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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 June 5th, 2011, 06:11 AM   #2621
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sekelsenmat View Post
What about going back to discussing concrete HSR projects?



Looks like the "only in my backyard" group is attacking =D

Someone in one of the hundreds of pages of this thread said that the direct route without Palmdale would go through a geologically unstable area. Is that true? Is the Palmdale route really safer?
The San Andreas Fault runs through the northern part of the 'Grapevine', roughly along I-5. It also passes lengthwise through the Cajon Pass area, so I guess that they're screwed whichever way they go.



On a map, in the Los Angeles area, this active 'strike-slip' fault is on a fairly straight diagonal line running through the I-5/CA 138 area, southeastward through Palmdale and on across the north edge of San Bernardino.

See:
http://geology.com/articles/images/s...-fault-map.jpg

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Old June 5th, 2011, 09:00 AM   #2622
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The San Andreas Fault runs through the northern part of the 'Grapevine', roughly along I-5. It also passes lengthwise through the Cajon Pass area, so I guess that they're screwed whichever way they go.
Well, still, it seams that if they go through palmdale, they hit the fault in the city, on the other route they hit it in the mountains. It is probably easier to fix any damage in the plains of palmdale then in the mountains. Imagine if it hits an elevated structure in the mountains, it could possibly fall and require a full rebuild of the structure. In the plain are of palmdale, the possible damages are much smaller.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 05:07 AM   #2623
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DesertXpress: Is this train ever going to leave the station?
Why does it seem that every logical idea in this town never sees the light of day? Go ahead and add a high-speed train connecting Southern California to Las Vegas to that dubious list. Now what?



Imagine the potential for Southern Nevada’s resort community if it has access to millions of customers within a relatively easy two-hour trip on a fast train. Southern California residents could make a last-minute decision to spend a weekend in Las Vegas and get here and back quickly and safely. And the other direction? How cool would it be for us to take off from work in the late afternoon and catch a Dodgers or Lakers game, snooze on the trip home and easily be back at work the next day?

Establishing a high-speed line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas has been an elusive dream for decades. Amtrak service between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, which took about seven hours per trip because passenger trains shared tracks with slower freight trains, ended in May 1997. Magnetic levitation proposals sputtered for nearly 30 years. And now, developments in the Golden State are threatening to put another obstacle in the way of plans for DesertXpress, which although the proposal has proved controversial, it is the one closest to breaking ground. The snag is with the proposed California High-Speed Rail Authority project linking San Francisco and Sacramento with San Diego: It appears to be coming off the tracks.

First, some background on DesertXpress.

It was the first credible proposal for high-speed rail between Nevada and California. But it had—and still has—a serious flaw: It wouldn’t go anywhere near Hollywood. The line would end at Victorville, just south of which is Cajon Pass, a steep grade from the Los Angeles Basin to the high desert. The high-speed rail technology can’t climb the Cajon Pass grade. True, there are freight train tracks between San Bernardino and Victorville, but curves would be too tight for a high-speed train to maintain speed. The whole idea of having a high-speed system from LA to Vegas is to make the trip competitive with airlines. A slowdown at Cajon Pass would defeat the purpose.

Critics have publicly flogged the DesertXpress proposal from Day 1. Who in their right mind would drive from Los Angeles to Victorville, park their car in a lot, climb aboard a train for an hour and 20 minutes and then rely on public transportation once in Las Vegas? Forget about Las Vegans wanting to go to Southern California. Victorville as an end point has always been a nonstarter for us. We would have even less desire to find our way into the vast California megalopolis on public transportation after getting off “the train to nowhere.” Yeah, you could rent a car at the Victorville station, but what’s the point? It would be easier and less expensive to simply drive the three hours through Victorville and then on to Los Angeles.

Through all the criticism, DesertXpress officials have put forth its best little-engine-that-could impression, slogged through environmental impact reports and kept trying to convince a disbelieving public that people would actually drive to Victorville and hop a train to come here. The saving grace of the DesertXpress plan was that the company was looking to use the same technology the California High-Speed Rail Authority planned to use on its project. Victorville is 50 miles east of Palmdale, one of the proposed stops on the California line between the City of Angels and San Francisco. It would be relatively simple to build a track between Victorville and Palmdale and extend the trip by an extra 15 minutes to get passengers all the way into LA by way of the California line.

But recent developments in California have put that idea in jeopardy.

Last month, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, California’s version of the Government Accountability Office, issued a report stating that a number of problems threaten the successful development of high-speed rail in California. Proposition 1A, a referendum approved by the state’s voters in 2008, authorized California to sell $9 billion in general obligation bonds to partially fund the rail system. The state was counting on receiving federal funding and investment from the private sector to build a system estimated to cost $43 billion. Since those estimates were published, independent organizations piped up with estimates closer to $81 billion.

Meanwhile, Congress rescinded $400 million in funding for high-speed rail in fiscal year 2010 and eliminated funding for fiscal year 2011 as part of a federal budget compromise. Suddenly, California realized it wouldn’t get $19 billion in federal grant support it had expected by 2016. California scrambled, seeking ways to get at least part of the system running to generate revenue while looking at how it could cut costs and save money.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority, acting on the recommendation of federal transportation officials, approved plans to begin construction of the central part of the system, from just north of Fresno to just north of Bakersfield. Although revenue generated in fares on that $5.5 billion chunk of the line could be used to begin retiring bonds, the obvious question is how many passengers would ride on a high-speed train between Fresno and Bakersfield? No doubt, not enough to make it financially viable. Experts are even doubtful that there would be significant revenue if the line were started on the more populous, but more costly ends of the line at Los Angeles or San Francisco.

A new cost-cutting measure under study by the rail authority cuts even deeper into the DesertXpress dream of connecting Las Vegas with Los Angeles via Palmdale. In early May, the authority reintroduced a proposal to run the California line along Interstate 5, then east to Bakersfield, a shorter route previously discarded because of seismic issues and costs concerns.

That “grapevine” alignment is back in play as experts have determined that a route through Soledad Canyon over the Tehachapi Mountains into Antelope Valley and Palmdale would require extensive tunneling and elevated structures. An authority staff report says the realignment would save “billions.” But it also takes Palmdale out of play as a stop on the California line. Angry Palmdale officials have threatened to sue the authority if the city is bypassed. With federal funding application deadlines looming, a lengthy court battle would be one more roadblock for the authority to deal with, but the fact remains that eliminating Palmdale is under consideration.

What does the management of DesertXpress think? No one would comment on the California developments, although in recent public appearances, officials have blissfully repeated that the route through Victorville is the way to go. Unfortunately, I had also hoped to talk with them about recent concerns raised by homeowners along the proposed route into Las Vegas and how the train and its elevated track would be a noisy visible nuisance.

I also want to know what they thought of Texas developer Chris Milam’s ambitious plan to build baseball and soccer stadiums and a basketball arena at Interstate 15 and Russell Road. This is the same area DesertXpress officials have said is their No. 1 choice for a train station. Have Milam’s people and the DesertXpress people—both represented locally by influential Sig Rogich—even spoken with each other? And what about the status of DesertXpress’ $4.9 billion loan application through the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program, which provides direct federal loans and loan guarantees to finance development of railroad infrastructure?

The dream of connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas with high-speed transportation is still possible despite California’s new problems.

[...]
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Old June 14th, 2011, 05:36 AM   #2624
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Originally Posted by sekelsenmat View Post
Well, still, it seams that if they go through palmdale, they hit the fault in the city, on the other route they hit it in the mountains. It is probably easier to fix any damage in the plains of palmdale then in the mountains. Imagine if it hits an elevated structure in the mountains, it could possibly fall and require a full rebuild of the structure. In the plain are of palmdale, the possible damages are much smaller.
IIRC, the issue with the Tejon Ranch/Grapevine route is that it requires the line to cross the fault in tunnel, which is considered a no-no (for obvious reasons). The Palmdale route crosses the fault at grade or on elevated track, which is much safer and repairable in the case of a major temblor (see the recent Tohoku M9 quake in Japan). Also, a Palmdale route provides the opportunity to connect with Desert Xpress, allowing said private venture to avoid building the expensive extension to Los Angeles via Cajon (and allow runthrough operation, if utilizing compatible rolling stock).
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Old June 15th, 2011, 12:15 PM   #2625
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Amtrak passengers to face slower rides on Detroit-Chicago line From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110614/METRO05/106140394/Amtrak-passengers-to-face-slower-rides-on-Detroit-Chicago-line#ixzz1PKnJYz6u

Railway passengers may face delays of up to 90 minutes on trains running between Ypsilanti and Kalamazoo due to a decision by the Norfolk Southern railway to decrease speeds on their tracks between the two cities.

Norfolk Southern dropped the speed that Amtrak passenger trains can run on its tracks, stating it would only pay maintenance costs for the tracks for trains traveling at speeds between 25 and 60 mph.

MDOT is trying to buy the 135-mile stretch between the two cities in anticipation of using nearly $350 million in federal funds to upgrade the tracks to handle high-speed passenger service between Detroit and Chicago.

"What we're saying to Amtrak and MDOT is that we don't have a problem at all with passenger trains running over our railroad. It's just that we don't feel we should pay for the maintenance for high-speed passenger service," Norfolk Southern spokesman Rudy Husband said. "We will maintain the standard, which will allow us to serve our freight customers." Husband said the speed restrictions would be in place indefinitely.

According to Husband, most freight trains only travel at speeds of up to 40 mph, while high-speed passenger rail service can hit speeds of up to 110 mph.
In response, Amtrak has issued an advisory for its customers stating that the Wolverine Service trains (numbers 350 through 354) are traveling at reduced speeds between Ypsilanti and Kalamazoo.

"We want to be candid that the train will not be able to keep its schedule because of speed restrictions," Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. "We're working with MDOT and Norfolk to get through this period of time until the state can take control of the railroad. For their freight service, Norfolk doesn't see the need for speeds higher than 60 mph."
Magliari said Amtrak is working with Norfolk to "see if we can make some improvement to reduce the amount of delay."

MDOT spokesman Janet Foran said the state has been in discussions with Norfolk to purchase the tracks since it received two government grants.
"We received $150 million last year and $196 million this year," Foran said. "The monies will be used to first purchase the line and then make improvements to the track, the signal movements, crossings and stations in anticipation of high-speed passenger service."

According to Foran, speeds on the 135 miles of track sometimes drop to as low as 30 mph because of many crossings and high freight train travel.
"We've been talking with Norfolk, and we're reasonably close, but there's no solution right now," Foran said.
"Once the line is acquired, then we can start making improvements to raise the speed limit."


From The Detroit News:
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Old June 15th, 2011, 07:20 PM   #2626
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Another step on the road towards 'open access' rails in North America?

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Old June 16th, 2011, 05:49 PM   #2627
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Old June 16th, 2011, 07:48 PM   #2628
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Chicago Tribune expresses concerns about "medium speed rail" in Illinois

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/o...,1831635.story

"Stop this train
Obama funding doesn't eliminate the high cost of high-speed rail

3:39 p.m. CDT, June 15, 2011
The Obama administration has showered Illinois with about $1.6 billion for high-speed rail and other upgraded service, part of its vision for a nation in which trains zip around at 220 mph. Gov. Pat Quinn has gleefully accepted the cash.

Hey, it's free money from the feds, right?

Fed money, yes. Free money, no.

The governors of Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin have said no to this largesse. What do those skeptical governors know that we don't?

They know that their taxpayers will be on the hook for a lot of money, now and later."

(see link for rest of editorial)

This is one of the things that will have to be addressed as things proceed. I would put to 'medium speed' line to Saint Louis into service and see how it performs before beginning to upgrade other routes radiating south and west from Chicago.

And yet, BHO, in a snot-snit, recently refused to approve federal funding for upgrades on another proven route in Illinois and Wisconsin, where ALL of the pols were in line to see the upgrades be built.

Mike
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Old June 16th, 2011, 09:06 PM   #2629
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The Illinois plan is one of the 'fake' high speed rail plans that's basically a speed upgrade from 80 km/h to 120 km/h or something, right?

I think it's good that those are getting rejected. For one, they are very likely to fail as they are not 'high speed' enough, and their failure will reduce public support

I'm a fan of high speed rail, but giving money to rail projects all over the country was a bit of a political gimmick I fear, to spread things out over different states.

They should fund the California project as much as possible as quickly as possible. If that one runs well, and people see that, other states will go and build 'true' high speed rail as well.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 12:06 AM   #2630
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Originally Posted by krulstaartje View Post
I'm a fan of high speed rail, but giving money to rail projects all over the country was a bit of a political gimmick I fear, to spread things out over different states.

They should fund the California project as much as possible as quickly as possible. If that one runs well, and people see that, other states will go and build 'true' high speed rail as well.
It was 100% political gimmick!
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Old June 17th, 2011, 01:19 AM   #2631
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krulstaartje View Post
The Illinois plan is one of the 'fake' high speed rail plans that's basically a speed upgrade from 80 km/h to 120 km/h or something, right?

I think it's good that those are getting rejected. For one, they are very likely to fail as they are not 'high speed' enough, and their failure will reduce public support

I'm a fan of high speed rail, but giving money to rail projects all over the country was a bit of a political gimmick I fear, to spread things out over different states.

They should fund the California project as much as possible as quickly as possible. If that one runs well, and people see that, other states will go and build 'true' high speed rail as well.
Agreed.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 01:34 AM   #2632
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Originally Posted by krulstaartje View Post
They should fund the California project as much as possible as quickly as possible. If that one runs well, and people see that, other states will go and build 'true' high speed rail as well.
Do we really want a nearly bankrupt state to build such a project? I think not.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 04:04 AM   #2633
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I was reading some blogs of transit activists pointing that a $ 0.20/gallon gas surcharge would be enough to raise money for NEC HS + CHSR + Texas T HSR without any further source of income.

Of course the idea is politically unworkable, but it is yet another example of HSR-supporters looking at cars as a pot of money waiting for grabs.

Why can't people be more creative about funding for HSR? Like new very high dense cities built in the middle of nowhere but with a nicely designed HS station connecting it to 2 or 3 major metropolitan areas nearby?
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Old June 17th, 2011, 10:19 AM   #2634
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I was reading some blogs of transit activists pointing that a $ 0.20/gallon gas surcharge would be enough to raise money for NEC HS + CHSR + Texas T HSR without any further source of income.

Of course the idea is politically unworkable, but it is yet another example of HSR-supporters looking at cars as a pot of money waiting for grabs.

Why can't people be more creative about funding for HSR? Like new very high dense cities built in the middle of nowhere but with a nicely designed HS station connecting it to 2 or 3 major metropolitan areas nearby?
Because Gas is unfairly subsidized in this country so its reasonable to add a tax to fund Rail. They add 20-50 cent taxes on shopping or food to Rail / Transit all the time , people vote on it and most of the time it works.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 04:15 PM   #2635
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Because Gas is unfairly subsidized in this country so its reasonable to add a tax to fund Rail. They add 20-50 cent taxes on shopping or food to Rail / Transit all the time , people vote on it and most of the time it works.
So you want to rob Peter to build Paul? Who are you going to rob to operate Paul?
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Old June 17th, 2011, 04:24 PM   #2636
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So you want to rob Peter to build Paul? Who are you going to rob to operate Paul?

Spare us those conservative catchphrases. There are other ways to fund HSR, although there is nothing wrong in charging an additional cess on commodities to fund an infra project.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 08:51 PM   #2637
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krulstaartje View Post
The Illinois plan is one of the 'fake' high speed rail plans that's basically a speed upgrade from 80 km/h to 120 km/h or something, right?

I think it's good that those are getting rejected. For one, they are very likely to fail as they are not 'high speed' enough, and their failure will reduce public support

I'm a fan of high speed rail, but giving money to rail projects all over the country was a bit of a political gimmick I fear, to spread things out over different states.

They should fund the California project as much as possible as quickly as possible. If that one runs well, and people see that, other states will go and build 'true' high speed rail as well.
It will increase track speed from about 130 km/h to the range of 180-200 km/h. Still well below 'true' high speed.

The $800+M that was planned to be spent on a 'medium speed' line upgrade and service restoration between Madison and Milwaukee, WI (a distance of about 100 km) was, IMHO, a total waste and would have set back progress on true high-speed service development in the midwestern USA by at least a generation. Deride him as you want for doing so, but the rejection of that project by our Governor Scott Walker (in fact, the money was pulled before he even had a chance to take the oath of office) probably did more to FURTHER the cause of true high-speed passenger rail development in the long term, as well as service restorations in directions that do not rate true high speed (like to here in northeastern Wisconsin), than any other action that anyone else could have taken.

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Old June 17th, 2011, 11:21 PM   #2638
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
I was reading some blogs of transit activists pointing that a $ 0.20/gallon gas surcharge would be enough to raise money for NEC HS + CHSR + Texas T HSR without any further source of income.

Of course the idea is politically unworkable, but it is yet another example of HSR-supporters looking at cars as a pot of money waiting for grabs.

Why can't people be more creative about funding for HSR? Like new very high dense cities built in the middle of nowhere but with a nicely designed HS station connecting it to 2 or 3 major metropolitan areas nearby?
It still drives me positively insane that even proposing the idea of creating new taxes and/or raising current taxes is truly politically unworkable. The National Highway Trust Fund went essentially bankrupt what, three years ago? Highways aren't being properly funded at the current level of taxation, and as automakers (are mandated to) produce and sell more fuel-efficient cars as time goes by, revenue from the current tax is only going to become even more insufficient. People do seem to genuinely expect that highways will maintain themselves, free of charge. I personally know I'd support a .20$-.50$ per-gallon tax to support not just HSR, but infrastructure investment generally, but then I don't need to drive on a daily basis.

As to the idea, which you've mentioned before, of creating new cities to help recentralize the urban development patterns around an HSR system, it would be neat, but there seems to me to be a lot of weight against that sort of thing, particularly when the one phrase you hear on everyone's tongue is "deficit reduction" and businesses aren't spending like they used to. I don't think most people, public or private, individual or organizational, would want to move just to take advantage of high speed trains (though honestly, I'd strongly consider it), and of course building new cities is massively expensive, so it'd be all the more disasterous if the endeavor failed and thus took the HSR system down with it.
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Old June 18th, 2011, 12:25 AM   #2639
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So you want to rob Peter to build Paul? Who are you going to rob to operate Paul?
If it comes up for a vote and the voters want it , then ya....
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Old June 18th, 2011, 01:48 AM   #2640
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Originally Posted by mgk920 View Post
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/o...,1831635.story

"Stop this train
Obama funding doesn't eliminate the high cost of high-speed rail

3:39 p.m. CDT, June 15, 2011
The Obama administration has showered Illinois with about $1.6 billion for high-speed rail and other upgraded service, part of its vision for a nation in which trains zip around at 220 mph. Gov. Pat Quinn has gleefully accepted the cash.

Hey, it's free money from the feds, right?

Fed money, yes. Free money, no.

The governors of Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin have said no to this largesse. What do those skeptical governors know that we don't?

They know that their taxpayers will be on the hook for a lot of money, now and later."


Mike
That is an ABSOLUTE LIE.

The operations costs of the Milwaukee-Madison line would have been almost fully paid by the federal government and were minimal to begin with. Meanwhile, Walker wants to spend billions on new road projects but can't find a couple million to maintain a rail line between the state's two largest cities? Does the Tribune think roads are free to build and then maintain once built?

The bids to operate the Florida HSL between Orlando and Tampa from the private sector would have covered ALL operating costs of the line. The state would have been on the hook for NOTHING.

Shame on you for posting such blatantly false horseshit.

A right wing rag like the Chicago Tribune should be used for homeless people to sleep on or to line the bottom of a bird cage.
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Last edited by hoosier; June 18th, 2011 at 01:55 AM.
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