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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 August 17th, 2012, 07:17 PM   #3461
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Building a high-speed rail between Denver and Salt Lake City would cost at least US$ 50 billions if the line goes through a longer but gentler route via Wyoming. Building HST through the Rockies west of Denver is totally non-sense except if you conceive a sequence of 30, 50, 70km tunnels in a row up to Utah Basin.

In any case: the major market between Denver and SLC, let alone between both cities and Las Vegas or West Coast, is flying, not driving.
I'm not saying anytime soon.

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Old August 17th, 2012, 11:40 PM   #3462
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quick question, is this hsr ideas, proposals or whatever, actually serious? like will their be some in the forseeable future
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Old August 19th, 2012, 05:38 PM   #3463
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quick question, is this hsr ideas, proposals or whatever, actually serious? like will their be some in the forseeable future
Cali's building it. NEC will build it once they get the money. HSR will be built once it becomes clear that gas prices are going stay at $4+ per gallon across the entire USA and someone gets the oil, auto and air lobbies to shut up.
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Old August 19th, 2012, 08:46 PM   #3464
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Cali's building it. NEC will build it once they get the money. HSR will be built once it becomes clear that gas prices are going stay at $4+ per gallon across the entire USA and someone gets the oil, auto and air lobbies to shut up.
California's already building one?
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Old August 19th, 2012, 11:14 PM   #3465
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California's already building one?
They aren't actually building anything at the moment, since they haven't yet even moved 1 stone. But, everything indicates that building should start next year.
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Old August 20th, 2012, 12:12 AM   #3466
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Where is the "foundation segment" exactly? Is it the entire Fresno to Bakersfield line?
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Old August 20th, 2012, 03:56 AM   #3467
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Yes, that's phase one. I'm thinking that phase two is everything from that segment out to SF and LA, and phase three will be up to Sacramento and down San Diego.
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Old August 20th, 2012, 05:04 PM   #3468
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This is a must read (or you can listen to the audio)

As I've gotten more familiar with the Cal initiative, I've come to realize that we have a lot of problems with these kinds of projects in general.

There are so many issues that we haven't really begun to address - from the dilemma with the freight companies to actually knowing what HSR in the US will actually look like (in terms of ridership). I've just come to accept that this is going to be a looooong and painful process.
We really can't do anything, but just watch California for the time being, and learn from the process.
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Old August 20th, 2012, 05:44 PM   #3469
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Well It it has begun out west, its probably coming to the northeast by 2020.
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Old August 21st, 2012, 04:19 AM   #3470
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Northeast technically has one, but the infrastructure has to be improved. I think they are doing that now. Could see 200 MPH service by 2050 through slow renovation of the NE corridor.
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Old August 21st, 2012, 04:06 PM   #3471
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First and foremost, it's going to happen, that I can't stress enough. I don't mean to detract or just be cynical for the sake of it. However, I just think we may be using the wrong approach.



I think we should have made use of what we already had, and focused on improving the existing passenger rail services and corridors.

Essentially, tasking Amtrack with evaluating their system and laying out a plan (similarly to what they did recently for the NEC) of how to replicate their success of the D.C.-Boston corridor and return service to cities that are without it

They could have had double the activity: increasing Amtrack's funding along the lines of what they requested in a long-term plan and still holding the competitive rounds of grant applications from the states.

So that Amtrack could have focused on large regional clusters and corridors (Chicago & California) States could have focused on inter-state connections. Both parties would be working with the same plans, with the same existing infrastructure. Instead of having to draft everything up from scratch.


*But then again, maybe this wouldn't have mattered because AmTrack frequently relies on sharing track with freight. I think this is the biggest dilemma; instituting a good passenger system won't be cheap because will unavoidably HAVE to construct a lot of new infrastructure in most areas.
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Old August 21st, 2012, 05:35 PM   #3472
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First and foremost, it's going to happen, that I can't stress enough. I don't mean to detract or just be cynical for the sake of it. However, I just think we may be using the wrong approach.
You're right in that the approach is wrong: completely wrong. In most countries, the project is drawn up and approved with little to no fuss, put through environmental and feasible studies, secures funding, and begins construction, with small delays due to displacing people. Here in America, since everyone gets a say, every step becomes a bog of trouble.

The project is drawn up and bashed half to death by opposing parties, who want the project dead. The opposing party cooks up environmental and feasibility studies in an attempt to murder the project. The opposing party attempts to garrote the project by withholding funds. People who do not want the train in their backyards protest loudly that they want the entire project dead. If it passes all these tests, then construction begins.

High speed rail will happen, it just takes longer (quite an understatement) to go through the process. It's the "wrong" approach because it's the most painful. Nothing makes me more cynical than America's determination to maintain petrol's status quo.

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I think we should have made use of what we already had, and focused on improving the existing passenger rail services and corridors.
Impossible. Most of America's railways are Class 5 (max 80mph) and are designed for and owned by freight companies, who are already mad enough that the government is forcing them to let Amtrak run on their property. (Note how snide freight companies are with Amtrak once an accident happens)

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Essentially, tasking Amtrack with evaluating their system and laying out a plan (similarly to what they did recently for the NEC) of how to replicate their success of the D.C.-Boston corridor and to cities that are without it.
Amtrak doesn't need to evaluate why the NEC is a success and why the rest of the country isn't: the NEC is the only place in the US that 21st century passenger rail transport is done right. Average speeds of 20 mph and delays of 6+ hours is enough to deter most travelers. Conservative think-tanks like to say that HSR doesn't work in rural areas because urban density is too low, but what they don't realize is that an HSR station in downtown has the same gravitational pull as an airport (without the noisiness).

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They could have had double the activity: increasing Amtrack's funding along the lines of what they requested in a long-term plan and still holding the competitive rounds of grant applications from the states.
Try telling that to the Republicans in power that have been doing everything in their power to stop Amtrak and rail-related funding.

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Originally Posted by phoenixboi08 View Post
So that Amtrack could have focused on large regional clusters and corridors (Chicago & California) States could have focused on inter-state connections. Both parties would be working with the same plans, with the same existing infrastructure. Instead of having to draft everything up from scratch.
Amtrak can't focus on anything because as a federal entity it is required to keep all of its lines running. It makes no economic sense because it was the very same stipulation that murdered the railways to begin with. Amtrak can easily afford to upgrade the NEC to a world-class HSR system if it was all it had to worry about (appropriations of $1bn a year), but all that money is spread thinly across the country to cover basic operational cost overruns. If a state wants HSR, they cannot depend on Amtrak. As said previously, the current corridors are incompatible--HSR demands exclusive infrastructure.

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*But then again, maybe this wouldn't have mattered because AmTrack frequently relies on sharing track with freight. I think this is the biggest dilemma; instituting a good passenger system won't be cheap because will unavoidably HAVE to construct a lot of new infrastructure in most areas.
That is the point. Americans seem to forget that nothing in the world is free--they don't realize that freeways and gas stations cost far more than a train.
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Old August 21st, 2012, 06:51 PM   #3473
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Let's not forget how much freight railroads propose to charge for any new passenger train. Recent cases include $ 790 million as a set-up fee to restore New Orleans-Jacksonville service + $ 23 million/year. A proposed 60km service north of Denver was billed at $ 820 million on fees spread over 20 years by BNSF.

When railways were financially weak, they would get peanuts from Amtrak to let it run additional trains. Now, they will charge a lot, for a varity of reasons.
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Old August 21st, 2012, 07:16 PM   #3474
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Thank you I've been craving comprehensive (radio) journalism on the continent's rail projects. Transport planners oughtta cast their attention onto Montreal area transit planners who had forecast only 45% of the ridership on the metro extension under the back river into Laval. There's at least one discrepancy between that radio stn's text and audio files (#s/figures).



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There's at least one flaw in that operator's map, being the route twixt White River and Springfield making a scheduled stop in NH.
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Old August 21st, 2012, 09:15 PM   #3475
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Amtrak doesn't need to evaluate why the NEC is a success and why the rest of the country isn't: the NEC is the only place in the US that 21st century passenger rail transport is done right. Average speeds of 20 mph and delays of 6+ hours is enough to deter most travelers. Conservative think-tanks like to say that HSR doesn't work in rural areas because urban density is too low, but what they don't realize is that an HSR station in downtown has the same gravitational pull as an airport (without the noisiness).

Amtrak can't focus on anything because as a federal entity it is required to keep all of its lines running. It makes no economic sense because it was the very same stipulation that murdered the railways to begin with. Amtrak can easily afford to upgrade the NEC to a world-class HSR system if it was all it had to worry about (appropriations of $1bn a year), but all that money is spread thinly across the country to cover basic operational cost overruns. If a state wants HSR, they cannot depend on Amtrak. As said previously, the current corridors are incompatible--HSR demands exclusive infrastructure.
What I mean is, task them with prioritizing what areas they could implement the least amount of changes for the biggest return. I think what we're dealing with in the case of HSR, is a large boulder; we're nudging it up a pretty steep hill but once we get to the other side, it will require a lot less effort.

I agree, people have this mentality that no one else in the country could/would possibly patron rail to the same degree as people in the North East. That doesn't make sense really, the NEC is the ONLY smart segment of the majority of the whole system. My city, and many others over the years, have LOST rail service. While I think the long term goal to build new dedicated lines is unavoidable, they'd be a lot better off in the short run to improve the operation of the rest of the system as well. If they made it viable, it would remove stigma of Amtrack as a "garbage disposal" of public funds.
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Old August 22nd, 2012, 01:10 AM   #3476
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Romeny is all talks. I doubt he'd do anything to hurt HSR movement.
And cutting the federal subsidy to amtrak wouldn't hurt the HSR movement at all :P
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Old August 22nd, 2012, 06:16 AM   #3477
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phoenixboi08 View Post
What I mean is, task them with prioritizing what areas they could implement the least amount of changes for the biggest return. I think what we're dealing with in the case of HSR, is a large boulder; we're nudging it up a pretty steep hill but once we get to the other side, it will require a lot less effort.
The faster the speed, the more changes it will require. Most of Amtrak's high speed projects (sponsored by state governments) simply consist of replacing wooden ties with concrete sleepers, improving gate crossings, and increase superelevation. These (moderate) improvements bring operational speeds up to 100mph, and has proved to be effective.

However, if they are going for true HSR (150+mph), current infrastructure simply isn't up to par. You just have to build a completely new system (or at most have a blended approach near cities like CA's).

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I agree, people have this mentality that no one else in the country could/would possibly patron rail to the same degree as people in the North East. That doesn't make sense really, the NEC is the ONLY smart segment of the majority of the whole system. My city, and many others over the years, have LOST rail service. While I think the long term goal to build new dedicated lines is unavoidable, they'd be a lot better off in the short run to improve the operation of the rest of the system as well. If they made it viable, it would remove stigma of Amtrack as a "garbage disposal" of public funds.
It's slowly happening already. A few years back, Amtrak's share in the NEC competition with air traffic was 46%. This year, thanks to the TSA and price hikes, the train now has 75%. The NEC is the only line in the USA that works because 1. Trains are fast enough to compete with airlines. 2. They are substantially cheaper. 3. They are way more comfortable and convenient.

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And cutting the federal subsidy to amtrak wouldn't hurt the HSR movement at all :P
Playing devil's advocate here, but I think that cutting Amtrak subsidies could actually increase NEC quality. Cutting federal subsidies is, contrary to popular belief, is not a death knell for Amtrak: it is an instruction to Amtrak that it is to be financially responsible: Amtrak will have to do what any business will have to do: gut unprofitable lines. Aside from lines that are jointly owned and operated by state governments, Amtrak will be left with the crown jewel: the Northeast Corridor. Since this line actually runs a surplus, once freed from its cross-country obligations, Amtrak will be able to finance the improvements that it long needs. Once Amtrak has fully upgraded the NEC to a world-class HSR system, the stigma of passenger rail transport will finally rub off, making future projects easier to fund.

That's the optimal outlook for conservatives; I do, however, want to see them pull the same argument for freeways.
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Old August 22nd, 2012, 06:27 AM   #3478
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Cutting federal subsidies is, contrary to popular belief, is not a death knell for Amtrak: it is an instruction to Amtrak that it is to be financially responsible: Amtrak will have to do what any business will have to do: gut unprofitable lines. Aside from lines that are jointly owned and operated by state governments, Amtrak will be left with the crown jewel: the Northeast Corridor. Since this line actually runs a surplus, once freed from its cross-country obligations, Amtrak will be able to finance the improvements that it long needs. Once Amtrak has fully upgraded the NEC to a world-class HSR system, the stigma of passenger rail transport will finally rub off, making future projects easier to fund.
I've been under the impression for some time now that Amtrak is required to operate the national, and hence maintain a national rail system. This would disallow the possibility of cutting unprofitable lines. In truth, were that not the case, it would seem like they'd have already cut probably 60-70% of the services that they currently offer. Is this a misunderstanding?
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Old August 22nd, 2012, 06:32 AM   #3479
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He wont do it. He will never do it.
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Old August 22nd, 2012, 11:08 AM   #3480
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That is the point. Americans seem to forget that nothing in the world is free--they don't realize that freeways and gas stations cost far more than a train.
I live in Poland, and here we have a great and dense network of regional and intercity rail and my city has more then 25 lines of light rail + lot's of bus lines, including night buses, express buses. In nearly all major avenues there is either an exclusive light rail or an exclusive bus pair of lanes.

As a result I don't own a car at all, because it is absolutely unnecessary. I can go anywhere I want in the country fast and cheap on public transport, and in the process I save huge amounts of money. The cost of 1 year of subscription to the entire public transportation system of my city, including all light rail, buses, night buses, express buses and even the bus to the airport is aprox. 1000zl=300dollars. That's amazingly cheap. For the intercity transportation, and I travel reasonably often, I once tried to calculate how much I expend, but the amount was so low that I gave up. I would say that I expend a maximum of 2000zl=600dollars in intercity transportation (almost always by train).

So 900 dollars for 1 year of transportation all around the country ... how much would I have to pay if I had to do this in a car? Parking near my work alone would cost more then that, as it costs 400zl per month=4800zl per year=1500 dollars. Not to mention Highway fees, gas, insurance, car devaluation, speeding/parking tickets, car maintenance, acidents, etc, etc =D How much would it be per year? Maybe 9.000 dollars? A factor of 10x more expensive then I currently pay...

So here we are: People in the USA apparently are extremely rich so that they can waste lots and lots of money in car transportation. I am poor, so I prefer to save 8.000 dollars each year that would otherwise be wasted. I save them into investment assets which in turn give me income for my vacations while I do nothing.

And exactly the same can be applied for the society as a whole: Societies that invest into public transportation and into intercity railways indeed have to collect taxes and make investments in the infra-structure. But each citizen in turn receives a much, much bigger amount of money in return simply because he doesn't need to go around by car so much and saves this money. Societies that don't invest into urban and intercity rail essentially force their citizens to waste lots of money for transportation.

In the USA people are forced to use cars for everything because there is no other choice (maybe excluding NY city), while in Europe people can choose: Those that prefer to go by cars can do so, and those that prefer to save money and use the public transport can just as well do that and won't loose much at all.

So here is my case against dropping the national intercity service from Amtrak: USA should do exactly the opposite, invest heavily to allow everyone to go everywhere quickly in public transport. It simply makes economic sense to do so.
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