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View Poll Results: Should the US build or improve it's HSR network?
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Old December 6th, 2013, 03:12 AM   #4441
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Just an idea, but what if we build higher speed rail (110mph) between many major cities throughout the country (St louis-Chicago-Milwaukee, Texas triangle area, Rust belt aream portland-seattle ). It would be cheaper than high speed rail, and introducing it would make trains more practical for mid distances (100-250 miles), increasing demand. Eventually if demand is high enough, we could end up having full hsr in a lot of paces throughout the country, with much more support to it.
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Old December 6th, 2013, 06:51 AM   #4442
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Just an idea, but what if we build higher speed rail (110mph) between many major cities throughout the country (St louis-Chicago-Milwaukee, Texas triangle area, Rust belt aream portland-seattle ). It would be cheaper than high speed rail, and introducing it would make trains more practical for mid distances (100-250 miles), increasing demand. Eventually if demand is high enough, we could end up having full hsr in a lot of paces throughout the country, with much more support to it.
That's all ready happening...(Chicagoland corridor[s], DC-Richmond-Charlotte-(Atlanta), etc. most of the stimulus funds went to improvement projects. unfortunately, it was peanuts...We won't get increased spending until after mid-terms. Something's gotta give. We can only hope that the Tea Party loosens their death-grip.
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Old December 6th, 2013, 08:47 AM   #4443
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Imagine, though, the amount of energy recouped by regenerative braking on a 1.5-mile long train.
Now there comes the good part: With a little effort you can feed that recouped power back into the grid. If your power grid can handle the varying power generated by a lot of wind mills, it should also be able to handle a regenerating train.

And to put things into perspective: On high speed lines in Europe the catenary is able to provide (or recoup!) 1500 A at 25 kV, which amounts to about 32 MW or 43500 HP. That should be enough to move massive trains.
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Old December 6th, 2013, 03:28 PM   #4444
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Just an idea, but what if we build higher speed rail (110mph) between many major cities throughout the country (St louis-Chicago-Milwaukee, Texas triangle area, Rust belt aream portland-seattle ). It would be cheaper than high speed rail, and introducing it would make trains more practical for mid distances (100-250 miles), increasing demand. Eventually if demand is high enough, we could end up having full hsr in a lot of paces throughout the country, with much more support to it.
Two major issues are:

- if terrain is flat enough, costs of high-speed rail are not much higher than medium-speed rail

- if terrain is seriously mountainous, you need tunnels and tunnels won't cost much more if you plan them for 200mph instead of 110mph

So the only reason to have ifnrastructure fit for a 110mph train is to use infrastructure and ROW that is already in place or build something new on areas that are hilly but not mountainous (Ozark Plateau, for instance).
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Old December 6th, 2013, 03:31 PM   #4445
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Now there comes the good part: With a little effort you can feed that recouped power back into the grid. If your power grid can handle the varying power generated by a lot of wind mills, it should also be able to handle a regenerating train.

And to put things into perspective: On high speed lines in Europe the catenary is able to provide (or recoup!) 1500 A at 25 kV, which amounts to about 32 MW or 43500 HP. That should be enough to move massive trains.
This is interesting, I've wondering about this...
How can these kinds of advancements affect operation costs?
I've also wondered if there's any movement to find better (more resilient) materials so as to lower maintenance costs.

I'm just curious if there's a movement to reduce costs per passenger mile (fares) as low as possible.
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Old December 6th, 2013, 06:10 PM   #4446
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To move even a heavy freight train across flat country you don't need that much power once it's up to speed. You do need power to accelerate or brake a train or to cross or descend a slope. So I would suggest they should consider dual-mode locomotives and electrify only those sections where you really need power. Considering that the traction system of a modern diesel locomotive isn't that different from an electric anymore that shouldn't be any problem, especially given the fact you don't need really to build anything light weight for freight locomotives. And once you've made a start you can always expand the number of electrified sections.
I agree with the idea of dual mode locos. This way the railroad co.s can electrify their routes in patches without having to worry about creating special maintainence facilities or depots for electric locos along the routes. It also eliminates the need for loco changes when trains move in or out of electrified sections But I think 'Suburbanist' has a good suggestion of UP and BNSF electrifying their transcontinental routes. The savings in the energy bill would be huge.
Additionally if the tracks are upgraded to medium speed i.e 110 mph capacity then many regional passenger train trips will become more competitive w.r.t highway travel.
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Old December 6th, 2013, 06:58 PM   #4447
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Two major issues are:

- if terrain is flat enough, costs of high-speed rail are not much higher than medium-speed rail

- if terrain is seriously mountainous, you need tunnels and tunnels won't cost much more if you plan them for 200mph instead of 110mph

So the only reason to have ifnrastructure fit for a 110mph train is to use infrastructure and ROW that is already in place or build something new on areas that are hilly but not mountainous (Ozark Plateau, for instance).
I'd imagine some/much of the issue also has to do with processing through developed areas and the increased costs of straightening track amidst higher-priced land. One sharp turn can thwart the speed capacity of a lot of track, but at what price to buy out urbanized areas for HSR vs. just higher speed rail?

ATL-to-DC is an abysmal run right now that could cut travel time by a 33%+ even without HSR capacity if they simply upgraded enough of the right portions of track. I would hope they follow through with that much even if HSR remains poltically and budgetarily out of reach for the moment.
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Old December 6th, 2013, 07:27 PM   #4448
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I agree with the idea of dual mode locos. This way the railroad co.s can electrify their routes in patches without having to worry about creating special maintainence facilities or depots for electric locos along the routes. It also eliminates the need for loco changes when trains move in or out of electrified sections But I think 'Suburbanist' has a good suggestion of UP and BNSF electrifying their transcontinental routes. The savings in the energy bill would be huge.
Additionally if the tracks are upgraded to medium speed i.e 110 mph capacity then many regional passenger train trips will become more competitive w.r.t highway travel.
110 mph doesn't goes well with freight traffic, nothing above 160 km\h do.
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Old December 7th, 2013, 05:40 AM   #4449
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110 mph doesn't goes well with freight traffic, nothing above 160 km\h do.
Just because trains cannot reach 110 mph immediately (due to traffic patterns) doesn't mean the tracks shouldn't be upgraded to 110 mph capacity. It then becomes a chicken and egg story. No faster trains because of the tracks don't support trains and since trains don't/can't run faster why upgrade the tracks. May be the traffic patterns on trunk lines can be modified to accommodate slots for 110 mph trains. Upgrading tracks to higher speed also implies improving signaling/communication systems and in some instances modifying layouts to eliminate bottlenecks.
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Old December 7th, 2013, 07:57 AM   #4450
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The solution for faster traffic with tighter curves and steeper grades is maglev. Maglev is awesome, pity it is still so expensive.
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Old December 7th, 2013, 11:14 AM   #4451
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Just because trains cannot reach 110 mph immediately (due to traffic patterns) doesn't mean the tracks shouldn't be upgraded to 110 mph capacity. It then becomes a chicken and egg story. No faster trains because of the tracks don't support trains and since trains don't/can't run faster why upgrade the tracks. May be the traffic patterns on trunk lines can be modified to accommodate slots for 110 mph trains. Upgrading tracks to higher speed also implies improving signaling/communication systems and in some instances modifying layouts to eliminate bottlenecks.
It's not only traffic problem... Heavy freight trains wear and tear track a lot, and higher speeds tracks must be kept in rather top-notch condition. So it's really good idea to separate traffic if you are aiming for more than 160 km/h... Not totally separate, just dramatically reduce the total tonnage of trains.
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Old December 7th, 2013, 11:52 AM   #4452
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Two major issues are:

- if terrain is flat enough, costs of high-speed rail are not much higher than medium-speed rail

- if terrain is seriously mountainous, you need tunnels and tunnels won't cost much more if you plan them for 200mph instead of 110mph
You can also use tilting trains, which can help a lot. German ICE trains run on extremely curvy tracks - ie, ride it from Berlin to Munich, yet they run at speeds up to 186 mph. There still needs to be some curve straightening, but perhaps less than what you think for 125 mph.
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Old December 7th, 2013, 12:39 PM   #4453
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I think if the US government could build the Interstate system, a stellar high speed rail system can also be built in a timely fashion. A few key people are benefiting from the U.S. having crappy public transportation infrastructure and the present transportation infrastructure that runs on burning oil. Whoever these people are need to be eliminated from the equation.

We have politicians visiting China to see their high speed trains and when they come back home they ain't doing shit about implementing HSR here. Just print the cash to make it happen, who's gonna really know? I'm happy that Texas raised their speed limits on rural highways from 70 to 75 mph but when I know I can get across the state at 217mph with a little effort it's really a useless gesture. I'll do my best to put some positive energy towards getting high speed rail in our country, right now it ain't easy.

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Old December 7th, 2013, 02:47 PM   #4454
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Well, in two states (FL and WI) governors refused federal money for high-speed projects (even if small ones) for petty political reasons (don't let the president score a policy victory). Until one of the two major parties stop making high-speed rail a rallying point that represents evil or communism, hardly anything will get built.
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Old December 7th, 2013, 03:46 PM   #4455
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I think if the US government could build the Interstate system, a stellar high speed rail system can also be built in a timely fashion. A few key people are benefiting from the U.S. having crappy public transportation infrastructure and the present transportation infrastructure that runs on burning oil. Whoever these people are need to be eliminated from the equation.

We have politicians visiting China to see their high speed trains and when they come back home they ain't doing shit about implementing HSR here. Just print the cash to make it happen, who's gonna really know? I'm happy that Texas raised their speed limits on rural highways from 70 to 75 mph but when I know I can get across the state at 217mph with a little effort it's really a useless gesture. I'll do my best to put some positive energy towards getting high speed rail in our country, right now it ain't easy.

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Because it isn't top down...you have to remember that there is a strong cohort in Congress, that has been given the mandate to cut "Reckless" spending while somehow not touching taxes...

There are people that would love increased investment in mass transit, yet they refuse to accept it will mean an increase in taxes. Or, rather, many of them have been gulled into thinking increased taxes will be bad for the economy. CAHSR isn't struggling because it's poorly planned, it's struggling because it doesn't have a broad enough base of support.

Part of having an adversarial political system is that you don't get what you want, even if it's really what should happen. We're just going to have to wait for people to want HSR, and at the moment, not enough of them do.
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Old December 7th, 2013, 05:37 PM   #4456
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Because it isn't top down...you have to remember that there is a strong cohort in Congress, that has been given the mandate to cut "Reckless" spending while somehow not touching taxes...

There are people that would love increased investment in mass transit, yet they refuse to accept it will mean an increase in taxes. Or, rather, many of them have been gulled into thinking increased taxes will be bad for the economy. CAHSR isn't struggling because it's poorly planned, it's struggling because it doesn't have a broad enough base of support.

Part of having an adversarial political system is that you don't get what you want, even if it's really what should happen. We're just going to have to wait for people to want HSR, and at the moment, not enough of them do.
Then Why don't we invest where people want it (instead of building Desert Xpresses, and Texas HSR concentrate on an area where high speed rail would be more practical for now), maybe if we upgrade the northeast, where there is already huge support for train travel, It could become the envy of other regions, and people might believe the ends justify the means.
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Old December 8th, 2013, 12:01 AM   #4457
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Well, in two states (FL and WI) governors refused federal money for high-speed projects (even if small ones) for petty political reasons (don't let the president score a policy victory). Until one of the two major parties stop making high-speed rail a rallying point that represents evil or communism, hardly anything will get built.
But sadly it's not gonna happen, because we need to get the government out of the way of the business.
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Old December 8th, 2013, 02:14 AM   #4458
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Then Why don't we invest where people want it (instead of building Desert Xpresses, and Texas HSR concentrate on an area where high speed rail would be more practical for now), maybe if we upgrade the northeast, where there is already huge support for train travel, It could become the envy of other regions, and people might believe the ends justify the means.
...because, whereas the projects in California and Texas have the benefit of being implemented within a single state, any projects in the NEC wouldn't. They're beginning to establish the framework to work together, regionally, but it isn't there yet.

Again, you have to remember that CA got the grant money they did because they pass Prop 1A (i.e. the Fed's matched the funds they'd earmarked to begin the project anyways).

For the NEC to have gotten those funds, you would have had to had the same thing happen in NY, MA, RI, CT, NJ, DE, MA, and DC (?) to do it.

Projects like CA's - and FL, WI, and Texas had they just taken the funds - were supposed to be the low hanging fruit, not the NEC.

We'd do well to just let the federal government take the burden of financing these projects, instead of trying to appease sympathies that States can somehow manage to do it alone, or with very little assistance. It's excruciating to watch.
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Old December 8th, 2013, 04:18 PM   #4459
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AAF is not high speed rail. Even if they do achieve the average speed they're proposing they'll barely manage to equal the Acela Express, and that barely qualifies as high speed rail. But delivering a 77mph average speed with a MAS of 110mph on some portion of the line, 79mph on the rest all while making intermediate stops with diesel push-pull sets on existing track is virtually impossible. It would make for perhaps the largest ratio of average speed to maximum allowable speed of any non-dedicated HSL in the world, including the Hamburg-Berlin ABS. Even New Jersey Transit's Trenton express commuter trains barely manage to crack 60mph average speed while running in excess of 100mph over much of their route.

Claiming it's okay that Florida HSR was killed and replaced with AAF is exactly the same thing as having a major international airport project being killed and replaced by a privately run general aviation airport with a 2000 foot runway. The latter is never going to be nearly as useful or as beneficial as the former. And FEC has already applied to the FRA for railroad infrastructure loans for the upgrades, new track, and rolling stock. It's not nearly the Atlas Shrugged fantasy you make it out to be.
AAF will only have a MAS of 79 mph for 60 miles (between West Palm and Miami). The 140 mile section between West Palm and Cocoa will be 110 mph, and the final 40 mile section between Cocoa and Orlando will be grade seperate 125 mph. Also, AAF will be running non-stop for the 180 miles between West Palm and Orlando.

I'm also willing to bet that AAF will run the original FHSR route between Orlando and Tampa at 125 mph. It's not 185 mph, but it really doesn't matter when the distance between the two cities is 90 miles.

Also, because of the improvements to the FEC track that AAF will require, we'll likely see Tri-Rail service on the FEC within the next 5 or 6 years. Amtrak service is starting to look like a pretty good possibility too. It's really shaping up to be a good public-private partnership with the FEC and Florida.
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Old December 9th, 2013, 08:50 AM   #4460
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You can also use tilting trains, which can help a lot. German ICE trains run on extremely curvy tracks - ie, ride it from Berlin to Munich, yet they run at speeds up to 186 mph. There still needs to be some curve straightening, but perhaps less than what you think for 125 mph.
Sorry to disapoint you, but the ICE-T was only designed for 143 mph.
You have to make a distinction between the tilting technologies in use. Train using pendolino style tilting can tilt up to 8 degrees, the fastest example currently in use (as far as I know) is the New Pendolino at 155 mph service speed.
If you settle at 2 degrees tilt you can use the suspension, for instance the Shinkansen N700/N700a at 186 mph service speed.
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