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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 April 18th, 2009, 12:51 AM   #501
FM 2258
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I think the U.S. should just focus on getting a Japanese style high speed train going from Washington D.C. to Boston through Philadephia, New York, New Haven and Providence.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 04:49 AM   #502
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I agree, first things first. Boswash, done, operational, whatever at 350kmh.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 05:46 AM   #503
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFish View Post
What is pathetic is that someone above's hero Mr Obama has to borrow the 8 billion from the Chinese in the first place. The US doesn't have the money for a giant far reaching dive into this right now. If this is to be done at all it should start with the NE corridor and see how it goes with that one route. Once there is a public buy in then expand it but for now they should stick with the one area where there are passengers who will definetely ride it.


The US isn;t China and certainly isn't Europe. Americans are not rail riders, we've been trained since birth to get in that car and drive, and when the trip is too far you take a plane. Changing that won;t happen overnight and you can't force it simply buy building the trains. The US has a bunch of open spaces and we like to drive the cars. Rail travel isn't really even in the picture except between Boston and Washington DC where traffic and air congestion make it a viable and attractive alternative. HSR in that corridor is a great idea IMO. It will ease congestion on the roads and air in that corridor. Don't get me wrong, I am not against this in principle, but I am against it in areas where the end result will likely be two trains daily filled to 10% capacity. I don't agree with building it just to build it. To me that's a terrible investment of public funds.
Once again you demonstrate INCREDIBLE ignorance when it comes to rail transit in the United States. Amtrak trains are not filled to 10% capacity. Ridership on all of the lines has been going UP for several years now. The trains in California and between Chicago and Milwaukee are jammed full multiple times per day in addition to the NEC line.

And the construction of huge new road systems in the U.S. was the quintessential "build it and they will come" project.

Does your view of American history begin in the 1960s? America had the best passenger rail network IN THE WORLD until the government spent hundreds of billions to construct interstate highways and airports. Tell the people of New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia that there is no appetite for rail transit. Tell that to all of the cities investing in light rail systems (Portland, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle, and Charlotte).
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Old April 18th, 2009, 07:35 PM   #504
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I can see a High Speed Rail working in the Pacific north west:

Vancouver (2.1m) - 0km
Seattle /Tacoma (3.2m) - 200km
Portland (2.1m) - 430m
Salem (0.38m) - 500km
Eugene (0.34m) - 600km

This link could largely follow interstate 5, which runs through all cities. The total trip would take about 3 hours... Sounds good! I think this is one of the corridors in the USA (and Canada) that's definately dense enough for a high speed rail (total population of about 9 million people), and it would be relatively easy to build such a rail line here I think.

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Old April 18th, 2009, 10:42 PM   #505
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YES, NW and Canada should show the rest(dneks )
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Old April 18th, 2009, 10:46 PM   #506
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the dallas-houston route is obvious. two very large populations centers, within the perfect distance for rail travel, with lots of existing travel between the two. yet it's not on the board. there are many vested interests AGAINST successful rail expansion. the airlines certainly wouldn't appreciate having many of their most profitable routes usurped.

those 8 billion dollars are only the beginning of what's needed. critics can complain that it's expensive, but the aggregate costs of functioning public transit are still much lower than that of our current petroleum burning system.
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Old April 19th, 2009, 12:37 AM   #507
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Ok guys, yes high speed rail awareness is growing in the country, and its about time! However, the amount of money required to bring the existing rail corridors up to par with those seen in Europe, Japan, and Korea will probably soak up a chunk of change that the government will definitely not be interested in spending!! If Obama's administration wants to be proactive about high speed rail, lets first bring the Acela up to its full potential of actual high speed rail service to the Northeast! That means wiping out Metro-North from its ownership of rails from New Haven, Connecticut to New Rochelle, New York...ridding the leftover grade crossings...upgrading the rails, station facilities, catenary infrastructure, and finally...BRINGING THE TRAINS THROUGH WORLD CLASS RAILROAD STATIONS!!
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Old April 19th, 2009, 02:29 AM   #508
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I agree, the system would need 100s of billions of dollars. Yet it's not fair to compare the US to Europe or, especially, China. The US is a very car centric country, we already have a transportation system in place here. In China's case they are essentially building their infrastructure from scratch. We already have a system in place here, it doesn’t make sense to pay massive amounts of money just for high speed rail. Much of the funding for roads comes from a state's (or city’s) pocket in the US. And the good majority of them have no experience with high-speed rail. California is the first state to really dive into this, it's a huge change.
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Old April 19th, 2009, 06:34 AM   #509
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Onn View Post
I agree, the system would need 100s of billions of dollars. Yet it's not fair to compare the US to Europe or, especially, China. The US is a very car centric country, we already have a transportation system in place here. In China's case they are essentially building their infrastructure from scratch. We already have a system in place here, it doesn’t make sense to pay massive amounts of money just for high speed rail. Much of the funding for roads comes from a state's (or city’s) pocket in the US. And the good majority of them have no experience with high-speed rail. California is the first state to really dive into this, it's a huge change.
America had the best rail transportation network in the world until the 1960s when it spent billions of dollars to build new roads and airports FROM SCRATCH.

So spare me this nonsense about America not having familiarity with rail.

America made the choice fifty years ago to be autocentric and spent gobs of money toward that end. There is no reason why it can't do the same for high speed rail.

I don't understand your argument about about America not having experience with high speed rail as a reason not to invest in it. Using that same argument, the U.S. should never have built the interstate highway system because it had no experience building limited access roads. Operating HSR isn't that different from operating conventional rail.

All infrastructure is built from scratch in one way or another.
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Last edited by hoosier; April 19th, 2009 at 06:41 AM.
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Old April 19th, 2009, 08:59 AM   #510
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Yeah, the "lack of experience" argument does ring hollow. - Especially considering that one of the less publicised reasons for the US Civil War (or, rather, the attempted seccession of the South) was the fact that the southerners were sick and tired of their taxes going into lavish federal spending on infrastructure in the North. In fact, the industrialisation of the Rust Belt would never have taken place without massive government investment in railways.

Last edited by hans280; April 19th, 2009 at 01:19 PM.
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Old April 19th, 2009, 06:03 PM   #511
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We often hear people saying that the US is too large and its population density too low to make an HSR network viable.

Here's a map showing both Eastern US and Western Europe at the same scale. In red, you can see European HSR network. As you can see, a system as extensive as the one currently existing in Europe would be already far enough to serve most of US HSR needs.




In looking at that map, I realized how much we actually underestimate European distances compared to US distances. For instance, we imagine Boston and Miami to be incredibly far away, but Boston is actually closer to Miami than Hamburg is to Sevilla ! Both European cities being actually served with high speed rail...

I think that if we don't realize that European distances aren't that small, it's because of two major problems: First, half of the US is empty (all the Rockies and desert states) and can thus be ignored here. Second, Europe has a very weird shape with tons of islands and peninsulas. As such, there are tons of water in Europe (North sea, Med sea, Adriatic sea, Baltic sea), which are of course not counted in land area but which don't put Helsinki, Palermo or Edinburgh any closer.
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Old April 19th, 2009, 09:03 PM   #512
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I'll believe it when I see it.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 12:49 AM   #513
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metropolitan View Post
For instance, we imagine Boston and Miami to be incredibly far away, but Boston is actually closer to Miami than Hamburg is to Sevilla ! Both European cities being actually served with high speed rail...
Hamburg to Sevilla - that's what, 33 hours in total on at least 5 trains? Most people would fly that route.

HSR becomes viable, competitive and a very attractive form of transport when journey times are 2-3 hours city centre to city centre. For example, whilst it's still much quicker to fly to Brussels from London, the train wins on total journey time (1h50mins) because there's no need to get to the airport, check-in, wait for your flight, go through security, inevitable delays etc. Hamburg to Sevilla however - 2 hours versus 33 hours... hmmmm.

For HSR to work in Eastern US, the vision needs to be realistic, and the benefits need to be communicated properly.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 12:58 AM   #514
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They need to build a totally new rail line in BosWash if they want to make HSR totally viable. The current Northeast Corridor railroad is woefully out of date and can't take any more service on it. The rails stunt Acela's potential speed times in many areas. That will cost a lot more than $8 billion though, because of purchasing of right-of-way and the like. Some of the land that this railroad would go through would be heavily expensive however.

I suppose this would be cheaper in most other areas in the US (maybe CA is in the same issue though), but a lot of other places don't have the already existing demand that is present in BosWash. If REAL HSR is actually a reality in the US, it needs to be done there first.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 01:02 AM   #515
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metropolitan View Post
We often hear people saying that the US is too large and its population density too low to make an HSR network viable.
Yes, as you (and others) have shown here, that's a weak excuse. Nobody that is in favor of HSR is thinking of making a nationwide coast-to-coast network that goes through the middle of nowhere. Many parts of the Eastern US have relatively dense population levels, and that's where regional networks can work well.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 01:34 AM   #516
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoosier View Post
America had the best rail transportation network in the world until the 1960s when it spent billions of dollars to build new roads and airports FROM SCRATCH.

So spare me this nonsense about America not having familiarity with rail.

America made the choice fifty years ago to be autocentric and spent gobs of money toward that end. There is no reason why it can't do the same for high speed rail.

I don't understand your argument about about America not having experience with high speed rail as a reason not to invest in it. Using that same argument, the U.S. should never have built the interstate highway system because it had no experience building limited access roads. Operating HSR isn't that different from operating conventional rail.

All infrastructure is built from scratch in one way or another.
50 years ago?? You have to be kidding me! Since when are any of the people that worked on the railroad 50 years ago still on the job? And since when were those rails electrified, with trains traveling at 150mph? State's don't have that kind of experience, look how long it's taken California to even get to a planning stage! They started their committee to look into high-speed rail in the 1990s! And that was when things were good! How long do you think it's going to take an ordinary state to get together such a proposal? Much of the money for roads comes from cities and states, which are almost all cash-strapped right now.

Ummm expect we don't have goo gobs of money to spend anymore. Did the 10 trillion+ budget deficit just vanish or something? It could be 50 years before the federal government has sufficient money to give for high-speed rail! Furthermore, it doesn’t make any sense to go out of our way to build one when we already have perfectly capable system in place. This isn't 1960, you’re going to have to have some patience if you want rail to make a comback. We don't even have companies to build high-speed rail components and trains in the US! I don't know what idiot decided to throwaway rail travel. But that rail sure wasn't high-speed, either. There hasn't been a major rail project in the US in decades. And high-speed rail has to have it's own system, or it doesn’t work. Just like Amtrack is finding out with Acela.

The interstate highway system was originally built to shuttle around the military. If the government wants to take money out of the defense budget to a build a national electric rail network, with the intention to shuttle the troops around the country, then fine. The Pentagon has plenty of money.

Last edited by Onn; April 20th, 2009 at 01:52 AM.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 01:38 AM   #517
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarflonlad View Post
Hamburg to Sevilla - that's what, 33 hours in total on at least 5 trains? Most people would fly that route.
Don't be silly, no one pretends that 2,000 km trips are adapted to HSR. Especially that there's no service connecting Sevilla to Hamburg anyway!

Quote:
HSR becomes viable, competitive and a very attractive form of transport when journey times are 2-3 hours city centre to city centre. For example, whilst it's still much quicker to fly to Brussels from London, the train wins on total journey time (1h50mins) because there's no need to get to the airport, check-in, wait for your flight, go through security, inevitable delays etc. Hamburg to Sevilla however - 2 hours versus 33 hours... hmmmm.
Wait. I've never told that HSR was made to connect Hamburg to Sevilla, only that both are served by HSR lines! There's not even direct connections between France and Spain yet, and if that would be the case, it would be to connect Lyon or Marseille to Barcelona, not Brussels to Sevilla.

Anyway, indeed HSR is efficient to serve distance in a radius of about 750 km (maybe 1,000km), and that's exactly to serve that kind of distances that the Western European network has been built. I don't see any reason for things to be different in the US, especially that, as opposed to what some people assume, distances involved are very similar in both Western Europe and Eastern US.

Quote:
For HSR to work in Eastern US, the vision needs to be realistic, and the benefits need to be communicated properly.
That's another issue. The big problem of the unveiled plan is that it talks about converting existing lines, whereas HSR is really efficient only in creating brand new lines specifically dedicated to high speed. That's the only way to reach commercial service speed of 350 kph (220 mph).

Indeed, spending those 8 billion dollars to create a real HSR where trains are able to reach that commercial speed from Boston to Washington DC would be probably smarter than to convert lines all across the country.

However, in the long term, connecting the whole East Coast down to Miami do makes sense. Of course, the point would not be to go from Boston to Miami by train but to propose intermediate connections. Exactly like it's the case in Europe between AVE, TGV and ICE.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 01:48 AM   #518
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double post.

Last edited by Metropolitan; April 21st, 2009 at 07:10 AM.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 01:56 AM   #519
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triple post.

Last edited by Metropolitan; April 21st, 2009 at 07:12 AM.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 01:34 PM   #520
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1. those suggesting that HSR cannot survive because of the car and the lack of PT are partly right. but the example of routes such as: Paris-Marseilles (3hrs), Madrid-Barcelona (2hrs), Tokyo-Hakata (5?hrs) suggest that when you have two distant points with several million people, then 300+ kph HSR _can and does_ compete with both the car and the plane.
I would say HSR can compete with the car on journeys longer than 200 km and compete with the planes on journeys shorter than 1500 kms (for example the ski-trains from mid-england to the alps)

2. in general, even without considering HSR US cities desperately need better PT. building HSR would only create better synergy for both

3. in cities like LA or PHX, trains can be better than planes, because they can stop _several times_ inside the city. if the train is approaching from east, it can stop at least 3-6 times inside LA before it reaches the west of the city. this means more people can board it before it accelerates to the maximum speed. same at the other end in PHX

4. both coasts, florida, texas and the mid-west have the potential for HSR, either because of the population density or because of the layout of the (big) settlements
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