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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 March 4th, 2011, 09:28 PM   #2161
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And more than that, Rick Scott is likely now to kill Orlando's commuter rail system for the same idiotic reasons.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 04:30 PM   #2162
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The main issue I have with the money being rejected is that the Congressional GOP will use this to show HSR is a boondoggle. We will have to fight that message off by the fact, A) GOP Govenors rejected funding by the feds b) In Florida, members of the GOP were seeking an injuction on the governor's actions, something I did not expect. c) HSR has not been allowed to have a proving ground in the country so how can you say something is a boondoggle if it hasn't been built yet?

Maybe if Congress would help reducing overhead with projects by streamlining, by then, it will be ten years too late and the minority must be given an excessive amount of chances to take the project down. This is an ongoing battle. If we are able to change how projects are built in this country, it will be a benefit to many public works projects.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 06:00 PM   #2163
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Quote:
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c) HSR has not been allowed to have a proving ground in the country so how can you say something is a boondoggle if it hasn't been built yet?
In fact, the world's poorest attempt of a highspeed line, the Acela, which isn't highspeed at all, still turns out to be a succes. Imagine what REAL highspeed can do in the States.

Especially in the NEC where many cities have pretty good metro public transportation in place.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 06:26 PM   #2164
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In the United States, we shouldn't embrace HSR just for the sake of its novelty and the fact that the government is willing to subsidize it. Each arm of our HSR network should be fully vetted and should be very carefully scrutinized before we just start building. While HSR makes complete sense in the NEC, bringing it to the Sun Belt is a different matter. We are talking about a much less population-dense region and whose cities are much more spread out. You don't have the numerous smaller cities and townships in the South that you commonly see in the NEC. Modereately-sized cities like Hartford and Allentown, which could be incorporated along HSR routes in the NEC are few and far between in the South. The majority of the population is centered in major metro areas like Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Dallas.

Success for HSR in this region is contingent on three major factors: population, price, and distance. An investment in HSR in this region only makes sense when you are connecting two heavily populated metros. This gives you a proper consumer-base. For example, if 5% of the population uses HSR on a regular basis in Los Angeles, your chances of a significant ROI are much higher than if 5% of the population in Albuquerque uses HSR on a regular basis. With regards to price, it has to be significantly cheaper than flying in order to get people away from their more familiar airports. Finally, in terms of distance, HSR works best under 500 miles. Once you start getting above 500 miles, the time investment alone will steer people away from HSR and keep them in airplanes.

Last edited by slipperydog; March 5th, 2011 at 06:37 PM.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 06:39 PM   #2165
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Amtrak Financial Summary of Long-Distance Trains

Just as "food for thought" I copy here some data from "Exhibit D" on an Amtrak report (p. 79) on the Pioneer Route study.

All Amtrak Long Distance routes
Total revenue: $ 446,5 million
Total operational costs: $ 861,5 million
Fare box recovery ratio: 51,8%

bear in mind Amtrak owns almost none of the trackage it uses for long-distance routes

Revenue (US$ millions) and fare box recovery ratio per service
Auto Train 58,4 - 87,6%
Empire Builder 64,8 - 65,7%
Palmetto 13,6 - 64,6%
City of New Orleans 16,0 - 64,6%
Southwest Chief 44,4 - 52.6%
Silver Meteor 32,5 - 50.5%
Coast Starlight 32,8 - 48.7%
Capitol Limited 18,9 - 47.9%
Crescent 28,7 - 47.3%
Texas Eagle 21,3 - 45.7%
California Zephyr 43,1 - 44.5%
Lake Shore Limited 25,6 - 43.8%
Silver Star 29,8 - 43.5%
Cardinal 7,2 - 35.8%
Sunset Limited 9,4 - 24.3%


If Amtrak ditched all these useless money-losing trains, it would have more money to support high-speed service losses on their first years.

Seriously, what is the point of having a twice-a-week Los Angeles - New Orleans train that hemorrhages money, takes longer than a Greyhound bus for the same route and can't recover 1 our of 4 dollars spent on its DIRECT operation costs?

Amtrak has a proven record of political interference on the opening and closing of routes. That help the cause of those thinking that, once built, HSR Florida (or anywhere) will become subject to the same problems, for instance, resistance to raise fares to cut losses or politically imposed schedules (you can't serve city A only peak-time if city B will get day-round service) etc.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 07:07 PM   #2166
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just as some food for thought, cars kill 40.000 people per year in the USA and make 100.000 invalid, not counting polution related illnesses. Now do you understand the importance of offering non-road transport? Could you redo those calculations counting externalities?

But I agree with one thing: twice a week is too few, it should run every hour. And all of them at 350km/h.
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Last edited by sekelsenmat; March 5th, 2011 at 07:17 PM.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 07:20 PM   #2167
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sekelsenmat View Post
just as some food for thought, cars kill 40.000 people per year in the USA and make 100.000 invalid, not counting polution related illnesses. Now do you understand the importance of offering non-road transport? Could you redo those calculations counting externalities?
Nope, because this non-economic externalities don't pay fares nor collect taxes. When they do, they are figured into calculations of safety measures of cars and so. Despite road traffic have been increasing n-fold since the 1950's in North America, the injury and death rates per million-passenger-km-traveled is, today, 85% lower of what it was 60 years ago.

Unless they can be easily priced in terms of perceived substitution cost for the taxpayers, nobody will care about them, let alone accept funding them in the present fiscal debate context of US.

Quote:
But I agree with one thing: twice a week is too few, it should run every hour.
This is just insanity. Have you ever looked the maps of such routes, the cities they serve, the fact most of the tracks are single and the average speed of such lame trains, usually below 40mph?

There is no justification for a Chicago-Los Angeles train with gazillion stops over the course of a 3-night trip. None whatsoever. Let alone 1 train every hour in such routes, even if they were high-speed ones

If you had that, you would have to bankrupt all freight operations existing over UP and BNSF routes, which are among the biggest rail freight companies in the World. And guess where would all such double-stack mile-long train's containers would land? One Mountain Dew is given for one who knows the single letter identifying the alternate route...

I haven't read a more nonsense idea than having an hourly passenger service on Amtrak long-distance routes. This is the most absurd statement I've come across in a long time here on SSC.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 07:24 PM   #2168
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They tried to get rid of the long distance trains but both Republican and Democratic officials blocked it.... Its a shame to , becuz Amtrak would do better in smaller networks..

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Old March 5th, 2011, 08:06 PM   #2169
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Reposted form the Railway forum..... Upgrades to a Regional / Intercity Rail station...

Metropark
Serves : NJT Northeast Corridor (Future Freehold Branch) , & Amtrak
Daily Usage : 7,000

image hosted on flickr

IMG_5069.jpg by kc2hmv, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

IMG_5086.jpg by kc2hmv, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

IMG_5088.jpg by kc2hmv, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

IMG_5095.jpg by kc2hmv, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

IMG_5099.jpg by kc2hmv, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

IMG_5103.jpg by kc2hmv, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

IMG_5104.jpg by kc2hmv, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

IMG_5105.jpg by kc2hmv, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

IMG_5110.jpg by kc2hmv, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

IMG_5116.jpg by kc2hmv, on Flickr
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Old March 5th, 2011, 08:12 PM   #2170
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If people knew the astronomical fares HSR charges, they'd understand why so many states think it's a poor investment that wouldn't garner enough ridership to maintain any semblance of an ROI. Once travelers actually do a side-by-side comparison on price and time, they'll stick to flying or driving. The most critical factor here can be summed up in three words: COST OF FARE. People will talk nice about the comfort and convenience aspects of HSR, but when it comes down to it, they want the fastest service at the cheapest cost possible. It's doubtful that HSR would beat out airports in that regard.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 08:20 PM   #2171
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slipperydog View Post
If people knew the astronomical fares HSR charges, they'd understand why so many states think it's a poor investment that wouldn't garner enough ridership to maintain any semblance of an ROI. Once travelers actually do a side-by-side comparison on price and time, they'll stick to flying or driving. The most critical factor here can be summed up in three words: COST OF FARE. People will talk nice about the comfort and convenience aspects of HSR, but when it comes down to it, they want the fastest service at the cheapest cost possible. It's doubtful that HSR would beat out airports in that regard.
What high fares there still lower then Airlines....when you factor the fees and time / money it takes ti get to and form the Airport...
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Old March 5th, 2011, 08:30 PM   #2172
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Take Boston to Washington for example.

Acela Express - $392 roundtrip, 7 hrs each way
JetBlue - $159 roundtrip, 2.5 hrs each way
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Old March 5th, 2011, 09:08 PM   #2173
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Originally Posted by slipperydog View Post
In the United States, we shouldn't embrace HSR just for the sake of its novelty and the fact that the government is willing to subsidize it. Each arm of our HSR network should be fully vetted and should be very carefully scrutinized before we just start building. While HSR makes complete sense in the NEC, bringing it to the Sun Belt is a different matter. We are talking about a much less population-dense region and whose cities are much more spread out. You don't have the numerous smaller cities and townships in the South that you commonly see in the NEC. Modereately-sized cities like Hartford and Allentown, which could be incorporated along HSR routes in the NEC are few and far between in the South. The majority of the population is centered in major metro areas like Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Dallas.

Success for HSR in this region is contingent on three major factors: population, price, and distance. An investment in HSR in this region only makes sense when you are connecting two heavily populated metros. This gives you a proper consumer-base. For example, if 5% of the population uses HSR on a regular basis in Los Angeles, your chances of a significant ROI are much higher than if 5% of the population in Albuquerque uses HSR on a regular basis. With regards to price, it has to be significantly cheaper than flying in order to get people away from their more familiar airports. Finally, in terms of distance, HSR works best under 500 miles. Once you start getting above 500 miles, the time investment alone will steer people away from HSR and keep them in airplanes.
I agree with this statement, but full scrutinization should also be taken with our road building vs road repairing strategy. I would be careful how much scrutiny would take place to plan routes as the more bureaucracy hurdles that need to be hurdled, the higher the overhead cost. That is why many believe most megaprojects in this country will go to twice their budget is due to the overhead caused by our bureaucracy.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 09:14 PM   #2174
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Take Boston to Washington for example.

Acela Express - $392 roundtrip, 7 hrs each way
JetBlue - $159 roundtrip, 2.5 hrs each way
Well, let's just see what happens to those airfares as oil creeps its way up in price. With the price of oil being connected to our everyday lives, we cannot depend on cheap oil for the future. Also, how far out did you look for these fares? What about closer in? I know in Spain, you can purchase a cheap HSR fare one week in advance. With air travel, multiply that by 4 times and more, especially for high demand periods. Train travel from Boston to Washington does not make sense at this point in time. When there is a true HSR corridor in place between the two cities, then it would make the airlines run for their money. JetBlue has stated that they are open to high-speed rail in order to expand their long-haul markets, a much more profitable market than short-hauls.

Either way, I am sick of these comparisons of a high-speed train set on a non-high speed line to an airline. A comparison of standard rail to airline would be a valid comparison, but expecting Acela to be the high-speed train comparison is not valid.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 09:47 PM   #2175
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I used Acela because it's the best comparison we have at this point in time. I didn't make a judgment one way or the other on whether HSR is inherently good or bad. I simply stated that cheap fares are critical to make HSR workable. But all the politicians and talking heads on the right and left are all making judgments on high-speed rail without stating how much they anticipate fares to cost. Has ANYONE discussed this yet? You just can't engage in a sensible debate on HSR without having at least a GENERAL idea of how much it's going to cost travelers.

You can talk all you want about the fancy, expansive Wi-fi enabled train cars running on environmentally-friendly energy until you're blue in the face, but it won't work without consumers. Our airport system is a well-oiled machine that offers fast travel and cheap fares. Our interstate system gives families the flexibility to move around their destinations without worrying about public transport. The state of the economy and the price of oil are two factors that could have a major impact on this debate, but projecting the state of these volatile situations in 2030, or whenever we anticipate HSR to be up and running, is foolish. States facing billions in budget deficits should have the right to make that determination for themselves, regarding what appear to be questionable HSR routes, without being lambasted for being short-sighted or ideological.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 10:21 PM   #2176
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Northeast Regional is 100$ round trip alot of ppl use that daily. Instead of building a HSR network , there building out a Intercity Railway network which is connected into a Regional Railway system..... About 9,000 miles of Regional Rail are on the books...
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Old March 6th, 2011, 12:35 AM   #2177
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I guess people need to puts things in perspective... With a full HS line Boston-Washington train could be competitive with similar air service.

However, some people write as is longer journeys like Chicago-Denver or - worse - Los Angeles - New York, could ever conceivalble be made by rail. Even if you had a transcontinental high-speed rail zipping at 200mph with a bunch of 10, 15-mile tunnels on the Rockies, it would take 15 hours for a transcontinental trip. Not going to happen.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 12:53 AM   #2178
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Quote:
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I guess people need to puts things in perspective... With a full HS line Boston-Washington train could be competitive with similar air service.

However, some people write as is longer journeys like Chicago-Denver or - worse - Los Angeles - New York, could ever conceivalble be made by rail. Even if you had a transcontinental high-speed rail zipping at 200mph with a bunch of 10, 15-mile tunnels on the Rockies, it would take 15 hours for a transcontinental trip. Not going to happen.
The Acela and Regional Trains already compete with Airlines , and there winning...
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Old March 6th, 2011, 01:13 AM   #2179
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slipperydog View Post
I used Acela because it's the best comparison we have at this point in time. I didn't make a judgment one way or the other on whether HSR is inherently good or bad. I simply stated that cheap fares are critical to make HSR workable. But all the politicians and talking heads on the right and left are all making judgments on high-speed rail without stating how much they anticipate fares to cost. Has ANYONE discussed this yet? You just can't engage in a sensible debate on HSR without having at least a GENERAL idea of how much it's going to cost travelers.

You can talk all you want about the fancy, expansive Wi-fi enabled train cars running on environmentally-friendly energy until you're blue in the face, but it won't work without consumers. Our airport system is a well-oiled machine that offers fast travel and cheap fares. Our interstate system gives families the flexibility to move around their destinations without worrying about public transport. The state of the economy and the price of oil are two factors that could have a major impact on this debate, but projecting the state of these volatile situations in 2030, or whenever we anticipate HSR to be up and running, is foolish. States facing billions in budget deficits should have the right to make that determination for themselves, regarding what appear to be questionable HSR routes, without being lambasted for being short-sighted or ideological.
The airport system is only enabled by hundreds of billions in public funds being spent on the infrastructure and security that allow fares to be relatively cheap, and even then that is only the result of pilots being paid poverty level wages and maintenance on aircraft being deferred to the point that airlines have had to ground many planes because they were unsafe to operate.

"Our" interstate system was 90 percent financed by the federal government and would cost well over a trillion dollars to build today. So what the Hell does the fiscal situation of states have to do with HSR? The federal government would foot most of the bill. The Wisconsin and Florida HSR routes were well thought out and would have cost those states almost nothing to operate. The federal government was going to pay for most of the operational costs on that line and there were several private sector operators that offered to cover the operating costs of the Orlando-Tampa HSL because they were confident they could recoup those costs with fares. The decision by Scott Walker and Rick Scott to reject the HSR funds was PURELY ideological.

Those clowns wanted the money spent on roads instead which we know NEVER pay for themselves.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 01:49 AM   #2180
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
I guess people need to puts things in perspective... With a full HS line Boston-Washington train could be competitive with similar air service.

However, some people write as is longer journeys like Chicago-Denver or - worse - Los Angeles - New York, could ever conceivalble be made by rail. Even if you had a transcontinental high-speed rail zipping at 200mph with a bunch of 10, 15-mile tunnels on the Rockies, it would take 15 hours for a transcontinental trip. Not going to happen.
At 220 mph max., it's only 14 hours from New York to Los Angeles. Think you can get on a sleeper train in New York at 8pm Eastern time and arrive in Los Angeles at 7am Pacific time the second morning.
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