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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 May 31st, 2011, 05:07 PM   #2561
foxmulder
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I dont know any figures but it is obvious for me life standards in US especially for middle class is much higher than the ones in Europe. A middle class family in USA can have a two floor 300m2 house with three cars. This is almost impossible for European mid class family.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 05:13 PM   #2562
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I dont know any figures but it is obvious for me life standards in US especially for middle class is much higher than the ones in Europe. A middle class family in USA can have a two floor 300m2 house with three cars. This is almost impossible for European mid class family.
You're absolutely right...if you think that having 3 cars and a big house is what it means to have a high standard of living. I know plenty of people who are fairly wealthy and live a very "luxurious" lifestyle and are still unhealthy and miserable.

Anyway, to prevent this from getting off topic, is anyone going to the HSR conference in Chicago tomorrow? I'd go if I could; I'd love to see how the whole scene is going from the perspective of people who are interested in all this.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 05:15 PM   #2563
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a 300m2 house at 100km from downtown, and 3 cars on lease...

anyways, if that is a "better standard of living" for you, good for you!

back to trains!

any news on HSR?
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Old May 31st, 2011, 06:05 PM   #2564
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Originally Posted by foxmulder View Post
I dont know any figures but it is obvious for me life standards in US especially for middle class is much higher than the ones in Europe. A middle class family in USA can have a two floor 300m2 house with three cars. This is almost impossible for European mid class family.
Ahhh yes, the famous standard of living that is measured in large floor spaces and number of cars per household. Personally, i prefer that one measuring number of beautiful girlfriends and good health, but who am i?
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Old May 31st, 2011, 06:41 PM   #2565
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Ahhh yes, the famous standard of living that is measured in large floor spaces and number of cars per household. Personally, i prefer that one measuring number of beautiful girlfriends and good health, but who am i?
Certainly not an American, no sir you are not.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 08:38 PM   #2566
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You guys can make fun as much as you want but this is the truth. Health issues your are talking about (obesity mostly I guess) are not problems of the middle class I am talking about. Poor people are obese in USA not the rich. I lived in both US and Europe and I know life standards (maybe I am using wrong term, purchasing power is more suitable, I guess) are higher in US. You have simply more purchasing power in US.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 08:45 PM   #2567
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Hi,

I'm sorry but the discussion about standards off living in Europe and the US is just not usefull each has its strong points and its weak point so lets please return to the matter of US High speed rail
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Old May 31st, 2011, 09:24 PM   #2568
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Foxmulder, the underlying assumption is that more material goods is going to equal higher standard of living, when the correlation isn't anywhere near that simple or straightforward.

I tried getting back to HSR, and no one has yet said whether or not they're going to the conference in Chicago. The video "preview" of the conference is on the USHSR website. Considering how optimistic USHSR's hopes are, it's useful to pay attention mostly to the outside information they bring than any opinions they offer.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 09:43 PM   #2569
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I was here thinking: wouldn't a triangle network of HSR in Texas work better as a first project?

Until now, HSR projects are mimic of those in Europe: downtown-to-downtown connections, intermediate stops in already existing cities hopping to "boost" their profile etc.

What if they built an HST system like this:

- major stations adjacent and connected to airports in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin.

- on the first phase, no downtown expensive connections of any kind, but massive (30.000 parking spaces and above) Park-and-Ride locations near major interchanges closer to the most populated areas in case of Dallas and Houston (where a station only in airports won't do the job properly)

- 4/5 intermediate stops on greenfield development project, build from scratch over farmland in the middle of nowhere and connected with HSR stations. They could even focus in more "high density" buildings if they want, as it is a completely new city far enough from any other small town to cause uproar about "loss of character"

Then, a private developer would end with a vital transportation link to its housing/office developments, and could leverage the latter by building a good system of HSR circling through the area.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 09:56 PM   #2570
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
I was here thinking: wouldn't a triangle network of HSR in Texas work better as a first project?

Until now, HSR projects are mimic of those in Europe: downtown-to-downtown connections, intermediate stops in already existing cities hopping to "boost" their profile etc.

What if they built an HST system like this:

- major stations adjacent and connected to airports in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin.

- on the first phase, no downtown expensive connections of any kind, but massive (30.000 parking spaces and above) Park-and-Ride locations near major interchanges closer to the most populated areas in case of Dallas and Houston (where a station only in airports won't do the job properly)

- 4/5 intermediate stops on greenfield development project, build from scratch over farmland in the middle of nowhere and connected with HSR stations. They could even focus in more "high density" buildings if they want, as it is a completely new city far enough from any other small town to cause uproar about "loss of character"

Then, a private developer would end with a vital transportation link to its housing/office developments, and could leverage the latter by building a good system of HSR circling through the area.
I'm not sure about the previous proposals, but as I'm sure has been mentioned before, the major impediment to previous and future plans is airline opposition to the Texas triangle. Considering the apparent frequency of travel between the three cities, and their distance from one another, HSR seems like a perfect fit.

As to your suggestions, I see no major issue with them. Park and rides have become a very popular method of transportation around where I am, and I'm sure that the costs avoided by building outside of metro centers is something no one would argue with. The only issue I see is the potential of a purely privately-developed line linking up to what sounds to me to be essentially a newly made town. Considering real estate and home prices in Texas, it doesn't sound like the profit maker it'd have to be to justify such an investment.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 10:42 PM   #2571
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I think all of this "how about putting it here" talk is just proving the point that what we need in the US is not something to compete with airports. What we need is more and better commuter rail in the big metros. That gets the cars off the roads and help us into the future.

All this HSR talk is silly really to address current US transportation issues. The Euros and Asian Countries have it so we need it too? We need fast trains just because they are out there? You guys talk about this as though someone's got this great toy in thier pocket and all we need is a place to play with it. We don't NEED it. Sure in some areas it would be nice (NEC sppecifically), and those of you who hate all things fossil fuel can feel better about yourselves (once you ignore the way the electricity to run the trains is generated) but we don't NEED it. Take the Dallas and Houston thing above, we don't need another way to get from Dallas to Houston, what we need is a better, more efficient way to get to downtown Houston from the airport once we land. What we need is a better more efficient way to get from the Dallas burbs to downtown to get to work in the morning. One other thing you Euro and Asian nations have on us is that outside of about three cities the commuter rail system in the US is practically non-existant. Yours are fabulous. THAT is where we need to start.

Building this just to build it is a terrible waste of borrowed tax money.

Last edited by FlyFish; May 31st, 2011 at 10:47 PM.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 10:51 PM   #2572
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Having a nice house that is affordable and a rail network aren't mutually exclusive. In the early 20th century, if you wanted a big house, you moved to a suburb with commuter trains into the city since freeways weren't built yet.

Anyways, being from Texas I would favor a shape other than a "triangle", it needs to be more of a "T-bone" or a letter "A", actually.

There are destinations which aren't big cities but I believe would draw substantial ridership due to the demographics of their population. University towns like College Station, Waco, and San Marcos should have intermediate stations because each has 30k to 40k+ students who would be more likely than the average person to take a train home, possibly several time a year.

Depends on the kind of HSR. A super-fast non stop train for business travelers between Dallas and Houston is the oldest of the ideas, and apparently is viable enough that various enterprises have tried to make it happen since the 90s.


Quote:
- on the first phase, no downtown expensive connections of any kind, but massive (30.000 parking spaces and above) Park-and-Ride locations near major interchanges closer to the most populated areas in case of Dallas and Houston (where a station only in airports won't do the job properly)

- 4/5 intermediate stops on greenfield development project, build from scratch over farmland in the middle of nowhere and connected with HSR stations. They could even focus in more "high density" buildings if they want, as it is a completely new city far enough from any other small town to cause uproar about "loss of character"
These aren't bad ideas.

I only somewhat agree about lines going downtown in the first phase, because of what I know about available right of way or space to build a new one in each of the cities. Depends on if the idea here is to do what is financially and politically feasible vs. a fantasy where the plan is ideal.

Austin has no good way of getting a line downtown so it would have to be outside the center, and in Dallas a DFW airport station I imagine would be massively important to the system as a whole during the first phase, so much so a downtown branch could wait. But in Houston a line that goes close to either downtown or the Galleria might actually be easier to manage than trying to thread the needle in the northern suburbs to get over to Intercontinental from the west.

As for the 2nd point, I think most places here are very pro growth and the various HSR dreams over the years have actually spurred many communities along the more plausible corridors like I-35 to plan for it. Hell, you'll find ordinary citizens in many places like San Marcos who really believe this will happen in the near future.

Last edited by zaphod; May 31st, 2011 at 11:25 PM.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 11:12 PM   #2573
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Students are usually a savvy public that will change for slower buses or carpools and, as you said, travel only few times a year, not every week. You need upper-income commuters willing/needing to travel several times at week and not *that* price sensitive to support a high-speed rail.

Here in Europe, despite all differences (like fewer students owing a car), many will take longer routes or slower trains just to save € 20-30 over a train fare. Even if that means a 5h instead of a 2h15min trip.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 11:22 PM   #2574
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I think the aim of building a few HSR lines in various places is to get the public interested in rail travel again. Even living relatively close to a large metro area, I can count on one hand the number of times I've been able to travel by rail, and I suspect it's the same for most Americans at this point in time. A shiny bullet train is intended to get people thinking about using trains to commute or travel when that option has essentially been absent for decades. It's an awfully expensive opening volley in renewing rail transportation, and one that may backfire when people end up disappointed with trains going two-thirds the speed of a true HSR service, but it should be pretty obvious why it has its supporters in this country.

Not to mention that high speed rail is something we could conceivably use in a few decades once rail transit is a more common method of travel. I agree it's a little bit of running-before-you-walk, but that doesn't mean it has no merit at all.
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Old June 1st, 2011, 01:36 AM   #2575
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Thinking of HSR as mere postcards for local light rail or commuter rail would be a very expensive marketing action
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Old June 1st, 2011, 02:04 AM   #2576
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Thinking of HSR as mere postcards for local light rail or commuter rail would be a very expensive marketing action
Totally agree, doesn't change the fact that I've heard the need for U.S. rail explained in such terms. It also doesn't change the fact that HSR would be nice, and does make sense in some places.
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Old June 1st, 2011, 03:07 AM   #2577
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxmulder View Post
I dont know any figures but it is obvious for me life standards in US especially for middle class is much higher than the ones in Europe. A middle class family in USA can have a two floor 300m2 house with three cars.
Not without amassing a bunch of debt in the process.

Your perception of the American "middle class" is warped. A family with the above mentioned possessions would be considered upper middle class if not wealthy.

Western Europe has comparable per capita income levels with much lower costs for healthcare and college education. The living standards in Europe are better than in America. This isn't 1979.
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Old June 1st, 2011, 03:10 AM   #2578
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Yes, and that is the only reasonable justification I or anyone else could give for constructing a line through what they're calling the NH Capital Corridor. However, even if you combine the population of the 3 "cities" that would be served, I'd wager it's only about 300,000 people, if not less.
But that population is clustered very close together and in terms of distance, is not far from Boston.

Concord-Manchester-Nashua-Lowell-Boston is a corridor of almost contiguous development. It is ideal for rail.
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Old June 1st, 2011, 03:24 AM   #2579
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFish View Post
All this HSR talk is silly really to address current US transportation issues. The Euros and Asian Countries have it so we need it too? We need fast trains just because they are out there? You guys talk about this as though someone's got this great toy in thier pocket and all we need is a place to play with it. We don't NEED it.
I believe that has more to due with the US leading in example when it comes to technology. We do not want to see the US which has been such a leader in so much facets of life from economy to transportation fall behind, it is in some instances a sign of its prophetical decline. We live off the achievements of the past while not improving or updating for the future. It is not innovative to rest on your laurels.

BTW: The interstate system was something that was not "needed" at the time due to its large mileage in the middle of nowhere but its creation helped create new industries and connected the country in a way not seen before. Nobody now would deny its success.
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Old June 1st, 2011, 03:25 AM   #2580
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But that population is clustered very close together and in terms of distance, is not far from Boston.

Concord-Manchester-Nashua-Lowell-Boston is a corridor of almost contiguous development. It is ideal for rail.
Continguous I'll give you, but having lived within that corridor my entire life, I'll say that in most places it's neither heavy, dense, nor quickly-increasing. As I said, I'd love to see a passenger rail service from Manchester to Boston, but considering the political leanings of New Hampshire, and the ultimate population, population growth, and business growth, I do think it'd be a bit of a stretch to call it ideal. Worthwhile at some point in the future, sure, but ideal?
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