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Future of Passenger Rail...

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
Although the debate has been going on now for years (decades, really), passenger rail (at least in America) is in the midst of a major crisis, with Amtrak threatened with dissolution and/or severe reductions in funding by the U.S. government.

What place does passenger rail have in North America, and how should it be provided? Why is it that other countries seem to place a greater emphasis on railways for the movement of people, while here in North America they are often treated as an afterthought?

What are your experiences with rail - good or bad?
 

JNL

Cyburbian
Messages
2,449
Points
24
We are having similar problems in New Zealand - our main rail company Tranz Rail (interestingly Canadian owned!) has been selling off it's people-moving services and concentrating on moving freight. There is a big struggle in Wellington at the moment with our regional council (=municipal authority?) wanting to buy the regional commuter rail network from Tranz Rail. Improved services are promised if the sale goes through. In the meantime, neither side has wanted to invest any money until ownership is sorted out.

In the past, passenger rail services have definitely had the feel of being an after-thought. But now there is a move to improve passenger transport services to get more people to use public transport, in order to reduce traffic congestion and vehicle emissions, and to achieve a more "sustainable transport system". I have yet to see any big changes though.
 
Messages
5,353
Points
31
The Kansas City Southern abandoned its freight rail line along a highway corridor approximately 20 years ago. In the interim, several studies have been conducted examining the possibility of utilizing the right-of-way for a light rail transit system from the airport to the downtown central business district. Due to whatever circumstances at the time, nothing ever came out of those studies. Now, the corridor is once again being examined for the same purpose. Since the ROW spans three separate jurisdictions, coalition building among the municipalities and the citizens is an absolute must. If all goes well, the N.O. area will have a light rail system in less than 10 years from now.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
I can drive a half hour to Fox Lake, pay $2 a day for parking, buy an $8 round-trip ticket, and ride the train into downtown Chicago. Or I can sit in traffic up to four hours. 'Nuf said.
 

JNL

Cyburbian
Messages
2,449
Points
24
Parking at our train stations is free and on one of the lines, new parking spaces get filled up the next day. The time factor is about equivalent: an hour by train and sometimes a bit more by car. A return trip costs about NZ$9 with a monthly pass. The comfort of the interior depends on which line you ride - the more affluent suburbs get nicer carriages.
 

Journeymouse

Cyburbian
Messages
443
Points
13
I like travelling by rail, especially when it works, but it doesn't work too well in the UK.

British Rail was privatised in in the 90s, with Railtrack (technically a government owned company IIRC) in charge of the tracks, most of the stations and maintenance. Railtrack has since collapsed and is about to be 'replaced' (i.e. the same company, different name, different MD) - I can't remember the name. Incidently, parking for more than a pick-up costs a fee that depends on which station where in the country you're at.

Private companies run the trains. All of the train companies have a reputation for running late. Rush hour trains are regularly overcrowded (think people squished up against doors and windows), and should be avoided if you're not intending to get of at the same stop as everyone else. I have had several experiences of getting stuck on a train into London because the lemmings are too busy panicking and crowding on to allow a small number of people off first. Train journeys are generally faster (if you only need to go on one train) or as fast (one or more changes) unless there are delays (typical of Virgin trains and Arriva trains).

Because there are several companies involved, ticket pricing is an odd thing to get a handle on and costs change with how early you book your ticket, consessions and deals. If you ever go to London, get yourself an all zone travelcard for as long as you intend to be there - it works for trains, tubes and buses and is one of the cheapest fares in Britain.

In comparison (although I admit incredibly limited experience - three trips), French trains seem to run like clockwork. You have to book a seat when you get a ticket. You have to sit in your seat (unless you're going to th 'w.c.'). You need to remember to stamp your ticket at the machine when you get on the platform. The train leaves on time. The train arrives on time. Tickets are cheaper than the UK and have a set (and understandable) pricing and zoning system (SNCF is only one company that is state owned). The trains don't have regular conductors but roughly one in ten trains is 'spot checked'. If you haven't got a ticket, haven't stamped it and/or are sitting in someone else's seat during this check, you pay the fare again. Parking still costs but is cheaper than the UK.
 

adaptor

Member
Messages
123
Points
6
Sadly, I think the future of passenger rail here will be limited to service between high density areas where air travel and commuting have become intolerable. East coast trips between Boston NYC and DC will always be in demand.

High speed lines linking Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnatti OH (for example) are never going to draw enough travelers because you're lost once you arrive at the station. Unlike European cities, most of NA lacks pedestrian scale, servicable municipal transportation, efficient taxi services or even usable bike lanes (Toronto is a notable exception). Travelers are forced to use a car to get around most cities anyway, so they're almost always going to drive. The cost of operating trains is only one of the constraints to making rail systems work over such a vast and sprawling landscape.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
I think some high-speed corridors in North America are viable, but there would need to be some sort of government investment, comparable to the interstate or airport infrastructure programs.

Some of the existing proposals out there (like the Florida FOX) seem doomed from the start - more of a "let's build a flashy project" than "let's build a sustainable/balanced transportation system".
 

crazytrain

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
I agree that many people are inclined to drive rather than take a train between cities because of the lack of convenient public transportation they would find once they arrived in the city, but if reasonable train service did exist for a long enough time i beleive that it would encourage businesses and municipal governments to make supportive investments in the much needed area public transportation.
If they ever get around to building the high speed railway that they want to build here in texas (i was just as suprised as you may be when i found out about it, although it is going to be surrounded by at least 8 lanes of car traffic...in texas they call it "compromise") i think it would be very successful, from the large commuter traffic that extends between the 4 million plus communites here, even if they are 4 of the most car dependent.
 

JNL

Cyburbian
Messages
2,449
Points
24
crazytrain said:
it is going to be surrounded by at least 8 lanes of car traffic...in texas they call it "compromise")
Compromise??? Sounds more like tokenism!
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
It's gaining popularity in the Dallas area, Plano is opening the DART station in December (and way ahead of schedule). They're also building TODs at the stations, Mockingbird and Plano already have the apartments up and running. You can get all the way from those apartments in Plano to Greenville, a great place to drink, and then when you're done.. just hobble back to your apartment right there.

As far as Austin, I don't think it's going to work there. There isn't enough room and the feeling I got the last time it was voted on was that not too many people were excited about the idea. They've got so many transportation issues out there I don't see how causing more confusion is going to help the problems (read constant construction on Guadalupe, Red River, and every other "shortcut" road between Mopac to 35). I do know that for SWT students the bus that is offered from Austin to SWT is AWESOME! I took that my entire first year, when I didn't even have a car. Most people don't know about it, they don't want to pay for it (it's a litle pricey at $3 each way), or they'd rather be in their own car.
 

OhioPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
304
Points
11
Rail

There has been much talk about the 3 C rail that would run between Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus Ohio. Everyone seems to want to have this service put in place. I'm not sure what the timeline is, but supposedly it would be part of a larger passenger rail system.
 

Radio Limbo

Member
Messages
8
Points
0
At the recent Envision Central Texas workshop, every group that presented a scenario for future growth seemed to treat some form of commuter rail as a given, even though the light-rail referendum failed a year or two ago. I would love to be able to travel by rail, and I voted for light rail, but I don't know whether Austin has the density to make it work. Right now I consider myself lucky to have only a six-mile commute each way.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
My last AmTrak experience:
Conference in Albuquerque. Ten hour drive, about the same by train. Took the train for the experience. Departed before 6. Red cap was nothing but surly: “we don’t have all day, hurry up”. The day ride was rather nice. Families and RR buffs going cross country, children given the chance to be on a train for the first and perhaps last time. Occasionally to the observation car, grab a brewsky, have nice conversations.

The return was totally different. First the cabbie didn’t know where the station was. Next, the train was TEN HOURS late from California. Red caps more surly than before. The guy in front of me kept his shirt off, and read back issues of “Tattoo World”, comparing their pictures to his own art work. My seat mate sorely needed a bath. Visited the observation car, but everyone was trying to sleep (well, it was 8:30). Got a brew and went to the smoking car. It was rather lively with a loud little group sharing a bottle of Tequila. I enjoyed their antics for a while, and went back to my seat. Not being tired, I read a little. The tattoo guy kept yelling: “Who has the f*ing light on?” Went back for another beer. Too late: closed at 9 or 9:30. Went to the smoking car (at least I can relate to the drunks). 15 minutes later the conductor closed the car for being disorderly. Went back to my seat to try to read some more; woke up the tattoo guy. Turned off the light and stared at the starless night sky for the rest of the journey—except for a two hour layover in the middle of nowhere (I think my Tequila buddies were removed from the train).

So I had half of a pleasant experience. Would have been OK with a private Pullman berth, but not on my budget. Will not do it again.
 

Bucky alum

Member
Messages
82
Points
4
my views (long)

Well, I work for an airline and I know everyone hates them and their service. Yada yada yada.
The reason I drop by here is my interest in transportation planning and the future of Rail in the community. I used to be very much pro light rail but the more I have been exposed to it I see a flaw in its use in the United States. When I first saw the LRT project in Minneapolis being built near where I lived and running to the airport the project sounded wonderful. Now that I live in northern New Jersey my views on rail have changed.

What I like about rail projects: I like subways, they are frequent and they are for the masses.

I also see the benefits Heavy Passenger rail. I like NJ transit (even thought they have a horrible infastructure) and MTA North. These systems are much faster than LRT, and work like regional rail in Germany and Italy. They run every 20-30 minutes during the day and less frequently during the night and weekends. My problem with this is the management of system. They as a government agency have to balance what their constituents (taxpayers want and are willing to pay for) with their resources. I have never had a problem on a NJ transit train but do I think there could be major improvements that would reduce payroll at many of the stations and improve the quality of service. Yes, would it be expensive but it would be a one time capital cost vs. an ongoing operating cost. My other problem is the scheduling of trains out of NY on NJTransit. I know Amtrak schedules the lines and maybe that is where the problem is but there is only 1 train per hour on the weekends and it stops at 12:00 to most places on Friday and Saturday night. If you go to dinner or see a play in NYC it is many times more convenienant and almost as cost effective just to get a hotel room for the night. A taxi will run up to $60 and I live just outside of Newark. Yes I see the benefits to the user, its faster than light rail and I bet as cheap or cheaper. You already have the lines, just access them.

What I don’t like:
LRT: I saw my first LRT in Freiburg Germany and it took people between Freiburg and the Bahnhof and other parts of the city. At the time I was really impressed even though these were used more as streetcars then on dedicated lines. Now as I think back to it the true key to transportation in that city was the buses. They were frequent, they ran every 10 minutes and since you bought you ticket at the station or the newstand you didn’t spend all the time of people paying as you got on and off. I cannot figure out why we don’t use this system in the US. Do we really think people are that dishonest? If you audit it and make the fine expensive I doubt you would have much problem. The longer I have been away from Freiburg and after seeing the system in Denver I have concerns about LRT in the US.
I doubt that by adding LRT you can revitalize a downtown. This would only be possible with other incentives for business, as I doubt a company leaves a downtown as congestion for employees as the only reason.
My biggest concern with LRT is speed of the system. Its painfully slow. I believe LRT has a purpose but its not for Denver commuters out 20 miles, that is heavy regional rail. LRT is for downtown. I think each system has its benefits but we are have nothing in the downtown (think Streetcars or LRT), to the suburbs (Heavy rail) and High speed between cities (Japan or Germany High speed rail)
 

Bucky alum

Member
Messages
82
Points
4
High speed intra city rail

I really see a need for high speed rail between nearby cities. I am a proponent of the Midwest Rail Initiative if done properly.

http://www.midwesthsr.org/midwesthub/map/map.html

I see the NY-DCA-Bos corridor working I see SD-La-SF and Dallas-HOu-San Antonio working. It needs to be in under 3 hours or about 4-6 hours of driving, otherwise the business traveler will fly and the family will still drive.

The US has the strongest domestic air traffic program in the world and where the system struggles is in the shorter routes. If rail can alleviate that, airline traffic is that much better off, as much of the stresses and problems come with the congestion of the additional shorter flights and the growth of regional jets (37 to 50 seats) that take up the same space requirements as a 150 person 737. For example the Midwest rail initiative is a great start if it ever happens. My concern would be the politics involved. Already there are some routes that are listed that are either too long for a business traveler to use or to too small of a city to ever economically justify it.

I know of the considerable capital costs needed to start a system such as this would not be possible from a private company but maybe a public-private consortium would work. As we have all seen the public sector seems to be very inefficient as they have to bow down to so many peoples wishes and even though private air travel isn’t the greatest it is much cheaper than when it was deregulated. The average cost in the airline biz per mile is around $.09 a seat . You use a car for work and your company pays you get $.32 cents a mile. It is 3 times cheaper than to drive if you use that. Rail should be even cheaper than the airlines. If rail ever worked rental car companies would show up just like they do at the airports, it would just change where they were. I say build it but let competition run it and have a govenment watchdog, just like the FAA does for flights. Ever since air travel was degregulated it has opened the world.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
My recent rail experience (long)

My wife and I took the train from Toronto to Halifax and back, as part of our honeymoon travels. Overall, the service on the train was fantastic - we went first class, so we were well taken care of. The staff on VIA were great, but the actual train journey left a lot to be desired. We were at least half an hour late on all four legs of the journey.

I think one of the biggest problems facing VIA (and probably Amtrak too, outside of the NE corridor) is that the tracks they run on are controlled by railways whose main business is moving freight. The rail system is not designed for faster passenger rail operations. For example, on the way back from Montreal we had to bypass Brockville station, go down the line a bit, then reverse onto another track to get back into the station. All because the platform at Brockville can only serve one train at a time, and there happened to be another train already in the station when we came through. Throughout the whole journey we'd end up slowing down or stopping in the middle of nowhere, for no apparent reason. To me, all the nice shiny new equipment VIA is getting isn't worth much if travel times don't start improving.
 

Bucky alum

Member
Messages
82
Points
4
Exactly my point

If you look back before 1978 when the airlines stared to be deregulated in the US airline fares were much higher(set by gov't) and the airlines themselves were very inefficient. AFter opening up the skies, new carriers came in Southwest and Westjet to attack the tradtional model of business. The airlines are adjusting and some should be allowed to die. The problem with Amtrak and Via is they have no incentive to improve. Amtrak only runs the long routes to keep the votes of the congressmen of those states. At NY Penn, NJ transit trains use tracks that are wholly owned by Amtrak but cannot tell you what track the train will be departing or arriving from until its at the station. Amtrak will not let them. So if you are waiting for your train on Thursday at 5:00pm with 10,000 other people crammed in an area watching a board. Boom they list you train and 1/5 of the people go running for it down the stairs creating a huge mess and delays. There are no changes planned until the new area opens (currently under renovation) and even when that happens the room for the handicapped will still be limited. They are just repainting a turd.

The airline industry with their competition however has created new low fare tickets,and self service checkins and generally lowered costs by 50% in the same time. I have no idea how the rail system in Britain works. Any idea on how the lines are used and dedicated. You could maybe set rail systems up to have slots in area like landing slots for airplanes, if you are outside the window, you cancel.
 

green22

INACTIVE
Messages
101
Points
6
Canada sounds like it followed the american transportation model, build the airports and the highway system and let passenger services share the rail way with freight trains. I took a train from NYC to Chicago and back. We were 3 hours late both ways. We had to wait for a boat at a drawbridge. A man stepped onto the tracks and died because tracks are not separated from people like freeways.They still have at grade street crossings. Most of the delays were waiting for clearance from the owners to use the tracks, freight has priority. I am told there are not delays on the Boston to Washington route where amtrak owns it's own lines. How can you expect a system to survive when you don't even build the infrastructure. Amtrak has a mandate to provide a public service of serving underpopulated rural regions for political reasons, yet is given a billion dollars a year, Bush wants it to be 500 million next year. The airlines and automobiles are swimming in mega billions of dollars in subsidies. The fact is, politically Amtrak is a dead duck. The airlines and auto related industry , and oil companies pump big bucks into campaigns. Trains unfortunately are much more efficient in fossil fuel use than cars or planes. Amtrak as a government agency can't give big bucks to politicians campaigns. That is why roads and airports are provided for by government while trains are supposed to be self sufficient. If we spend 1 year of airline money on our train systems,over 100 billion dollars, we would have a state of the art train system. We subsidize our highways even more than that.
Bucky alum - You live in Newark, I was working there before 9-11. You have one of the best and fastest lrt systems, the newark city subway. It comes about once every minute all day. I agree about commuter systems, they suck. Very expensive and they run at terrible frequencies. Unlike lrt , I've never seen one help build a downtown. The new lrt , the Hudson-Bergen LRT works very well except in Jersey city, thanks to interference from the mayor Brett Shundler.Through Bayonne and lower JC it runs quickly, but then takes a slow curvey route through areas the city wants to redevelope. People groan through the needless curves as it moves at 2 miles an hour. Once the train goes past the Newport center mall, it speeds up and rises above ground. The new line from Hoboken north will not have any of these problems. I advise you to take the newark LRT, they just added 2 stops. Up to 2 years ago I rode pcc cars on the line. They now have new articulated cars which are also on the Hudson Bergen line.
 

Journeymouse

Cyburbian
Messages
443
Points
13
The main thing about the main British rail network (as appose to the trams and LRTs getting set up in various cities) is that it is reliant on timing. There is only a small window for every train, and if it's slightly late it usually ends up being very late, because it has to wait for the next available 'window'. Freight [slow], local [slow] and national [faster] trains have to be juggled and can sometimes end up with spectacular f-ups. The individual companies usually do everything they can to get as much money out of your pocket as possible, too.

The best apology I ever heard was from a driver on a Virgin train from London Euston to Manchester. I was getting off at Stoke-on-Trent. We were an hour and a half late (which isn't actually that bad for Virgin). "On behalf of Virgin trains I would like to apologise for our late running. I don't know how they [railtrack] think they can fcuking run things like this. We were late leaving Euston so they put us behind a bloody local train all the way to Nuneaton [about half the trip]. Then what did they go and fcuking do? They put us behind a fcuking freight train. Sorry. " Incidently, I don't know whether he still works for Virgin or not.
 

crazytrain

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
As for the light rail here in Austin, it only failed the vote by about half a percent. The turnout was about the same as our mayoral election, which I think was about 11% of the population last time around. The light rail proposal would have been an extreme benefit to the 52,000 students here at UT, most of whom have to commute from other parts of the city due to the lack of inexpensive housing anywhere near UT, and the light rail system that was under review hits alot of territory containing students. I figure that enough support from UT could easily turn the election, considering we do make up about 5-10% of the population.
 

Bucky alum

Member
Messages
82
Points
4
Green thanks for the advice

I actually live in the area between Maplewood and Irvington. I use the Midtown direct line in and out of NYC but for a while was living in Sommerset and using the Raritan valley line. I have ridden the Newark subway line, it just doesn't fit my schedule of where I need to go. I will go ride the Hudson-Bergen light rail, everyone I know who has used it however has complained about the speed in Jersey City. Looking at the schedules for both the Newark Subway and Hudson Bergen schedules they both do seem to run frequently that is a plus. However, the time to run the length of the Hudson Bergen seem pretty slow, possibly due to the time through Jersey City. I would like to see a study of light rail vs heavy rail for cities like Denver. I wonder what the average speed is for light vs heavy rail in cities. I completely see the need for light rail in heavy areas like the Jersey city -Hoboken area but I enjoy the heavy rail for the NJ transit and I just wonder if that would be a better alternative for cities like Denver when they are building their lines through the suburbs.

I also agree that lines need to be dedicated for either passengers or rail. Green, what you said about the NEC from DC to NY and Amtrak owning it thereby making it more reliable is somewhat true. however it less reliable than the airlines of whom they are competing for passengers on. Part of this may be the reliability of the cars but my problem with many of these public companies is the lack of incentives to make money. I agree that we don't put enough $$ into rail developement, however I have always wondered when people state the subsidies for the airlines are. I have never seen them as the airlines and either indirectly or directly your tickets pay for the airports and all the other costs. I think Amtrak should abandon the long stage length rails and sell them to tour operators, who could market them like cruises. Amtrak needs to shrink to what it does profitably and shed the rest. At that point only will rail not be a laughingstock in the US and could probably grow from there.
 

Bucky alum

Member
Messages
82
Points
4
Green and Journeymouse

Green-
Did you ever use the PATH? Did you know the airlines in New York subsidize the path train. The user fees collected from the airlines at JFK, EWR, and LGA make a profit of around $350 million dollars a year after airline related expenses. The PANYNJ lose about 200 Million dollars a year on the path on revenue of $48 million, costs $250 million. I have always wondered about the profitability/costs of the rail and subway systems in NY and NJ any idea where i can find anything like it?

Journeymouse-

Does this system of Railtrack running the system have any accountability? Do you know how each individual company gets the rights to certain routes, do they bid on them? Who gets penalized for the delays, do the train operators get fines for causing delays?

Additioanlly, what has happened to the prices of tickets? Are they now like airline tickets, especially cheap 4 months in advance and get to be extremely expensive the day off. Can you give me the names of some of the operators, especially if some are public companies I would like to look at their annual report.

Last question, if the system there is so screwed up with so many delays, has there been any talk about bringing it back under the government umbrella?

Thanks all.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
Privatization of the railways in the UK does not seem to have been much of a success - however, it is likely that even had the system remained public, it would have started falling apart without massive injections of cash. The infrastructure is the real problem - you can introduce as many nice new shiny trains as you want, but if you're running on a system designed and built largely in the Victorian era, there's only so much you can do.
 

Bucky alum

Member
Messages
82
Points
4
privatisation

Yeah the capital required is huge, but I doubt its that much more than an airline. For example an MD-80 burns 6 gallons of kerosene per mile or about 3000 gallons per hours. That plus a price tag of $40 million dollars for a regional jet to up to $180 million for a 777 and all the maintenance I cannot see how it would be that much more capital and infastructure intensive than an airline.

Do you know how Japan works. I see that the Japanese rail systems are privatised but I wondering if that was actually true. I cannot seem to find much detail on it and I wonder if it is more like most japanese companies, so interconnected it makes it impossible to follow the money.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
I'm not really very clear on how the railways in Japan work. As far as I know, there is a mixture of public and private ownership. The bullet trains are run by Japan National Railways (public), but many of the the commuter lines in and around Tokyo are private concerns. I think a lot of these private commuter lines developed along similar lines as early North American interurban lines - the private company that runs the railway builds amusement parks, shopping malls, hotels, office buildings, etc. along the line. Even if the railway itself doesn't make money, the developments do.
 

Bucky alum

Member
Messages
82
Points
4
Japanese National Railways

Yeah, I did a search on the Japanese national railway and I found out that they are actually a group of 5 or 7 different companies. I even found the annual reports on one of them. I am going to try to see how the system worked. If anyone has any books or web sites that would help. I would really appreciate it.

Transplanner- Thanks for the insight on some of the smaller individual rails.
 

green22

INACTIVE
Messages
101
Points
6
Hi, that's some interesting info on path which I used every day to get to Newark. Those trains are always packed. As a government agency controlled by the 2 governor's' Path has a lot of political problems. I assumed that it wasn't making a profit since each year they say it's funding is provided by the 2 states. I know that all large transit systems lose money to varying degrees. The path subway system wastes a lot of money by maintaining separate systems from the mta. They now want to build an elaborate wtc terminal for the system , and the mta is going to make a terminal at Nassau/Fulton st. Terminals are nothing but space and money wasting elaborate entrance/exits. Because of the 9-11 money they want to build something to impress people rather than build the 2nd avenue subway or the L train Hoboken connection to move people.
While I don't know how much the government subsidizes the 3 path run airports , nationwide over 100 billion government dollars are given each year to subsidize air travel. Most of the money is given directly to airport infrastructure, roads, land, buildings. we also directly subsidize airlines , airport security and airline insurance. Cost of wars over oil not included.
 

green22

INACTIVE
Messages
101
Points
6
I found an article on this subject on planet citizen september 30,"the big lie about trains" that explains some of the points I was trying to make. Admittedly planes have their place, most people would not want to take a boat from new york to Paris on a busness trip.
 

Bucky alum

Member
Messages
82
Points
4
I don't know if you saw my post or replied to it as the posts were wiped out. i actually have a feeling that you and I agree much more than we think on the rails. I enjoy rail travel and think it is a great idea for many. I just think that it should be a private company running it. I am not sure how to do it as the privatised rail in Britain has shown and I need to do more research on the Japanese system but I think it has merit.

My other concern is how everyone is looking at LRT where I think it will fail in many places, making it then a posterchild for government waste, unfortunately. I went and looked at Amtrak financials over the last few years. To me their revenues are actually very healthy when you look at then in comparison to an airline, especially in the NE corridor and the shorter routes. I think where they are getting killed is their long distance trains and their costs. Some of their costs seem extremely excessive, most in labor, which to me signals that they need to privatise the company and renegotiate the contracts such as US airways is currently doing.

mike
 

green22

INACTIVE
Messages
101
Points
6
I will admit that rail service is not working well now, but privatisation will only work with more government funding.
If you want to get the government out of funding railroads then you need to get the government to stop funding competing transport modes like roads, water transport, and aviation. To make it truly fair make cars and airlines pay for the first class infrastructure that was built for them. If anything the government should be funding methods which are more fuel and space efficient instead of rewarding the biggest polluters. One advantage of being privately run is that the new company could donate to political campaigns and lobbey for more funding. Bucky-nothing personal I enjoy debating and recognize that there is always more than one side to an issue.My thoughts on Light Rail is that it is most successful with some sort of TOD planning, and should be built where people live and work, not so much with stations located along isolated rights of way.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
Jet Train?

So Bombardier has introduced its new "Jet Train" concept, hoping to spur the development of addtional high-speed rail corridors, without the need for the same amount of costly infrastructure that a TGV/ICE/Shinkasen type service requires.

As a railfan - I'm excited, though I can't help but think of the old "Turbo" trains from the 1960s which promised much the same idea - fast trains on existing track.
 
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