They’re making an American “Train to Busan” but America has no trains

Somehow I don’t think “Vermonter to Springfield” has the same ring to it

Katelyn Burns


Photo by Bruce Tuten, Flickr

I love trains. Sometimes I sit on my couch and watch mass transit videos on YouTube for hours on end. Not many people know this about me.

Funnily enough, I usually don’t like movies or TV shows about trains. I think the last train-related movie I saw was “Unstoppable,” starring Denzel Washington. But alas, I’ve never seen “Snowpiercer” or a host of other train movies.

That includes “Train to Busan,” a Korean zombie horror flick set on a high speed train. Essentially, the film portrays a zombie outbreak on a train from Seoul to Busan, South Korea.

The film scores a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and won a host of Asian film awards in 2016 and 2017. Earlier this week, news broke that producers were in the process of making an American version of Train to Busan. But I find the idea kind of hilarious. The US has one “high-speed train” route in the entire country, the Acela, which services the country’s northeast corridor. But “High-speed” is a bit of a misnomer for the route.

Thanks to substandard track, the Acela can only hit it’s top speed of 150 mph in parts of western Connecticut and Rhode Island, instead going about 80 mph along most of its route.

The Acela from DC to New York, the trip I’m personally most familiar with, comes in only a half hour sooner than the Northeast Regional, which has more stops and is supposed to operate at a lower speed. The train most definitely beats driving. Imagine sitting in a train, doing work or using an electronic device, for 3.5 hours compared to the 4 or 5 hours, traffic-depending, sitting behind the wheel of your car.

But in the US, the northeast corridor is the only place where a train ride beats out driving a car.

Truth be told, America’s passenger train infrastructure is a joke, especially compared to a place like South Korea. The train from Seoul to Busan can hit top speeds of 190 mph, along more of it’s route than anything the Acela has to offer.

Congress is seeking to address some of the problems, allocating $39 billion towards local transit



Katelyn Burns

Political journalist. The first openly trans Capitol Hill reporter in US history. Writing about more than just trans issues. Follow her on Twitter @transscribe