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    #16
    Kyle, pretty much hit it on the head. UP is greedy. They didnt want to give B&NSF trackage rights after the merger, and they surely hates it when Amtrak is in the picture. This PTC mandate is gonna cost them out the rear. I seriously doubt any Class 1 would want to upgrade all of their crossings, and signals for 100mph plus operation. Its all a big dream, I think.

    Comment


      #17
      Originally posted by beltontigers View Post
      American passenger railroading died in 1971.

      I don't care how much Washington D.C. says they want it, I don't care how much you people say you want it, it ain't going to happen. The Class I's won't let it happen.

      Unless somebody builds their own track, Hi speed rail is a dead subject, because the Class I's will not share their rails with anybody if they can help it.

      Another thing I have yet to see mentioned in this thread is this. SIZE. Please pull out your world maps and take a look at Europe. High speed rail excels in Europe due to the size of the area. It's relatively easy and quick to travel from country to country due to the small size of the countries.

      Now take a look at the United States. Oh my, look at that, it's quite a bit bigger. Even a 190 MPH train would take quite a bit of time to go LA-NY. This country is just not set up for it.

      Sorry for bursting bubbles, happy boxing day!
      This pretty much sums up why high speed rail will not become a viable option in the U.S., regardless of how much money the government throws at it.
      Moving America one virtual train at a time.

      Comment


        #18
        Unless something like the USRA happens again.. :-/

        Comment


          #19
          I would suggest that an important point is being missed here. The argument should not be about speed, but frequency and convenience. New York to Washington works for rail more because the frequency is hourly or better than because of the speeds involved. There are also local services which offer connections to intermediate and nearby points.

          The same thing applies between LA and San Diego, frequent trains, good connections.

          There ought to be an hourly service between Chicago and Milwaukee, with good connections with the Chicago commuter services at their outer termini. It also helps if you can buy one ticket to cover your entire journey, regardless of the operators. I realise that this has never been the US way, but if it works in other countries it could work in the US to make rail more convenient.

          There is one other factor which could come into play.

          If the US ever gets to the point of taking its use of energy seriously, rail will be in a far better position than it now is. I do, however, realise that this is not likely to happen any time soon.

          Rob.
          onen hag oll!

          Comment


            #20
            Originally posted by beltontigers View Post
            American passenger railroading died in 1971.

            I don't care how much Washington D.C. says they want it, I don't care how much you people say you want it, it ain't going to happen. The Class I's won't let it happen.

            Unless somebody builds their own track, Hi speed rail is a dead subject, because the Class I's will not share their rails with anybody if they can help it.

            Another thing I have yet to see mentioned in this thread is this. SIZE. Please pull out your world maps and take a look at Europe. High speed rail excels in Europe due to the size of the area. It's relatively easy and quick to travel from country to country due to the small size of the countries.

            Now take a look at the United States. Oh my, look at that, it's quite a bit bigger. Even a 190 MPH train would take quite a bit of time to go LA-NY. This country is just not set up for it.

            Sorry for bursting bubbles, happy boxing day!
            I don't think there's a single high-speed rail advocate that isn't aware of the relative densities of the United States and Europe.

            Not one single person is proposing to run a train between Chicago and Seattle, or LA and New York, any other similar route that crosses half (or all) the country. Nobody, and I don't understand why everybody arguing against it seems to get this notion in mind.

            But you'll have trouble convincing me that high-speed rail (or yes, even just increased frequencies) between Milwaukee-Chicago-St. Louis/Kansas City or Dallas-Fort Worth/Houston/San Antonio or similar, relatively dense corridors wouldn't work. And yes, it should have a dedicated right-of-way.

            -Jacques

            Comment


              #21
              Originally posted by jac_murphy View Post
              I don't think there's a single high-speed rail advocate that isn't aware of the relative densities of the United States and Europe.

              Not one single person is proposing to run a train between Chicago and Seattle, or LA and New York, any other similar route that crosses half (or all) the country. Nobody, and I don't understand why everybody arguing against it seems to get this notion in mind.

              But you'll have trouble convincing me that high-speed rail (or yes, even just increased frequencies) between Milwaukee-Chicago-St. Louis/Kansas City or Dallas-Fort Worth/Houston/San Antonio or similar, relatively dense corridors wouldn't work. And yes, it should have a dedicated right-of-way.

              -Jacques
              There is very large demand for frequent service on the NEC. You have to look at what the projected volume of passengers would be for Chicago-Milwaukee or Chicago-Detroit or the other possibilities that are mentioned. The issue is that there is no viable economic scenario can be made for the infrasturcture required.
              Moving America one virtual train at a time.

              Comment


                #22
                Originally posted by jac_murphy View Post
                But you'll have trouble convincing me that high-speed rail (or yes, even just increased frequencies) between Milwaukee-Chicago-St. Louis/Kansas City or Dallas-Fort Worth/Houston/San Antonio or similar, relatively dense corridors wouldn't work. And yes, it should have a dedicated right-of-way.

                -Jacques
                That's not hard at all. Terminal costs for rail is cheaper than a new airport because it requires a lot less land. But buying the land for a dedicated right of way between any two urban districts will take far longer and obviously cost far more than that the zero cost of acquiring access to the right of way passenger jets use. And once open airports can immediately offer more routes.

                You know, if high speed rail really made sense you'd see any number of companies trying to get established in that opportunity. But there aren't any at all. That alone should tell you something. OTOH, there are new airlines created every couple of years.
                Dave Nelson
                sigpic
                Seldom visiting, posting less often that that.

                Comment


                  #23
                  Originally posted by muskokaandtahoe View Post
                  That's not hard at all. Terminal costs for rail is cheaper than a new airport because it requires a lot less land. But buying the land for a dedicated right of way between any two urban districts will take far longer and obviously cost far more than that the zero cost of acquiring access to the right of way passenger jets use. And once open airports can immediately offer more routes.

                  You know, if high speed rail really made sense you'd see any number of companies trying to get established in that opportunity. But there aren't any at all. That alone should tell you something. OTOH, there are new airlines created every couple of years.

                  And don't forget all the "environmental impact" studies, than the NIMBY's filing lawsuits, than bring in the Serra Club... No way will a major rail line get built today..

                  Another fact is, in Europe, high speed rail works, the distances covered is not that great, in America, we have much more "wide open" lands to cover, with nara passenger for hundreds of miles.

                  I think we as Americans would be better served by more, conventional passenger trains, their are areas where even getting to an Amtrak train is a ridiculous exercise in futility.. As their is none, for a hundred miles or more..

                  IMHO, the only place HSR can work in America is the NE Corridor. Where the large populations, and relative closeness makes it a profitable enterprise.

                  Heck, even adding a few extra Amtrak train routes (like I would like to see) will cost a fortune. And is not a good way to spend the hard earned taxpayer money...But, it is a better way to spend it than it is currently being spent. MUCH better way..

                  Rail advocates, need to face the fact, if their where profits in passenger rail, the Class 1 would never have gave up on it. And profit, is what pays the bills.....

                  But, Amtrak is one bit of socialism I can tolerate..
                  http://intrepidappalachian.blogspot.com/

                  sigpic The boost is high, and I am flying low...Thunderbird Turbo Coupe

                  Comment


                    #24
                    Dear collegues,

                    thanks for sharing your different views and also pointing out the various factors crucial for the viablility of HSR (anywhere, not only in the States).

                    May I dare adding a few thoughts and observations that I have - so far - either overlooked or not seen mentioned.

                    a) I personally think it is not so much the ditsances in European countries compared to the US, than the actual structure of the cities and suburbs that make an important difference. I personally think that one reason why public transport and/or long distance High Speed Rail has a much harder stand in the US might be the fact that transit hubs and mainline depots that are the natural candidates to be served by HSR are usually located in the inner cities, both in Europen and American metropoles.

                    However, there is some important difference of where potential customers of HSR live. Most inner cities in Europe still have a very traditional mix of working, living and entertainment (usually with the rule that the closer to the city center, the more upscale and pricy a condo, house or apartment becomes). As a result of this, a lot of business people and frequent travellers of the "time is money" type tend to live a short cab ride or even walk from the Central railway station. If however, the wealthier people tend to live in a suburb which is up to 50 miles or more from downtown, the motivation to catch a train is severly hampered by the fact that the time to drive downtown and park the car for an extended period is little appealing.

                    b) Distance does of course count as well. A transcontinental HSR service from New York City to LA would still involve overnite travel, something which is diametrally opposed to current HSR train service in Asia or Europe. HSR trains mostly tend to be relatively high-density vehicles (it might be cleverly disguised by the use of more expensive materials and decorations in the interior, but basically a TGV, ICE, Shinkansen or ETR610 is nothing else than a fast, fancy, 21st century commuter train offering seating for several hundred to (in MU) almost 1000 passengers. A high speed train with sleeper interiors and just 20 pax per coach would economically not be viable.

                    c) As a rule of thumb, when HSR was introduced in Europe, travel analysts, airline staff and rail operators basically agreed that trains will be faster and more economic, thus appealing to the majority of travellers, on legs of up to 500 kilometres. With the advantage of calling downtown, close to the premium customers (i.e. the "time is money" people), and the hassle of long lines at airport check-in and security, the initial treshold might well be upped to 800 to 1000 kilometres (roughly 650 miles). Right now, with HSR lines even starting to conquer the Alps, frequent daytime HSR trips have basically killed all the traditional, overnight sleeper trains from Germany, Austria or Switzerland to Italy, and also the airlines feel the effect (as far as I'm told, especially some no frills airlines that serve remote regional airports instead of the expensive hubs near the metropoles).

                    d) Don't forget user friendlyness as a key element to success. As stated by someone else above, trains are appealing to business people if they offer frequent services, that can be booked and boarded at short notice without a penalty on the fare, that offer an alternate within an hour should one miss the previous service due to that meeting that wouldn't end in time, that offer reliable and regular connections and feeder services in a "one stop" philosophy (one ticket from beginning to end of trip, fixed intervall service on the HSR service and all feeder services connecting with it, transparent fares, maybe even frequent traveller discounts or weekly/monthly/annual ride-at-will passes or discount passes). Especially business travellers want to use a train service like an air shuttle or urban commuter run. No need to pre-book seats, no expensive last-minute full fare penalty, no costly and time consuming overnight stays because of missing the one and only service of the day).

                    e) Many European railways show that freight services and HSR can share the same track, if all the players are willing to cooperate. Freight providers can also benefit from a newly built HSR line if it opens up an opportunity for faster, more direct runs. Trailerracks, perishables, commodities etc. need to be moved just in time as well. The challenge of course lies in the different track speeds of conventional freight trains and HSR. Although: On a gently sloped, well maintained HSR line, your freight train will easily keep moving at a relatively high speed as well (I'd guess 79mph in the US). Clever and strictly enforced scheduling, and stretches of "passing tracks" where the hourly high speed train would take over a slower freight "on the fly" might be an answer for sharing the line. See e.g. the Loetschberg HSR tunnel (100mph track speed for conventional trains, 135mph for dedicated HSR trains such as the ETR610 and ICE 1). Although the tunnel is partly single track, it still allows for 6 clearly defined, hourly slots that are shared by 3-4 conventional or high speed passenger trains and 2-3 conventional freight trains, with a 3 minute "allowance" each hour for delays. It works surprisingly well, since any train exceeding this delay will be rerouted via the paralleling, conventional rail line that takes roughly 40 minutes longer than the tunnel.

                    f) Systems of train control (speed monitoring, signal triggered brake curve adhearance etc.) have been developed and improved over the years, often on the national level making the transition of any train, whether a high speed trainset or a conventional freight motor, from one country to the next a regulatory nightmare. Harmonisation by law on the EC level now starts to show positive effects, and new, common standards e.g. for in-cab signalling on HSR *should* have been implemented by now (buzzword: ECTS level 2, a common European Train Signalling system), but unfortunately some national authorities still throw sticks and stones in its way...

                    The US would be in a very advantegous situation here, since there is no need to harmonise often diametrically opposed national safety rules: If the DoT (or whoever has the say) issued standards for new, state of the art safety measures to be implemented, then all operators will have to comply, nationwide. Maybe it's just a matter of when, not if, such measures will come

                    (Please excuse me this remark: I still feel a bit uneasy when in the year 2010, a train anywhere in the world (not only LA) can run a red light on a mainline without all the bells & whistles going off in the cab instantly, and all the air being dumped within seconds. On my relatively frequent trips on the rails here in Europe (ca. 2-3 rail commutes a week, and return) in the past 20 years or so, I've been 2 or 3 times aboard a train that didn't slow down in time for an upcoming red, and passed it. Even at the remaining speed of maybe 30, 40mph, the effect of a red-light enforced full brake application is impressive (and it was only topped once, when I was on an early morning train that suffered a coupler break with subsequent brake line rupture at full track speed of 140kph). You need quick reflexes if you want to grab the cutlery and tableware in the dining car before it leaves the table. Yet, I'm glad the feature exists, since there is a reason for a red light... Mashed potatos and gravy on your shirt is still better than being crushed in a head-on... And the fact that any such event will be logged with all consequences is fair for me as well: It does teach you the hard way that you do not type dozens of text messages on your cell phone while operating any kind of vehicle, before a tragedy will do so. End remark).

                    Sorry, I strayed a bit off-topic here, but I hope one or the other statements make sense? Cheers,
                    Last edited by Swissie; 12-26-2009, 05:56 PM.
                    Lukas a.k.a. Swissie

                    Comment


                      #25
                      One of the barriers to increased usage of passenger and freight trains is competition from roads which receive huge tax subsidies and thus are able to underprice the trains. If the gas tax was raised to pay the full cost then road traffic would decline and rail traffic would increase.

                      Where I live in Dane county we may be getting commuter rail between Middleton, Madison and Sun Prairie. The major opposition point is the use of tax money to build and operate the train which ignores all the taxes that are paid for the roads.

                      Jeffrey Kraus-Yao
                      Digital Rails Corporation
                      http://www.digital-rails.us

                      Comment


                        #26
                        That whole "Book a train last minute and not get hit with a big fare" is completely wrong as far as Amtrak is concerned.

                        I'll book a trip right now for Monday from Philly To Washington D.C. I'll pick a nice normal non rush hour time.

                        1:10PM Departure From Philly on a Northeast Regional: $85.00

                        Next train: @ 2:13PM $85.00

                        Now.. Let's try NEXT Monday and book that same trip, same time, just a week out.

                        1:10PM Departure From Philly on a Northeast Regional: $63.00

                        Next train: @ 2:13PM: $44.00

                        By next weekend that $63 and $44 ticket will be at $85.

                        Amtrak is so stupidly unpredictable with how much they are charging you for the same regional train depending on the time you book, and the departure time of the train. These prices have nothing to do with holiday weekends at all. I've seen these same prices and random variances in the middle of spring, summer, winter, or fall. You book your train around their cheapest price, not by your convenience.
                        Last edited by styckx; 12-26-2009, 06:40 PM.

                        Comment


                          #27
                          Originally posted by muskokaandtahoe View Post
                          That's not hard at all. Terminal costs for rail is cheaper than a new airport because it requires a lot less land. But buying the land for a dedicated right of way between any two urban districts will take far longer and obviously cost far more than that the zero cost of acquiring access to the right of way passenger jets use. And once open airports can immediately offer more routes.

                          You know, if high speed rail really made sense you'd see any number of companies trying to get established in that opportunity. But there aren't any at all. That alone should tell you something. OTOH, there are new airlines created every couple of years.
                          Dave, I agree with your points here, but I'd like to point out something: use of airspace isn't free. True, you don't have to build a roadway or rails like a highway or railroad, however there are tremendous costs associated with establishing safe air space for use. Among various "infrastructure costs" are Air traffic control facilities of many different flavors (there are High and Low ATC Centers, "Approach" control centers, and terminal control facilities -airport "towers"). Each of those comes with a pretty hefty price tag in computer and radar equipment that typically has to have redundancy. Then there are navigational aids, there are still many ground based VORs (VHF Omni-range), maybe a few lingering NDBs - radio based beacons for navigation that must be calibrated and maintained, not to mention the cost of one in the first place. Even if you tout the GPS system, there is a HUGE cost on taxpayers backs for the satellites and ground controls required to keep that constellation operating, plus satellites have useful lifespans measured in maybe a dozen years, and must be replaced. Then there are costs associated with gathering, analyzing, and disseminating weather data, which is CRUCIAL to the safe operation of airspace. Certainly there are civilian uses that would share the cost, but there are many types of data that are only practically useful to aviation (like wind/temperature data at various altitudes). Then there are administrative costs in developing plans and air routes for dealing with all kinds of air traffic - things that have to be known before hand or the system would swamp with the first major thunderstorm or high denisty travel day, plus coordination with military uses, civilian uses (ever see a NOTAM (notice to airmen) about various fireworks displays across the country during the summer?).

                          Right now, all those things are provided courtesy of you and I, the taxpayers, for the airlines, or any private individual with the opportunity (and rating) to fly in the US.

                          ------------ ----------

                          There have been many cogent points made here. I think it's clear even to those of us who agree with HSR (even government funded HSR) that it's NOT a good fit in all cases. Certainly, trans-continental service isn't a good idea (at least at the level of service we're talking about). Regional service in areas of high population density may make sense, but of course, land acquisition for a dedicated right of way in high density areas becomes much more costly (even in eminent domain situations).

                          What's clear to me is that using aircraft for shorter trips (<300 miles in particular) really isn't a good use of the advantages of air travel (which is most efficient for long trips when an aircraft can fly high and straight, and minimize the fraction of time spent in "terminal operations" - flight near and on the ground of an airport). Likewise, using cars and trucks universally for longer trips (like 100 to 300 miles and above) is also a poor relative use of those vehicles, which are highly inefficient users of transportation resources (dollars and gas). Even if you don't choose to buy in to the "green" viewpoints, I don't think anyone can sensibly argue that traffic congestion isn't a huge problem even near medium sized cities in the US, and it's pretty clear to me that simply building more highway lanes isn't a great solution to that problem.

                          So what IS the best solution? Status quo? I'd say no. I agree that no private venture would touch this (I think I stated that in an earlier post to this thread), but I'd argue that it's more because of the HUGE initial costs (who has those deep pockets?) and the high risk in taking on the task to build a dedicated right of way. That leaves the government, like it or not.

                          I would also disagree with the implication that because no private industry would take on the task of building a dedicated HSR line in the US that it means it's the wrong thing to do/won't work. What private industry took on building interstate highways? None - it was the government, because there was a belief in the advantages for our nation (certainly military was a driving force, initially, but the benefit to interstate commerce was clearly also taken into account). Some projects, because of their benefit to the public, should be taken on even in the face of traditional "market economics". Look at state/local funded, maintained, and operated commuter rail (NJT and SEPTA are the ones I'm most familiar with). I'd argue those operations are a huge public benefit where they are available despite operating losses. Pure traditional economics would say they're not profitable, so they're a failure, but the overall public benefit outweighs the narrow sighted economic loss.

                          HSR, at least in certain areas, I believe, may have the same situation, and offer the same type of benefits. It seems like California agrees:


                          Steve
                          Last edited by mestevet; 12-26-2009, 07:14 PM.

                          Comment


                            #28
                            A proposed HSR was brought up in the state of Texas not long ago. It was a part of a nasty little proposal called the Trans-Texas Corridor. Two of the BIGGEST opponents of the proposal were two companies by the name of the Union Pacific Railroad and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.

                            The BNSF and the UPRR are now fighting another proposed HSR that would allow these passenger trains trackage on their rails.

                            As long as Class I's keep throwing money at lawyers and politicians (and believe me, they have plenty of it), a HSR will not happen in our lifetime.

                            Now local light rail and commuter trains will find a home in your larger urban areas such as D/FW, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, etc.
                            --BNSF Conductor--

                            Comment


                              #29
                              Not sure if anyone here saw, but Amtrak is actually laying the ground work for nearly an entire fleet replacement. Saw this from another site.

                              http://transportation.house.gov/Medi...%20Summary.pdf

                              Amtrak’s equipment is aging; it is a major factor in delays. Some of Amtrak’s vehicles are more than 50 years old. The average life of a passenger rail car, depending on its usage, is 25 to 30 years. The lifespan of a locomotive is 20 to 25 years.

                              Currently, Amtrak has 92 Heritage cars in service (which are 53 to 61 years old), 17 Metroliners (which are 42 years old), 412 Amfleet I cars (which are 32 to 35 years old), 122 Amfleet II cars (which are 28 to 29 years old), 249 Superliner I cars (which are 28 to 30 years old); 184 Superliner II cars (which are 13 to 15 years old), 97 Horizon cars (which are 19 to 20 years old), 50 Viewliners (which are 13 to 14 years old), 29 Talgo cars (which are 10 years old), 120 Acela cars (which are nine to 10 years old), and 41 Surfliners (which are seven to nine years old).

                              With respect to locomotives, Amtrak has 49 AEM-7 locomotives (which are 21 to 29 years old), 18 P32’s (which are 18 years old), 18 P32DM’s (which are 11 to 14 years old), 21 F59PHI’s (which are 11 years old), 15 HHP-8’s (which are eight to 10 years old), and 207 P42’s (which are eight to 13 years old).


                              Over the next five years and given adequate resources, Amtrak plans to purchase 396 new single-level vehicles for corridor service, which will replace about 95 percent of the Amfleet I vehicles; purchase 275 new single-level vehicles for long-haul service in an effort to remove all of the Heritage single-level cars and about 95 percent of the Amfleet II vehicles from service; purchase 160 new bi-level vehicles to replace 65 percent of the Superliner I cars; and purchase 100 new electric locomotives to replace the entire electric locomotive fleet.

                              Amtrak also plans to acquire 54 new diesel locomotives, replacing 20 percent of its diesel fleet; and purchase five additional Acela trainsets and 41 new switch engines to replace the entire switcher fleet. Amtrak estimates that the effort requires capital funding of approximately $4.57 billion.
                              ^ This is another consideration. Amtrak is luckily getting Government funds. Is a new HSR fully prepared to be self sufficient enough to be able to fully replace their entire fleet in 20-30 years? If the NEC(Amtrak) has a hard time turning a dollar, how does anyone else expect to on their own? Amtrak is lucky some of that ancient equipment lasted as long as it has.
                              Last edited by styckx; 12-26-2009, 08:32 PM.

                              Comment


                                #30
                                I read about the new diesels. But I remember that someone posted renderings of possibly Amtrak's new GE diesel locomotive. It had a vertical headlight and a very streamlined nose, it was supposed to be an Evolution series locomotive, yet I have issues locating said article with the renderings.

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