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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 9th, 2011, 03:59 PM   #2301
FlyFish
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OK guys, that horse is dead.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xusein View Post
Why do people only talk about returns on investment when it comes to trains.
IMO, it's because many here want to play apples and oranges and compare this to the interstate. One last time, we are not talking about return on investment on the building of the infrastructure, we're talking about operating the product without subsidy after it is built.

Copying and pasting from 4 pages ago because I don't feel like typing this again....

Yes, you are correct, highways, airports and railroads are big money losers if you incorporate construction and maintenance into the equation. There is NO arguement to that. The difference is that the airports and roads are ALREADY THERE. The other difference is that people and companies profit from the use of the highway system and the airports. And people and companies profit from moving stuff by rail. They do not profit by moving people by rail. You can tell that because trucking companies, airlines and cargo haulers exist and private passenger rail haulers do not. Another HUGE difference is that EVERYONE uses the interstate system. You might think you don't but I guarantee you that you do. If you go anywhere, eat any food, buy any product, get any mail from outside your City then you "use" the interstates. The same with the airport. In one way or another EVERYONE uses it. If you travel anywhere outside your city, buy non-perishable goods and services, shop on the internet, then you use the airports. This rail system will be catering to a very closed user group. That's why there is doubt that this rail system will allow an operator to profit. It's economics, not politics. You only need to look at Amtrak to see where that doubt comes from. Amtrak only hauls people and probably some very limited and select cargo like US mail. It's a money loser. Making the train faster won't change that. Only selecting the proper routes will. I WANT HSR built....from Boston to DC and in Southern California where it makes sense to do so.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 04:20 PM   #2302
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Originally Posted by makita09 View Post
What do ya know? You're implying I've trolled this thread with off-topic political garbage. Go on, explain.
Well lets see, first there's this: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=607
Then this: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=839
Then this: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=896
Then this: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=908
Then this: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...postcount=1970

Not to belabor the point, but you're not exactly free of polemics here.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 04:22 PM   #2303
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFish View Post
^
Yes, you are correct, highways, airports and railroads are big money losers if you incorporate construction and maintenance into the equation. There is NO arguement to that. The difference is that the airports and roads are ALREADY THERE. The other difference is that people and companies profit from the use of the highway system and the airports. And people and companies profit from moving stuff by rail. They do not profit by moving people by rail. You can tell that because trucking companies, airlines and cargo haulers exist and private passenger rail haulers do not. Another HUGE difference is that EVERYONE uses the interstate system. You might think you don't but I guarantee you that you do. If you go anywhere, eat any food, buy any product, get any mail from outside your City then you "use" the interstates. The same with the airport. In one way or another EVERYONE uses it. If you travel anywhere outside your city, buy non-perishable goods and services, shop on the internet, then you use the airports. This rail system will be catering to a very closed user group. That's why there is doubt that this rail system will allow an operator to profit. It's economics, not politics. You only need to look at Amtrak to see where that doubt comes from. Amtrak only hauls people and probably some very limited and select cargo like US mail. It's a money loser. Making the train faster won't change that. Only selecting the proper routes will. I WANT HSR built....from Boston to DC and in Southern California where it makes sense to do so.
Using that same logic you won't be able to finance a single new infrastructure project EVER since as you said in your opening statement they all loses money.
I really do not understand the western concept of "If it's not broken don't fix it" concept. It can be seen to some extent in Europe but more extensive in the US.
As some had elaborated the US rail system is way over due for a rebuild and segregation of freight and passenger to obtain optimum efficiency which will generate profit but since it's not broken COMPLETELY people are resistant in injecting funds to rejuvenate the system.
Is it ignorance towards the rail system or complete resistance to change the present quo, I sure do not know but as the saying goes if you turn the heat ever so slightly you can boil a frog alive. That is what you people are doing to yourselves since oil prices are not going to be at the same level forever and alternative fuel is not going to be cheap.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 04:38 PM   #2304
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Originally Posted by desertpunk View Post
Thanks, to quote one of those posts of mine that is somehow evidence of my political interventions

Quote:
I would love to be able to come on the US threads and actually learn something about the railway infrastructure and what is happening, and tbh I'm slightly frustrated at level of hyperbole. I don't understand why everything is a left or right issue. Can't something just be an issue? I'm not interested in politics, apart from how it affects infrastructure projects (ie I'm not really all that fussed who is in power, but I want to know if they are helping/hindering certain projects). There's a huge amount of false-binary arguments.
I would expect more of a moderator than to come into a thread, derail it, complain of personal insults that aren't there, get involved with the politics you say you are trying to prevent by using further fallacious arguments, fail to respond to the points put to you, and then attempt to discredit myself by mining my previous posts when in fact they support what I just said.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 04:41 PM   #2305
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Why didn't you quote that one in its entirety and quote the others as well?

Such as:
Quote:
Originally Posted by makita09 View Post
tbh from what I gather news in the USA seems to be biased, unsubstatiated opinion, labelled as news, whether that be left wing or right wing or whatever. Its hard enough in the UK tolerating the irrationality of news reports sometimes, and here they're required to be 'balanced' and get told off by the regulator if they're not. I can't imagine how annoying they'd become if they were allowed to make stuff up and get away with it.



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Old March 9th, 2011, 05:31 PM   #2306
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexis View Post
You left out Eugene,OR - Vancouver,BC or the Cascadia Corridor
The Cascade Corridor is *NOT* 'high speed', it is a conventional service that runs on mixed freight trackage.

True 'high speed' operates on new purpose-built track.

Mike
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Old March 9th, 2011, 05:36 PM   #2307
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Originally Posted by mgk920 View Post
The Cascade Corridor is *NOT* 'high speed', it is a conventional service that runs on mixed freight trackage.

True 'high speed' operates on new purpose-built track.

Mike
I think it should be high speed , look at the Many large towns and cities that would benefit form this...
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Old March 9th, 2011, 05:39 PM   #2308
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamuraiBlue View Post
Using that same logic you won't be able to finance a single new infrastructure project EVER since as you said in your opening statement they all loses money.
I really do not understand the western concept of "If it's not broken don't fix it" concept. It can be seen to some extent in Europe but more extensive in the US.
As some had elaborated the US rail system is way over due for a rebuild and segregation of freight and passenger to obtain optimum efficiency which will generate profit but since it's not broken COMPLETELY people are resistant in injecting funds to rejuvenate the system.
Is it ignorance towards the rail system or complete resistance to change the present quo, I sure do not know but as the saying goes if you turn the heat ever so slightly you can boil a frog alive. That is what you people are doing to yourselves since oil prices are not going to be at the same level forever and alternative fuel is not going to be cheap.
One last time, I am not counting building the infrastructure. I am talking about the infrastructure being profitable TO ITS USERS once it is built. THe roads allow profitable operations to trucking companies, airports allow profit to airlines, frieght rail systems are profitable to frieght rail companyies, but IN THE US there is no passenger rail system that is profitable to the operator. There could be if Amtrak killed about 80% of its routes, but since politics then gets involved that won't happen.

I'd argue also that rail is some panacea for alternative fules. I think there is huge doubt, as expressed by tlinks posted here, that rail is all that much more efficient per ton-mile of goods or people moved. Trains in the US either run on fossil fuel or they are powered by a clean energy that is generated by burning a fossil fuel. Rail is a great thing as viewed by car haters but in all factual seriousness, does taking 1000 cars off I-4 per day and replacing them with this train really reduce the OVERALL fossil fuel consumption? You have to power the train somehow.

You and I absolutely argree that the U S is blind to its future power source issues. I just don't know that I accept that passenger rail is any kind of solution. I know it's politically and environmentally chic to go after cars but I think that we probably use much more fossil fuel with our electricity generation. We need to build more nuc plants, THAT will reduce our fossil fuel consumption in a meaninful way.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 07:43 PM   #2309
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Old March 9th, 2011, 07:45 PM   #2310
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFish View Post
One last time, I am not counting building the infrastructure. I am talking about the infrastructure being profitable TO ITS USERS once it is built. THe roads allow profitable operations to trucking companies, airports allow profit to airlines, frieght rail systems are profitable to frieght rail companyies, but IN THE US there is no passenger rail system that is profitable to the operator. There could be if Amtrak killed about 80% of its routes, but since politics then gets involved that won't happen.

I'd argue also that rail is some panacea for alternative fules. I think there is huge doubt, as expressed by tlinks posted here, that rail is all that much more efficient per ton-mile of goods or people moved. Trains in the US either run on fossil fuel or they are powered by a clean energy that is generated by burning a fossil fuel. Rail is a great thing as viewed by car haters but in all factual seriousness, does taking 1000 cars off I-4 per day and replacing them with this train really reduce the OVERALL fossil fuel consumption? You have to power the train somehow.

You and I absolutely argree that the U S is blind to its future power source issues. I just don't know that I accept that passenger rail is any kind of solution. I know it's politically and environmentally chic to go after cars but I think that we probably use much more fossil fuel with our electricity generation. We need to build more nuc plants, THAT will reduce our fossil fuel consumption in a meaninful way.
Roads are profitable to truckers bcoz they donot pay usage charges and can use it as much as they like. And airlines are profitable (if many of them actually are) bcoz usage charges are subsidized by the govt (federal, state or local). If of course amtrak had the freedom to prioritize its trains over freight trains and run it on electric traction wherever necessary It could cover up its costs. In fact wherever it has control over the trackage it makes money. Where it doesn't it cannot make a profit since it is beholden to the track owners. Many other train operators do not make a profit bcoz the purpose for them is to provide a minimum service which will help make the life of commuters easier or make particular communities or regions more viable. It is important to realize that trucker/freight train operators/airline companies are private for profit entities whose aim is to maximize their profit. Transporting freight is also different ball game as compared to passenger transportation. And with regards to passenger transportation just have a look at the measures taken by airlines to cut costs and achieve profits i.e. charging checked luggage (and in the future maybe even carry-on luggage), cramming more passengers in planes, curtailing/eliminating food & beverage service and we also know of the proposal for charging restroom usage. When profit-mindedness enters the fray it can often result in cutting corners/costs rather than improvement of service. The so called users of infrastructure are making a profit bcoz they may not be paying the true cost of their usage. If they did the scenario would be completely different.
About fuel efficiency, you provide a question as how would a train carrying passenger load equivalent to 1000 cars be powered. Well!! It can be powered either by fossil fuel directly or indirectly or hopefully in the distant future by a renewable power source. But that would certainly require much less energy than that is needed to power the 1000 cars. In fact many studies are pointing out that per passenger mile consumption of fuel for trains is about 1/3rd of the consumption of passenger cars

One more thing, just bcoz a lot of people think rail is a great thing doesnt mean they automatically become car haters. It is just that many such people recognize that heavy dependence on car as a means of transport is not good for the environment, society or even for the economy. If you look around the world the countries with the best passenger rail systems also have high car ownership rates. But these societies have recognized that they need to have a balanced transportation system. And people in these countries are okay with using public transport (bus/train) whenever available.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 08:00 PM   #2311
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I really don't get where the assumption of pro-rail people being car haters stems from.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 11:30 PM   #2312
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFish View Post
I am talking about the infrastructure being profitable TO ITS USERS once it is built. THe roads allow profitable operations to trucking companies, airports allow profit to airlines, frieght rail systems are profitable to frieght rail companyies, but IN THE US there is no passenger rail system that is profitable to the operator.
That is nonsense. You are ignoring the potential for increased productivity that comes from getting people more quickly and easily from one destination to another (and why are you talking about profit to the "operator" when it comes to rail but to users for other transportation modalities?).

Example: On a recent occasion when I was in Penn Station in NYC waiting for a train in the Acela waiting area, I saw a prominent conservative columnist who has recently written columns opposing HSR funding. There was news being made at that point in both Washington and New York. He had been in New York and was heading back to DC where the train would get him from the middle of Manhattan to Union Station, across a bit of park from the Capitol, in a couple of hours. The availability of this service (and the fact that an anti-train personality was using it) clearly made him more productive and allowed him to cover the events transpiring in both cities.

There is profit to be made getting people from city to city, not just goods. Well-functioning railroads (and especially HSR) allows people doing many sorts of business to be more productive and hence to generate profit. The fact that US railroads don't currently function very well has a lot to do with the fact that they've been starved of funds for decades.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 11:34 PM   #2313
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Originally Posted by manrush View Post
I really don't get where the assumption of pro-rail people being car haters stems from.
Me neither.

I love driving, or riding my motorcycle... it's one of the reasons i want hsr and metros everywhere... the roads are too clogged up.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 01:09 AM   #2314
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Originally Posted by Smooth Indian View Post
Roads are profitable to truckers bcoz they donot pay usage charges and can use it as much as they like.
What about gas taxes, to begin with? Federal and state ones...

Quote:
And airlines are profitable (if many of them actually are) bcoz usage charges are subsidized by the govt (federal, state or local).
What about landing fees, terminal fees, passenger fees? And does government subsidize gas?


Quote:
And with regards to passenger transportation just have a look at the measures taken by airlines to cut costs and achieve profits i.e. charging checked luggage (and in the future maybe even carry-on luggage), cramming more passengers in planes, curtailing/eliminating food & beverage service and we also know of the proposal for charging restroom usage. When profit-mindedness enters the fray it can often result in cutting corners/costs rather than improvement of service.
These are sensible measures! Public prefers cheaper fares to greater service. What annoys me - a lot - is the idea that rail transport (of passengers) should somehow be insulated from market pressures, like reducing seat pitch or adopting unbundled fares. It is like some people seem to love the days of mammoth-size national public companies that would keep same logo and name the whole country (I know some people whose biggest complain about UK rail privatization is that "now it doesn't look like the same company, each company has a different livery and stock") and charge km-based fares only. Fares that, of course, would never vary and always cost the same, regardless of supply and demand.
Quote:
If you look around the world the countries with the best passenger rail systems also have high car ownership rates. But these societies have recognized that they need to have a balanced transportation system. And people in these countries are okay with using public transport (bus/train) whenever available.
In Western Europe, trains move anywhere from 3 to 16% of all passenger-km among all land transport. Not that much, apparently.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 01:15 AM   #2315
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
What about gas taxes, to begin with? Federal and state ones...



What about landing fees, terminal fees, passenger fees? And does government subsidize gas?




These are sensible measures! Public prefers cheaper fares to greater service. What annoys me - a lot - is the idea that rail transport (of passengers) should somehow be insulated from market pressures, like reducing seat pitch or adopting unbundled fares. It is like some people seem to love the days of mammoth-size national public companies that would keep same logo and name the whole country (I know some people whose biggest complain about UK rail privatization is that "now it doesn't look like the same company, each company has a different livery and stock") and charge km-based fares only. Fares that, of course, would never vary and always cost the same, regardless of supply and demand.


In Western Europe, trains move anywhere from 3 to 16% of all passenger-km among all land transport. Not that much, apparently.
They don't even cover half the cost in most states... The Fees at the Airport only cover half the costs... Both forms of Transport are subsidized more then Rail / Transit... Its really hurting the country... So when people throw up the Transit subsidizing argument it holds no water.... Transit / Rail costs in states were there is a large network consume less then 30% of the year Budget...
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Old March 10th, 2011, 02:53 AM   #2316
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
What about gas taxes, to begin with? Federal and state ones...
The gas tax doesnot suffice as a usage charge since it hasn't been updated for years. I think tolling the main highways comes closer to usage charges. Now toll the highways or increase the gas taxes appropriately and let us look at the truck companies' profits.

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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
What about landing fees, terminal fees, passenger fees? And does government subsidize gas?
If landing, terminal and passenger fees were sufficient then govts would not be subsidizing the airports. You may be paying more in airport taxes and fees (in US$ terms) in Europe and even in countries like India than in the USA. It is no secret that the US govt makes it possible for gas to be as cheap as it can make it by giving tax incentives to oil companies and by keeping the gas taxes lower.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
These are sensible measures! Public prefers cheaper fares to greater service. What annoys me - a lot - is the idea that rail transport (of passengers) should somehow be insulated from market pressures, like reducing seat pitch or adopting unbundled fares.
If that was completely true many people wouldn't be complaining about the drop in service standards in airlines recently. Some people of course don't care as long as the fares are ok but many people fly despite the discomfort bcoz there aren't any other comparable options. Trains may not be immune to market pressures, But most trains and even HSTs (including acela) on competitive routes offer more spacious seating options.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
In Western Europe, trains move anywhere from 3 to 16% of all passenger-km among all land transport. Not that much, apparently.
yes of course and how many of the trips not made by trains were very small intra city trips? How many were made by buses as against automobiles and how many were made in conjunction with a train trip? I think that figure will be on the lower side even in heavily train dependent countries like india and china. No one however disputes the importance of trains in any of these countries.

Last edited by Smooth Indian; March 10th, 2011 at 02:59 AM.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 06:47 AM   #2317
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I really don't get where the assumption of pro-rail people being car haters stems from.
Because anyone for HSR has a liberal agenda out against people who drive cars and big oil companies.

I'm not anti-car at all. I think some people will always stick to their cars even with the ability to take a train or bus to their destination. And roads will do what you can't on rail. You can do things on rail that you can't on roads. You can do things on a airplane you can't do in a car or on a train. Every mode of transportation has its benefits, be it personally or socially. I think what the majority of the people who want HSR want to have another option, not to make it the only option. And with the plan for HSR in Florida, it would had been an option that cost less to the taxpayers than I-4 and I-75 does.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 08:54 AM   #2318
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HSR in the northeast is perfectly acceptable, but Tampa-Orlando, Houston-Dallas raise far more questions than provide answers to warrant the significant investment of public subsidies.
A Houston to Dallas HSR corridor could actually work out it you do realize that it's 12.7 million people(and growing) in there metro's combined. You could also add in San Antonio and Austin and the total amount of people with access to HSR would be 17.1 million. Come on that's one area where you can't say no to HSR. They both need it it could be one of the best HSR corridor's in the country. Now I do agree that a Tampa to Otlando could be a risk and there are some place where it would risky to use public funds for HSR. But Dallas to Houston isn't one of them. the only place that needs HSR more is Southern California to San Francisco.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 09:05 AM   #2319
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Public prefers cheaper fares to greater service. What annoys me - a lot - is the idea that rail transport (of passengers) should somehow be insulated from market pressures, like reducing seat pitch or adopting unbundled fares. It is like some people seem to love the days of mammoth-size national public companies that would keep same logo and name the whole country (I know some people whose biggest complain about UK rail privatization is that "now it doesn't look like the same company, each company has a different livery and stock") and charge km-based fares only. Fares that, of course, would never vary and always cost the same, regardless of supply and demand.
I don't think anyone particularly loves giant public companies but it is a fact that no private company wants to run passenger rail service so, if we are to have it, it will have to be governmental.

What puzzles me, actually, is why anybody is willing to run passenger air service. Are you aware that if you add up the income and outgo of all US airlines since the beginning of commercial air travel, you will find there has been a net loss? In other words, nobody is making any money running air service either (yet hope, apparently, springs eternal) in spite of the fact that governments build air terminals and fund them not just with fees paid by airlines but by renting space to all manner of businesses, charging for parking, and myriad other income streams to amortize the (municipal) bonds that are normally issued to actually build an airport.

If you look at it this way, air travel has been subsidized over the decades by the suckers willing to buy the stocks of money-losing airlines and hold them as the airline gradually goes broke (you do realize how many airlines have gone bankrupt, right?).
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Old March 10th, 2011, 09:10 AM   #2320
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Because anyone for HSR has a liberal agenda out against people who drive cars and big oil companies.
Are you kidding?

Seriously. I am strongly for HSR. I also own a car which I drive primarily on intercity trips and I currently own stock in at least 3 major oil companies (Suncor, ENI and Petroleo Brasileiro).
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