Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
As a general note, I wonder what is your reasoning behind choosing maximum design speed (or line speed) rather than maximum operating speed in the 'effectiveness ratio' comparisons? If it is to be a proxy for the elaborateness (and thus price) of construction, I see that as problematic for three reasons:
  1. A lot of the relations you researched contain significant sections with lower line speeds. For example, on the Madrid-Sevilla line, 300 km/h applies only a third of the way from Madrid, then it's 250 km/h to Córdoba, and just 200 km/h to Sevilla.
  2. Some of the older lines (almost all in Japan, the first in France and the first two in Germany) saw their line speeds raised compared to the original design value without significant new construction.
  3. Design speed is usually taken to mean the speed permitted by the geometry (distance of tracks, curve radius, tunnel diameter) and the strength of superstructures. However, when actual operating speed is lower, that isn't necessarily because of a bureaucratic decision or technical problems, but the simpler scale of some components (which also brings costs savings): e.g. catenary with lower tension, less stable track, both of these maintained with wider tolerances; and there are the commissioning tests, too.

Some specific notes on line speeds:
  • France: I never heard of a line speed raise on the LGV Atlantique from 300 to 320 km/h, what's your source? As for the LGV Méditerranée, 320 km/h is the maximum operating speed (on a short section near Avignon, as test for TGV Est operation), design speed is 350 km/h. As for LGV Nord, design speed is 350 km/h too, but maximum operating speed is 300 km/h.
  • Spain: the LAV Córdoba-Málaga has a design speed of 350 km/h, too.
  • Italy: I think most of the new lines (maybe excepting Bologna-Florence) have a 350 km/h design speed, too. And FS ordered new high-speed trains with a maximum speed of 360 km/h (which doesn't mean that they will actually be operated that fast, of course; but IMHO it does mean that they considered requesting a line speed increase above the original design speed).
  • Germany, Mannheim-Karlsruhe: the 22 minute runs use the NBS (SFS) Mannheim-Stuttgart for half the distance, thus maximum line speed is 280 km/h. (Incidentally, this section was one limited to 250 km/h upon opening.)
  • Germany, Hamm-Bielefeld: it's worth to note that this is a mostly straight and level, four-tracked section, which was used for high-speed tests before the first high-speed lines were finished (record: 317 km/h with the InterCity Experimental).
  • Germany, Augsburg-München: 230 km/h is the design speed for after the upgrade and four-tracking, which was just finished (I travelled over it a week later BTW), but train schedules will change in December only.
  • Great Britain: 140 mph (225 km/h) is the design speed of the IC225 trains, but actual top speed and line speed on the ECML remained limited to 125 mph (201 km/h) due to a lack of signalling upgrade. (Hence London-York has an even more impressive travel/max speed ratio.)
  • Japan: Tokyo-Morioka line speed was raised from 275 to 300 km/h this March with the introduction of (and only for) the new E5 Shinkansens, and will be raised along with E5 operating speeds to 320 km/h later. This line started out at 210 km/h. Note that it now reaches well beyond Morioka: to Aomori.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 10:29:52 AM EST
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