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Old December 3rd, 2015, 01:40 PM   #6141
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Texan takes on high-speed rail heavyweights


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Deprived of facts and figures, Kyle Workman is often left to interpret signals sent by his opponents, who are committed to financing a high speed rail line from Dallas to Houston any way they can.

And no matter how they say it, Workman, president of Texans Against High Speed Rail, believes “any way they can” means building it on the backs of federal and state taxpayers and private property owners who would be forced to give up their land.

Take Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks just before Thanksgiving from the roof of the South Side lofts in the rapidly gentrifying Cedars neighborhood in Dallas.

“Folks, you don’t even know it yet, but you’re going to lead this country into an entirely new era of transportation,” Biden said.

In the usual gushing and uncritical way the legacy media covers high speed rail, the transportation blogger for the Dallas Morning News called Biden the highest-ranking official in America to christen the Texas Central Partners proposal a “watershed American project.”
http://watchdog.org/249622/high-speed-rail/
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Old December 3rd, 2015, 03:55 PM   #6142
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That was a painful read...lack of basic understanding of transport financing (both for roads and rail) as well as the very loose use of facts. The best quote:

“The point is the Dallas-to-Houston line makes no sense from an economic and transportation standpoint,” Workman says.

Of course, connecting the two largest cities in the state of Texas makes absolutely no sense...
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Old December 3rd, 2015, 07:22 PM   #6143
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Why isn't the corridor from Buffalo to NYC electrified? I've seen videos of regional trains in the NYC area that fly around like planes at over 150+ mph.
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Old December 4th, 2015, 04:15 AM   #6144
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because its a very long corridor that isn't super densely populated and runs through mountains on a curvy alignment.. There are plans to raise speeds on the corridor, but not electrify it, as its simply too long of a corridor with frequencies too infrequent to justify it. I believe the plan is to get 120mph diesel service on the Empire corridor.. but even that has a very high, multi billion dollar price tag.

Hopefully if it ever happens the Maple Leaf service will see service increase from more than once daily, and see actually reasonable travel times between Toronto and NYC.. its way too slow of a trip right now to make sense to take it.
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Old December 5th, 2015, 10:31 PM   #6145
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Originally Posted by Innsertnamehere View Post
because its a very long corridor that isn't super densely populated and runs through mountains on a curvy alignment.. There are plans to raise speeds on the corridor, but not electrify it, as its simply too long of a corridor with frequencies too infrequent to justify it. I believe the plan is to get 120mph diesel service on the Empire corridor.. but even that has a very high, multi billion dollar price tag.

Hopefully if it ever happens the Maple Leaf service will see service increase from more than once daily, and see actually reasonable travel times between Toronto and NYC.. its way too slow of a trip right now to make sense to take it.
I agree. In terms of getting people out of cars and onto trains, probably the most useful thing up there right now would be a Rochester-Buffalo-Niagara commuter rail service. More results for less outlay, and therefore more chance of getting it through to completion - especially if it can offer realistic headways throughout the day.
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Old December 6th, 2015, 01:04 AM   #6146
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Some Photos of the decrepit Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River from Russell Sullivan


NJT at Portal
by Russell Sullivan, on Flickr


Regional at Portal
by Russell Sullivan, on Flickr
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Old December 6th, 2015, 07:41 AM   #6147
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^ the US post industrial landscape can be beautiful but yet horridly ugly at the same time.
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Old December 6th, 2015, 01:16 PM   #6148
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I recently read that there's only one marine customer north of Portal Bridge -- a state waste dock.

It occurs to me, then, that instead of investing an ungodly sum into raising Portal to allow for a fixed-link bridge, we can move the dock onto its other side?

While I agree a replacement is necessary, not needing to provide clearance for shipping traffic makes one much easier -- and cheaper. Then you can retain the existing approach (adding fill for extra capacity) and just replace the bridge superstructure itself.
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Old December 6th, 2015, 01:29 PM   #6149
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I believe the plan calls for 2 bridges , one to be built next to the current and then the current bridge will be demolished with a new replacement bridge built in his place.
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Old December 6th, 2015, 04:56 PM   #6150
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I recently read that there's only one marine customer north of Portal Bridge -- a state waste dock.

It occurs to me, then, that instead of investing an ungodly sum into raising Portal to allow for a fixed-link bridge, we can move the dock onto its other side?

While I agree a replacement is necessary, not needing to provide clearance for shipping traffic makes one much easier -- and cheaper. Then you can retain the existing approach (adding fill for extra capacity) and just replace the bridge superstructure itself.
The barges carry all of Bergen County's sludge (compacted sewerage) from the waste dock and make about a fifteen-mile trip to their offloading terminal in Newark. Portal Bridge is near the end of that trip, so it doesn't really make sense to build a new dock instead of just extending the pipeline carrying the sludge to the existing Newark terminal. I'm going to ignore the idea of building a massive new sewerage treatment facility in the heart of the NYC metropolitan area and just use existing plants.

Since you are from Philadelphia, I'm going to use a local example for you (it's also in the same region so costs should be similar). In 2010, Cheltenham Township (pop. 36,882) decided to build 4.1 miles of new sewer at a cost of $20.48 million. Bergen County has a population of 905,116.

Some quick back-of-the-napkin figuring gives me a price of about $1.8 BILLION to build that new pipeline. And then you have to spend about $500 million (at LEAST) to completely replace Portal (there's apparently absolutely NOTHING of the current bridge that can be reasonably salvaged). And that doesn't take into account the fact that you have to deal with various groups getting upset over you taking away a stretch of navigable river in case someone else wants to build a marine facility upstream.
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Old December 7th, 2015, 09:16 PM   #6151
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^ the US post industrial landscape can be beautiful but yet horridly ugly at the same time.
Some of that was supposed to be converted to a new yard for ARC project..., but that was cancelled. The Gateway Project does not call for a New Rail Yard there...just a looping connector.. I heard the town wants to redevelopment the land after its cleaned up...
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Old December 7th, 2015, 09:43 PM   #6152
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Why isn't the corridor from Buffalo to NYC electrified? I've seen videos of regional trains in the NYC area that fly around like planes at over 150+ mph.
Because (unlike the Pennsylvania Railroad) the New York Central never really got into mainline electrification. Part of this is that the NYC never did have access to as much capital as the PRR did; part of it is that diesalization took hold just after the PRR's massive Northeast Corridor electrification project, thereby rendering further such projects, in the eyes of the railroads, obsolete. (You can see part of the fallout from this in the fact that the PRR never did electrify their Main Line west of Harrisburg.)
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Old December 7th, 2015, 09:48 PM   #6153
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Originally Posted by 00Zy99 View Post
The barges carry all of Bergen County's sludge (compacted sewerage) from the waste dock and make about a fifteen-mile trip to their offloading terminal in Newark. Portal Bridge is near the end of that trip, so it doesn't really make sense to build a new dock instead of just extending the pipeline carrying the sludge to the existing Newark terminal. I'm going to ignore the idea of building a massive new sewerage treatment facility in the heart of the NYC metropolitan area and just use existing plants.

Since you are from Philadelphia, I'm going to use a local example for you (it's also in the same region so costs should be similar). In 2010, Cheltenham Township (pop. 36,882) decided to build 4.1 miles of new sewer at a cost of $20.48 million. Bergen County has a population of 905,116.

Some quick back-of-the-napkin figuring gives me a price of about $1.8 BILLION to build that new pipeline. And then you have to spend about $500 million (at LEAST) to completely replace Portal (there's apparently absolutely NOTHING of the current bridge that can be reasonably salvaged). And that doesn't take into account the fact that you have to deal with various groups getting upset over you taking away a stretch of navigable river in case someone else wants to build a marine facility upstream.
A cost of $20.48 mil for a 4.10 mile pipeline gives a cost per mile of $5.00 million. If that pipeline costs $1.8 billion to build, it implies that the sewer dock is ... 360 miles away.

I don't think the Hackensack River is even 360 miles long.

In fact, when I checked the distance from the sewerage dock to Portal, it only came out as being 7.45 mi.

Even if you routed your sewer line on a very circuitous path avoiding the Meadowlands altogether, it wouldn't be more than 20ish miles = $100 million. Although you have a fair point about the unknown cost of the receiving facilities, your pipeline estimation is way off, by at least an order of magnitude.

So let's say replace-in-place Portal ($500 mil: your figure, which I also think is too high, given that the Niantic River Bridge cost 20% that to replace) + pipeline ($100 mil). Even with a $400 mil budget for new receiving facilities, this comes out as $1.00 billion, not the $2.3 billion you were prognosticating.

As far as keeping that stretch of the Hackensack navigable, it runs through the freaking Meadowlands! Nobody in their right mind is going to take on the paperwork that comes with trying to build in what is almost certainly a "protected ecological environment".
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Last edited by hammersklavier; December 7th, 2015 at 10:13 PM. Reason: Numbers seemed fishier the more I looked at them
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Old December 8th, 2015, 12:23 AM   #6154
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They've floated the possibility of having boat docks further upstream as part of a riverfront revitalization plan...so a navigable river is some what needed. The Height of the New bridges is enough... Also if they decide to clean up the River they'll need a higher clearance...
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Old December 8th, 2015, 04:51 AM   #6155
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I was also taking into account the fact that bigger pipelines cost more, and Bergen County has a few more people than Cheltenham.
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Old December 9th, 2015, 05:24 AM   #6156
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2015 California High-Speed Rail Year in Review

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Old December 11th, 2015, 05:11 AM   #6157
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What would it take to kick all freight off the NEC where Amtrak owns the rails? That would simplify some of the FRA regulatory stuff, wouldn't it? All that would be left is other Amtrak and commuter trains which could be outfitted with PTC.

Second crazy idea; the eastern tunnel going out of Baltimore union station doesn't seem very deep underground and the neighborhood above it is in bad shape. Instead of spending billions to replace those tunnels could it be "daylighted" instead? Smaller tunnel segments that go by sensitive locations like schools would remain.
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Old December 11th, 2015, 04:16 PM   #6158
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What would it take to kick all freight off the NEC where Amtrak owns the rails? That would simplify some of the FRA regulatory stuff, wouldn't it? All that would be left is other Amtrak and commuter trains which could be outfitted with PTC.

Second crazy idea; the eastern tunnel going out of Baltimore union station doesn't seem very deep underground and the neighborhood above it is in bad shape. Instead of spending billions to replace those tunnels could it be "daylighted" instead? Smaller tunnel segments that go by sensitive locations like schools would remain.
As has been pointed out, time and again, those rules are not long for this world.

We don't know when they will announce the rules, but we know that they are changing. It remains to be seen how this ripples down to other commuter and regional services (if, at all). Most indications are that the change will be broader than simply HSR services.
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Old December 11th, 2015, 04:43 PM   #6159
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What would it take to kick all freight off the NEC where Amtrak owns the rails? That would simplify some of the FRA regulatory stuff, wouldn't it? All that would be left is other Amtrak and commuter trains which could be outfitted with PTC.
First of all, there are two Class I freight roads that service the Northeast: Norfolk Southern (NS) and CSX. Both of these routes now have mainlines from points south to Boston that completely bypass the NEC.

CSX historically owned the second mainline between NYC and DC, one which closely parallels the current NEC. As a result of the Conrail breakup, they also got the old NYC West Shore Line and the Boston & Albany, extending their route to Boston. The problem with this route, however -- one which is increasingly operationally compromising -- is that the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore doesn't have double-stack clearance and can't be undercut to get it without going below the water table. (Tunnels that go under the water table are much much more expensive to maintain than ones that don't.) The upshot of this is that double-stack trains originating on the north side of the Port of Baltimore have to take an almost ridiculously circuitous route to reach the Midwest: Baltimore -> Philly -> Jersey City -> Albany -> Buffalo.

The Norfolk Southern wasn't blessed to inherit such infrastructure. Nor was it able to fully capitalize on Conrail's bypass, because the half heading from New York east went to CSX. Instead, its bypass route heads waaaaaay inland but the routes leading to individual cities pretty much converge at Harrisburg. The NS mainline basically runs from Albany across the Catskills, then down the Susquehanna to Harrisburg, and then across the Cumberland Valley down towards the Shenandoah Valley where it meets with the old N&W and Southern mainlines somewhere in the Roanoke area. At Albany, it connects with a Class II railroad, Pan Am, with which it has a through-haulage agreement to Boston; from Harrisburg, branches run to New York, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore; a separate route runs from the Shenandoah Valley to DC. NS has, naturally, greatly expanded operations in Harrisburg, where it now owns both the old PRR and Reading facilities.

NS' purchase of the Delaware & Hudson a few months back completed this route.

On the NEC proper, the most significant freight/passenger conflict south of New York occurs between Baltimore and Wilmington, as the NS' route from Harrisburg to those cities meets it at Perryville. While most of those conflicts can be solved by giving NS their own tracks on the side of the passenger ROW (perhaps with bypasses in areas where widening the easement poses problems, like Elkton), the elephant in that room is the Susquehanna crossing. Keep in mind, also, that the NS alignment uses the low-grade PRR route, and the old fast passenger route from Baltimore to Harrisburg is now abandoned.

North of New York, things get more complicated. The NEC is also a Class II railroad's mainline -- the Providence & Worcester -- from the Hell Gate Bridge all the way to at least Providence, if not Boston proper. While a second mainline through upstate Connecticut (the New York & New England) did historically exist, it has largely been abandoned and converted to a rail-trail, something that is ... less-than-useful for the PW's purposes.

This section is also problematic for passenger operations, due to the fact that its progenitor railroad, the New Haven had inferior engineering relative to the PRR. (Every railroad had inferior engineering relative to the PRR, but that's neither here nor there.) The preponderance of sharp curves etc. means that a bypass for fast passenger traffic between New Haven and the CT-RI border is badly needed, which of course separates the PW mainline from the NEC mainline, thereby improving both passenger and freight operations.

As for accessing New York from the east, well that's a cluster**** with no good solution in sight, I'm afraid.
Quote:
Second crazy idea; the eastern tunnel going out of Baltimore union station doesn't seem very deep underground and the neighborhood above it is in bad shape. Instead of spending billions to replace those tunnels could it be "daylighted" instead? Smaller tunnel segments that go by sensitive locations like schools would remain.
Baltimore Penn is accessed via two tunnels: the Baltimore & Potomac (B&P) complex to the west and (IIRC) Union Tunnels to the east.

I have yet to hear a convincing argument for doing anything with the Union Tunnels: They are dry tunnels, so they're low-maintenance; they have three tracks, therefore adequate capacity; any speed restrictions due to the tunnels themselves appear to be arbitrary (they're straight); the track geometry around either portal approach does not appear to be a significant issue ... and across the way you've got the B&P Tunnels.

The B&P Tunnels are the second-biggest bottleneck, after the North River Tubes, on the NEC west of New York. That's because they have pretty much any problem you can name that the Union Tunnels don't:

(1) They're wet tunnels, unlike either the Howard Street or Union tunnels. That means they lie below the water table and have to be pumped dry more or less continuously.
(2) They suffer from deferred maintenance, which due to them being a high-maintenance facility in the first place, is a double whammy.
(3) There is insufficient capacity in the tunnels -- only two tracks heading towards the station throat on what is otherwise a 3- or 4-track main.
(4) There are significant track geometry problems within the tunnels themselves, including a sharp curve.

Basically, you just need to fiddle with the Union Tunnels a bit if you want to add a fourth track, while the B&P Tunnels need to be replaced whole. Daylighting the Union Tunnels is an extreme -- and extremely pointless -- solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.
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Old December 11th, 2015, 10:18 PM   #6160
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