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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%
Voters: 278. You may not vote on this poll

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Old February 23rd, 2011, 07:01 PM   #2121
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Originally Posted by Silly_Walks View Post
Get rid of your army and police force, then
Public security and national defenses are THE basic reasons for which any national government should exist, if no other was left.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 07:13 PM   #2122
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Public security and national defenses are THE basic reasons for which any national government should exist, if no other was left.
No no, things that can not exist without subsidization, should not exist at all.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 10:54 PM   #2123
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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.
Yes, sorry for our horrible tips. You can now go on with your previous plan which was working so great: screw up the mexican gulf with oil, screw up the atmosphere with pollution and fill evil dictators like Hugo Chaves with money by paying huge sums for their oil. That will work much better then rail transport.

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If it cannot be operated at break-even without Government subsidization IT SHOULD NOT BE BUILT!
Do you think that this idea should also have applied when the interstate system was being built? Should it also have applied for all airports built?
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 11:36 PM   #2124
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Originally Posted by sekelsenmat View Post
Yes, sorry for our horrible tips. You can now go on with your previous plan which was working so great: screw up the mexican gulf with oil, screw up the atmosphere with pollution and fill evil dictators like Hugo Chaves with money by paying huge sums for their oil. That will work much better then rail transport.



Do you think that this idea should also have applied when the interstate system was being built? Should it also have applied for all airports built?
Did I ever say your tips were horrible? Nope, just that I find it obvious in reading that many in Euro nations do not understand our minset or how things work here. Actualy I was pretty clear that I wasn't interested in debating the pros and cons of the mindset, just observing that there is a difference in how things are looked at. You did leave a very nice selection of bait, I'm gunna swim past it though to keep this all civil.

You mention the highways and airports. I'm not talking about the infrastructure. If the Government builds the HSR infrastructure a company can still not break even on operations. That's what I'm talking about. If the infrastructure is put in place, like an interstate highway, and no trucking company can make enough money to operate, then the whole construction of the highway was ill advised if it's sole purpose was to transport goods (ours aren't of course but I'm trying to make a point). If an airport is built but no private carrier can break even operating out of that airport then the construction of the airport was ill advised, especially if another level of Government has to pick up the difference.

That's my point. If Government throws in all the infrastructure, and still no one can make break even on operations, why spend the infrastructure money? People can get from Tampa to Orlando quite easily now. No one NEEDS this train. And if tickets are priced at levels to assure break-even operations very few will ride it even if they do build it. Why not take that money and improve the existing infrastructure? We have some very serious bridge issues here. To me, that would be a wiser place to spend this infrastructure money. In the US, airports and highways do provide businesses with the opportunity to do better than break even, other than the NEC and Cali coast passenger rail just doesn't.

The highways and airlines killed passenger rail here back in the 50's. Whether or not that was a good outcome is not relevant. A reversal of that outcome cannot be forced. Building these things just to build them makes very bad economic sense.

Last edited by FlyFish; February 23rd, 2011 at 11:42 PM.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 01:17 AM   #2125
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Originally Posted by FlyFish View Post
Did I ever say your tips were horrible? Nope, just that I find it obvious in reading that many in Euro nations do not understand our minset or how things work here. Actualy I was pretty clear that I wasn't interested in debating the pros and cons of the mindset, just observing that there is a difference in how things are looked at. You did leave a very nice selection of bait, I'm gunna swim past it though to keep this all civil.

You mention the highways and airports. I'm not talking about the infrastructure. If the Government builds the HSR infrastructure a company can still not break even on operations. That's what I'm talking about. If the infrastructure is put in place, like an interstate highway, and no trucking company can make enough money to operate, then the whole construction of the highway was ill advised if it's sole purpose was to transport goods (ours aren't of course but I'm trying to make a point). If an airport is built but no private carrier can break even operating out of that airport then the construction of the airport was ill advised, especially if another level of Government has to pick up the difference.

That's my point. If Government throws in all the infrastructure, and still no one can make break even on operations, why spend the infrastructure money? People can get from Tampa to Orlando quite easily now. No one NEEDS this train. And if tickets are priced at levels to assure break-even operations very few will ride it even if they do build it. Why not take that money and improve the existing infrastructure? We have some very serious bridge issues here. To me, that would be a wiser place to spend this infrastructure money. In the US, airports and highways do provide businesses with the opportunity to do better than break even, other than the NEC and Cali coast passenger rail just doesn't.

The highways and airlines killed passenger rail here back in the 50's. Whether or not that was a good outcome is not relevant. A reversal of that outcome cannot be forced. Building these things just to build them makes very bad economic sense.
The reason many people advocate/support HSR is that the the present options for transport have drawbacks. At present planes and automobiles rely on burning fossil fuels to run. The current standard of living and consumption in the US requires heavy usage of these fuels and consequently result in high emission of CO2 and other toxic gases. This does cause and is causing an unhealthy change in our environment and threatens our well being and that of other species that share our planet. Trains in general are the most fuel efficient mode of transport even when they burn fossil fuel directly. Electric trains can be much more fuel efficient with a plus that the electricity can come from hydro, thermal, nuclear, solar or whichever source is readily available at a particular point of time. In addition to fuel efficiency and fuel flexibility, train systems can also move larger no of people with fewer land resources (than cars atleast). Trains are also be faster than roads on intercity corridors and dense urban settings than automobiles and more fuel efficient than planes on regional runs.
Secondly the present dependence on cars and planes has also feeded into a sprawling communities which when applied to the whole country results in high dependence on fossil fuels or other non renewable natural resources.
If the train (and HSR) is an important component of transport then there is also an incentive for building more compact communities which require lesser resources to function.
Of course if the above mentioned problems with our lifestyle didn't exist we wouldn't need to discuss these issues and could easily live as we like. But whether we like it or not the problems/challenges are here and we will have to find solutions.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 02:13 AM   #2126
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So, another argument support HSR not as a transportation policy but as evil social engineering against middle-class Americans who LIKE to live in "sprawl"[ed] suburbs... Sprawl is a phenomenon in itself not good or bad, it is just a matter of taste and it is not the role of government to "fight" it with HSR.

This being said, I totally agree with this assertion:
Quote:
You mention the highways and airports. I'm not talking about the infrastructure. If the Government builds the HSR infrastructure a company can still not break even on operations. That's what I'm talking about. If the infrastructure is put in place, like an interstate highway, and no trucking company can make enough money to operate, then the whole construction of the highway was ill advised if it's sole purpose was to transport goods (ours aren't of course but I'm trying to make a point). If an airport is built but no private carrier can break even operating out of that airport then the construction of the airport was ill advised, especially if another level of Government has to pick up the difference.

That's my point. If Government throws in all the infrastructure, and still no one can make break even on operations, why spend the infrastructure money?
The concept of separation of infrastructure (tracks, road lanes, signaled waterways, runways/terminals) and operations (trains, trucks/cars, ships/barges, aircrafts) is simple, objective and straightforward. It clearly separate what are more-or-less natural monopolies (infrastructure) from what are just services that make use of the former (operation of vehicles). In Europe, US, Canada, Australia, most of not all road vehicle operation is privately done. You don't have state owned cars, trucks, and mostly you don't get state owned buses either.

However, in many cases an HSR would have problems to allow any commercially viable operation of HST over them in US: competition with other modes is too fierce, gas is cheap and taxes are low.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 03:01 AM   #2127
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
So, another argument support HSR not as a transportation policy but as evil social engineering against middle-class Americans who LIKE to live in "sprawl"[ed] suburbs... Sprawl is a phenomenon in itself not good or bad, it is just a matter of taste and it is not the role of government to "fight" it with HSR.

This being said, I totally agree with this assertion:


The concept of separation of infrastructure (tracks, road lanes, signaled waterways, runways/terminals) and operations (trains, trucks/cars, ships/barges, aircrafts) is simple, objective and straightforward. It clearly separate what are more-or-less natural monopolies (infrastructure) from what are just services that make use of the former (operation of vehicles). In Europe, US, Canada, Australia, most of not all road vehicle operation is privately done. You don't have state owned cars, trucks, and mostly you don't get state owned buses either.

However, in many cases an HSR would have problems to allow any commercially viable operation of HST over them in US: competition with other modes is too fierce, gas is cheap and taxes are low.
They have no other choice , the schools are better and crime is less...but if that were true in most of the cities u would see a large middle class movement to the Urban Areas.... Gas and Gas Taxes are likely to go up and Amtrak ridership is growing......people are getting fed up with the Airlines....so the future for Air Transport is looking bad....in the long run....either the car or Train and more and more Americans are shifting to the train...
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Old February 24th, 2011, 04:25 AM   #2128
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
So, another argument support HSR not as a transportation policy but as evil social engineering against middle-class Americans who LIKE to live in "sprawl"[ed] suburbs... Sprawl is a phenomenon in itself not good or bad, it is just a matter of taste and it is not the role of government to "fight" it with HSR.
The primary purpose of HSR is not social engineering if thats what you call it. It is to provide a fast, reliable, clean mode of transport for the people. Of course if in doing so it encourages communities to adapt and become more environmentally friendly in their layout then that is a welcome change. Sprawl in itself would not be a problem. But our energy intensive lifestyle coupled with sprawl ultimately is putting a lot of pressure on the world's environment and natural resources.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 10:18 AM   #2129
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As long as HSR is built without accompanying changes in zoning and alike "to make it viable" (e.g., restricting development of any kind to areas near HS stations), I'm fine with any pattern change due to new transportation infrastructure. It would be free makerts operating nicely.

What I can't agree with is with hybrid transportation-zoning projects that artificially reduces the ability of developers to convert farm/wast/grass/desert-land into subdivisions just because a HSR was built and needs to "compel" some folks to live and/or work near stations.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 11:22 AM   #2130
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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.
Really? Ironic as you then follow with...

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Your HSR works because you have central governments who control much more of the game and are willing to subsidize operating losses.
Nevermind that HSR itself subsidises the rest of the railway in general across Europe.

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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.
HS1 in the UK is operating at less than 70% of original ridership forecasts. The govt spent billions on constructing it and it failed woefully to achieve its forecasts (primarily because it doesn't link to an internal UK network yet).

Yet the govt still managed to lease the infrastructure for 30 years and will be fully repaid from private investment companies for the entire construction within 50 years. The reason why is because even though ridership is low, it is still a profitable piece of infrastructure. Even at the vastly inflated prices for construction due to the difficult UK terrain (i.e. nimbys).
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Old February 24th, 2011, 12:51 PM   #2131
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You did leave a very nice selection of bait, I'm gunna swim past it though to keep this all civil.
Ok, I will agree that my arguments were very badly packed, but they were serious and your further answers did not address them. Let me rephrase that.

Your argument ignores the existence of externalities. Do you think they should be completely ignored when selecting the correct infra-structure to build?

Plus, high speed rail is profitable even ignoring externalities. But the governor didn't even want to pay for a small part of the construction cost. I think it is pretty obvious that there would be private operators for the line if the government payed for the construction.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 03:22 PM   #2132
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Your argument ignores the existence of externalities. Do you think they should be completely ignored when selecting the correct infra-structure to build?
Every human being is an "externality" the moment he/she is born - or even before that. Externalities don't pay taxes, don't vote etc. If they are not easily and readily quantifiable as something that has a foreseeable impact on public budgets, governments will not care much about them.

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Plus, high speed rail is profitable even ignoring externalities. But the governor didn't even want to pay for a small part of the construction cost. I think it is pretty obvious that there would be private operators for the line if the government payed for the construction.
There is no proof that HSR is necessarily profitable or not. It always has competition, so you gotta analyze it. In US, competition is harder because gas is cheaper and NIMBY powers are disproportionally high when compared to opposition to other transport projects.

It is not "pretty obvious" that private operators would be interested as it is also not obvious that a system could operate there anything near break even until Miami extension is built, even if construction were to be paid by the feds entirely.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 03:38 PM   #2133
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Every human being is an "externality" the moment he/she is born - or even before that. Externalities don't pay taxes, don't vote etc. If they are not easily and readily quantifiable as something that has a foreseeable impact on public budgets, governments will not care much about them.



There is no proof that HSR is necessarily profitable or not. It always has competition, so you gotta analyze it. In US, competition is harder because gas is cheaper and NIMBY powers are disproportionally high when compared to opposition to other transport projects.

It is not "pretty obvious" that private operators would be interested as it is also not obvious that a system could operate there anything near break even until Miami extension is built, even if construction were to be paid by the feds entirely.
Hmmm, Opposition to Highways is higher then Railways / Transit depends on where it goes. Theres not much opposition to projects unless they make no sense..... The Acela is Profitable.....so one would think any HST could be profitable.... Where do you get your info on these assumptions , i would love to know.....
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Old February 24th, 2011, 04:36 PM   #2134
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Looks like FL's HSR $ will be going to CA, IL, & NY. Our governor is still refusing to approve any plan unless taxpayer liability is removed. That will only happen when pigs fly (in Rick Scott's mind anyway).
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Old February 24th, 2011, 05:01 PM   #2135
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And Washington & Oregon too.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 09:55 PM   #2136
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US Military don't make any money, but Americans continue to subsidize it.

The thought of making money from HSR is a ridiculous dream. However, it is not a dream if you build it at the right place at the right time, spur economy activities, become more efficient etc. The overall result increase the value of a nation's wealth.

There are people who are so fixated on making money from HSR. They become obsessed. If I use the same argument, no kids from age of 6~18 will ever attend schools, because a it is money losing business. All kids should be making money by doing child labor.

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Old February 24th, 2011, 10:15 PM   #2137
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It doesn't serve the "HSR cause" to compare supplementary transportation to basic education. Why is so difficult to grasp this idea:

- government-funded: infrastructure
- private-funded, free market, mostly unregulated: vehicle operations

ALL other modes of transportation (air, road, water) are done this way. Why should rail be exempt from this logic? Imagine if airports were built only in connection with leasing of certain number or airplanes commissioned to operate ONLY on specific pairs of airports.

Indeed, the lack of a global, or eve national, standard for communication and train traffic control brings inefficiencies as it makes difficult to lease trains as if they were airplanes (provided a few specs are matched like runway length and load, ILS and so are met, they can fly everywhere).
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Old February 24th, 2011, 11:20 PM   #2138
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The thought of making money from HSR is a ridiculous dream.
Why?

Most of HSR lines in Europe turn operating profit. They just can't afford the whole capital cost - and that's why infrastructure is built with public money. Just like with the roads. Even more - railway carriers were always paying at least part of the capital costs, while road carriers didn't pay any access fees until recently. Europe discovered that there's something wrong with that - and now at least trucks are starting to pay "maut"s here in Europe...

Of course, with American economy that's not the case. When access to road is completely free - that's obvious that roads are the cheapest transportation mode. At the same time you expect railways to pay for building the infrastracture, for its maintenance, and still return a profit. Otherwise you won't bother to build it. Why do you bother to build highways then?


Having said that - I must say that FL's HSL is difficult to defend. It starts in the outskirts of one city. To get from the station to your real destination you'd probably need to feed the traffic jams anyway. Then it goes to Disneyland (which is okay) and ends in an airport - again not a destination in itself. (At least that end is already a transport hub). The whole line will barely be time-competitive to the car travel over the same route. So what's the point?

Yes, I mean that you have to make that HSR train reach the middle of the city. The last few miles don't have to be HSL. You can use old lines / alignments. But the trains should deliver passengers to some less empty places without the need to change vehicles...

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Old February 25th, 2011, 01:12 AM   #2139
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Gov. Rick Scott stands by his decision to kill Florida HSR, but legislators are now looking to file a lawsuit stating that he overstepped his constitutional authority. We'll see where this next chapter goes.....
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Old February 25th, 2011, 11:59 PM   #2140
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Suburbanist, I'm with you, I don't know why this is so hard to understand.

HSR in the US WILL work in the NEC and on the California coast. Rail is a vaible alternative to air and car in those areas. If you build it, they will come. In fact they're already there. Even I would dare to say we NEED high speed rail in the Northeast Corridor. Business people ride those trains now to the point where you are likely to be standing as your Acela or Metroliner leaves DC in the afternoon. I know I stood on plenty of afternoons until the first two stops emptied some seats. Those business people will gladly pay the extra price to get home faster. The operator will have enough left over to help fund expansion into other areas where the economics make sense.......sort of a silly free market capitalistic approach.

HSR in Florida as presented makes no economic sence. The stations on either end require you to drive to get to them. The two cities are close enough together that this thing will never be as fast as driving unless your origination point AND your destination are within 10 minutes of the station. There really aren't that many people traveling between those two cities to make it work. Hell you, your wife and two kiddies can rent a nice mini-van for a week and have freedom of movement in Orlando or vice versa way cheaper than buying four round trip tickets on the train which leaves you immobile at your desination end. I ask the same question I asked earlier, who do they think is going to ride this train?

This is US politics folks. Anyone wonder why this money went to Florida. Florida is a Presidential swing state. A dem funded big infrastructure project will hopefuly bring votes to the Dems from Florida. Pretty simple really. And don't think I'm choosing sides, the republicans would do and have done the same thing. It's a vote buyer that they hope and pray will end up being a success. But really, they don't care if it's a success.

Your Euro nations are alot smarter than us in one big respect. Not one of your Countries would even be sniffing a Tampa to Orlando train. Orlando to Miami? Maybe someday, but not right away. You'd be doing the smart thing, acquiring the right of way between Boston and DC.
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