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    #31
    I just hope the new NEC single levels are dubbed Amfleet III's and keep the same basic bare aluminum look. NEC won't look the same any other way.

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      #32
      Hi Lukas!

      Originally posted by Swissie View Post
      Dear collegues,

      May I dare adding a few thoughts and observations that I have - so far - either overlooked or not seen mentioned.
      Thanks for the insightful dissertation from someone who lives in a passenger train rich environment. You've definitely given me food for thought.

      Take care,

      Henry

      Comment


        #33
        Interesting topic. I wrote the following on another forum a few years back but it's even more relevant today I think:

        I believe part of the lack of support for HSR stems from the unwillingness of most people to accept that a chain of events are now in motion which inevitably will lead to the demise of the private automobile as well as the aeroplane. We're already starting to see airlines fold despite billions poured into them by the government. Sooner or later we're going to have to accept that any remaining air travel will be priced beyond the means of most people since the government could not afford to subsidize it to such an extent that air fares will remain as they are. Besides that, air travel is becoming increasingly invasive and inconvenient due to new security measures. Two-hour pre-arrival time requirements take away much of the speed advantage.

        The private auto will be in a similar quandary even if we move wholesale to EVs. The reason here is simple-a car is not the most energy efficient means to move passengers regardless of source of power. Also, much of the Interstate system is in very poor shape. The bill for repair will come due very soon. The cost to fix it might very well rival what building a national HSR system will cost. We'll probably conclude that since we're practically starting from scratch anyway, we may as well build a system which uses less energy and moves people much faster. This will be especially true once air travel is no longer affordable. Without HSR the average person will simply have no inexpensive means of traveling long distances, and no means at all of doing so at a decent average speed. In our future then autos will be relegated to running errands and shuttling to train stations. The days of traveling from state to state by car will be over. Even long commutes to work via auto will probably be a thing of the past unless the origin and destination lie near HSR stations.


        To add to this a bit-it's not a question of if we should build HSR, but rather how quickly we can get a decent system up and running. Unfortunately, we have about 25 to 30 years of catching up to do comparing to the rest of the world. I'm also surprised nobody mentioned that such as system could move priority freight, especially at night when passenger travel is lighter. This could add a great deal of revenue, perhaps even offer new services such as same-day delivery between cities a few hundred miles apart.

        Additionally, trends occurring after I wrote that piece, such as the real estate crisis, along with the gradual infrastructure deterioration, has caused some suburbs to be ghost towns. More will follow, undoubtedly. As the suburbs go, the primary reason for auto ownership (i.e. commuting to work/running errands) largely disappears. The aging population will also decrease the numbers of people physically able to drive and/or afford a car even if they can. With that decline in auto ownership will come a need to have a decent medium and long distance public transport system to supplement local public transport systems. And it goes without saying that local public transport is an integral part of any planned HSR network. Without some means of getting the passenger the last miles from the HSR station, HSR is pointless. But we sorely need more local public transit anyway, probably even more than we need HSR, with the new push to reduce pollution and make inner cities more liveable. After 50 years we've seen that the auto and individual transport aren't the panacea they were once thought to be.

        Comment


          #34
          Responding to jtr1962

          I will concede that a few points are relative. First and foremost is that air travel demand will likely continue a slow decline as prices have no direction to continue other than upward and the security screening issue will continue to add time to the front end of a flight. The next point concerning the condition of the interstate system is correct. Where I differ is in the fact that the interstate system will not be allowed to deteriorate to the point that it will cease to exist. I believe the resolve is there to spend the dollars to repair and maintain the system and that resolve does not translate to HSR even if the cost of building a HSR system would be less or equal to the cost of interstate repair. Why? Because the American public is accustomed to hopping in their vehicle when it is convinient and driving somewhere, even if that is to the airport. For most leisure travel the convenience of getting into ones vehicle and driving somewhere anytime a person desires is a strong pull that would be very difficult to break. An additional fact is that the largest percentage of Americans live outside of the 10 largest population areas making implentation of public transit outside of those major population areas problematical in terms of cost. While the real estate problems have slowed the growth of suburbia it has not stopped and there is not a wholesale migration back to the city centers. One reason is that the cost of housing in cities is substantially higher than most suburbs and the current job market both in terms of job losses along with wage stagnation puts such a move out of the question financially for many. HSR needs to be developed further in the NEC and on the West Coast but to try to make an economic argument for a Chicago - St Louis or Houston - Dallas just won't work.
          Moving America one virtual train at a time.

          Comment


            #35
            Originally posted by kmanc21 View Post
            Where I differ is in the fact that the interstate system will not be allowed to deteriorate to the point that it will cease to exist. I believe the resolve is there to spend the dollars to repair and maintain the system and that resolve does not translate to HSR even if the cost of building a HSR system would be less or equal to the cost of interstate repair.
            The questions here are who pays, and why spend MORE money on a solution which is clearly inferior? I'll vote any politician out of office who wants to spend my tax dollars to continue to subsidize long distance auto travel when we clearly have superior alternatives ( and that's not a railfan perspective-state-of-the-art trains are better for long distance travel by any metric-comfort, speed, energy consumption, pollution ). What does a car and Interstate highway system get you in terms of average speeds? Perhaps 50 mph once you count gas and rest stops? The same way people have shown they're willing to drive to an airport to save time, they would be willing to drive ( or take public transit if it exists ) to an HSR station. Even once you count waiting time, HSR can offer far better average speeds than driving, and at lower cost. Not to mention if we were to repair the Interstate highway system, it would be fair to have the users pay. That would likely mean heavy tolls. So essentially you end up with a means of transportation which is both slower and much more expensive than HSR.

            I know for the present Americans are addicted to their automobiles. However, this is frequently more due to a lack of viable alternatives than because of the superiority of automobile travel. Right now we're in the midst of a resurgence in local public transit precisely because people are starting to become disenchanted with the automobile. People want alternatives to driving. This is especially true of the under 20 generation who has only known the bad side of the automobile-namely traffic jams, high gas prices, plus bad air days. It's taking a while for politicians and public planners to catch on to this fact, but it's finally happening. Once the sub-20 crowd reaches voting age, we'll see the beginning of the end of automobile culture, at least in regards to the whole "Interstate cruiser" concept. I don't doubt people will still own cars for local errands, but they would be cars more suited to that task of 10 minute trips-smaller, all electric, without all the bells and whistles.

            An additional fact is that the largest percentage of Americans live outside of the 10 largest population areas making implentation of public transit outside of those major population areas problematical in terms of cost. While the real estate problems have slowed the growth of suburbia it has not stopped and there is not a wholesale migration back to the city centers. One reason is that the cost of housing in cities is substantially higher than most suburbs and the current job market both in terms of job losses along with wage stagnation puts such a move out of the question financially for many.
            By any measure the growth of suburbia hasn't slowed-it's completely stopped and has started going in the other direction. While the relative costs of housing in cities versus suburbs is mostly true for the present, you also need to take into account the costs of vehicle ownership. If you don't need a car, that's a couple of hundred more a month you can put towards housing. Another point to make is that cheaper suburban housing isn't a given. Remember that the infrastructure in suburbs was built in many cases 40, 50, or 60 years ago, with cheaper labor, and with government subsidies/incentives following WWII. Now this infrastructure is in dire need of repair. However, because of the lower population density, per capita costs of a mile or road or sewers or electrical lines are much higher. Translation-ever increasing real estate taxes, to the point that living in suburbia costs more than living in cities, and/or forcing cities to subsidize suburbs. We've already seen this trend in the Northeast. Total cost of ownership of a house in the NYC suburbs is higher than in the city once you count real estate taxes and car expenses. We're not seeing a mass migration back to cities YET because suburban housing still remains affordable to the middle class. Give it another decade, however. More on this trend. Not mentioned in that link is the continuing decrease in arable farmland. We might actually need to abandon suburbs built in good growing zones to reconvert them to the food production use they had prior to being converted to housing tracts.

            IMO, we might see a new type of development-big cities along with smaller towns where everyone lives within walking or biking distance of a commuter rail or HSR station. Basically, areas near train stations will grow, while those in between will wither and die. This is actually not all that different from what existed 100 years ago, before the automobile. Fewer people then than now lived in large cities, and yet almost everyone used trains or walking to get around, so it isn't always a question of population density. Rather, it's settlement patterns. Towns grew up around their railway stations, rather than sprawling every which way as they have in the last 50 years.

            HSR needs to be developed further in the NEC and on the West Coast but to try to make an economic argument for a Chicago - St Louis or Houston - Dallas just won't work.
            Actually, HSR will work fine between reasonable large cities such as you mentioned. France has already proven this-HSR works there despite the relatively low population density and lack of very large cities. Even Paris isn't a large city by world standards ( its population is less than the boroughs of either Brooklyn or Queens ). Where HSR won't work at all are sparsely populated states with mostly small towns. There just aren't enough trips to make HSR worthwhile there. On that we can definitely agree. There won't be HSR through Wyoming or Nebraska or Alaska any time in our lives. Nevertheless, if enough of these 500 to 800 mile regional HSR corridors are developed, they can be linked together. So it may one day be possible to go cross county via HSR in under 15 hours, even though that isn't the primary goal here.

            Comment


              #36
              Originally posted by jtr1962 View Post
              Interesting topic. I wrote the following on another forum a few years back but it's even more relevant today I think:

              I believe part of the lack of support for HSR stems from the unwillingness of most people to accept that a chain of events are now in motion which inevitably will lead to the demise of the private automobile as well as the aeroplane. We're already starting to see airlines fold despite billions poured into them by the government. Sooner or later we're going to have to accept that any remaining air travel will be priced beyond the means of most people since the government could not afford to subsidize it to such an extent that air fares will remain as they are. Besides that, air travel is becoming increasingly invasive and inconvenient due to new security measures. Two-hour pre-arrival time requirements take away much of the speed advantage.

              The private auto will be in a similar quandary even if we move wholesale to EVs. The reason here is simple-a car is not the most energy efficient means to move passengers regardless of source of power. Also, much of the Interstate system is in very poor shape. The bill for repair will come due very soon. The cost to fix it might very well rival what building a national HSR system will cost. We'll probably conclude that since we're practically starting from scratch anyway, we may as well build a system which uses less energy and moves people much faster. This will be especially true once air travel is no longer affordable. Without HSR the average person will simply have no inexpensive means of traveling long distances, and no means at all of doing so at a decent average speed. In our future then autos will be relegated to running errands and shuttling to train stations. The days of traveling from state to state by car will be over. Even long commutes to work via auto will probably be a thing of the past unless the origin and destination lie near HSR stations.


              To add to this a bit-it's not a question of if we should build HSR, but rather how quickly we can get a decent system up and running. Unfortunately, we have about 25 to 30 years of catching up to do comparing to the rest of the world. I'm also surprised nobody mentioned that such as system could move priority freight, especially at night when passenger travel is lighter. This could add a great deal of revenue, perhaps even offer new services such as same-day delivery between cities a few hundred miles apart.

              Additionally, trends occurring after I wrote that piece, such as the real estate crisis, along with the gradual infrastructure deterioration, has caused some suburbs to be ghost towns. More will follow, undoubtedly. As the suburbs go, the primary reason for auto ownership (i.e. commuting to work/running errands) largely disappears. The aging population will also decrease the numbers of people physically able to drive and/or afford a car even if they can. With that decline in auto ownership will come a need to have a decent medium and long distance public transport system to supplement local public transport systems. And it goes without saying that local public transport is an integral part of any planned HSR network. Without some means of getting the passenger the last miles from the HSR station, HSR is pointless. But we sorely need more local public transit anyway, probably even more than we need HSR, with the new push to reduce pollution and make inner cities more liveable. After 50 years we've seen that the auto and individual transport aren't the panacea they were once thought to be.
              I agree with this post. Surely expanding roadways to accommodate today's traffic will help, but I don't think this is a long term solution. The population will continually rise and even the largest of roadways will have to keep getting bigger. Even if our roadways will be able to accommodate traffic within the next 10 - 30 years, the road surfaces will still have to be resurfaced and renovated multiple times. If we search for more permanent solutions that are faster, more efficient, reliable, safer, and economically viable, then we should go that route.

              Our gas and diesel powered vehicles won't be around forever. However, we aren't going to use one form of transportation for every purpose. Would you drive a car from Texas to Alaska?
              - Road Travel is probably best locally.
              - High speed rail is probably best for intercity travel when driving a car would take longer.
              - Air Travel is probably best for cross country flight.

              But on the topic of high speed rail, what is the most efficient way of doing so. Is high speed rail better than other options? Why would people want to use train travel over their own personal transportation?

              Careful consideration would have to be taken to make high speed rail work. Which I think it can in some cases, but high speed rail is not the solution for every situation.
              Last edited by CottonBelter; 01-14-2010, 10:52 PM.
              Retired train-simmer after buying a computer that can't play train sims.
              Now a writer for the Crawfish Boxes.

              Comment


                #37
                Originally posted by CottonBelter View Post
                Surely expanding roadways to accommodate today's traffic will help, but I don't think this is a long term solution. The population will continually rise and even the largest of roadways will have to keep getting bigger. Even if our roadways will be able to accommodate traffic within the next 10 - 30 years, ...
                I share the same basic opinion with you and Joe, but I would argue that the situation is such that in some places in particular, expanding roadways really won't even provide a short term traffic solution.

                Having been a resident of the greater Los Angeles area, I can definitely say that the freeway system, right now, does not work effectively. In some places on certain major freeways, there are 6 lanes in each direction (perhaps more with merge & HOV lanes). I spoke with a CalTrans highway engineer I met once, and he said that adding additional lanes to the 405 might be possible, but even to add two lanes, the costs were tremendous (I couldn't tell you the $ figure), and even at that, the extra lanes really wouldn't be enough to solve the traffic bottleneck that happens daily between 6am and 9pm (anyone who has lived in So. Cal. will tell you that's "rush hour," all day). He said that even 20 lanes wouldn't stop severe traffic congestion.

                His point was that there is an "if you build it, they will come" mentality to building more lanes or even more freeways (the 105 Freeway from the 605 to the Airport/405 was a newly built freeway in this time frame). The additional capacity seems to get used up almost instantly, without reducing overall congestion. Whether it's new traffic trips, or it's people who diverted from "slower" roads (such as city streets), the additional capacity seems inadequate even before it's opened. He mentioned that it's a bit like "peeing in the ocean" - the demand for transportation is so huge between areas that a single lane of highway meets only a small fraction of the need.

                Certainly the issues in Los Angeles aren't true everywhere but my observation of cities where I've driven in normal conditions, across the country, seem to face similar problems.

                The point that I recall this CalTrans engineer making was that the only solution to the transportation problem was an overall "network" which includes public and private transportation. His point was that you need not just trunks (like a freeway, or in trains, a "Mainline") but viable alternative routes, as well as feeder routes to make a transportation system a universal system. It's not about just looking at the trunk, it's about looking at the network as a whole.

                I think that's a point about High Speed Trains in the US where I feel many people "in charge" miss the boat. Building a very expensive trunk line between large cities is great, I won't argue, but if you want to create a truly effective transportation system, you need alternate routes, and viable feeder routes as well, whether it's a highway system or a rail system. So great, connect Chicago and St. Louis with HSR, but if you're not feeding from cities off the trunk, it's not an effective solution. The trunk is only going to draw ridership from a limited radius around each station (probably based on criteria like the distance to travel to the station vs. other methods of transportation to the final destination). Another factor is going to be available public transportation options to the destination doorstep.

                My point is that just plopping down HSR on a dedicated ROW between cities doesn't create a true solution unless you consider the other, non-HSR parts of the transportation network that are needed to make it a viable transportation alternative.

                Steve

                Comment


                  #38
                  One thing you will find in the UK is that on each main passenger route out of London, many of the long distance trains make a stop about 30 miles from their starting point and business at these locations is brisk. It allows people to use local trains or buses to connect, without having to backtrack. It can also allow for a park and ride element. As Steve has just suggested, you need a network to make it more viable. The network doesn't have to be under common ownership, Switzerland and Denmark have been demonstrating that for years, but all the parties need to work together.

                  One thing that has occured to me is that improvements could be made even on long distance services without high speed rail. If Amtrak ran a train from Chicago to Los Angeles every 8 hours, a journey would become possible between any two stops without the need to arrive or depart during the night hours. It also potentially makes connections closer. I realise that, in this instance, BNSF probably would be less than happy with the concept on the grounds of track capacity, but the idea still holds.

                  Rob.
                  onen hag oll!

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