both in population and wealth. Now, of course global warming isn’t real
    and the earth is flat, but in a world where global warming was real and the earth was
    some other shape, the best thing you could do to combat turning Minneapolis into Miami
    would be to be poor. The poorest half of the world’s population
    only contributes 10% of all carbon emissions. This does make sense as the richest .01% of
    the world eat their imported truffled wagyu filets on their private jets traveling to
    Ibiza for the day while the poorest .01% eat their meals by, well, not but the bigger factor
    is what happens as people get into the upper 10 or 20 or 30% of world wealth. China, for example, was poor but now it’s
    somewhat rich which means that its population now eats things like hamburgers which, no
    joke, are slowly killing the environment as cows fart huge amounts of methane which is
    a greenhouse gas. More importantly, though, more and more people
    in China own cars. There are now 217 million cars on Chinese
    roads which, considering there were only 59 million ten years ago, is a lot. That means that in ten years, China has essentially
    had to triple the capacity of its roads which is basically impossible. Hence, traffic. Now, this is one of China’s busiest roads—National
    Highway 110. This highway connects inner Mongolia, the
    part of Mongolia that’s in China, to Beijing, the capital. G110 didn’t, however, used to be so busy. What happens when your country transforms
    from being mostly composed of poor rural farmers to relatively rich urban populations is that
    suddenly you need energy to power everything. See, here’s a graph that says a thing! China didn’t really go for that hippy wind
    or solar energy, they went for coal. 70% of their overall energy need is fulfilled
    by this rock. Of course this isn’t sustainable long term
    as coal isn’t a renewable resource like wind or Batman reboots but for now, it’s
    a cheap and easy source of energy. That’s helped by the fact that China has
    about 13% of the world’s coal in its ground while Mongolia, China’s neighbor, has about
    10%. A good amount of China’s coal is in inner
    Mongolia, the region, and they also import plenty of coal from Mongolia, the country. What China doesn’t have, though, is coal
    transportation infrastructure… or YouTube, a free press, a market economy, freedom of
    movement, freedom of speech, a freely floated currency, or time zones, but the transportation
    infrastructure is the important thing it’s missing in this case. There are, for example, only seven roads that
    cross the border from Mongolia, the country, to China, the country. What’s worse, there are barely any railways
    and trains are the primary means of transportation worldwide for coal as it’s really not very
    dense and trucks can’t carry that much. This lack of railways means that there are
    huge amounts of trucks driving from inner Mongolia to Beijing carrying coal each and
    every day. There are a few routes these trucks can take
    into Beijing but the most popular one is G110. That’s because much of the coal coming from
    inner Mongolia comes from illegal, unlicensed mines and, while the other routes from inner
    Mongolia have inspection stations to combat illegal mining, G110 does not. All these factors compounded to create the
    beginnings of a traffic jam on August 14th, 2010. It was the busy summer season and the highway
    just couldn’t handle the amount of trucks but the real problem started five days later
    as maintenance work began on the highway to fix damage from overuse. That shut down half the lanes at points and
    this traffic jam, which had already been going on continuously for five days to a lesser
    extent, just became a parking lot. At its worst, the congestion lasted for 60
    continuous miles and drivers were only able to move as little as 0.6 miles per day. It took some close to a week to make their
    way through this stretch of highway—a journey that would normally take an hour. This whole mini-economy sprung up as villagers
    from near the highway walked or biked up and down selling food and drinks. Water, which normally sells for 1 yuan, went
    for 15. Drivers took naps under their trucks, played
    cards, took walks, there really was no reason to be behind the wheel as nothing was moving. Throughout this all, authorities desperately
    tried to reduce the traffic by sending trucks on different routes and telling people not
    to drive. As the jam entered its second week nothing
    seemed to be working although, with time, as it gained national and international media
    attention, people eventually stopped taking the highway and then, finally, after twelve
    whole days of bumper to bumper traffic, the congestion dissipated and National Highway
    110 was back to normal. China has since built railways, expanded highways,
    and cracked down on illegal mining which has prevented any more apocalyptic jams but this
    August 2010 one on G110 is now believed to have been the worst traffic jam in world history. If you want to learn how to make apocalyptic
    jam unfortunately Brilliant does not have a course on that but they actually do have
    a course on how to make regular jams, traffic jams. Their physics of the everyday course includes
    a whole section teaching how traffic jams form and work. Brilliant, as you know by now, is the best
    place to be taught complex concepts as they teach the intuitive principles so you understand
    rather than just learn. If you want to become the sort of person who
    can explain the physics of traffic jams, Brilliant is the place for you as they have courses
    on that and plenty of other interesting topics such as artificial neural networks, number
    theory, and solar energy. Best of all, you can try Brilliant classes
    for free by signing up at brilliant.org/HAI and then, if you decide to upgrade to their
    premium account, the first 200 to do so at that link will get 20% off.

    Brazil’s Geography Problem
    Articles, Blog

    Brazil’s Geography Problem

    August 14, 2019


    This video was made possible by Skillshare. Learn from 21,000 classes for free for two
    months at https://skl.sh/wendover3. There are plenty of lines you can draw on
    the globe but perhaps none is more consequential than the equator. Of the 15 wealthiest countries
    in the world as measured by GDP per capita, all are in the northern hemisphere. Only 800
    million of earth’s 7.6 billion residents live south of the equator. There is a clear
    divide between north and south but of those 800 million people a quarter of them, about
    207 million, live here in Brazil. The country is an exception to the global trend. Brazil
    is the fifth most populous country in the world and the most populous entirely within
    the southern hemisphere. Its economy has grown enormously and the country is quickly developing.
    Although, the very land it sits on stacks the odds against it. Its location gives it
    a disadvantage. Given this, the question is whether Brazil can develop into a world superpower
    by the likes of the US, Europe, Russia, India, and China or if the country is doomed to fail? Brazil, of course, looks like this but in
    reality almost 80% of the country’s population lives here—within 200 miles of the coast.
    You do see a concentration of population near the coast in any country as it provides a
    cheap and easy means of transportation by boats and a source of food through fishing
    but few countries have such a severe concentration of people by the oceans as Brazil. This small
    area, for example, is home to three of Brazil’s six largest cities. Normally this would help
    development as the area in between cities will urbanize but this map doesn’t tell
    the whole story—this one does. You see, this area of Brazil is rather mountainous.
    The major cities mostly exist in small pockets of low-altitude, flat land on the ocean. This
    is because major cities need easy water access to get goods in and out. The majority of Brazil’s
    coast is defined by steep, sheer cliffs. Petrópolis, for example, a suburb of Rio, is a mere 13
    miles from the ocean and yet it sits at almost 3,000 feet of altitude. The rare areas with
    low-altitude land on the water are where cities like Porte Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, and Recife
    are but this pattern has two consequences. First, these cities, while being on flat land
    themselves are surrounded by cliffs and mountainous regions which means their growth is limited.
    There are plenty of cities that exist in mountainous regions but the world’s largest and most
    influential cities like London and Delhi and Beijing all exist in areas with absolutely
    no geographical features limiting their growth. The fact that Brazil’s cities locate in
    rare low-altitude coastal land means that the country will likely never have a megalopolis
    by the likes of the Pearl River Delta or the US Northeast. It takes a surprising six hours
    to drive between Rio and Sao Paolo and since there’s no low-altitude coastal land in
    between them, there are really no major cities in between them too. Brazil’s cities are
    confined to the geographically convenient areas which are spread out from each other.
    This means the cities can’t collaborate easily with each other thereby limiting Brazil’s
    impact on the world stage. Like any large country, Brazil’s development
    potential is also linked to how it gets its food. This, in fact, might be Brazil’s greatest
    obstacle as it really doesn’t hav e much great farmland, at least yet. The country’s
    main agricultural region is its south which is blessed with great soil and great rivers
    that help transport crops away from their farms. Interestingly, the same elevation that
    leads to steep coastal cliffs causes rivers to run in a counterintuitive direction. The
    Tietê river, for example, starts near Sao Paolo a mere 10 miles away from the Atlantic
    ocean but then runs inland almost 500 miles where it flows into the Paraná River which
    eventually flows out into the ocean near Buenos Aires, Argentina. If a farmer wants to export
    their food abroad, it’s often cheaper to first ship it the thousands of miles by boat
    on these rivers than just hundreds of miles overland to Brazil’s coast due to their
    poor road infrastructure. This means that Argentina gets the business of packing up
    and shipping Brazil’s food to other countries. That’s just lost money for Brazil as a result
    of their geography. Brazil’s south, though, does not even have enough land to feed the
    country’s own 200 million residents. Given that, the question is where to put the rest
    of the farms. In Brazil’s north is the Amazon basin. The
    central feature of this region is, of course, the Amazon River which is navigable for boats.
    Normally this feature would lead to a significant population as navigable rivers serve as cheap
    and easy transport for crops and goods but the banks of the Amazon are a tough place
    to farm or live. Not only are they muddy and unstable which makes building difficult, but
    the Amazon also regularly floods which means that every year many of the communities on
    the banks of the Amazon can have their streets underwater for months. Building and living
    in the Amazonian cities is difficult, but what’s more difficult is building the roads
    in and out. The largest city in the Amazon, Manaus, is home to 2.6 million people, it’s
    as big as Baltimore, and yet there are only three roads connecting the city to the outside
    world. Many of the smaller towns around the Amazon have no roads going in and out as its
    just incredibly costly and difficult to build roads through the rainforest. In fact, rather
    unbelievably, there is not a single bridge spanning over the Amazon so there is no way
    to drive from the northernmost region of Brazil to the rest without taking a ferry. Overall,
    this whole area is just empty. Even if there was the infrastructure to transport crops
    to market, farming in the Amazon involves clearing huge amounts of land and even then,
    the soil is relatively infertile which leads to poor yields. Despite being Brazil’s largest
    state, Amazonas is home to just 1.8% of its population. It just costs too much to build
    the infrastructure needed to live there. To the south of the Amazon, though, is an
    area known as the Cerrado. This vast savanna used to be in the same category as the Amazon—it
    was empty. The problem was not only that there was no natural network of rivers to get crops
    out of the area but also that the soil was too acidic and lacking enough nutrients to
    easily grow large quantities of crops. Between both the Amazon and the Cerrado being off-limits
    for large-scale farming, that meant that Brazil really didn’t have much land at all for
    farming. 30 years ago, with only the south to farm, Brazil was actually a net importer
    of food—it bought more food from other countries than it sold. That was until researchers discovered
    that all you needed to do to fix the soil was add phosphorous and lime. The phosphorous
    served as a fertilizer in the place of natural nutrients and the lime worked to reduce the
    level of acidity. In the early 2000’s, the country spread more than 25 million tons of
    lime per year and so today the Cerrado accounts for 70% of Brazil’s farmland. In addition,
    Brazil has begun growing soybeans. This plant is normally grown in more temperate climates
    such as the US, northern China, or Japan, but through cross-breeding and genetic modification
    it can be modified to grow in warmer and acidic environments such as the Brazilian Cerrado.
    Thanks to the enormous amount of land Brazil has and these technological advancements the
    country has gone from producing 16% of the world’s soybean in 2005 to 31% today.
    A country’s level of development is often to linked to how good its natural transportation
    system is. That’s part of why the US developed so much so fast—it has a great system of
    navigable rivers right in its agricultural heartland that helps get goods from the fields
    to cities fast and inexpensively. The Brazilian Cerrado, though, does not have that. It doesn’t
    even have much of a preexisting network of roads since before this recent agricultural
    advancement barely anyone lived there. Therefore anyone who wants to farm in the Cerrado has
    to find land, level it, treat it with phosphate and lime, and build roads to get supplies
    in and crops out. Cerrado farms can be profitable but it takes an enormous amount of money to
    build the infrastructure needed to start a farm. It’s not like the US or France or
    China where all you need is some land. The consequence of this is that farms in Brazil
    tend to owned by corporations rather than individuals because only corporations have
    the money to build farms. That therefore increases the level of wealth disparity in Brazil. According
    to the World Bank’s Gini index, Brazil is the 11th most economically unequal country
    in the world. Lower wealth disparity and the emergence of a middle class are indicators
    of economic development so the country should want to fix this. Brazil’s government has
    recognized its infrastructure problem as a source of its wealth disparity and has therefore
    worked to build roads in the interior so that more individuals can run farms but the government
    only has so much money to spend and it’s a big country.
    Brazil does, though, understand the importance of its core. It understands that the coastal
    cities are constrained and that economic development will come from the center. It was partially
    for that reason that the country decided to move its capital from Rio de Janeiro to here—Brasília.
    The thinking was that putting the capital in the core would stimulate the economically
    underdeveloped region and, in many ways, it worked. The city simply did not exist before
    1960 yet today more than 4 million people live in its metropolitan area. Being located
    on relatively flat land unlike Rio, the city can just grow and grow and grow without hinderance.
    Brazil has potential, but its defining issue is that it’s an expensive place. It’s a
    vicious cycle. In order to make money, Brazil needs to invest in its infrastructure but
    without people making money it doesn’t have the tax money to build what it takes t o transition
    into the first world. The question of why tropical countries are less developed is an
    enormous one without a clear answer, but Brazil is one of the most likely candidates to break
    this trend. It certainly lags behind other developing countries like China, but as its
    agriculture industry develops it will become a bigger and bigger exporter which will bring
    more money in. With time, its average income will inch up. The country already does have
    major companies in other industries such as banking, manufacturing, and oil but with how
    big Brazil is, agriculture is the one that’s the world’s focus right now. Only France,
    Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States export more agricultural products per year
    which is good company to be in. Brazil may not have the explosive growth rate of some
    other less developed countries but by continuously taking what it earns and reinvesting it to
    open up more of the country to agricultural production it will continue its path to superpower
    status. One of the common questions I receive is how
    I started making these videos. The first step was learning the skills needed from writing
    to research to sound design and editing, but for each and every one of them there’s a
    course on Skillshare. Skillshare, you see, is an online learning community that has more
    than 21,000 classes on whatever you want to learn. The variety is astounding. You can
    learn skills to help you make videos, to show off at parties, or even to help you get a
    job. There are also some great courses taught by fellow YouTubers such as Mike Boyd and
    Kurzgesagt. What’s best about Skillshare is that you can try it all for free for two
    months exclusively by going to skl.sh/wendover3. Skillshare makes this show possible and its
    a great place to learn or improve your skills so please do check them out, once again, at
    skl.sh/wendover3. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you again in three weeks for another
    Wendover Productions video.

    The Secret Train Station Under New York City
    Articles, Blog

    The Secret Train Station Under New York City

    August 12, 2019


    This video was made possible by Blue Apron. The first 50 people to sign up at the link
    in the description will get $50 off their first two weeks. You’ve heard of the secret train system
    in DC, you’ve heard of the secret train platform in London, but have you heard of
    the secret train station in New York? I hope not because that’s this week’s
    dose of content. Let’s rewind 150 years to the era of not
    planes, trains, and not automobiles. In this time, the railroads coming from the
    north into New York City ended up at Grand Central Depot. This massive rail yard took up more than a
    dozen city-blocks in one of New York’s densest areas and so the owners of the station, the
    New York Central Railroad, saw an opportunity. They would put the entire rail yard underground,
    build a huge new station, sell all the freed up real estate, and get that bread. 10 years and 85 million cubic feet of dirt
    later Grand Central Terminal opened and it was actually pretty neat. It has more tracks and platforms than any
    other station in the world and today includes all sort of non-rail related things like a
    tennis club in the ceiling which was once run by a certain future US president. The station also had at one point, and this
    is true, a 65 foot indoor ski slope. As this implies, Grand Central was long at
    the center of American opulence as much of the country’s early wealth was earned by
    rail tycoons. Given that, on top of the now buried tracks,
    plenty of important buildings sprang up. In the area that was once the rail yards there
    is today the headquarters of the Colgate-Palmolive Company, JP Morgan, MetLife, Major League
    Baseball, and also the Waldorf Astoria hotel. This hotel has long been considered one of
    the world’s most prestigious and has been stayed at by countless celebrities. Up until 2015, when the hotel was bought by
    a Chinese company, the Waldorf Astoria was the place where US presidents stayed when
    they made their frequent visits to New York. The hotel has a lavish Presidential Suite
    that’s been stayed in by every US president between Herbert Hoover and Barack Obama and
    non-presidents like the Kings of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Norway, the Queen of England,
    the Emperor of Japan, General Charles de Gaulle of France, and more. While it costs the general public between
    $4,000 and $8,000 to stay there per night, the hotel gives a generous discount to the
    US government and, by extension, the American taxpayer, and the room is even designed to
    emulate the style of the White House. Conveniently, the room is also about 500 feet
    above the Grand Central Tracks buried more than 100 years ago. Now, back in a time before private jets, the
    way that America’s richest and most powerful individuals got around without mingling with
    the normals was by private rail car. These would be hitched to the back of public
    trains and included dining rooms, kitchens, large bedrooms, lounges, and more. In the same way that US presidential candidates
    now often do speeches at airports in front of their planes, in the past candidates would
    do whistle-stop tours where they would make short speeches in small towns across America
    from the back of private rail-cars. Roosevelt was a particular fan of using these
    trains. Due to polio-induced paralysis, the bottom
    half of his body didn’t work but he did serve twice as many terms as any other US
    president so, equal? Unbelievably though, he was able to hide his
    handicap from most of the American public through careful coordination at events and
    the cooperation of the press. That’s why whenever he was seen standing
    he was holding on to someone or something. Giving speeches from the back of a railcar
    was therefore easy as he didn’t have to go far in public. While nowadays presidents fly on Air Force
    One to New York, Roosevelt would often make the trip by rail but arriving in Grand Central
    Station would be far too public to hide his ailment. His train therefore stopped a third of a mile
    short of Grand Central and was shunted to a small secret platform directly below the
    Waldorf Astoria hotel. From there, an elevator would take him up
    into the hotel. It’s unclear how many times FDR used this
    secret station as it was, of course, secret but its believed to have been used by plenty
    of presidents and celebrities since his era. The secret platform and elevator still exists
    today and, while its existence is no longer secret, we’re not always sure what it’s
    being used for. This inconspicuous door on 50th street is
    reportedly the entrance to the elevator down to the platform. We do know for sure that the platform has
    been used at least once in recent decades while a US president has stayed at the Waldorf
    Astoria. In 2003, while President Bush was staying
    there for a United Nations General Assembly session, an idling Metro-North train was kept
    at this platform ready to shuttle the president off Manhattan at any moment in case of emergency. While not confirmed, it’s assumed that this
    procedure is repeated whenever presidents visit the Waldorf Astoria nowadays. If you need to not be seen in public for security,
    secrecy, laziness, or other reasons you need to remember to eat and one of the best eating
    methods is with Blue Apron. Each week, Blue Apron delivers boxes to your
    door filled with farm-fresh pre-apportioned ingredients that you can use to quickly make
    the recipes included. I’ve tried plenty of different Blue Apron
    meals and they’ve all been delicious and unique. Each meal is between 500-800 calories per
    person, takes less than 40 minutes to prepare (and often only 20 to 30 minutes), and costs
    as little as $7.49 per serving. If you want to try Blue Apron out, the link
    in the description will get you $50 off your first two weeks.

    How Overnight Shipping Works
    Articles, Blog

    How Overnight Shipping Works

    August 11, 2019


    This video was made possible by Squarespace. Build your website for 10% off at
    Squarespace.com/Wendover. Overnight shipping is an absolute masterpiece
    of logistics that happens every single night. It may not be cheap, but you can get a package
    shipped from Miami, Florida on a Monday night to Anchorage, Alaska, by 8:30 AM on
    Tuesday. In fact, you can even ship a package, for
    example, from Edinburgh, Scotland on a Tuesday and have the package arrive in Anchorage,
    Alaska by 9am on Wednesday. The speed and efficiency of these worldwide
    delivery networks is mind-blowing and it all happens while we sleep. The three major consumer courier companies
    are FedEx, DHL, and UPS and each is as impressive as the last. FedEx has more planes than Emirates, Etihad,
    and Qatar Airways combined; DHL delivers to every country in
    the world including North Korea; and UPS flies to
    more than double as many destinations as the largest passenger airline. Each has a global
    network that allows for lightning fast shipping at relatively low prices. Behind all this speed are
    enormous air networks that connect the entire world daily. Each of these three operates hundreds
    of flights nightly, but FedEx is the best example since their operations make them the
    largest cargo airline in the world. They have 650 planes flying to 400 destinations
    carrying 6 million packages every single day and the vast majority
    of these flights operate to or from one of their
    hub airports. FedEx’s hub airports are spread out all
    across the world and serve as sorting points where
    packages are transferred from one plane to another. They has hubs in Singapore, Guangzhou,
    Shanghai, Seoul, Osaka, Anchorage, Oakland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Greensboro, Miami, Newark,
    Toronto, Paris, Cologne, Milan, and Dubai, but the most important hub of all is the one
    in Memphis, Tennessee because that’s their
    SuperHub. Memphis is not a huge city—only about 650,000
    people live there—but the reason FedEx centers their worldwide operations in this
    city is because of it’s location. Memphis is not actually
    in the geographic center of the US as might make sense, but it is central. You see, only about 200
    miles away in Wright County, Missouri is the mean population center of the US. This is the
    average location of every resident in the US meaning that the FedEx SuperHub in Memphis
    is the best location to reach the most people
    in the shortest amount of time. For similar reasons,
    UPS has their equivalent global hub, Worldport, nearby in Louisville, Kentucky. The scale of
    FedEx and UPS’ operations in these relatively small cities is staggering. This is the size of the
    commercial terminal at Memphis Airport while this is the size of FedEx’s Superhub. The
    difference at Louisville airport is even more pronounced where this is the commercial terminal
    and this is UPS’ worldport. You can’t even fly to the west coast non-stop
    on a commercial airline from Louisville and yet UPS flies from this
    small city to five different continents. FedEx’s
    operations in Memphis, meanwhile, make this airport the second busiest cargo airport in
    the world above those of enormous cities like
    Tokyo, Paris, Dubai, Shanghai, and falling short only
    to Hong Kong. How the FedEx superhub really works is that
    every night, about 150 planes fly in from all
    around the world between the hours of 10pm and 1am. Immediately upon arrival, the planes are
    unloaded and their packages are put into the hub’s automated sorting system. Within only 15
    minutes, each package arrives at a staging area for its next flight where it’s loaded
    into containers. Planes therefore can start taking off again
    at 2am and continue to until 4am which means that everywhere in the US can have a
    FedEx plane arriving by 6am, but there are some
    destinations that don’t ship enough packages to need a non-stop flight to Memphis. To get to
    small towns fast, FedEx runs flights in small propeller aircraft from the destinations of
    their larger jets. Presque Isle, Maine, for example, is far too
    small of a town at about 10,000 residents to fill a full-size plane so, every morning,
    once the larger planes from Memphis arrive in
    Manchester, New Hampshire and Portland, Maine, packages bound for Presque Isle are sorted
    into smaller prop planes that continue north. With this system, even small towns like Presque
    Isle get their packages by 9am as every spoke in
    the system essentially functions as a mini-hub. Packages are transferred from planes, to smaller
    planes, to trucks to reach their destination as fast
    as possible. Now, it’s important to note that not every
    FedEx package runs through Memphis. That
    would be incredibly inefficient if a customer wanted to, for example, ship a package from
    Phoenix, Arizona to Seattle, Washington. While only 1,100 miles separate Seattle from
    Phoenix, a routing through Memphis would total over
    3,000 miles and six hours in flight. The package
    would still make it overnight, but FedEx would be wasting fuel carrying that package an extra
    1,900 miles, so that’s why they have secondary hubs. In this case, FedEx’s Oakland hub has
    flights to both Phoenix and Seattle so the package would take a relatively efficient
    1,300 mile routing. Memphis essentially serves as the backup hub
    in case there’s not a more efficient routing. The secondary hubs, such as Oakland, in general
    have flights to destinations that are already served by flights to Memphis, but
    the destinations from Oakland are high demand destinations that will ship enough packages
    solely to the west coast to fill entire planes to
    Oakland. Some destinations, such as Albuquerque, New
    Mexico, ship enough packages to fill entire planes to Memphis, but not enough to
    fill flights to Oakland with west coast bound packages so a package shipped from here to
    the west coast would likely take a rather inefficient
    routing backtracking to Memphis. But FedEx’s most ingenious hub is here in
    Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage, with fewer
    than 300,000 residents, is home to the forth busiest cargo airport in the world. This is, once
    again, thanks to geography. If you draw a straight line from FedEx’s
    Memphis hub to the one in Osaka, taking into account earth’s curvature,
    it goes directly over Anchorage, Alaska. This
    airport is just the perfect stop-over point for flights from the US to Asia. Now, dozens of cargo
    airlines operate in Anchorage but most of them just use the airport as a refueling and
    crew swap spot. Modern airplanes can fly non-stop from the
    contiguous United States to Asia, but doing so
    requires taking more fuel which requires taking less cargo. It’s just cheaper to stop in Anchorage,
    but FedEx and UPS use the stop for something else—sorting. If FedEx wanted to maintain
    current shipping times without the Anchorage hub, they would likely have to run non-stop
    flights from each of their Asian hubs to each of their
    American hubs, but they just don’t have the
    demand to fill this many planes. Instead, they run flights from their Asian
    hubs to Anchorage then flights from Anchorage many of their
    American hubs. While stopped in Anchorage,
    packages from Asia are processed through customs and sorted to be put on the plane bound
    closest to their destination. This helps cuts down on shipping time and
    cost. Shipping is an incredibly price-sensitive
    business. These courier companies rely on
    enormous contracts with retailers and, when some of these retailers are shipping millions
    of packages per day, every cent matters. In a lot of ways, however, the express shipping
    model is inherently expensive largely because of how
    couriers use their most expensive assets—planes. So much is centered around those few sorting
    hours at the big hubs so FedEx’s planes all have to
    wait around to arrive at the exact right moment. Some FedEx hubs, such as Memphis, do sort
    packages during the day, but the overwhelming majority of their business happens overnight. FedEx’s flight from Memphis to Oklahoma
    City, for example, leaves at 4am and arrives at
    5:20am, but then the plane waits around until 10:10pm to fly back to Memphis. That’s over 17
    hours sitting in Oklahoma City and, on that route, the plane is only flying for about
    two hours per day. Meanwhile, commercial airlines regularly fly
    their planes for more than 12 hours per day meaning they have six times higher aircraft
    utilization. FedEx would never be profitable if they
    bought all new multi-hundred million dollar aircraft to use for mere hours per day, so
    they don’t. Overwhelmingly, FedEx and other cargo airlines
    use old aircraft at the end of their lives. You’ll
    almost never see Airbus a300’s flying for passenger airlines anymore, yet FedEx, UPS,
    and DHL collectively own hundreds of them because
    they’re cheap. They didn’t spend much purchasing
    these aircraft, so they don’t have to worry about using them enough to offset their cost. UPS does
    have some brand new 747-800 aircraft, which are highly efficient, but they specifically
    schedule these planes on their longest routes so that
    they can recuperate their high purchase price through
    lower fuel costs. With older aircraft, fuel costs might be higher
    since the planes are less efficient, but overall it’s worth it since it allows
    FedEx to profitably leave their planes sitting for all but a
    few hours each day. Some passenger airlines, such as Allegiant
    Airlines in the US, uses the same strategy purchasing cheaper planes to allow
    them to fly fewer hours per day profitably and its
    now a tested and proven business strategy. Express shipping is one of those businesses
    that requires enormous networks to make work which is why you don’t see small shipping
    companies. It’s almost impossible to get started
    in this business unless, of course, you can make your own demand. Amazon, which ships more
    than a million packages per day, is getting into the delivery business. They’ve established a fleet
    of 32 aircraft and are building out their logistics network. When shipping so many packages,
    Amazon is operating at a scale where they can profit by taking the shipping companies
    out of the equation. FedEx, UPS, and DHL, meanwhile, are continuously
    focusing on further increasing the efficiency of their networks since in this
    business more than any, time is money. As you may have noticed, Wendover Productions
    has a new logo and with that I’ve redesigned the website with Squarespace. To be honest, I hadn’t used the website
    builder in a while but this process reminded me of why
    I’m such a fan of Squarespace. It was super simple to
    completely overhaul the site and, in my opinion, it looks great. I didn’t have any issues, but if
    you ever do they have award winning 24/7 customer support that I have used in the past and can
    vouch for. If you run a business, a youtube channel,
    a podcast, or anything else, you want to have a professional web presence like I do with
    my site since that’s how people find you, and you can
    get started building your website with Squarespace for 10% off at squarespace.com/wendover. Squarespace is a great supporter of the show
    so make sure to show them your appreciation by at
    least checking them out at squarespace.com/Wendover. And just one more thing, if you’re like
    me and the first reaction you had to seeing this new logo is wanting a t-shirt of it,
    you’re in luck because they’re now available for pre-order
    at DFTBA. The link is in the description.

    The Baboon That Controlled a Railway for 9 Years
    Articles, Blog

    The Baboon That Controlled a Railway for 9 Years

    August 10, 2019


    This video was made possible by Ecosia. Start using the search engine that plants
    trees with every search you make at ecosia.co/HAI. Monkey see, monkey do. Baboon see, baboon control a railway used
    by multi-ton trains and thousands of passengers. That’s how it worked in the late 1800’s
    in South Africa. Back in ye olde days radios didn’t exist
    and since trains were loud, you couldn’t just shout at the driver to tell them what
    to do. Therefore, in the 1800s, signals were developed
    as a way to tell incoming trains to stations what to do. At first, lanterns and hand signals were used
    by signalmen to convey the information needed but as technology advanced signals that could
    be controlled by switches and levers were installed to ease the process. These signals were similar to weathervanes
    in that they consisted of fixed posts with movable discs or signage that could be controlled
    via a switch. Various colors meant to stop or go or proceed
    with caution, and there were other vanes on different axes to indicate which tracks to
    pull into once arriving at the stations and various other signs meaning to take it to
    the left, right, to criss-cross, to cha cha now, to cha cha again, and for everybody to
    clap their hands. With the world going loco for locomotives
    at the time tons and tons of signalmen were needed to ensure that the trains stuck to
    schedules, were in working condition, and stuck to the proper tracks. Signalmen, as their names imply, were also
    responsible for operating the levers that would set off the signals for the trains out
    of the signal house. In the 1870s, one of the signalman for the
    Cape Town to Port Elizabeth Mainline Railroad in South Africa was a man named James Wilde. Wilde went by the nickname “Jumper” because
    he had a habit of jumping between the cars that would pass on the tracks and in a totally
    unforeseen and completely unpreventable twist of fate, Jumper once jumped a moving railcar
    and fell under it losing both of his legs in the process. After this, Jumper continued working hobbling
    around on a pair of peg legs although he found himself limited in his ability to signal trains
    proficiently. Not having legs does that. One day at the market, though, Jumper came
    upon a chacma baboon who’d been trained to lead an ox-drawn wagon. Though impressive, its intelligence isn’t
    particularly surprising by today’s standards. We now know that baboons aren’t so different
    from humans in their brain capacity. Baboons can keep schedules, communicate with
    their own language, differentiate between scribbles and the written word, and the University
    of Rochester recently concluded that baboons are actually capable of counting to an extent
    although I’m not sure what all the fuss is about since I’ve been able to do that
    at least since I was double-one or twelve-teen. Jumper begged and begged and finally convinced
    the owner to let him take the baboon and thus the prodigious primate pair was born. The original owner warned Jumper, however,
    that the baboon would refuse to work unless he had been given plenty of brandy to drink. They’re really just like us. The baboon, named Jack, was first taught to
    observe and then respond to certain commands. When Jumper would hold up a certain number
    of fingers, Jack was to pull the corresponding lever. From there, Jack learned that the trains were
    giving similar orders by the number of blats from their whistle. Over time, Jack realized on his known which
    tracks needed which signals and would double-check his own work as he was doing it. He also realized that conductors needed access
    to the coal sheds and would retrieve the key from Jumper unbidden to give to the incoming
    engineers. Now, if your job is replaceable by a monkey
    you really shouldn’t be expecting much job security so surprise surprise both Jack and
    Jumper’s jobs eventually came under threat. Jack was a beloved fixture of the railroad
    until some snobby high-society aristocrat noticed that he was, in fact, a monkey and
    narc’d on the pair. The bosses at the railway were aware that
    Jumper had found an assistant but were totally in the dark about his baboon-ness. After the Cape Town executives launched an
    investigation, they found out the truth about the monkey business. So, naturally, they tried to fire both Jumper
    and Jack. Jumper begged to demonstrate Jack’s cleverness
    and so the rail managers agreed to put him to the test. Jack perfectly performed his signaling abilities,
    even checking both directions to make sure the incoming trains were heading to separate
    tracks at the station. They were so impressed that they made Jack
    an official employee paying him 20 cents a day and half a bottle of beer every week. It’s been said that in the nine years Jack
    worked as a signalman he never made a single mistake, despite being constantly drunk and
    a monkey. Jack became known as “Jack the Signalman”
    and worked and lived with Jumper in a small cottage not far from the signal house. He stayed there and worked for the railroad
    up until his death from tuberculosis in 1890 and his skull is now displayed at a museum
    in Grahamstown, South Africa not far from where he worked. Monkeys can do a lot like play the violin,
    ride bicycles, roller-skate, but what they can’t do is stop the systematic and widespread
    deforestation of their natural habitat. Luckily, you can and you don’t even have
    to spend any money or effort to do it. Ecosia is a nonprofit search engine that uses
    the money generated from advertising to reforest areas including places like Tanzania, Ethiopia,
    and Burkina Faso where there are native baboons. It only takes about 50 searches to plant one
    tree so you can really easily make a difference. Head to ecosia.co/hai to add it to your browser
    so you can start planting trees one search at a time.

    How Japan’s Bullet Trains Changed Travel
    Articles, Blog

    How Japan’s Bullet Trains Changed Travel

    August 8, 2019


    Today’s high-speed trains will have you cruising along at 350 kilometres per hour. A ticket is about the same as a flight, and the door-to-door time on some of the world’s most popular routes is the same, or less than getting a plane. But decades ago rail travel was in decline. It faced fierce competition from the air and auto industries. Then came Japan’s bullet train. By the late 1950s, Japan’s economic miracle had transformed the war ravaged nation. Its economy was growing quickly. The area between Tokyo and Osaka was booming with industry. People were flocking to the capital for work but the rail line connecting the two major cities couldn’t take the stress. In 1958, a government panel was set up to tackle the problem and several potential solutions arose. Among them, building the world’s first high-speed rail line. Many were skeptical, but two men were true believers. Shinji Sogō was the then president of the state-run Japanese National Railways. The other, Sogō’s colleague, veteran engineer Hideo Shima. Up against bureaucratic obstacles and fierce opposition – the two drove the project forward. In 1959, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen line started construction under Sogō’s leadership. Shima was appointed the project’s chief engineer. His team designed the sleek and revolutionary cone-shaped front – from which the bullet train got its name. Rather than being pulled by an engine in front, each carriage of the bullet train was driven by an individual electric motor, which has proven to be safer, faster and more efficient. Apart from the train itself, the team also built wider tracks, which were more costly but allowed for greater stability and higher speeds. 3,000 bridges and 67 tunnels were built on the 515-kilometer line to allow a clear and largely curveless path. Older trains were banned from the new line. Equipped with advanced technologies, the new trains were able to travel as fast as 210 kilometers per hour, a breakthrough in the passenger rail industry and the world’s fastest at the time. The journey time between Tokyo and Osaka was cut from over 6 hours to 4. On October 1, 1964, the new line opened, just in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games. But neither Sogō’ nor Shima were invited for the inauguration. They both resigned in 1963 because the project’s budget came in at double what was promised – 400 billion yen, the equivalent of 3.6 billion US dollars today. But despite their premature departure, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen line was an immediate success and quickly turned a profit. It transformed the nation – allowing more people to work in metropolitan areas and became a symbol of Japan’s postwar re-emergence as an economic and tech power. Now over 300 trains operate on the line everyday. And the trip between Tokyo and Osaka has shortened to two and a half hours. The number of passengers has also soared, reaching 165 million in 2016. After the success of the Tōkaidō Shinkanse line, Japan has continued expanding its high-speed rail network and plans to build more. Following Japan’s lead, countries like France, Germany and China have also developed high-speed railways. By the end of 2018, the total length of high-speed rail network in the world will be over 46,000 kilometers, and over half of it is in China.