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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 January 25th, 2012, 04:55 PM   #2941
phoenixboi08
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It's much easier to initiate HSR development when you're starting from scratch and drastically need it. Truth be told, we don't NEED it...we have sufficient rail capacity (for freight), sufficient air routes, etc.

Don't get me wrong I'm a huge proponent, but I think we have to put it in context. A country like China obviously has more ability to push a project like this simply because it needs it...where most here see it as a luxury.

That sense of "urgency" isn't there anymore (see: US highway system in the last century); we are already quite saturated...
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Old January 25th, 2012, 05:39 PM   #2942
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But that's the point. Air travel is alright a nightmare logistically, both for passengers and the people in charge of flying planes, and you'd have to build new roads constantly just to keep up with expected increases in demand. And all that is ignoring the sorry state many roads are in, and ignoring the possibility of induced demand. We're running out of reasonable ways to support our current methods of travel, so we need to start diversifying into other ones. If we don't need it now, we will 20 years from now, and HSR is a kind of infrastructure which can't be brought on line in a year or two.

And I think it's false to think that the interstate system was any more or less necessary a development than a high speed rail system would be. How many people were trying to drive long-distances in the 1950's? Probably functionally zero (it was just about all trains, as I'm sure you know), but now it's something that happens all the time because the infrastructure is there. There's no reason to think the same wouldn't happen with a good passenger rail system, and there are environmental and economic benefits to prepare and/or stimulate that sort of shift in mode.
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Old January 25th, 2012, 06:19 PM   #2943
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Originally Posted by aquaticko View Post
But that's the point. Air travel is alright a nightmare logistically, both for passengers and the people in charge of flying planes, and you'd have to build new roads constantly just to keep up with expected increases in demand. And all that is ignoring the sorry state many roads are in, and ignoring the possibility of induced demand. We're running out of reasonable ways to support our current methods of travel, so we need to start diversifying into other ones. If we don't need it now, we will 20 years from now, and HSR is a kind of infrastructure which can't be brought on line in a year or two.

And I think it's false to think that the interstate system was any more or less necessary a development than a high speed rail system would be. How many people were trying to drive long-distances in the 1950's? Probably functionally zero (it was just about all trains, as I'm sure you know), but now it's something that happens all the time because the infrastructure is there. There's no reason to think the same wouldn't happen with a good passenger rail system, and there are environmental and economic benefits to prepare and/or stimulate that sort of shift in mode.
Totally agree, except the snippet about HSR not being online in a year or two: look at China's Beijng-Shanghai route. That thing started construction in 2008 and opened in 2011. I have a feeling that if Californians placed HSR on the same level of importance as the MOR did, then they could get it done, too; but I don't see that kind of mentality coming anytime soon. Besides, if they want to accelerate construction like that, then it'll cost even more.

Technically, America will never "need" high speed rail, just as it never "needed" the interstate when it was first built. Life as they know it's not going to end, but America's traffic problems will continue to worsen, life begins to slow down, other countries begin to get ahead, and what Americans will realize in the future is not what hasn't changed, but what they've missed out on.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 02:00 AM   #2944
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Quote:
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sufficient air routes
The question could very well be just for how much longer, for I'm hearing more and more that contrails are suspected to be a larger contributor to climate change than supposed in the past ...
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Old January 26th, 2012, 02:40 AM   #2945
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Originally Posted by Silver Swordsman View Post
I have a feeling that if Californians placed HSR on the same level of importance as the MOR did, then they could get it done, too; but I don't see that kind of mentality coming anytime soon. Besides, if they want to accelerate construction like that, then it'll cost even more.
Oh yes, I agree. And was trying to convey that. The sense of urgency is not the same, because people here just don't feel that they need it; that commuter habit hasn't largely adopted trains in most of the country. I mean...like, I live in Brimingham, I COULD take a train to Atlanta, but as of now it's not convenient or affordable (as compared to getting in my car and driving or taking Greyhound).

I think it's imperative to promote commuter rail in key areas (the California plan would make more sense in the East Corridor).

I think it should start with funds for states to establish commuter lines between large population centers THEN after that has been founded, begin expanding into a national network.

Then again, I guess that IS the plan. I just think for now, more emphasis should be put on the individual lines rather than a whole network.

And again, it doesn't make sense to compare a developing country to a post-industrial one. It is easier to "leap-frog" ahead to the best available technology when you're starting from a very low point. I mean, would Beijing ever conceivably say,"oh, you know what? Forget HSR, let's just employ more standard speed lines!"

It's easier to justify enormous infrastructure projects in that context. That isn't to under emphasize China's achievement, but I do think there is an advantage in being able to follow already well-trodden paths.

I firmly believe they need to reintegrate Rail into the consciousness of travelers. THEN it will be easy to initiate this kind of project.

Last edited by phoenixboi08; January 26th, 2012 at 02:48 AM.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 04:09 AM   #2946
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phoenixboi08 View Post
And again, it doesn't make sense to compare a developing country to a post-industrial one. It is easier to "leap-frog" ahead to the best available technology when you're starting from a very low point. I mean, would Beijing ever conceivably say,"oh, you know what? Forget HSR, let's just employ more standard speed lines!"

It's easier to justify enormous infrastructure projects in that context. That isn't to under emphasize China's achievement, but I do think there is an advantage in being able to follow already well-trodden paths.

I firmly believe they need to reintegrate Rail into the consciousness of travelers. THEN it will be easy to initiate this kind of project.
True to a degree, but I think "leapfrogging" depends on the level of infrastructure that is already present, and how it might serve the needs required: for America's railway network, it has already been deemed necessary to build new tracks if they want high speed rail. Japan, who realized that its railway networks were already choked, built the Shinkansen as a completely separate railway, while Germany, who already had an extensive standard network (but wasn't used as frequently as Japan's), integrated the ICE service into what had already existed. Both Germany and Japan were post-industrial countries when they built their respective HSR projects, and the differences between the ICE and the Shinkansen is related only to the infrastructure available.

In America, the passenger rail system, Amtrak, is a joke. If they're going to build high speed rail, they'll pretty much have to build a completely new set of infrastructure, because there is hardly any compatible infrastructure to begin with. Thus, America should be leapfrogging, if it has enough funds.

I think that if America wants to make HSR work, yes, some public groundwork needs to be done. I don't think anyone would even think of riding a slower train that costs more than an airline ticket. The main reason why trains work outside of the US is because they are cheaper than airplanes, and that is exactly why rail is stuck in the US: it's not. America should try to lower the ticket prices for Amtrak and increase its service speeds and availability to build a better public opinion of passenger rail travel before investing billions into high speed rail. Right now, the Republicans and opponents of HSR in the US have good reason: because they haven't experienced the true potential of rail travel.

Speaking of politics, I have come to the realization that America probably should put off high speed rail till the economy improves somewhat. When they talked about emulating other countries, the other countries who built high speed rail had 1) a large Treasury surplus (at least a lot of available funds) and 2) strong political unity. Now, the US is trillions in debt and high speed rail is being used more as political ammunition than a public service, I have strong doubts (despite my strong support of high speed rail) whether America should undertake building the equivalent of a second Interstate.

As stated in my previous post, no HSR does not spell the end of the world. Building HSR and diverting funds away from other public services (i.e. education) will.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 06:57 AM   #2947
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But the slow economy is also a good reason to start a project like HSR. It's cheaper now than it will be whenever the economy starts to pick up, and we could use the jobs. If the only argument against is short-run fiscal, then I see no reason not to go for it when it will bring long-term benefit even if it never runs an operating profit. After all, most high speed services are run by government corporations; these corporations exist to provide a service, not to make money (within reason, of course).
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Old January 26th, 2012, 08:16 AM   #2948
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I don't see HSR working well without a good local bus/rail network to support it in cities and smaller towns. I wish we could do the same thing they're doing in China with respect to their growing long distance and local rail networks.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 08:39 PM   #2949
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In the US regional airports thrive through affordable parking and robust network of rental car companies, the same can happen with HSR too. HSR in the US will not be able to compete with driving, but more with regional airlines. If it takes three hours to drive to somewhere and one and half on HSR, I'm gonna stick with driving just because it's cheaper and much more convenient.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 11:06 PM   #2950
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If I'm living an hour and a half from somewhere by train and I don't need a car on a daily basis (admittedly a problem in most of the U.S.), I'm not going to own a car.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 11:19 PM   #2951
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It's a cultural affair, aquaticko ... it's as though N Americans possess less conscience what with being keen for their status symbols and other miscelleaneous creature comforts ... another thing, Canadians are awkward and seemingly afraid of others out in the public, thus I bet the same be true for the USA when I consider French Canadians' being ill at ease just as much as English Canadians'
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Old January 27th, 2012, 08:30 AM   #2952
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With HSR, all the stations are going to be at downtown easily accesible to bus.

Almost eveyr major cities and towns in US have bus system going.
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Old January 27th, 2012, 08:39 AM   #2953
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Two problems that I've discovered with America's HSR plan.

1) Funding. No country has ever begun building HSR without adequate funds. America is 14 trillion in debt, and California is broke. China built its HSR service from the surplus it gained from trading with the US.

Of course, America happens to be hit with the crux of having both a recession and a debt crisis: the solutions to each are mutually exclusive: Want to pay the debt? Cut spending? Want to stop the recession? Spend more.

2) Gas prices. Since oil is subsidized in the US, it is allowed to keep the status quo, and thus, allows airlines to flourish and lower costs. Amtrak cannot attract riders due to the cost: the Acela is actually more expensive than the airline.

I'm not saying that HSR in America isn't going to work. I think it will. Like the Interstate, people will get around to using it eventually, but the question remains as to how long does it have to operate before the population begins to use it in earnest (i.e. regular commuters)? In Taiwan, the warm up period was around four-five years, for a population that embraces train travel as a necessity; for a country who call high-tech trains "choo-choos", I think the US may take longer to accept HSR into their daily lives.
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Old January 27th, 2012, 08:41 AM   #2954
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Acela 1st class is definitely more expensive than plane, but I dont think the Business class is.

And then theres the fact that if more people rode trains Amtrak would get more funding and perhaps lower the price with more trains.
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Old January 27th, 2012, 09:10 AM   #2955
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Originally Posted by krnboy1009 View Post
Acela 1st class is definitely more expensive than plane, but I dont think the Business class is.

And then theres the fact that if more people rode trains Amtrak would get more funding and perhaps lower the price with more trains.
That and reduce the travel time with a new HSR alignment for dedicated HSR. The NEC would be perfect for it. It would add some benefit for airlines that instead of running northeast shuttles could run other flights. I am not sure about connecting traffic though if people would rather get to the airport and then transfer to a train to their final destination or wait for a connection that might be very late.
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Old January 27th, 2012, 09:27 AM   #2956
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They can always codeshare with Amtrak at airports with direct train access like Newark and Providence (not that too many planes go there).
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Old January 27th, 2012, 04:29 PM   #2957
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Originally Posted by Silver Swordsman View Post
Two problems that I've discovered with America's HSR plan.

1) Funding. No country has ever begun building HSR without adequate funds. America is 14 trillion in debt, and California is broke. China built its HSR service from the surplus it gained from trading with the US.

Of course, America happens to be hit with the crux of having both a recession and a debt crisis: the solutions to each are mutually exclusive: Want to pay the debt? Cut spending? Want to stop the recession? Spend more.
Short-term public debt isn't the kind of problem to worry about when there's a macro-demand/output shortfall. Debt isn't what's keeping the economy down. As Europe is clearly showing that austerity and being crazy about debt doesn't work, the only alternative is stimulus, and what better place than in an area which could and likely will have major positive impacts for generations?

Quote:
2) Gas prices. Since oil is subsidized in the US, it is allowed to keep the status quo, and thus, allows airlines to flourish and lower costs. Amtrak cannot attract riders due to the cost: the Acela is actually more expensive than the airline.

I'm not saying that HSR in America isn't going to work. I think it will. Like the Interstate, people will get around to using it eventually, but the question remains as to how long does it have to operate before the population begins to use it in earnest (i.e. regular commuters)? In Taiwan, the warm up period was around four-five years, for a population that embraces train travel as a necessity; for a country who call high-tech trains "choo-choos", I think the US may take longer to accept HSR into their daily lives.
No argument here. But these modal shifts have happened before, in this country and elsewhere, and will happen again, until we find the most efficient method of transportation. I, for one, believe that for the forseeable future, it will be trains.
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Old January 27th, 2012, 06:28 PM   #2958
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Come to think about it, actually NEC is probably the only place that HSR will ever work in the near future. That's the only place in America where people actually accept the railway as a convenient and natural means of transportation, as well as the infrastructure to finish the "last mile" (buses etc). The reason that CAHSR is moving along the farthest is because it's much easier to build there. Due to population density along the NEC it's gonna be hard to build a brand new HSR, yet existing tracks are too restrictive to be upgraded to HSR standard.
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Old January 27th, 2012, 06:55 PM   #2959
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Come to think about it, actually NEC is probably the only place that HSR will ever work in the near future. That's the only place in America where people actually accept the railway as a convenient and natural means of transportation, as well as the infrastructure to finish the "last mile" (buses etc). The reason that CAHSR is moving along the farthest is because it's much easier to build there. Due to population density along the NEC it's gonna be hard to build a brand new HSR, yet existing tracks are too restrictive to be upgraded to HSR standard.
Speaking of CHSR, I wonder how they're going to navigate out of LA. I read it was a pain to get out of there.
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Old January 28th, 2012, 05:23 AM   #2960
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It's funny how this U.S. High Speed Rail thread has so many pages yet we don't "really" have high speed rail in this country.
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