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High speed rail plan
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besson3c
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Feb 10, 2011, 12:51 AM
 
Some of you have probably read about the 53 billion plan to develop high speed rail, trains that will travel at 250 mph. As I was reading about this, I was thinking about how the left and right would spin this to their benefit.

The right will call this spending, the left will call it an investment. I don't know if this is a good or bad plan yet since I haven't researched any of this, so please don't interpret this as my having reached some sort of verdict and now pushing a point of view. In fact, if we can refrain from the gut feeling verdicts without having accounting for the following variables, that would be great!

The reason for this thread is that this issue has me interested because I feel that this plan might have a whole host of indirect consequences which may or may not justify the expense, but could certainly change things in this country... For example:

- more transportation options for us (obviously)
- less demand for domestic flights
- transportation options for businesses
- all sorts of security issues
- jobs
- commuting
- a positive impact on the environment
- longer lasting roads
- an improvement to our standard of living
- tourism revenue

My question is this... How does one weigh all of these sorts of things against the cost? Such a plan could literally pay for itself and have all sorts of great benefits, or it could be a money pit and not change anything in a positive way at all. Obviously there are variables that none of us can really predict right now such as ticket costs, maintenance costs, etc. Still, I'm not inclined to dismiss this by saying that we can't afford it without trying to answer this question, because we might not be able to afford to *not* do this, in a way... However, like I said, I honestly don't know.

Does my question make sense?
     
besson3c  (op)
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:01 AM
 
Just for fun I did some calculations...

Google Maps says that it takes 4.5 hours to go from Washington D.C. to New York City. At 250 mph this trip would take a little over an hour, plus no city traffic. This would allow people to live in D.C. and work in New York, or vice versa. Plenty of people commute for an hour via car today.

Leaving the whole issue of whether we can afford this aside, this would definitely be ****ing cool.
     
subego
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:17 AM
 
The most important variable (and at the moment, hardest to predict) is how well the system would be managed.

If it's anything like Amtrak, what we have is what seems like a no-brainer plan now, but it won't meet expectations... ever.

Despite my right leaning inclination, it's not like I'm against spending money. I am however, quite firmly against getting burned.

I think we ignore precedent here at our peril.
     
SpaceMonkey
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:26 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Just for fun I did some calculations...

Google Maps says that it takes 4.5 hours to go from Washington D.C. to New York City. At 250 mph this trip would take a little over an hour, plus no city traffic. This would allow people to live in D.C. and work in New York, or vice versa. Plenty of people commute for an hour via car today.

Leaving the whole issue of whether we can afford this aside, this would definitely be ****ing cool.
I'm guessing that particular corridor is unlikely to see major improvements for a variety of reasons, mostly because of the concentration of existing infrastructure (freight rail and highways).

"One ticket to Washington, please. I have a date with destiny."
     
turtle777
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:32 AM
 
I'm the right , and I would call it an investment.

However, the great obstacle is land rights. To build all these rails, you need to lay an efficient route, meaning cutting through areas that will HATE you like a MF'er.

Eminent domain rarely gets people excited, but it's inevitable for such a project.
I think that's where the right will kill it.

-t
     
besson3c  (op)
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:38 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The most important variable (and at the moment, hardest to predict) is how well the system would be managed.

If it's anything like Amtrak, what we have is what seems like a no-brainer plan now, but it won't meet expectations... ever.

Despite my right leaning inclination, it's not like I'm against spending money. I am however, quite firmly against getting burned.

I think we ignore precedent here at our peril.

Yeah, it is not hard to imagine us getting burned with this.

It would be interesting to look to see how this has fared in other countries with high speed rail, and to weigh this against any technological improvements which may change things somewhat in terms of maintenance costs, performance, etc.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
I'm the right , and I would call it an investment.

However, the great obstacle is land rights. To build all these rails, you need to lay an efficient route, meaning cutting through areas that will HATE you like a MF'er.

Eminent domain rarely gets people excited, but it's inevitable for such a project.
I think that's where the right will kill it.

-t

What if the project entailed ripping up the current tracks and replacing it with this, or putting the tracks right beside the old ones or something?

To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what the plan will be with the old tracks.
     
turtle777
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:42 AM
 
You still need the old tracks for freight.
The problem right now is that freight has priority over passenger rail.
If there is a delay or problem, freight goes first.

You really need a second set of tracks.

Parallel works, but will still require more land. It's definitely more feasible than a completely new route.
However, my guess is that the freight routes are not the most efficient for passenger needs.

-t
     
besson3c  (op)
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:45 AM
 
Why couldn't the high speed rail be used for freight?

I don't know if this plan includes creating new routes, as opposed to just utilizing our existing ones...
     
turtle777
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:49 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Why couldn't the high speed rail be used for freight?
It could, but what's the point ?
You don't want a train that goes 60mph slow down a train that goes 250mph.

Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I don't know if this plan includes creating new routes, as opposed to just utilizing our existing ones...
There is no detailed plan.

Like I said, existing rails were build for freight, and efficient distribution of goods, NOT passengers. Plus, freight routes will invariably laid in a way that will preclude going 250mph, even if you laid in parallel a new track. E.g., a train going 250mpg will need a completely different turn radius than a train going 60 mph.

-t

-t
     
besson3c  (op)
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
It could, but what's the point ?
You don't want a train that goes 60mph slow down a train that goes 250mph.
So you don't see this plan replacing all of the slower trains?

Like I said, existing rails were build for freight, and efficient distribution of goods, NOT passengers. Plus, freight routes will invariably laid in a way that will preclude going 250mph, even if you laid in parallel a new track. E.g., a train going 250mpg will need a completely different turn radius than a train going 60 mph.

-t

-t

I hadn't thought about the turn radius. You so smart!
     
turtle777
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
So you don't see this plan replacing all of the slower trains?
No, there is no need for freight to go faster. It would not be cost efficient.

-t
     
besson3c  (op)
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Feb 10, 2011, 02:06 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
No, there is no need for freight to go faster. It would not be cost efficient.

-t

I can definitely see it that way for traditional railway freight, but what about companies like UPS or FedEx that aim for quick delivery replacing some of their trucks with freight trains?
     
turtle777
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Feb 10, 2011, 02:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I can definitely see it that way for traditional railway freight, but what about companies like UPS or FedEx that aim for quick delivery replacing some of their trucks with freight trains?
I don't see it happening. There is no reason that this will have any advantage over the existing infrastructure for overnight shipments (which is planes).

-t
     
besson3c  (op)
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Feb 10, 2011, 02:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
I don't see it happening. There is no reason that this will have any advantage over the existing infrastructure for overnight shipments (which is planes).

-t

Perhaps, but perhaps not. There is also ground shipment service that supplements air transit and transit between airports, and it may work out that sending stuff in bulk via train is cheaper in some instances, who knows?
     
turtle777
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Feb 10, 2011, 02:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Perhaps, but perhaps not. There is also ground shipment service that supplements air transit and transit between airports, and it may work out that sending stuff in bulk via train is cheaper in some instances, who knows?
Well, I truly hope that the administration doesn't push high speed rail so that Fedex or UPS can use it to ship packages.

-t
     
besson3c  (op)
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Feb 10, 2011, 02:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Well, I truly hope that the administration doesn't push high speed rail so that Fedex or UPS can use it to ship packages.

-t

Me too, but perhaps the private sector would be willing to pay the government to run their private trains on these tracks or something?

How does this work with the current rail system?
     
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Feb 10, 2011, 09:04 AM
 
Who is going to do the track maintenance?
If it's CSX(Crash, Spill, X-plode) no thanks.

DC's Metro was fine when it was built, but not anymore.
Poor maintenance over decades has ruined it.

High speed rail has lots of built in safety issues.
Hit something at 250mph with all the inertia of a train!
What a mess, and not just to the train, but the surrounding area, depending on how far the parts fly.

The Obama admin just wants us to be more like Europe.
     
BadKosh
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Feb 10, 2011, 09:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
It could, but what's the point ?
You don't want a train that goes 60mph slow down a train that goes 250mph.
The energy of getting a 10 thousand ton freight train up to 250 MPH would be enormous!

Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Like I said, existing rails were build for freight, and efficient distribution of goods, NOT passengers. Plus, freight routes will invariably laid in a way that will preclude going 250mph, even if you laid in parallel a new track. E.g., a train going 250mpg will need a completely different turn radius than a train going 60 mph.
-t[/QUOTE]

Exactly. Also the high speed rail would need to be built far more precise than the freight one.
     
nonhuman
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Feb 10, 2011, 09:30 AM
 
We absolutely should not be ****ing with our freight train system. As is, the US' freight trains are one of the best run, most efficient transportation systems in the world. We can ship more, farther, cheaper than anyone else on the planet because of them.
     
turtle777
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Feb 10, 2011, 09:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by nonhuman View Post
We absolutely should not be ****ing with our freight train system. As is, the US' freight trains are one of the best run, most efficient transportation systems in the world. We can ship more, farther, cheaper than anyone else on the planet because of them.
I agree. That's why I said we would need new tracks and routes for high speed passenger trains.

-t
     
nonhuman
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Feb 10, 2011, 09:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
I agree. That's why I said we would need new tracks and routes for high speed passenger trains.

-t
I think that's true even if we ignore freight. Current lines are really only useful if you live in the NE Corridor (which I fortunately do). It would be great to get to NY in under an hour and Boston in under two (from DC), but it would be even more great to actually be able to take the train to Atlanta (currently 14 hours), or Chicago (current 18 hours) at all. Right now I'm perfectly willing to take the Acela to New York (3 hours), and even to Boston (7 hours), but it's unreasonable to get to other major cities that aren't that much further away any way other than to fly.
     
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Feb 10, 2011, 09:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Eminent domain rarely gets people excited, but it's inevitable for such a project.
I think that's where the right will kill it.
At least this is the proper use for eminent domain, a real public infrastructure project, rather than seizing a pile of land to give to a commercial developer.
     
turtle777
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Feb 10, 2011, 11:18 AM
 
Originally Posted by Dork. View Post
At least this is the proper use for eminent domain, a real public infrastructure project, rather than seizing a pile of land to give to a commercial developer.
Very true, that's why I personally would NOT object to it.

-t
     
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Feb 10, 2011, 12:12 PM
 
From what I heard on the radio, the overall bill includes improving freight lines (moving the tracks around) to make room for a high-speed rail system. I don't think they'll share any tracks.
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Feb 10, 2011, 12:15 PM
 
1) The speed is a fantasy... even the Japanese are just now widely introducing 200mph. Maybe confusing 250mph with 250 km/h?

2) Unsustainable costs. How many write downs has Shinkansen taken in the last 40 years?

3) $50B is a joke. The Chinese plan on spending $500B per year.

4) How are you going to get around when you arrive at your destination? Very few cities in the US have infrastructure to get around without a car.

I travel Houston to Dallas about once every other month. I'd pay $150 RT for a high speed car train. I don't see that price or a car train happening.
     
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Feb 10, 2011, 12:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
I'm the right , and I would call it an investment.

However, the great obstacle is land rights. To build all these rails, you need to lay an efficient route, meaning cutting through areas that will HATE you like a MF'er.

Eminent domain rarely gets people excited, but it's inevitable for such a project.
I think that's where the right will kill it.

-t


The lack of a modern high speed rail system in the US is truly pathetic. Having said that, it's all about the land. This has the potential for all kinds of economic development that would more than pay for itself for sure. But in most major metro areas there's not much undeveloped land to lay new tracks. So who has to give up their property? Perhaps existing tracks could be shared with slower freight trains inside the major metro areas and then the passenger trains switch over to new high speed tracks once it reaches the less densely populated areas outside of that?

OAW
     
turtle777
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
4) How are you going to get around when you arrive at your destination? Very few cities in the US have infrastructure to get around without a car.
Same as when you travel by plane ?
(I take my car as a carry on.)

-t
     
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The most important variable (and at the moment, hardest to predict) is how well the system would be managed.

If it's anything like Amtrak, what we have is what seems like a no-brainer plan now, but it won't meet expectations... ever.

Despite my right leaning inclination, it's not like I'm against spending money. I am however, quite firmly against getting burned.

I think we ignore precedent here at our peril.
I really like the IDEA of high-speed rail coast-to-coast, but that's not what they're talking about here. THIS plan is just another government boondoggle, designed to re-empower the railroad and construction unions on the East Coast. Government can't make Amtrak work now, so how they make more expensive railroad work I'm not sure. Just stupid.

Anything that helps the freight rail system is a good idea, though. We need to be relying on that system more and over-the-road trucks less as time goes on. All of you Greenies out there ought to be jumping up and down for more freight rail access and restoration.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Feb 10, 2011, 01:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by finboy View Post
I really like the IDEA of high-speed rail coast-to-coast, but that's not what they're talking about here. THIS plan is just another government boondoggle, designed to re-empower the railroad and construction unions on the East Coast. Government can't make Amtrak work now, so how they make more expensive railroad work I'm not sure. Just stupid.

Anything that helps the freight rail system is a good idea, though. We need to be relying on that system more and over-the-road trucks less as time goes on. All of you Greenies out there ought to be jumping up and down for more freight rail access and restoration.

From the perspective of a traveller, I can see why Amtrak is struggling. There is usually little reason to travel by train - it's slower than a car, requires a car rental when you get to your destination, and is relatively pricey. By upping the speeds and hopefully pricing this somewhere between gas costs and plane costs, you'd add a tremendous amount of attractiveness that surely would change the entire picture.
     
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Feb 10, 2011, 02:02 PM
 
It's going to start making more economic sense when gas prices rise, which they will in the not too distant future. The real problem we have is that we had a good basic rail system in place until shortly after WWII. When my family came over from Germany, in 1953, there were still trolley tracks running down the middle of some of the major roads. The explosion of private car ownership (supposedly helped by GM's buying of the trolley systems and shutting them down), changed the landscape forever, and it would take enormous investments, not only in infrastructure, but in convincing people that they don't need their personal vehicles as often, to change that. If I could take a train to work, and it would cost me no more than a car, I'd think about it. That still would, however, leave me wondering what to do with the stuff I buy at stores on the way home, or any of thew many other uses I have for my car.
     
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Feb 10, 2011, 02:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
By upping the speeds and hopefully pricing this somewhere between gas costs and plane costs, you'd add a tremendous amount of attractiveness that surely would change the entire picture.
Agreed, but that's like saying "after we get the sun to come up in the West..." Maybe by decree.

Other than eminent domain, government can offer nothing to make the system work better (same as it has been since the 1800s). Subsidies in the current case have just made Amtrak more and more dependent (see also "US Postal Service").
     
besson3c  (op)
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Feb 10, 2011, 02:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by OldManMac View Post
It's going to start making more economic sense when gas prices rise, which they will in the not too distant future. The real problem we have is that we had a good basic rail system in place until shortly after WWII. When my family came over from Germany, in 1953, there were still trolley tracks running down the middle of some of the major roads. The explosion of private car ownership (supposedly helped by GM's buying of the trolley systems and shutting them down), changed the landscape forever, and it would take enormous investments, not only in infrastructure, but in convincing people that they don't need their personal vehicles as often, to change that. If I could take a train to work, and it would cost me no more than a car, I'd think about it. That still would, however, leave me wondering what to do with the stuff I buy at stores on the way home, or any of thew many other uses I have for my car.

Yeah, but if your car was four times slower not accounting for traffic, road construction, etc. would this change things?
     
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Feb 10, 2011, 04:10 PM
 
Am I the only one who hoped this was about High Speed Railguns and plans for their deployment? Instead, we're just talking about passenger trains. Expensive ones at that. If we're going to spend 50+ Big ones, I expect a bang.





About the trains though. Put me down as "against". It's not just the "bang for buck" problem, the real problem is we are broke. Plus centralized systems tend to have vulnerabilities. I'd spend the money on battery research for electric cars. So they can go anywhere, and do not present a centralized target for anyone. Plus they don't have officers doing patdowns every time you head for work.
( Last edited by reader50; Feb 10, 2011 at 04:18 PM. )
     
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Feb 10, 2011, 04:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Am I the only one who hoped this was about High Speed Railguns and plans for their deployment? Instead, we're just talking about passenger trains. Expensive ones at that. If we're going to spend 50+ Big ones, I expect a bang.





About the trains though. Put me down as "against". It's not just the "bang for buck" problem, the real problem is we are broke. Plus centralized systems tend to have vulnerabilities. I'd spend the money on battery research for electric cars. So they can go anywhere, and do not present a centralized target for anyone. Plus they don't have officers doing patdowns every time you head for work.
Now heres an idea.

Passenger railguns!

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Feb 10, 2011, 04:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by OAW View Post


The lack of a modern high speed rail system in the US is truly pathetic. Having said that, it's all about the land. This has the potential for all kinds of economic development that would more than pay for itself for sure. But in most major metro areas there's not much undeveloped land to lay new tracks. So who has to give up their property? Perhaps existing tracks could be shared with slower freight trains inside the major metro areas and then the passenger trains switch over to new high speed tracks once it reaches the less densely populated areas outside of that?

OAW
Building an Autobahn type highway system for cars only would be a better idea. The cost of building high speed infrastructure (welded rail, cement ties and wide and deep ballast gravel, signals and such is about 50 million a mile. Is is going to be electric? Then you need the overhead catenary, and if its going to be diesel, it will need to be developed. Places with many floods, earthquakes, deep snow all will impact the high speed rail system. This will make ticket prices as high as air or higher. Maintenance is very important in such a system. rails shifting even a 10th of an inch can cause a rough ride. 1/2 inch can cause a derailment.
     
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Feb 10, 2011, 04:57 PM
 
Here in the Western US, we've been hearing about Bullet Train projects for decades. A Phoenix/LA/Las Vegas loop is floated on a regular basis.
     
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Feb 10, 2011, 05:14 PM
 
Not to mention that nearly ALL of the transportation problems in this country are urban, not interstate. It's a "solution" in search of a problem that will become a money pit rather quickly. AmTrak has consumed $71B of of governmental prop-ups, for example.

All of you talking about relaying track are forgetting that these tracks will also require rerouting of surface roads, al a Europe/Japan so that motor vehicles and bullet trains never have to cross each other's paths.

Even urban rail transport requires taxpayer subsidies to exist, or their tickets would cost so much they would be universally ignored.

Rail transport for passenger moving is a recipe for never-ending tax hikes.
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Feb 10, 2011, 05:19 PM
 
The problem with amtrak is that it rarely turns out to be better than air travel. It's not cheap, it's not fast. It is more comfortable and doesn't have security PITA procedures.
     
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Feb 11, 2011, 04:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
The problem with amtrak is that it rarely turns out to be better than air travel. It's not cheap, it's not fast. It is more comfortable and doesn't have security PITA procedures.
The only place where this isn't true is the North East Corridor. Getting to New York from either Boston or DC is much, much easier on the train for a number of reasons. Specifically, even though the flight there is shorter than the actual train ride, once you factor in the amount of time it takes to get to the airport, get through security, wait for all that extra time you allotted in case security was slow that day, fly to New York, and get into the city, it's actually much slower than the train. The train leaves from the middle of the city and arrives in the middle of the city (so it's faster and easier to get to and faster and easier to get out of), doesn't have the same issues with getting through security (added bonus: you can pack your shampoo), doesn't require as much lead time to wait around at the station (I usually try to get there 30 mins before departure), and is simply more comfortable (none of that insanely dry, recycled air, no issues with pressure, no need to be buckled in, more bathrooms, room and no security concerns to get out of your seat and walk around, and a cafe car that gives a bit of a change of pace and a place to meet and interact with people).

I can't imagine getting to New York any other way (as long as I live in either Boston or DC...).
     
mduell
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Feb 14, 2011, 08:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by OAW View Post
The lack of a modern high speed rail system in the US is truly pathetic. Having said that, it's all about the land. This has the potential for all kinds of economic development that would more than pay for itself for sure. But in most major metro areas there's not much undeveloped land to lay new tracks. So who has to give up their property? Perhaps existing tracks could be shared with slower freight trains inside the major metro areas and then the passenger trains switch over to new high speed tracks once it reaches the less densely populated areas outside of that?
One problem is that if you're going to use freight railroads, you have to comply with the FRA's "safety" rules, which result in cars/trains about twice as heavy as other countries/tracks. The additional weight has a significant impact on both performance and economics. Information and examples here and here.

Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Same as when you travel by plane ?
(I take my car as a carry on.)
Sure, but HSR is supposed to carry more people and one of the advantages is supposed to be direct access to downtown (where there aren't, and isn't space for, many rental car lots).

Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
From the perspective of a traveller, I can see why Amtrak is struggling. There is usually little reason to travel by train - it's slower than a car, requires a car rental when you get to your destination, and is relatively pricey. By upping the speeds and hopefully pricing this somewhere between gas costs and plane costs, you'd add a tremendous amount of attractiveness that surely would change the entire picture.
So higher speed, all new track (to avoid the FRA regs), and it's somehow going to be cheaper than the shitty Amtrak service?
     
nonhuman
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Feb 14, 2011, 09:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Sure, but HSR is supposed to carry more people and one of the advantages is supposed to be direct access to downtown (where there aren't, and isn't space for, many rental car lots).
Not so many rental lots, no, but typically some form of public transit service. Plus car-sharing options like Zipcar (which is what I use both at home in DC and when I travel).

The whole point of dense cities (and particularly downtown areas) is that everything is concentrated in a small area. You really shouldn't need a car if you're going to be staying within the city itself.

Besides, if there is demand for rental cars, the rental car companies will do what they can to get a solution in place at or near the new stations that will service the new high speed rail lines. There are, in fact, rental car lots in cities, they just don't look like the endless plains of cars that you see out in the 'burbs.
     
el chupacabra
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Feb 15, 2011, 03:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by OAW View Post


The lack of a modern high speed rail system in the US is truly pathetic.

OAW
Why? Do we NEED high speed rail or something? A few years ago I started a similar thread asking why we have no high speed rail...and the consensus was that it costs more (subsidies) in Europe and Japan to maintain these than what they ever make. Im always amazed when people want to emulate the failures of Europe.

I still cant think of any problem this would solve or even improve. At the moment, most business travelers could accomplish their meetings on video conference; but they choose air travel because they want an excuse for a vacation, they want quick travel, and they have more money than they know what to do with.

To nonhuman
If we get a high speed rail you can bet there will be the same ridiculous security as the airport. Cant a train hold more people than a plane? If I was a saboteur I think Id target the train or its tracks.
the largest problem for Americans today is they eat too much food and dont have enough work to do to keep their heart healthy
     
nonhuman
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Feb 15, 2011, 09:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
To nonhuman
If we get a high speed rail you can bet there will be the same ridiculous security as the airport. Cant a train hold more people than a plane? If I was a saboteur I think Id target the train or its tracks.
Maybe, maybe not. A train can't be hijacked and diverted to a different location. At best they could attempt to derail it in a populated area, but I rather imagine that train tracks are specifically designed to make that very difficult. The potential for trains to be used in terrorists attacks is fairly minimal (though, to be fair, the same is true for planes).

Of course, Neapolitano has already stated that she wants to see the TSA's authority extended beyond air travel. I believe she's specifically mentioned trains, buses, and subways. If she has her way, no doubt you'll need to be scanned, prodded, and searched just to get into your garage to drive to work.
     
imitchellg5
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Feb 15, 2011, 11:24 PM
 
All I will say is that it seems absurd to me that the only way to get from Denver to Colorado Springs and back is to either drive or walk.
     
smacintush
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Feb 16, 2011, 01:26 AM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
Why? Do we NEED high speed rail or something?
Exactly.

A few years ago I started a similar thread asking why we have no high speed rail...and the consensus was that it costs more (subsidies) in Europe and Japan to maintain these than what they ever make. Im always amazed when people want to emulate the failures of Europe.
Agreed. Though, we don't even have to look at Europe. All we have to do is look at how well the government handled the railroads in the past, and how well they handle any number of public transportation systems now. Anyone who thinks that this will cost what they claim it will, improve the economy, or actually end up making a dime is delusional.

I still cant think of any problem this would solve or even improve.
I think it comes down to two things: Technology envy, and "saving the planet".

At the moment, most business travelers could accomplish their meetings on video conference; but they choose air travel because they want an excuse for a vacation, they want quick travel, and they have more money than they know what to do with.
It's amazing how often the people want to subsidize business.

Take their profits, drown them in regulation, then give them money and create special projects for their benefit. Makes sense.
Being in debt and celebrating a lower deficit is like being on a diet and celebrating the fact you gained two pounds this week instead of five.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Feb 16, 2011, 02:56 AM
 
What data exists that supports that it costs more to maintain these trains than they will make, and that this would be the case here or that the technology would even be identical? I'm not saying this isn't true, but I think that these claims need grounding.

As far as "needing" high speed rail, the word "need" is probably impossible to define, but we can certainly benefit a great deal from high speed rail providing the positives outweigh the negatives sufficiently.
     
OAW
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Feb 16, 2011, 03:08 AM
 
There were those who claimed we didn't "need" the interstate highway system. IMO, if nothing else it would be nice to have a network of high-speed rail systems to go head to head with airline for the traveling public's dollar. Competition is a good thing.

OAW
     
besson3c  (op)
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Feb 16, 2011, 03:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by OAW View Post
There were those who claimed we didn't "need" the interstate highway system. IMO, if nothing else it would be nice to have a network of high-speed rail systems to go head to head with airline for the traveling public's dollar. Competition is a good thing.

OAW

If the costs are kept in check both for customers and in maintenance, I think it's a no-brainer that the benefits will be far, far more than your "nothing else" point here...
     
smacintush
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Feb 16, 2011, 03:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
What data exists that supports that it costs more to maintain these trains than they will make, and that this would be the case here or that the technology would even be identical? I'm not saying this isn't true, but I think that these claims need grounding.
This is not even controversial. There are a couple of places that break even or make a little money, but overall these things lose money and the faster they are the less efficient they are.

As far as "needing" high speed rail, the word "need" is probably impossible to define, but we can certainly benefit a great deal from high speed rail providing the positives outweigh the negatives sufficiently.
Is need even a standard? If need is indeed impossible to define, then on what basis do we justify this project? Who would benefit the most? Why does that benefit justify a government program?

And this is where I ask…if there is a quantifiable "need", why is a public subsidy what is "needed"?

Maybe we should be asking, IF there is a "need" for a service like this, what are the reasons that no private company has bothered? Either there really is no need, there too many government hoops to jump through, or the investment is too large to justify the amount of profit that could ever be gained. If there is no need, then why are we even talking about this? If there is too much red tape involved, why aren't we talking about changing that? If it is too difficult to make money at, we are returned to the question; Why does this justify a public subsidy?

This is as I said: a combination of liberal technology envy and part of a central "green" plan to implement a gigantic public transportation system, while at the same time throwing money down the green energy black hole to power it. If the public gets on board with this it has huge potential to be yet another financial disaster.
Being in debt and celebrating a lower deficit is like being on a diet and celebrating the fact you gained two pounds this week instead of five.
     
 
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