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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 September 1st, 2012, 01:52 PM   #3501
Silver Swordsman
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You know, I actually find it funny that this thread was a hubbub of activity when high speed rail was getting shredded to bits by the news, and now when the decision's finalized, it's all dead and quiet in here.

*lol.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 06:08 AM   #3502
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What I find to be the biggest problem other than economy is the government's stupidity. If the United States wants world class public transportation, little individual HSR lines by state is silly and a waste of money. Whenever this endeavor is undertaken, the first line should be NYC to Chicago. Of course, that will happen if and when the economy improves. Also, it can only be done by large corporations with assurrance given by the government, akin to how the original railroads were.

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Old September 2nd, 2012, 12:34 PM   #3503
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RegentHouse View Post
What I find to be the biggest problem other than economy is the government's stupidity. If the United States wants world class public transportation, little individual HSR lines by state is silly and a waste of money. Whenever this endeavor is undertaken, the first line should be NYC to Chicago. Of course, that will happen if and when the economy improves. Also, it can only be done by large corporations with assurrance given by the government, akin to how the original railroads were.
It's not about what the US Government wants, it is about what the people want and what they are willing to pay for and they do not want it. Corporations won't make money on it even using the current China model and here is the proof:

Costs are exploding in the CA HSR endeavor just as predicted, and this higher cost means it makes no sense as California has to issue so much new debt that its residents must pay for it in higher taxes.

From HuffPo:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/0...n_1566807.html

Quote:
California High Speed Rail Doesn't Have The Support Of Majority Of Californians: Poll
From Sacramento Mercury News:
Quote:
High-speed rail price tag soars again, this time on pace to ...
Cost for full project on pace to surpass $60 billion, nearly twice what voters approved.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RegentHouse View Post
NYC to Chicago
Well, I have driven to Chicago, crossing the state of Indiana in under 2 hours by car. I have driven across North America 6 times, lived in LA and Chicago and New York and DC, and what you want is fiction, fantasy, not reality based. People do NOT drive where you think those lines should be built. They drive all over, not just along those major megacities and where a HSR route would be built.

Again and again you all assume that USA megacities have the traffic where you believe and think and want it to be, but it's just not there. You keep looking at HSR in other nations and assuming the same behaviour in the USA and North America, and this assumption is a grievous error.

If the USA had the cash to follow the China model, they could put in HSR NYC to Chicago, .073˘ per km. That's heavily subsidised in China, hundred's of billlions (USD equiv) in money spent.

That's a great theoretical idea, except for that pesky thing called 'reality'.

The cost of a flight 1149km from NYC to Chicago is from $78 to $220 USD one way [Kayak.com, all airports]. That's 0.068 ˘ per km for the bargain fare, already cheaper than the currently heavily subsidised CRH fare in China, using the current forex cross of 6.35 CNY to USD.

The cost to build per km in China is from 30m Yuan to 200m Yuan per km.

$4.72 to $31.49 million USD per km with most CRH lines around 90m Yuan or $14.17 million USD per km.

That's an impossible figure to attain a buildout in the USA and China's economy is 80% of the USA's.

Absolutely impossible and to claim otherwise is delusional.

In the USA Cali HSR is already at 68Bn and that figure will triple by the time it is built.

Air distance is 600km, the HSR line will be 1300km, the estimated cost began at $35bn, now it is at $68 to $98bn and exploding higher as critics said it would. The first segment will be about 300km.

This is a cost of anything from $116 million USD km to $75 million USD per km, and the price tag is assured to double or triple.

So in the USA you have HSR that costs 10X or more to build per km, USA airfares per km that are already HALF of current Chinese airfares and less than the currently heavily subsidised CRH rail fares, and an area 3 times to cover as most people in China live in the eastern third of the nation where the CRH is and in the USA they are spread from coast to coast.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 01:29 PM   #3504
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To China Hand:

Despite your ravings I'm sure HSR would work well in certain areas of US. Absolutely no reason to think that people wouldn't use it if it took twice as fast as driving and similar price as flying. Do you really think people in Europe travel mostly from one city center to another? Our airlines tend to be cheaper than yours as well. And before you accuse me of not knowing what I'm talking about - I have lived there for 8 years and now the country reasonably well.

What I do have trouble understanding is why the construction costs in California are so abnormally high. Never mind China with it's cheap labor - it's also several times more expensive per km as in Western Europe where labor costs are similar...
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 01:36 PM   #3505
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RegentHouse View Post
What I find to be the biggest problem other than economy is the government's stupidity. If the United States wants world class public transportation, little individual HSR lines by state is silly and a waste of money. Whenever this endeavor is undertaken, the first line should be NYC to Chicago. Of course, that will happen if and when the economy improves. Also, it can only be done by large corporations with assurrance given by the government, akin to how the original railroads were.
Well, building smaller HSR systems, showing the public the benefits of HSR and getting support for connection lines seems to be good idea.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 02:34 PM   #3506
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Originally Posted by Sunfuns View Post
To China Hand:

Despite your ravings I'm sure HSR would work well in certain areas of US.
If you wish to ignore political reality, fiscal reality and the will of the people, then yes it would work well.

I must conclude that most of you are delusional, that facts and money and what people want is irrelevant. That you think it is best, therefore it must be so.

You all seem incapable of understanding the differences between Europe and the USA with regards to commute length and where people travel and the density of the USA vs. Europe.

Quote:
Absolutely no reason to think that people wouldn't use it if it took t/wice as fast as driving and similar price as flying. Do you really think people in Europe travel mostly from one city center to another?
You are wrong. People will not and do not use rail in the USA as you believe they do, would and should. Southern California has a non-HSR for Los Angeles, and a subway. Few use it because it does not take people to where they need to go. The freeways are still jammed with people one to a car, because autos are still cheaper, faster, save time, save money and more convenient. Autos also allow personal freedom and mobility, two concepts essential to Americans.

Even when presented with facts, finances and a map of Europe superimposed upon North America, you still refuse to comprehend.

Europe and the Western Hemisphere are different. The same solutions do not apply. Why is this so difficult to comprehend?

I have never met a non-North American who understands how large the USA or Western Hemisphere is and what that means on so many levels.

This thread has merely confirmed this observation.

One last anecdote:
I worked with a guy who had a commute before 7am that was wider than the nation of Denmark (100+kms). Then after he arrived at the office he drove a distance 60% the length of Denmark to the job site. 175 kms more.

All before 9am. All just for his one way, morning commute to the job site.
Then he had to go back home at night. That was a drive of about 200km as he could drive another, more direct route and did not have to go to the office.

He had many others on the road doing the same commute with him.

As I wrote, you simply do not seem capable of understanding.

Quote:
What I do have trouble understanding is why the construction costs in California are so abnormally high.
It's called reality.

Labour is more expensive in the USA and labour unions have total control of projects like this across the USA. They use them as ways to get billions from the taxpayer via government programs, and use them to enrich themselves and their members at very very high labour rates. $50 to $75 per hour USD for common construction labour.

Since this dynamic will never change because the unions in the USA have all political parties bought, paid for, and on their side, the costs will never drop and thus HSR is not possible in the USA.

Politicians vote for union projects that send billions to unions.
Unions donated millions to politicians.
Polticians then vote for union projects and on and on...

Quote:
Well, building smaller HSR systems, showing the public the benefits of HSR and getting support for connection lines seems to be good idea.
Most Americans don't want someone to spend their money by force [taxes] to show them something that they should like and want, when they do not like it nor want it.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 03:33 PM   #3507
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Just because you don't want them doesn't mean all Americans (or even most) don't want them. In several states people voted in referendums that they do want it. Of course they would prefer not to pay for it (or any infrastructure really)...

As for union labor it's for you all to change it. France, for example, is heavily unionized and still achieves reasonable construction costs for their HSR lines (ca 20 million euros per km on flat land).

You just build just one puny HSR and then we can discuss whether people use it or not! Otherwise it's all way too subjective. Entire US is not like Los Angeles. I know many well off people who live in NYC and use trains/subway extensively. Some don't even have their own cars.

P.S. Have you actually lived in Europe? You don't seem to understand conditions here very well...
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 04:33 PM   #3508
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Building a trans-continental HSR line would be ludicrous**, but building shorter intercity lines is sensible, and has much precedent. I think the assumption that the population is very widely dispersed is based upon the evaluation of urban centers, which I guess does make sense, but ignores the broader picture.

Most of the US population lives in cities that are smaller than 500,000 or so. For example, if you've ever look at a list of the top 10 cities by population, you'll see NYC at about 8 million, and next city, LA, is a distant second at 3,792,621.*

However, lets explore this perception more fully. If you were to tally the population of the top 10 cities, it would be approximately 24,513,008 people.* That means that 7.9% of the total population of 308,745,538* lives in one of the top 10 urban areas. But to further illustrate what I am getting at, let's include the top 20: 32,020,252.* You'll see that we've only moved slightly to capture 10% of the total population (I could continue and include the top 30, but I think you get the point).

What is a much more telling figure, is the share of the population residing in California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, and New York (the top 5 states by population - a total of 113,409,561 people*). This is 37% of the population that live in one of these five states. If you begin adding the Midwestern states (Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, ect you will easily break 50%) In addition, 13 of the top 20 cities (65%) are within these five states


Most of the population lives east of the Mississppi

While it is true that there aren't a huge cluster of large urban centers (as we see EU and much of Asia), the basic model of HSR - a means to connect large urban centers - is what we should most be concerned with.

If you honestly think EVERY city is going to be connected by 380km/h trains, you're in for disappointment. But they don't need to be, a significant portion of the population lives near these major urban areas. The key in my mind, is to focus on intra-state lines feeding traffic into large urban centers in the short term and inter-state (i.e. HSR lines) lines connecting these large urban centers in the long term.

*2010 Census

**in the near future
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 04:36 PM   #3509
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Originally Posted by Sunfuns View Post
Just because you don't want them doesn't mean all Americans (or even most) don't want them. In several states people voted in referendums that they do want it. Of course they would prefer not to pay for it (or any infrastructure really)...
This isn't my opinion alone. Most Americans do not want this.

Perhaps you should revisit those who voted for it in California.
They are now not in favour, due to massively rising costs.

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun...-poll-20120604

Quote:
Voters have turned against California bullet train, poll shows
A strong majority of voters is against the bullet train project just as Gov. Brown is pressuring the Legislature to green-light the start of construction, a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll finds.
June 02, 2012|By Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times
http://reason.com/blog/2012/06/29/cr...a-state-senate

Quote:
Cracks Appear in California State Senate as High-Speed Rail Vote Approaches Station
In California the increasing costs are having voters change their minds once they see the real cost, the trebling from $35Bn to $98Bn and beyond to who knows how much. That's 500bn to 1000bn Yuan. For just one line. In one state.

Building a USA large scale network would cost trillions in USD, and there simply is not enough money on the planet to buy USA debt to fund such a program.

But why look at reality or how to pay for it? Clearly most here do not care about such trivialities.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 04:49 PM   #3510
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How about looking for ways to build it in line with costs and methods well established elsewhere instead of trying to come up with some golden plated system? 20-30 Bn $ is all it should take to build LA-San Francisco. Not that it's necessarily the best place to start...

And by the way I agree with Californian voters - for 95 Bn it's probably not worth it any more.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 04:51 PM   #3511
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I hope china hand had the brains to actually look ar the poll and see the overwhelming yes majourity. No matter what the costs are, we need light and highspeed rail to promote density and end the dammed sprawl. This is 2012 for christs sake!!!

Screw the economics I WANT A BULLET TRAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 05:13 PM   #3512
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Originally Posted by China Hand View Post
This isn't my opinion alone. Most Americans do not want this.

Perhaps you should revisit those who voted for it in California.
They are now not in favour, due to massively rising costs.

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun...-poll-20120604

http://reason.com/blog/2012/06/29/cr...a-state-senate

In California the increasing costs are having voters change their minds once they see the real cost, the trebling from $35Bn to $98Bn and beyond to who knows how much. That's 500bn to 1000bn Yuan. For just one line. In one state.

Building a USA large scale network would cost trillions in USD, and there simply is not enough money on the planet to buy USA debt to fund such a program.

But why look at reality or how to pay for it? Clearly most here do not care about such trivialities.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunfuns View Post
How about looking for ways to build it in line with costs and methods well established elsewhere instead of trying to come up with some golden plated system? 20-30 Bn $ is all it should take to build LA-San Francisco. Not that it's necessarily the best place to start...

And by the way I agree with Californian voters - for 95 Bn it's probably not worth it any more.

But isn't there a trade off, you think? (if it creates the number of jobs they're saying it will)

Also, I think the polls are indicating dissatisfaction with the trajectory of the project rather than the general idea of it; as they should, considering they're footing the bill. I have since fallen out of favor with the CAHSR initiative. It just seems they're not being very diligent in trying to minimize costs. I've also yet to find any justification for the increase in the projected costs (I assume it's terrain related/having to lay dedicated track).
However, the idea of 90bn in costs over 15 years isn't nearly as worrying as estimated fares being $120 one-way....I find that troubling, and if that's the case, I'm not convinced it will capture much of the air traffic on that route, which is the entire basis of justifying it as a viable alternative.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 05:19 PM   #3513
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The key in my mind, is to focus on intra-state lines feeding traffic into large urban centers in the short term and inter-state (i.e. HSR lines) lines connecting these large urban centers in the long term.
I have repeatedly posted support for why this argument is flawed.

You believe that there is a large amount of traffic from one large urban center to another that can be served by HSR and the fact is that most drivers on large USA Interstates use them as a commuter road.

Once someone gets to Los Angeles from Fresno, they go to one of hundreds of destinations and many of these are 100 miles in all directions. NSE and W.

Let's work a scenario.

Someone needs to get from Fresno to Canoga Park.

They take the HSR at 300kph from Fresno to San Fernando in the SF Valley.
The drive would take 212 miles, 3 h 37 minutes by Google Maps and directions. I can tell you from personal experience that someone driving that route would be traveling at 80 to 90 mph, 130 kph, in the fast lane. I have personally done this myself. So instead of 3 h 37m it is closer to 2h 45m. But let's give the HSR a head start and use the longer time. So that's from your door in Fresno to parking the car at Canoga Park High School. 3h 37m.

20 mpg for your truck, 10.5 gallons of fuel, $4.00 a gallon, around $42 USD.

3h 37M
$42 USD

Now let's do this by train.

You leave your front door and walk 5 minutes to a bus and take it to the train. 15 minutes later you are at the station. Assuming, and this is a big 'if' that you get there and spend only 5 minutes to buy a ticket, step on the platform and get the next train the instant it arrives, you only took 25 minutes your front door to the HSR station.

It is 200 miles, 322km to San Fernando. At 300 kph and an avg speed of 255kph (in China avg speed is usually 85% of top speed). you will arrive in 1h 16m. So far so good. 1h 41m time used.

Now you must take a bus from SF to Canoga Park. You *could* take a taxi, but taxi's in Los Angeles are very very expensive and the one taxi ride could easily cost you $100 USD.

Again, from personal experience living in Los Angeles and driving there, taking the bus there, taking a taxi there, driving to the airports there, taking the Metrolink and subway and public transportation, this trip will be at LEAST one hour if not much much longer as the buses are infrequent with poor coverage. The good part is that the bus will cost you $2 at most.

Let's say 1h 15 minutes, but I know, as fact, that there are NO buses going E to W across the valley to Canoga Park from the town of San Fernando and you will have to transfer and THAT will add up to 1 hour to the trip.

But I will be easy on HSR. 1h 15m.

Total time is now 1h 16m (the actual train trip), 25 getting to the station and 1h 15 minutes getting from the HSR station nearest Canoga Park to your destination.

Total time:
2h 56minutes.
Cost at 7˘ per km is $22.54

But, again from personal experience, that price point is unrealistic. Current Metrolink fares are 33 miles or 53 kms and $9.25 from Union Station to Chatsworth, the station nearest.

That is a cost per km of 17.5˘ for slow rail.

It is thus likely that the ticket cost from Fresno will be closer to $55 USD or more at 17.5˘ per km.

If posting such well-researched arguments makes me an 'anti-rail biggot' (sic) as sekelsenmat posted in another thread, then perhaps you all should ask if your opinions are based upon facts and reality, or something else.

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!?!? When did Skyscraper city got dominated by anti-rail biggots?
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 05:39 PM   #3514
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How about this argument - you build a dedicated line like this from NYC to Washington DC with stops in Philadelphia and Baltimore. That's about 230 miles so assuming a conservative 140 mph average it would take about 1h 40 min (maybe a bit faster for a non stop express). A drive from downtown to downtown is at least 4 h + I wouldn't really advise driving in Manhattan. Both cities have excellent subways and suburban train/bus systems and there are at least 20 million people living along this corridor. Still don't think folks would use such a system? I bet folks not only would use it a lot, but there could be 20 trains a day on the route and it would be highly profitable.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 05:40 PM   #3515
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I have repeatedly posted support for why this argument is flawed.

You believe that there is a large amount of traffic from one large urban center to another that can be served by HSR and the fact is that most drivers on large USA Interstates use them as a commuter road.
Not quite. I understand your point and agree. This is why I think those kinds of lines (inter-city HSR) should occur only after constructing initial links between cities that constitute the greater share of regional air traffic (obviously the NE, Chicago/Great Lakes region, etc).*

I think we're talking about 2 different things though. To be clear, I was advocating for the connection of cities like SF-LA, Houston-Dallas, etc before attempting connections like LA-Chicago. I think you are talking about the first scenario in general not being favorable?

Also, I didn't know they were only constructing one station in LA. Isn't that odd?

Anyways, I don't think it's constructive to reduce the conversation down to naysayers vs. the-people-who-want-it-no-matter-what. Overwhelmingly, there's a vast difference in personal preferences and anecdotes that can be offered as to why such a system is/isn't viable. I think the most important point, however, is that this project is ill-managed. Which you have pointed out, and I'm glad you did. I mean, I knew things were rocky, but I didn't know they were this "uncertain."I'm feeling much more pessimistic now about the CAHSR... I understand why they're starting in the central valley, but why not just begin the system as two "commuter lines" from opposite ends and join them later (i.e. Merced-SF and Bakersfield-LA)? Or even a San Diego-LA segment. Honestly, I think we need to learn to crawl before we even try to run. If we learn anything from this going forward, it should be that incremental development is much more favorable.

Parsons Brinckerhoff seems to have a long history of significant cost overruns. Also, it's pretty clear the "blended approach" is not the way to go....



*there was a very useful map illustrating the volume of regional air-traffic but I can't find it.

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Old September 2nd, 2012, 06:27 PM   #3516
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Once someone gets to Los Angeles from Fresno, they go to one of hundreds of destinations and many of these are 100 miles in all directions. NSE and W.

This is the same in Europe. Yet they have HSR. There's an underlying network of other forms of public transportation to take you to/from stations and your destination.
The same would work when connecting US cities that have proper metro/lightrail/bus networks.

Your examples are all of people who are better off driving, but the truth is that for many people, every minute traveled by car is a minute wasted, while every minute on the train can be used to keep working. Of course this doesn't apply to construction workers, etc., but in Europe they also tend to drive more than office workers.

They're not so different, the US and Europe.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 06:35 PM   #3517
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If you wish to ignore political reality, fiscal reality and the will of the people, then yes it would work well.

I must conclude that most of you are delusional, that facts and money and what people want is irrelevant. That you think it is best, therefore it must be so.

You all seem incapable of understanding the differences between Europe and the USA with regards to commute length and where people travel and the density of the USA vs. Europe.
Umm, the Northeast USA will disagree with you.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 07:23 PM   #3518
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Originally Posted by China Hand View Post
If you wish to ignore political reality, fiscal reality and the will of the people, then yes it would work well.

I must conclude that most of you are delusional, that facts and money and what people want is irrelevant. That you think it is best, therefore it must be so.

You all seem incapable of understanding the differences between Europe and the USA with regards to commute length and where people travel and the density of the USA vs. Europe.

Most Americans don't want someone to spend their money by force [taxes] to show them something that they should like and want, when they do not like it nor want it.
Well, wile most of the USA aren't feasable for HSR, but there still areas such as Bay and North-East, in wich it feets perfectly...

Considering the will of people... Are you aware of prisoners dilema? It's a model for a lot of IRL process. Switching to car instead of means of mass. transit may be "win" for each individual at the moment, but in the long run it's "loose" to the entire society - and thus to every member of the society.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 07:32 PM   #3519
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Why arent people talking about HSR going from Boston- providence- NYC- phili- baltimore- DC-richmond- norfolk- thats a cash cow waiting to happen. The Northeast is much denser and where everybodytakes the train allready, not in the midwest or wherever.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 08:38 PM   #3520
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Originally Posted by CNB30 View Post
Why arent people talking about HSR going from Boston- providence- NYC- phili- baltimore- DC-richmond- norfolk- thats a cash cow waiting to happen. The Northeast is much denser and where everybodytakes the train allready, not in the midwest or wherever.
Amtrak is letting Parsons do all the talking without conducting its own analysis it seems. If their project manager is doing their job, I would start doing some value engineering by cutting out unecessary concrete and digging. Also, it might help given the long-term timeframe to establish some political cooperation to make this project even cheaper. I would rather continue Richmond down the Atlantic Coast to Miami via Atlanta in order to pick up a nice connection to the Piedmont region and continue to reduce air traffic out of the valuable slots of NYC and Reagan Airports.
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amtrak, desertxpress, fly california, high speed rail, northeast corridor, texas triangle, united states

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