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Thread: California High-speed rail

  1. #1

    California High-speed rail


    The proposed high-speed rail system for California will not reduce auto and air-traffic congestion. It attempts to accomodate an excessive travel pattern that it enables to increase. We should invest in necessities and amenities near home and community. It is futile to invest in a super-duper transport system to take overpriviledged suburbanites to their luxury destinations and office pods far from home. Only a fraction of those who choose to travel such distances can use the high-speed train, leaving the rest with no choice but to go by conventional means. Meanwhile the demand for travel such long distances grows.

    Traffic between cities is not congested. It is regional and inner-city transit systems which need improvement and modernization. High-speed trains have too few stops to serve the greater needs. It will mostly serve an upper income clientele who can afford the undoubtably expensive ticket price.

    Long-distance rail service in California can be improved, but high-speed rail is not the solution to traffic congestion.
    Last edited by asc; 08 Oct 2001 at 4:26 PM.

  2. #2
    This high-speed rail opinion, my first post to the Cyberbia forum, was not meant to be an attack on rail transit. High speed rail is receiving attention in Congress at this time and I do support its implementation.

    I write from Portland, Oregon where the less known high-speed train, the Amtrak Cascades Talgo, exceeds expectations at a reasonable price. The Talgo, is a "tilting" coach train pulled by a standard diesel locomotive with a potential top speed of 125 mph. It's manufacturer makes a matching, low-profile diesel locomotive with a top speed of 135 mph. The main benefit of the Talgo system is it directs funds to the priority of high-speed trians - track and grade crossing upgrades. Expensive electrification can come last. With Acela-type systems, adding costs of electrification and more expensive locomotives and coaches, make high-speed train lines less economically viable.

    The Amtrak Talgo operates on freight lines which benefit from track upgrades. This further controls costs by using existing right of ways instead of constructing new railroads. Sharing the track with freight rail has not too severely hampered the Talgo's on-time rating. I've been to Seattle a dozen times this last year and the Talgo was delayed an hour once.

    Still, the service remains popular. It's a 3 1/2 hour, 150 mile trip with 5 stops for cities between Portland and Seattle. Even at the average speed of 45 mph, the Talgo outperforms the air travel and automobile market for this trip. Although the Cascades Talgo should be able to shave another 1/2 hour off travel time on this trip, speed is still not the main advantage; at least not to the point where prohibitively expensive high-speed train systems like Amtrak Acela become practical.

  3. #3

    Sep 2001
    Los Angeles, California

    High-speed rail

    > Traffic between cities is not congested. It is regional and
    > inner-city transit systems which need improvement and
    > modernization. High-speed trains have too few stops to
    > serve the greater needs.

    At face value this seems to make sense. However, California consists of several regions. There is significant air traffic and vehicle traffic throughout the state. There's recreational traffic on the weekeneds and holidays and business traffic during weekdays.

    I think the bigger questions is would anyone take a five-hour rail trip from L.A. to S.F. when they could catch a plane that takes 45 minutes?

  4. #4
    At farther distances, fast trains are not competitive with air travel, especially when speed is the main consideration. The Amtrak Cascades Talgo has the extra advantage of serving 5 cit;y stations on the 150 trip between Portland and Seattle.

    It's about 400 miles from LA to SF. It's not possible to have super high-speed train service between these two cities and still create and serve a market large enough to justify costs of building a super-expensive, electrified, separate ROW, high-speed rail system. We must consider the advantage of service for numerous cities between, (perhaps as many as 10 stops), though this will slow travel times. The Talgo system is the better improvement for passenger rail service by improving the existing Amtrak Starliner corridor. It improves freight rail service at the same time with track upgrades.

    The main advantage of rail travel is not speed. Comfort, scenery, multiple destination markets, better access to central districts, economic development and broadening our transportation infrastructure are more important considerations. Rail travel is adventurous, nostalgic, modern, family-oriented, entertaining, but not very fast.

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