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View Poll Results: Should the US build or improve it's HSR network?
Yes 249 89.57%
No 29 10.43%
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Old February 18th, 2011, 01:50 PM   #2101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Secondly, I wrote specifically about the costs to operate VEHICLES.
That's just an arbitrary criteria that you invented yourself, cleverly selected to punish rail while promoting car transport. Because that's how the road system works: car users are obligated anyway to waste money buying an expensive vehicle, so if they get free roads, there is nothing more they can expect from the government. Railways don't work like that, it's about offering mobility and a clean, high quality transport, and a government operator is virtually required for that to happen (excluding Japan maybe).

Quote:
Is that so difficult to understand? The reason FL HSR and that other project in WI were cancelled is that even if the feds paid for construction, they couldn't run without making YEARLY losses on the 8-to-9-digit size,
Any study said it would have that loss? I don't think so.
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Old February 18th, 2011, 02:01 PM   #2102
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Originally Posted by sekelsenmat View Post
Railways don't work like that, it's about offering mobility and a clean, high quality transport, and a government operator is virtually required for that to happen (excluding Japan maybe).
There is no technological or organization reason for rail SERVICES (not rail TRACKS) to be operated by government authorities than private companies. Freight rail companies in Europe having been using, and competing in, tracks they don't own for almost a decade and they are doing just fine. Open access works and pushes prices down.

HSR should be built as open systems allowing competitors to operate different trains, to charge different fares and so on. The track are there, there is no reason, other than monopolistic practices, to grant a single operator, public or private, the monopoly in running trains over a certain track. Tracks are not going anywhere, and their maintenance is not that expensive compared to the maintenance costs of HS rolling stock.

So imagine if instead of having a closed system HS Florida were meant only as a track-building project, with some stations: then you let anyone who secures a leasing on rolling stock certified to run over the tracks to put new services, new frequencies etc. As the system grows, it would bring COMPETITION, a key word to improve quality.

Think of how expensive and inefficient air transport would be if the airports, mostly built and paid by public local/state/county agencies, were also responsible for operating the airplanes departing and landing there. It would create a mess bloated with political interference, schedules and fares decided out of political and social considerations, and not market conditions, and alike. Society would pay a lot more and travel a lot less on airplanes.

Imagine if FHWA or state DOTs were responsible for operating, also, buses running over the road they manage: they would soon have a very expansive, money losing and earmarked-prone system in their hands! "I will not approve the budget for a road widening unless 10 new bus frequencies are added to my district"

There is no engineering, financial or structural reason not to think the same happens with rail passenger transport.



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Any study said it would have that loss? I don't think so.
The official reports prepared for the Madison HSR and the FL HSR explicitly forecast net financial losses for operating the system. Even assuming the usually optimistic ridership figures, the systems were not expected to make a profit.

On the contrary, major European HSR systems turn an operational profit on themselves (I'm not assuming capital interest burden to put systems in a comparable ground).
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Old February 18th, 2011, 03:02 PM   #2103
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
HSR should be built as open systems allowing competitors to operate different trains, to charge different fares and so on. The track are there, there is no reason, other than monopolistic practices, to grant a single operator, public or private, the monopoly in running trains over a certain track. Tracks are not going anywhere, and their maintenance is not that expensive compared to the maintenance costs of HS rolling stock.
Yes, a free open access system is indeed very interesting for HSR. I was previously refering to city transit & regional rail ... which was responding to your previous citation that transit systems should increase their fares (a topic unrelated to HSR)

But, anyway, the governor also closed this door apparently, even thought this wasn't explicitly mentioned. The governor could have negotiated the open access option with the feds, and then eventually hire Amtrak only in times when there are no companies interested in offering the service. A line without users is a greater waste then paying some money for Amtrak to run it for some time.
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Old February 18th, 2011, 04:56 PM   #2104
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sekelsenmat View Post
Yes, a free open access system is indeed very interesting for HSR. I was previously refering to city transit & regional rail ... which was responding to your previous citation that transit systems should increase their fares (a topic unrelated to HSR)

But, anyway, the governor also closed this door apparently, even thought this wasn't explicitly mentioned. The governor could have negotiated the open access option with the feds, and then eventually hire Amtrak only in times when there are no companies interested in offering the service. A line without users is a greater waste then paying some money for Amtrak to run it for some time.
Unfortunately, 'open access' for railroads is a completely foreign concept for most people in North America, the public here just cannot grasp the concept of a piece of railroad track that is not owned (or long-term leased) by its operator - although it is an idea that can easily 'grow legs' if presented in the right way.

Also, as for transit 'subscriptions' (mentioned up thread), it is normal for transit agencies here in North America to offer discounted daily, weekend, weekly and monthly passes for frequent riders.

Mike
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Old February 18th, 2011, 05:58 PM   #2105
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Though I don't agree with his philosophies or ideology, in this case he isn't just being openly belligerent. Please watch how you talk to him and simply argue with him about fact. Just a warning.

On the flip side, Suburbanist, not everyone wants to engage in ideological debates on every single thread regarding public transport and its associated infrastructure. You have to understand that you may be met with hostility.
Sorry , but it gets tiresome after a while , the same argument over and over again on every Transport forum.
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Old February 18th, 2011, 08:07 PM   #2106
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Originally Posted by mgk920 View Post
Unfortunately, 'open access' for railroads is a completely foreign concept for most people in North America, the public here just cannot grasp the concept of a piece of railroad track that is not owned (or long-term leased) by its operator - although it is an idea that can easily 'grow legs' if presented in the right way.
That's not the main problem though. "open access" has its disadvantages too, like a CYA mentality amongst the infrastructure operators that puts a high regulatory burden on the TOCS. We've see that in the UK and are starting to see it in the Netherlands.
Look at the successful operators in Japan: Most are vertically integrated there, and that works.

The biggest problem in the US are regulations that make everything rail related several times more expensive than it needs to be, which makes it a lot harder to justify rail investments.
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Old February 18th, 2011, 10:37 PM   #2107
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If you pay little you gain little...
No decent NHS, no decent national fast transport system and no fall back system when you get unemployed or sick.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_..._United_States

Okay I pay 42,4% income tax, but If the company I work for goes bust I still get payd 70% of last earned wage. And National healthcare comes at a decent fare and if I won't be able to work for a while due to health related problems, my employer pays will continue to pay me....

Furthermore I can travel to most destinations in my country till midnight using public transport to every corner of the street.

And as one of the smallest countries in the world, even we got a High Speed railway.
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Old February 18th, 2011, 11:01 PM   #2108
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I thought the California HSR project is shovel ready. Why they haven't broke ground yet? It has been 3 years already.

I admire Obama Administration's courage of starting HSR in USA, but it seems those "shovel ready" projects are not really the case.
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Old February 19th, 2011, 03:00 AM   #2109
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I thought the California HSR project is shovel ready. Why they haven't broke ground yet? It has been 3 years already.
Because you thought wrong, it's not shovel ready yet.
It should start next year.
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Old February 19th, 2011, 03:23 AM   #2110
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Originally Posted by mgk920 View Post

Also, as for transit 'subscriptions' (mentioned up thread), it is normal for transit agencies here in North America to offer discounted daily, weekend, weekly and monthly passes for frequent riders.

Mike
Sure, Mike, but those discountrs, AFAIK, don't ever reach the degree of loss-making on heavy users like a Bahn100 card or other plans in terms of coverage (from ferries to high-speed rail).
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Old February 19th, 2011, 03:28 AM   #2111
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Originally Posted by K_ View Post
That's not the main problem though. "open access" has its disadvantages too, like a CYA mentality amongst the infrastructure operators that puts a high regulatory burden on the TOCS. We've see that in the UK and are starting to see it in the Netherlands.
Look at the successful operators in Japan: Most are vertically integrated there, and that works.

The biggest problem in the US are regulations that make everything rail related several times more expensive than it needs to be, which makes it a lot harder to justify rail investments.
If that is the case, make the infrastructure operator a public agency, like a road authority, managing the infrastructure, sometimes with PPPS, sometimes directly, but giving open access to any competitor that wants to join the market. If you have vertically integrated operators, save for very few cases you essentially shut down any possibility of new entrants on same routes/lines. It is far more easier to buy or even lease rolling stock than build a brand new track.

The analogy would be if BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen built a private autoban only their cars can ride over it by definition.
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Old February 19th, 2011, 02:10 PM   #2112
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Sure, Mike, but those discountrs, AFAIK, don't ever reach the degree of loss-making on heavy users like a Bahn100 card or other plans in terms of coverage (from ferries to high-speed rail).
Any source for saying that DBahn loses money on the Bahn card?
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Last edited by sekelsenmat; February 19th, 2011 at 03:07 PM.
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Old February 19th, 2011, 03:56 PM   #2113
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If you pay little you gain little...
No decent NHS, no decent national fast transport system and no fall back system when you get unemployed or sick.
That all depends.
For one thing, the health care and welfare system in the US is a lot better than you would think based on the way it is depicted in the European media.
For another thing: I pay 17% income tax, and I have access to public services, and a transportation system that is equal, if not even better than what you have in the Netherlands...
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Old February 19th, 2011, 03:59 PM   #2114
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If that is the case, make the infrastructure operator a public agency, like a road authority, managing the infrastructure, sometimes with PPPS, sometimes directly, but giving open access to any competitor that wants to join the market.
That doesn't solve the fact that in the US implementing a diesel light rail passenger service on an existing railway line costs about the same amount per mile as building a dedicated state of the art HSL in Spain...
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Old February 19th, 2011, 04:40 PM   #2115
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Source: http://www.cfnews13.com/article/news...igh-speed-rail

ORLANDO --

U.S. Representative John Mica is out with a new plan he said could save high speed rail in Florida, but it comes with some major changes.

The initial plan rejected by Governor Scott would have started with a rail line running from Orlando to Tampa.

Mica is proposes building a smaller line that just connects Orlando International Airport with the Orange County Convention Center and Disney World.

Mica said the train would be run by Orlando, Orange, and Osceola Counties, bypassing the state.

The government has given Florida leaders until Friday to come up with a plan to save the $2.4 billion in federal funding up for grabs for the train.

Other states have already told the government they're interested in getting the funding if Florida scraps the train altogether.

==============

Looks a good idea. Better mini-rail then no-rail. Will this be the smallest HSR in the world?
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Old February 19th, 2011, 05:01 PM   #2116
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That doesn't solve the fact that in the US implementing a diesel light rail passenger service on an existing railway line costs about the same amount per mile as building a dedicated state of the art HSL in Spain...
Do you have some sources on the cost of light rail in the USA?

Because at least the Florida line cost is above average for the conditions considered (right of way already owned, no tunnels, downside that needs stations), but not that extremely above european prices.

Orlando-Tampa => 84 miles = 135 km costing 2,7 billion USD
= 15 million euros per kilometer

Which is similar to costs in France:

LGV Rhin-Rhône | 148 km | 2,312 milliards € | 15,62 M€/km

Sources:
* http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2...gh-speed-line/
* http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showth...039331&page=17
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Old February 19th, 2011, 06:20 PM   #2117
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Do you have some sources on the cost of light rail in the USA?
What I was thinking of was the Oceanside - Escondido sprinter. That project cost $470 million. Of these 50 million was for the trains. The line is 22 miles long.
That's 19 million dollar per mile. For a diesel light rail service.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 03:19 PM   #2118
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This thread is an interesting read. I like the folks with obvious European residence argueing that the US needs this without any basis of understanding how things work here.

Your HSR works because you have central governments who control much more of the game and are willing to subsidize operating losses. I'm not wanting to argue the merits or lack thereof of that system. What we have is a Federal Government that has expressed willingness to pony up funds to build this line, lets just stick with the Tampa-Orlando thing for sake of arguement. Looks like an atrtractive arguement. Plenty of folks travel between these cities, air is a bad option, and the right of way is essentially there without NIMBY or legal wrangling.

What's not attractive is that the Federal Government is placing the operating burden on the State Government. Here, they say, we'll help you build it. GREAT, but what happens when the actual ridershiop ends up at about 70% of estimates, which are ridiculously overblown whenever a transit system gets built. What's going to happen is that some other level of Government, be it State or County or City will be forced to pony up the operating loss.

To digress, Norfolk VA is just finishing up a light rail project. It's about 40% over budget for construction and when it opens I will guarantee we here will be reading in the paper about the shock and surprise of the City fathers that there just don't seem to be the number of riders the City counted on. So, then we'll read about the need to pass a 1% sales tax on everyone to keep this system running. Same old, same old.....

Florida seems to be smarter than that. They know they'll never operate the system at break even. They know that there won't be the number of riders that are projected, and they know they will end up on the hook for subsidizing it. Who do they think is going to ride the thing? The Disney tourists? Hell, they just fly to Orlando. If this was such a great idea, private money would be in line to make it work.

HSR is a great thing, but talking about building it anywhere in the US except the NorthEast corridor and the California coast is just ridiculous. If it cannot be operated at break-even without Government subsidization IT SHOULD NOT BE BUILT!
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 04:21 PM   #2119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFish View Post
This thread is an interesting read. I like the folks with obvious European residence argueing that the US needs this without any basis of understanding how things work here.

Your HSR works because you have central governments who control much more of the game and are willing to subsidize operating losses. I'm not wanting to argue the merits or lack thereof of that system. What we have is a Federal Government that has expressed willingness to pony up funds to build this line, lets just stick with the Tampa-Orlando thing for sake of arguement. Looks like an atrtractive arguement. Plenty of folks travel between these cities, air is a bad option, and the right of way is essentially there without NIMBY or legal wrangling.

What's not attractive is that the Federal Government is placing the operating burden on the State Government. Here, they say, we'll help you build it. GREAT, but what happens when the actual ridershiop ends up at about 70% of estimates, which are ridiculously overblown whenever a transit system gets built. What's going to happen is that some other level of Government, be it State or County or City will be forced to pony up the operating loss.

To digress, Norfolk VA is just finishing up a light rail project. It's about 40% over budget for construction and when it opens I will guarantee we here will be reading in the paper about the shock and surprise of the City fathers that there just don't seem to be the number of riders the City counted on. So, then we'll read about the need to pass a 1% sales tax on everyone to keep this system running. Same old, same old.....

Florida seems to be smarter than that. They know they'll never operate the system at break even. They know that there won't be the number of riders that are projected, and they know they will end up on the hook for subsidizing it. Who do they think is going to ride the thing? The Disney tourists? Hell, they just fly to Orlando. If this was such a great idea, private money would be in line to make it work.

HSR is a great thing, but talking about building it anywhere in the US except the NorthEast corridor and the California coast is just ridiculous. If it cannot be operated at break-even without Government subsidization IT SHOULD NOT BE BUILT!
If the Federal govt goes alone it often becomes a centralized socialist project. You then also enter in the center vs states debate. Secondly many folks in the US are worried abt their tax dollars going into "boondoggles" like HSR. Hence there is a preferance for the states to pick up part of the tab for a project in their jurisdiction.
I agree Cali and the NEC are the best places for HSR to happen. But other places like the Midwest, Texas and Southeast are also excellent locations to build an HSR.
About Florida, This is the second time they came close to building an HSR. On the previous occasion they were building it without significant Federal aid. Only for the plan to be pulled up by Gov. Jeb Bush (of course with a public vote), who many believe was cosy with the oil industry and other interests aligned against public transport. History has only repeated itself in Florida. Just another day and another governor.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 04:35 PM   #2120
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If it cannot be operated at break-even without Government subsidization IT SHOULD NOT BE BUILT!
Get rid of your army and police force, then
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