"This December, high-speed trains designed by the German conglomerate and adapted for Russian winters will ply the rails between St. Petersburg and Moscow. But Siemens hopes their final destination will be the last laggard of the high-speed age: the United States.
"For years, businesspeople and politicians have dreamed about America entering the high-speed era, but Amtrak has been plagued by budget and service problems and the closest Americans have come to high speed is the Acela, which rarely runs at what Europeans call high speed."
"In Russia, it took a decade of on-again, off-again talks before Siemens signed a deal with the state railways in 2006 amid a general thaw in relations between Germany and Russia.
"Here as elsewhere, high-speed trains will compete with airlines. The 401-mile trip from downtown Moscow to downtown St. Petersburg will be 3 hours and 45 minutes. The average flying travel time is five hours, including the trips to and from the airport, check-in and security clearance.
"The four-times-a-day service will trim 45 minutes from the fastest train service now. To achieve this, the Russian state railway spent $485 million upgrading the track and $926 million for eight Sapsan trains and a 30-year service agreement, at today's exchange rates."
Thanks to Frances Cunningham Ritchie