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High speed rail plan (Page 2)
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smacintush
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Feb 16, 2011, 03:35 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
Competition? The kind of competition where one side is a government monopoly and has the power to exclude all potential rail competitors as well as create rules, laws and taxes that drive up the costs for the airlines?

Government does not compete. There is no competition when the other side has the guns and the power to spend as much as they thing they need. In the end we all pay for it. Only we will all also be paying for others' travel.
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besson3c  (op)
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Feb 16, 2011, 03:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by smacintush View Post
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.
Data, please.

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"?
That's why I didn't use the word "need" when making my own point. The word "need" is problematic.

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?
Maybe the same reason why private companies generally are not terribly well suited at providing roads to people that are used and managed effectively? Is there an instance where this has ever been successful?

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.
I think you are being a little reactionary.

The environmental benefits are nice, but at this point we are simply discussing this plan because it is most definitely worth being entertained at a time when are losing an economic edge. Being entertained is not the same as "lobbying for", unless I missed something nobody in here including myself is lobbying for this. Being entertained simply means "hey, let's check this out". To be this dismissive while failing to provide any concrete data seems a little reactionary to me.
     
smacintush
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Feb 16, 2011, 04:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Data, please.
Do your own research.

That's why I didn't use the word "need" when making my own point. The word "need" is problematic.
You didn't answer the question, if need is not the standard, then what is? If we don't need it, or we cannot even determine "need", then why should we even discuss this?

Maybe the same reason why private companies generally are not terribly well suited at providing roads to people that are used and managed effectively? Is there an instance where this has ever been successful?
Private companies haven't been given much of a chance or a reason to invest in roads since the 1920's in this country.

There are a few roads around the world that are private, some that exist like in Tokyo, and some that are still being built like the double decker tunnel in Paris. As far as I know they do well, but I can't back that up.

While we are on the subject of roads let me ask you, How long do you think that any private industry would survive in this country with 40,000+ people dying every year using their services? In the 20s traffic deaths reached 20,000 and never dropped below that number. By 1930 they reached 30,000 and never dropped below that. In the 60s they reached 40,000 and never dropped below that number. Is this what you call a great success?

I think you are being a little reactionary.
I don't think I'm the reactionary type. Just opinionated.

The environmental benefits are nice, but at this point we are simply discussing this plan because it is most definitely worth being entertained at a time when are losing an economic edge.
The economic angle takes me back to the questions: why should we be subsidizing business in this way? Is there even any evidence that this will do anything positive in that regard?

Being entertained is not the same as "lobbying for", unless I missed something nobody in here including myself is lobbying for this. Being entertained simply means "hey, let's check this out". To be this dismissive while failing to provide any concrete data seems a little reactionary to me.
Which is why I am trying to post in the form of questions rather than merely spouting off.
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, 04:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by smacintush View Post
Do your own research.
I might do just that, but also, it is probably advisable to not make claims that you are uninterested in defending, no?

You didn't answer the question, if need is not the standard, then what is? If we don't need it, or we cannot even determine "need", then why should we even discuss this?
You can't simplify something like this this way though. "Need" is better used in the context of "I need food", where the solution is to therefore somebody obtain food. Nobody "needs" high speed rail, but you could argue that nobody really needs many things (such as the iPhone, for example), yet these things exist because they (hopefully) make life better, improve our economy, and *do* something. Will high speed rail do something? It certainly would, it's just a question of figuring out whether this is a net gain or a net loss.

Private companies haven't been given much of a chance or a reason to invest in roads since the 1920's in this country.

There are a few roads around the world that are private, some that exist like in Tokyo, and some that are still being built like the double decker tunnel in Paris. As far as I know they do well, but I can't back that up.
You don't even have to look that far:

Ontario Highway 407 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There are many challenges in having private companies control roads. I would suggest researching this to find out how this project ended up and why it ended up the way it did.

While we are on the subject of roads let me ask you, How long do you think that any private industry would survive in this country with 40,000+ people dying every year using their services? In the 20s traffic deaths reached 20,000 and never dropped below that number. By 1930 they reached 30,000 and never dropped below that. In the 60s they reached 40,000 and never dropped below that number. Is this what you call a great success?
These numbers need a whole lot of context and consideration of all the variables before you can draw the conclusions that you want to draw, I think.

Would you be in favor of people lining up to sue the owners of a private toll road if they miss a turn and drive off the road? Would you be in favor of a private company somehow being exempt from lawsuits? There is a whole lot to consider here in addition to what these numbers mean.

Which is why I am trying to post in the form of questions rather than merely spouting off.
The repetition of this statement is you asking questions?

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.
     
BadKosh
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Feb 16, 2011, 08:42 AM
 
The number of deaths is NOT because of the roads, but of the political/governmental laxness that allows drunks and a-holes back on the roads after causing accidents. Lets add in the dozing truckers, illegals and young race car idiots to the mix. Personal responsibility isn't stressed enough. Too many finger pointers, and too many ambulance chasing lawyers make it hard to get the a-holes off the streets.

I still say jack the financial fines up about 6-8 times and post that info all along the roads as a warning to those who want to be dicks on the roads.
     
BadKosh
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Feb 16, 2011, 08:46 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
The interstate system was a military scheme where parts of it were designed to be flat and 6-8000 thousand feet long for military aircraft needing to use it as runways after the airports were bombed.
     
nonhuman
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Feb 16, 2011, 10:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by BadKosh View Post
The interstate system was a military scheme where parts of it were designed to be flat and 6-8000 thousand feet long for military aircraft needing to use it as runways after the airports were bombed.
False: List of common misconceptions - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
Chongo
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Feb 16, 2011, 10:47 AM
 
Originally Posted by BadKosh View Post
The interstate system was a military scheme where parts of it were designed to be flat and 6-8000 thousand feet long for military aircraft needing to use it as runways after the airports were bombed.
The "Common Misconceptions" article goes on to say that this is indeed the case in other countries, lending more credence to the legend.
It sounds plausible because of the tile of the originating legislation.
Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia AKA The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (Public Law 84-627)

I Like this note from the above article.
A significant side effect of the Interstate Highway Act was the direct subsidization of the suburban highway system, making commutes between urban centers to suburbs much quicker, furthering the flight of citizens and businesses and divestment from inner cities, and compounding vehicle pollution and excessive petroleum use problems. Growth of the suburbs has also led to a continual cycle of widening these highways, digging them up to be completely rebuilt, and then widening them again - a continual "money pit" for tax funds, with the widenings and re-buildings costing far more than the original highways did.
The bypass or loop routes of the Interstate Highway System have become unintended, but nearly universal, conduits for both residential and business growth in the suburbs. Besides many widenings and rebuildings, for some cities, there have been requirements for very costly new bypasses and loops outside of the original ones. This fact of urban growth around the bypasses has been particularly salient in these metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Fort Worth, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis - St. Paul, Nashville, Portland, Richmond, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, and Washington, D.C..
Several cities have needed new bypasses or loops where none had been planned before, including Charlotte, North Carolina, Greenville, South Carolina, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Tampa.
Expansion of the railway system also was accompanied by population sprawl. The overpopulation crowd, and especially the environmentalists, will do their best to prevent new railway paths being carved out of the countryside. Environmental impact studies are required prior to construction. the completion of I10 was delayed for decades because the last few miles through Phoenix kept getting delayed by archeological finds (Hohokam ruins). The archeologists would have to come in and excavate the site completely before construction could resume.
( Last edited by Chongo; Feb 16, 2011 at 11:22 AM. )
     
nonhuman
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Feb 16, 2011, 11:44 AM
 
Originally Posted by Chongo View Post
The "Common Misconceptions" article goes on to say that this is indeed the case in other countries, lending more credence to the legend.
It sounds plausible because of the tile of the originating legislation.
Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia AKA The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (Public Law 84-627)
Sure, it sounds plausible. I used to think it was true too. But it's not. The Interstate System refers pretty unequivocally to the United States Interstate System; I'm pretty sure no other country refers to their highways in that way and it wouldn't even make sense as they don't typically have states (Australia comes to mind as a possible exception).

Expansion of the railway system also was accompanied by population sprawl. The overpopulation crowd, and especially the environmentalists, will do their best to prevent new railway paths being carved out of the countryside. Environmental impact studies are required prior to construction. the completion of I10 was delayed for decades because the last few miles through Phoenix kept getting delayed by archeological finds (Hohokam ruins). The archeologists would have to come in and excavate the site completely before construction could resume.
Yeah, I personally think that the construction of the Interstate system was a bad thing overall. What we need is for people to be more concentrated in smaller areas, not spread out all over the damned place.
     
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Feb 16, 2011, 03:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by nonhuman View Post
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.
Actually if you simply Google Madrid and London Terrorist Attack you will see the COMPLETE failure of your assertion they cannot be used in attacks - and THOSE weren't hurtling HSR trains.
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Feb 16, 2011, 03:24 PM
 
With the older bolted together rail of the 1950's it was easy to remove a piece of rail, but with welded rail used now, its fairly difficult. You'd have to damage a turnout or screw with the signals.
     
smacintush
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Feb 16, 2011, 04:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I might do just that, but also, it is probably advisable to not make claims that you are uninterested in defending, no?
Advisable? According to whom? If I were stating some obscure fact that might be different.

You can't simplify something like this this way though. "Need" is better used in the context of "I need food", where the solution is to therefore somebody obtain food. Nobody "needs" high speed rail, but you could argue that nobody really needs many things (such as the iPhone, for example), yet these things exist because they (hopefully) make life better, improve our economy, and *do* something. Will high speed rail do something? It certainly would, it's just a question of figuring out whether this is a net gain or a net loss.
I'm not arguing that need is a standard, I don't think the "needs" of people justify high speed rail or myriad other government boondoggles. I'm asking YOU what exactly is the standard IN YOUR OPINION if need is not.

I would argue that even if the outcome of high speed rail was an unlikely net gain, that isn't good enough. I don't want my government using money taken from us for expensive projects that…might be helpful. At all.

You don't even have to look that far:

Ontario Highway 407 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There are many challenges in having private companies control roads. I would suggest researching this to find out how this project ended up and why it ended up the way it did.
I would agree that there are challenges. What I don't agree with is that somehow government can do it and private companies can't. I also don't agree that the government is doing a bang-up job. Highways aren't bad, but as soon as you get into a populated area often it's traffic and safety problems galore. Not to mention waste and fraud.

These numbers need a whole lot of context and consideration of all the variables before you can draw the conclusions that you want to draw, I think.
Those numbers are only for perspective. The government has managed the roads for decades. They maintain them and they make the rules. Any industry where 40,000+ women, children, elderly… all types of people are killed every single year would at least fall under intense scrutiny. With the government monopoly you get what you get, and no one blinks. I think we can do better.

Would you be in favor of people lining up to sue the owners of a private toll road if they miss a turn and drive off the road?
Context? If that turn was unmarked maybe. Generally not though. Are you in favor of holding the government accountable for their failures as road managers?

Would you be in favor of a private company somehow being exempt from lawsuits?
No.

There is a whole lot to consider here in addition to what these numbers mean.
I agree.

The repetition of this statement is you asking questions?
I apologize for asserting my opinion in my posts.
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olePigeon
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Feb 16, 2011, 04:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by Snow-i View Post
Now heres an idea.

Passenger railguns!

DC to NY in 216 seconds flat.
Flat being the operative word there.
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Feb 16, 2011, 04:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by BadKosh View Post
With the older bolted together rail of the 1950's it was easy to remove a piece of rail, but with welded rail used now, its fairly difficult. You'd have to damage a turnout or screw with the signals.
You're over thinking it. All you need is a charge set under the tracks with a trigger set off by the train itself, with too little time/distance between the two for the train to stop.

Besson3c, AmTrak:

Riding the Subsidized Rails of Amtrak at a Loss of $32 per Passenger - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine
The Amtrak Subsidy - April 29, 2005 - The New York Sun
Amtrak - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

New York:

Steven Cohen: A Sustainable City Requires Increased Mass Transit Subsidies
The Disastrous World of the New York Subway, Part 2

Chicago:

Chicago ''L''.org: History and Chronologies
Sunshine On Illinois' Subsidies | Progress Illinois

Rail is a bottomless pit the government tries to fill with taxpayer money.

It could actually be feasible if it were privatized, to be honest.
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Feb 16, 2011, 07:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by BadKosh View Post
The number of deaths is NOT because of the roads, but of the political/governmental laxness that allows drunks and a-holes back on the roads after causing accidents. Lets add in the dozing truckers, illegals and young race car idiots to the mix.
So you'd rather spend more money to lock these people up, or for more police? Society operates on a cost/benefit analogy, and I maintain that we've reached the level where we're not willing to spend more to further curb the problem. A certain number of people are going to get killed every year by drunks, by homicides, etc., and I'm willing to take my chances that I'm not one of them, rather than paying more for extra protection. I'd bet you are too. The only way to ensure a perfectly safe life is to live in a bubble, and I'm not into that either.

Personal responsibility isn't stressed enough. Too many finger pointers, and too many ambulance chasing lawyers make it hard to get the a-holes off the streets.
When you don't have any other solution, trot out the easy ones, like personal responsibility. You don't know much about human nature, do you? We all think it won't happen to us, so we sometimes do things we shouldn't do, like speed, or drink and drive, and you're just as guilty as the next guy.


I still say jack the financial fines up about 6-8 times and post that info all along the roads as a warning to those who want to be dicks on the roads.
Won't change a thing. Fines in construction zones were doubled in MI a few years back; try being the guy who obeys the speed limit of 45 where workers are present and you'll find out how much people like you.
     
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Feb 17, 2011, 08:36 AM
 
After an assessment of the solvency of such a project Florida Gov. Rick Scott declines the proposal out of concern that this will saddle Floridians with additional debt and the Administration responds; "you waste this money or we'll find someone else to waste it!". California wants it.

Gotta love it. He's going to take a beating for this from a portion of his electorate and it took onions to decline the proposal, but I hope he sticks to his guns on this one.
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Feb 17, 2011, 09:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by Macrobat View Post
You're over thinking it. All you need is a charge set under the tracks with a trigger set off by the train itself, with too little time/distance between the two for the train to stop.
it will have to be some charge. The federal Gov't actually did tests to see how much explosives it would take to derail just a locomotive back in the 1940's. Even with several feet of track blown away the loco hammered its way back onto the track and kept going even damaged. Being a rail buff I was astonished that that could happen. "A charge" is pretty vague. you'll need about 500 lbs of explosives to derail one. The average modern diesel weighs about 210 tons.
     
nonhuman
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Feb 17, 2011, 09:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by Macrobat View Post
Actually if you simply Google Madrid and London Terrorist Attack you will see the COMPLETE failure of your assertion they cannot be used in attacks - and THOSE weren't hurtling HSR trains.
I'm sorry, but that is not even remotely comparable to the potential for using a plane as a weapon. It's perfectly possible to attack a train, but attacking with a train simply is not much of a risk.
     
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Feb 17, 2011, 10:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
After an assessment of the solvency of such a project Florida Gov. Rick Scott declines the proposal out of concern that this will saddle Floridians with additional debt and the Administration responds; "you waste this money or we'll find someone else to waste it!". California wants it.

Gotta love it. He's going to take a beating for this from a portion of his electorate and it took onions to decline the proposal, but I hope he sticks to his guns on this one.
This state is blowing up with opposition to him now. I don't get why everyone is in favor of this ridiculous train. From (Fast Facts - Florida High Speed Rail), they're expecting to charge ~$45 round trip from Tampa to Orlando, plus you'll pay for parking and $7/hour to rent a car on the other side (neither city has any semblance of good public transit and both are rather spread out). All that to save yourself an hour on the interstate. A family of four would run $180 round trip. It's an hour drive. Who do they think is going to get on this train?

Everyone is drunk on how cool it would be and can't seem to wake up to the fact that it make no sense at all to build one here. Run one from NYC to Boston, but not Tampa to Orlando.
     
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Feb 17, 2011, 03:56 PM
 
If Biden says high speed rail is a good idea, that should be a red flag right there.
     
olePigeon
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Feb 17, 2011, 05:06 PM
 
California will take it. We're building a high speed rail with or without money from the Fed, it's already been apportioned. Wouldn't mind saving a few million.
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Feb 17, 2011, 06:02 PM
 
California will pay too much for too little or just plain stupid crap as has been their practice for decades.
     
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Feb 17, 2011, 09:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Macrobat View Post
It could actually be feasible if it were privatized, to be honest.
I don't know a single brit of any political stripe that privatization of the rail system has been a disaster. The private trains in England are slow, overcrowded, and ungodly expensive compared to the state run systems in most of Europe. Above someone is amazed as the idea that anyone would spend $45 dollars for a train ticket from Tampa to Orlando- 85 miles (google maps). My train journey to London (61 miles) costs me £46 ($74.40). Competition and privatization is not always good for the public.
     
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Feb 17, 2011, 10:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by Paco500 View Post
I don't know a single brit of any political stripe that privatization of the rail system has been a disaster. The private trains in England are slow, overcrowded, and ungodly expensive compared to the state run systems in most of Europe. Above someone is amazed as the idea that anyone would spend $45 dollars for a train ticket from Tampa to Orlando- 85 miles (google maps). My train journey to London (61 miles) costs me £46 ($74.40). Competition and privatization is not always good for the public.
Why are they slow?
Why are they overcrowded?
Why are they so expensive?

Seems to me that we need more context here. For example, are they crowded because they are in such demand? The prices could be higher for the same reason. Or perhaps the horrible bureaucracies make it so hard to set up new runs to alleviate the crowding, or perhaps the excessive rules make it damn expensive to run a train?
Are these run by poorly run companies who only got these contracts through special favors?

Either way, it really doesn't surprise me that the private trains are more expensive. It is awfully difficult for a private company to compete with the a government-run institution that can simply subsidize in order to lower fares and change the rules as they see fit.

Competition with the government isn't competition at all. It is private companies operating at the whim of a legal monopoly.
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Feb 18, 2011, 01:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by Macrobat View Post
You're over thinking it. All you need is a charge set under the tracks with a trigger set off by the train itself, with too little time/distance between the two for the train to stop.
.
Come to think of it you're over thinking it . Put a few rocks on both sides of the tracks for a few yards or so and you'll derail the train, no problem. People think a train is invincible because it can push a car off the tracks.... thats only because the car isn't getting underneath its wheels. When pieces of the car do break off an get underneath at times, the train derails. Even ice has been known to derail trains.

The train itself may not be the most expensive thing to build but constant track maintenance is.
( Last edited by el chupacabra; Feb 18, 2011 at 02:02 AM. )
     
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Feb 18, 2011, 04:56 AM
 
Originally Posted by smacintush View Post
Why are they slow?
Why are they overcrowded?
Why are they so expensive?

Seems to me that we need more context here. For example, are they crowded because they are in such demand? The prices could be higher for the same reason. Or perhaps the horrible bureaucracies make it so hard to set up new runs to alleviate the crowding, or perhaps the excessive rules make it damn expensive to run a train?
Are these run by poorly run companies who only got these contracts through special favors?

Either way, it really doesn't surprise me that the private trains are more expensive. It is awfully difficult for a private company to compete with the a government-run institution that can simply subsidize in order to lower fares and change the rules as they see fit.

Competition with the government isn't competition at all. It is private companies operating at the whim of a legal monopoly.
I'm not sure what you are getting at. There is no competition with the government- the rail system has been privatized. The trains are slow, expensive and unreliable because they are more profitable that way. You may believe that having a decent passenger rail system is not in the best interest of the public- and I basically agree with you for most of America. But in most of Europe where the infrastructure is already in place, I think it's a worthy enterprise for the government to subsidize. Ride a train in France, Germany, Belgium, etc and then ride one in the UK and you will likely think the Brits got it wrong.

To be fair- the Gov't does put quite a lot on money into the rail system- maintaining infrastructure, etc, but the trains, routes and stations are run by private companies, and almost universally, badly.
     
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Feb 18, 2011, 10:00 AM
 
Originally Posted by Paco500 View Post
I'm not sure what you are getting at. There is no competition with the government- the rail system has been privatized. The trains are slow, expensive and unreliable because they are more profitable that way. You may believe that having a decent passenger rail system is not in the best interest of the public- and I basically agree with you for most of America. But in most of Europe where the infrastructure is already in place, I think it's a worthy enterprise for the government to subsidize. Ride a train in France, Germany, Belgium, etc and then ride one in the UK and you will likely think the Brits got it wrong.

To be fair- the Gov't does put quite a lot on money into the rail system- maintaining infrastructure, etc, but the trains, routes and stations are run by private companies, and almost universally, badly.
I'm just trying to get at the facts of the situation, I think I had misread your post.

So, private companies only run the system? They don't own it?
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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