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Thread: High speed rail

  1. #1
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    High speed rail

    Just found this hilarious editing of a Newsweek editorial piece:
    http://www.stlurbanworkshop.com/2009...doggle-by.html
    So is anyone thinking high-speed rail may actually become a reality this time around? A recent New York Times Magazine article suggests that it will. I'm hoping to take a short jaunt to Anaheim in the foreseeable future.

    Editors note: I suppose you will want to integrate this with an old thread on high speed rail that I was too lazy to look for.
    Last edited by boilerplater; 26 Aug 2009 at 4:13 PM. Reason: link
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Is there ever "low speed" rail transportation?

    Edit - 100 years ago ever major city had tracks in the streets. Then we dug them up and paved over them. Now we want to dig that up and put them back in. It seems like people were more "in-tune" 100 years ago!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    That depends on your definition of high speed rail.

    It will happen in California. We're actually moving along at a pretty good clip, with $9 billion in state funding identified, program level EIR completed (though there was a lawsuit ruling today that could re-open a small part of it), ROW acquisition started, and preliminary engineering under way. The state applied for $1.1 billion (of the $8 billion) in the stimulus bill, and all signs point to the full amount being allotted (LaHood's ramblings, etc).

    In other areas, I think that we'll likely see some 110 mph trains being started, depending on the amounts that individual states/regions are willing to pony up for capital costs (mostly just track upgrades in some areas, including passing tracks, with the possibility of electrification in others) and operating subsidies. In the rest of the world 180 mph+ HSR typically turns an operational profit, but lower speeds will require subsidies in many cases (certainly depends on the area - Acela turns an operating profit most years and averages less than 90 mph, but the northeast corridor is a special case). Regardless, I would hope that any federal funding requires a state-level commitment of funds in some way.

    I hope that in 20 years we have HSR in place or at least close to opening in the northeast, California, the Chicago area (connecting Chicago to Minneapolis, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Detroit, Indianapolis, and several other cities with 110 mph trains at least), maybe the Texas cities, the Florida cities, the Ohio cities, and Portland-Seattle-Vancouver. There are some other feasible places too, but I think those are our best bets for successful trains. Of course, much of this depends on our energy policies and foreign policies, and the related cost of oil.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Looks like the Chicago to Twin Cities route is shaping up to be a reality. Communities along the route are already gearing up to build or upgrade stations, prepare TOD orinances, etc. I hope it pans out.

  5. #5
    Having taken a lot of high speed rail in Europe and used trains in California, I can say there is no reason why they would not work here. Its only a lack of will.

  6. #6
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    In Ohio, we are pursuing a high speed rail option pretty steadily. Stimulus money is going towards it and the 3C+ D (Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland + Dayton) corridor is starting to shape up.

    http://www.progressiverailroading.co...e.asp?id=20492
    http://www.ble.org/pr/news/headline.asp?id=27311
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Florida has an applicationin for PD&E for the Orlando - Miami segment of the Tampa-orlando-Miami HSR project. Tampa-Orlando is almost shovel ready. ROW is in the I-4 corridor though some older overpasses will have to be raised. Orlando airport is ready for a HDR station. Past construction has been planned to accomdate it. Supposed to apply for the construction grant by Oct 2.

    Atrokey is correct we backslid greatly in rail transportation. Some 55 years ago when I was a kid we were traveling on passes (my father was a conductor on the ACL) between Jax and Savannah. I thought we were going mighty fast so asked the conductor when he came bt how fast we were going. He and the old man timed the mileposts going by, consulted the time charts in the employee timetables and told me "We're making 110 right now over the south Georgia flats." I was impressed. As fast as I had ever been. Now Amtrak runs 79 over the same stretch.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    CJC, do you have an opinion regarding the Victorville-Las Vegas electric train vs. the LV to Anaheim mag-lev train? Obviously, the mag-lev would cost so much more, but the trip would be so fast. I get really impatient with the long stretches of desert when I've had to make the drive from LA to LV. A regular electric train just seems so last century. I think having something as advanced as a mag-lev says to the world that the US is looking forward again and is really doing something about traffic congestion and energy resources. It should prompt some new investment by other countries.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Well.....

    Quote Originally posted by Richi View post
    Florida has an applicationin for PD&E for the Orlando - Miami segment of the Tampa-orlando-Miami HSR project. Tampa-Orlando is almost shovel ready. ROW is in the I-4 corridor though some older overpasses will have to be raised. Orlando airport is ready for a HDR station. Past construction has been planned to accomdate it. Supposed to apply for the construction grant by Oct 2.

    Atrokey is correct we backslid greatly in rail transportation. Some 55 years ago when I was a kid we were traveling on passes (my father was a conductor on the ACL) between Jax and Savannah. I thought we were going mighty fast so asked the conductor when he came bt how fast we were going. He and the old man timed the mileposts going by, consulted the time charts in the employee timetables and told me "We're making 110 right now over the south Georgia flats." I was impressed. As fast as I had ever been. Now Amtrak runs 79 over the same stretch.
    I think there should be a bullet train between Miami and Boston, going through Jacksonville, Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Richmond, Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Providence.

    I wonder how many people live within 50 miles of that imagined line? Now that's what I call service

    2000 miles of track at 150 miles per hour average speed 5AM-11PM travel time with ten stops on the express route.

    Blaine the Train is a Real Pain
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  10. #10
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater View post
    CJC, do you have an opinion regarding the Victorville-Las Vegas electric train vs. the LV to Anaheim mag-lev train? Obviously, the mag-lev would cost so much more, but the trip would be so fast. I get really impatient with the long stretches of desert when I've had to make the drive from LA to LV. A regular electric train just seems so last century. I think having something as advanced as a mag-lev says to the world that the US is looking forward again and is really doing something about traffic congestion and energy resources. It should prompt some new investment by other countries.
    As much as maglev would be cool, I'm very much anti-maglev for the Vegas route, just because it wouldn't be able to link into the CAHSR system and would cost an order of magnitude more.

    A couple things though - the DesertXpress (the LV-Victorville line that you mention) is not actually planned to be electric, but is planned as using relatively high speed DMUs (diesel multiple units). The DesertXpress could certainly be upgraded to electric fairly easily, and it looks like the investors in it are actively courting government authorities in the hopes of securing public money to do exactly that. What I would like to see is the DX built to end not in Victorville, but to go on to Palmdale (50 miles away over almost entirely flat desert) to connect up with the trunk CAHSR line. That way you could run direct to the Bay Area or LA area using a single-seat ride.

    I'm still very much hoping that multiple operators are used on the CHSRA tracks (the agency is NOT a railroad, they're just in charge of building the system - it hasn't been determined who will actually operate the trains, but I'm rooting for multiple private operators), and the DX folks could potentially be one of those operators.

    The estimates I've seen bandied about would put the LA Union Station - Las Vegas time at around 95-100 minutes and the SF Transbay Terminal - Las Vegas time at around 220 minutes. San Jose to Vegas would be about 190 minutes. Both SF and SJ are a little out of the HSR time "sweet spot" of under three hours, but they're at least still pretty accessible, where the maglev to Anaheim would completely exclude Northern California (and the Central Valley cities like Fresno and Bakersfield). When th extensions to San Diego and Sacramento are built, they'd also have sub-three hour trips to Vegas (Sacramento might be slightly over).

    If anyone is interested in the day-to-day arguments and happenings of CAHSR, this blog does a good job of covering it:

    http://cahsr.blogspot.com/

    Warning - the comments section can get a bit swarmed by crazies every now and then boilerplater, if you search their archives, they've done quite a bit of reporting on the DesertXpress and maglev proposals for Vegas.

    Here's the official government site:

    http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/
    Last edited by CJC; 28 Aug 2009 at 1:07 AM.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    I'm wondering, with all of this ongoing, and increasingly serious, discussion of a European-style true high-speed intercity passenger rail network (which I, in theory, do very much support, especially with one set of entities to build and maintain the tracks and other separate entities to own and operate the trains, much like the highway system is now set up), I'm *SERIOUSLY* wondering how much of a roadblock to all of this NIMBY will be. ROW acquisition costs will also be a real humbling factor.

    From an engineering standpoint, European high-speed rail lines are far, far, far less forgiving of such factors as grades and both horizontal and vertical curves than are interstate-standard highways, meaning that they cannot be as easily routed around places with the will (and MONEY) to fight off such things.

    Tracing these lines in Europe on Google Earth shows them requiring long linear corridors with extremely broad, sweeping curves. Many of them also make über-extensive use of expensive long viaduct bridging and tunnels - and this is for lines in areas that are no more mountainous than the landscape found here in Wisconsin and the rest of the upper midwest. 'Track speed' junctions between some of these lines also look like freeway interchanges strung out on steroids.

    Going through open desert (like between Palmdale or Victorville, CA and Las Vegas, NV) is one thing, but imagine trying to build these lines from scratch between major cities in the northeastern USA.





    Mike

  12. #12
    I would love to be able to get from Boston to NYC in less than two hours station to station.

    A distraction in Boston is the South Station - North Station link people - it deserves a thread of its own but if I had a billion or so dollars to spend on transportation, my money would not go there.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    [QUOTEGoing through open desert (like between Palmdale or Victorville, CA and Las Vegas, NV) is one thing, but imagine trying to build these lines from scratch between major cities in the northeastern USA.
    ][/QUOTE]

    I was under the impression that it would run on the Northeast Corridor line. I rode from NJ to DC a couple of times many years ago, and I remember it being very straight, though it still had a couple grade crossings. Maybe they've been eliminated by now. But yes, finding ROW in the densely built up NE would be difficult.

    When you go over the El Cajon pass, it makes it obvious why they decided to end the DesertXpress in Victorville. You can see all the spirals and reverse curves the existing ATSF/UP line uses to cross the San Gabriel Mountains. That must have been quite an engineering feat itself.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian safege's avatar
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    I agree with Bear in that the rail geeks I know would have a hissy fit if someone called 110 mph a high speed rail line.

    I did note that the consultant global partnership with all the patents (a mouthful) of the elevated light rail/monorail hybrid (another mouthful) that I citizen advocate for (catches breath) is calling themselves high speed rail now.

    Staying current, I guess.
    Psychotics are consistently inconsistent. The essence of sanity is to be inconsistently inconsistent.
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  15. #15
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    HSR - St. Louis to Chicago

    Here is an example of some of the problems studied by the planning commission in my hometown of Springfield, IL. Notably Ray LaHood's former district, Dick Durbin's hometown, and stage for multiple Obama speeches...

    I am personally in favor of high speed rail, although I may never use it. Many Amtrak trains that run through Springfield on this corridor are near capacity.

    http://www.co.sangamon.il.us/Departm...tions_Maps.asp

  16. #16
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Another advocacy article for HSR from the "Energy & Capital" newsletter that I subscribe to: http://www.energyandcapital.com/arti...o-brainer/964#
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