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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 December 7th, 2017, 05:34 AM   #6981
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Originally Posted by dysharmonica View Post
No freight line owner will allow electrification -- just ask Seattle and their Sounder system.

80% of SoundTransit Link expenses are on building new right of way, because working with the freight line owners is impossible. Yes what you propose sounds nice .. on paper. It will never happen.
They aren't TOTALLY toxic. So long as there is adequate provision made for high-wide loads, and the additional trains don't infringe on capacity.

There have been off-and-on studies for mass electrification for a century. It may just happen in our time.
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Old December 7th, 2017, 11:12 AM   #6982
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Strange, because in the Netherlands, the Betuweroute is an electrified freight-only line where all tunnel and viaduct dimensions are adapted to a possible future adaptation of double-stacked freight trains. It won't be a bad idea to electrify railways at all, provided that tunnel and viaduct dimensions (gauge) are big enough. The pantograph can extend to higher altitudes anyway. In Europe, many freight trains are electric ones.
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Old December 8th, 2017, 05:28 AM   #6983
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Old December 11th, 2017, 01:36 AM   #6984
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So since I mentioned Washington D.C.'s Union Station, I thought I'd provide an update on another Union Station getting ready for HSR: LA's!




This is a little bit of old news but Union Station, as part of its "Link US" program, recently approved a track layout for the future run through tracks as well as HSR:





The "6+2" alternative (seen above) will have 6 tracks on 3 platforms for local Metrolink commuter rail, one platform and two tracks for long distance Amtrak, and one platform and two tracks for HSR. In addition there are two metro lines: the Gold (soon to be Blue) line from Long Beach to Montclair, and the West Santa Ana Branch from the Gateway Cities to Union Station (and then maybe onto Glendale someday? Fingers crossed!)

Here's a nice article describing the changes:

Quote:
Metro Approves Continuing Work on Union Station Run-Through Tracks

By Joe Linton
Mar 23, 2017


As a result of interactions with the state of California and the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the recommended alternative actually changed since the item was considered in February. In February, Metro staff recommended a “6+4” alternative, which would have built four high-speed rail tracks. For today’s vote, the staff recommendation shifted to the “6+2” alternative which includes only two high-speed rail tracks, and accommodates phasing in high-speed rail over time. With fewer high-speed rail tracks, Metro’s planned West Santa Ana Branch rail project is expected to operate at the same level as the other tracks, instead of double-decked as was anticipated in the 6+4 alternative.

The funding for actually building the project is not clear. So far funding has come from Measure R and CHSRA. Metro staff reports that they are “exploring” getting funding from Metrolink and Amtrak, officially via their overarching agencies: Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) and Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency. Potential additional funding could come from Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and/or state cap-and-trade funds via CAHSRA and/or the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) grants.

To quell board fears about high-speed rail viability, Metro staff reported that the phased approach includes plenty of “offramps” where high-speed rail could be jettisoned from the project. CAHSRA is paying for the high-speed rail share of the design and construction costs. Further, from the staff report: “all the HSR project components in Link US are being designed with independent utility so that when complete all tracks and infrastructure can be fully utilized by Metrolink, Pacific Surfliner, and Amtrak until HSR reaches LAUS. If HSR plans do not move forward, and Metro chooses to change the scope of the project because the CHSRA plans are not advancing, CHSRA will be responsible for actual costs incurred including without limitation any and all costs due in connection with reducing the scope items added to accommodate HSR.”
https://la.streetsblog.org/2017/03/2...hrough-tracks/

Nice support for HSR guys! (Though I guess TBF they have to be prepared for anything)

Re: the chosen alignment, the biggest negative I've seen in response is that this highly restricts potential HSR service to Las Vegas i.e. Desert Xpress. However, it was also mentioned in the comments of that article that the with the Electrification of Metrolink that "stub-end" platform and track can be repurposed for Desert Xpress service (it's unlikely they'll go south of LA). Be curious to see what you all think!

----

In addition to the new tracks Union Station is also upgrading it's concourse and areas adjacent. There are two main alternatives: an at grade concourse and an above grade concourse.

At Grade




Above Grade





In general the preferred option among transit riders is the at grade concourse option: It provides for easier circulation from Metrolink/Amtrak to Metro's subways/light-rail/buses. However, the at-grade option also has advantages: it's cheaper and it provides for sweeping vistas of the city. Here's a video showing the potential above grade concourse:



Hopefully we get an equally nice video for the at-grade option as well!
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Old December 11th, 2017, 12:27 PM   #6985
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Polman View Post
Strange, because in the Netherlands, the Betuweroute is an electrified freight-only line where all tunnel and viaduct dimensions are adapted to a possible future adaptation of double-stacked freight trains. It won't be a bad idea to electrify railways at all, provided that tunnel and viaduct dimensions (gauge) are big enough. The pantograph can extend to higher altitudes anyway. In Europe, many freight trains are electric ones.
I mean yes... elsewhere in the world it's possible. But in the US electrifying lines owned by freight companies has been a no-go for decades.

Proposing such a solution as "easier" is just wishful thinking. I'd love to be wrong, but look at all that CAHSR has to build because negotiating with freight is an exercise in futility. US rail transit has been stunted for over a century by this problem - rail lines owned by private corporations - not the state and blocking any upgrades, elctrification, and passenger traffic.
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Old December 12th, 2017, 02:01 AM   #6986
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Originally Posted by dysharmonica View Post
US rail transit has been stunted for over a century by this problem - rail lines owned by private corporations - not the state and blocking any upgrades, elctrification, and passenger traffic.
Governments have a lot of sticks to use against the railroad companies who are obstructive, including eminent domain. They also have several carrots.

For the Sounder specifically, BNSF needs government support over the coal trains run to Bellingham. (The track is within sight of my house, and there have been protesters and anti-railroad signs for a couple years now.) Washington State and DC should be able to force BNSF into submission with threats to block them from moving coal to China and potentially even using eminent domain to seize the railroad if they don't agree to electrification on the Sounder route.

I suspect the real reason we can't get this done is political. Moderate, cost-effective rail improvements do not win politicians enough votes from excited members of the public or the bags of campaign cash from construction companies that high speed rail would bring.
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Old December 17th, 2017, 04:56 AM   #6987
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Texas bullet train clears environmental hurdle, alignment approved




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The long-awaited Texas "bullet train" cleared an important hurdle Friday when the Federal Railroad Administration released a draft environmental impact statement identifying a preferred route between Dallas and Houston as well as potential passenger station locations.
The FRA analysis, which took roughly four years to complete, will kick off a consultation and land acquisition process that could eventually link the state's two largest urban and economic centers with a travel time less than 90 minutes at more than 200 mph, with a midway stop in the Brazos Valley near College Station.

"This is the biggest milestone to date that we've crossed so far," said Tim Keith, president of Texas Central Partners, the company developing the project. "This is actually the beginning of a document that will allow us to build the bullet train."
The completion of the draft environmental impact statement kicks off a public comment period that runs through late February. Texas Central and the FRA will take those comments into consideration in moving toward a final statement.
The project is expected to cost $12 billion. Texas Central has said it will not use federal or state grants to build the project, though it might obtain federally supported loans open to private companies. The Irving-based Fluor Enterprises and The Lane Construction Corporation, based in Connecticut, were selected in August to handle the construction and engineering of the project.
The route for the train, selected out of a half-dozen options, follows transmission lines in a utility corridor between North Texas and Houston. The train lines would incorporate viaduct structures and would not include any existing road crossings, so as to not interfere with pedestrians, cars or wildlife.
The analysis lists three options for the Houston station, to be determined at a later date. The station could be placed in the general area south of U.S. 290, west of Loop 610 or north of Interstate 10 — near major employment centers, including the Galleria, Texas Medical Center, the Energy Corridor and downtown.
The Dallas station would be in the Cedars area south of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. The Brazos Valley Station in Grimes County would be near Texas 90 and Texas 30, and would serve Bryan-College Station with direct shuttle service to Texas A&M University.
The company has already acquired 30 percent of the land parcels it needs to complete the project, with about 50 percent of the parcels it needs in Grimes and Waller counties.
"We've done well in the areas that we've had certainty of alignment," Keith said. "Now we're able to move out quickly on additional purchases."
With the release of the draft statement, the typical timeline for a final decision on permitting is less than 12 months. If all federal approvals are obtained, construction could begin as early as late 2018 or early 2019, with an expected completion in 2023.
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Old December 17th, 2017, 11:48 PM   #6988
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Any reason they wouldn't use Union Station in Dallas? And why so far out of downtown Houston?
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Old December 17th, 2017, 11:49 PM   #6989
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Because they want to save costs. It's a privately funded project after all.
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Old December 18th, 2017, 06:18 PM   #6990
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Any reason they wouldn't use Union Station in Dallas? And why so far out of downtown Houston?
The last six miles inside the loop could cost as much as the entire rest of the project.
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Old December 18th, 2017, 10:34 PM   #6991
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Originally Posted by Nacre View Post
Governments have a lot of sticks to use against the railroad companies who are obstructive, including eminent domain. They also have several carrots.

For the Sounder specifically, BNSF needs government support over the coal trains run to Bellingham. (The track is within sight of my house, and there have been protesters and anti-railroad signs for a couple years now.) Washington State and DC should be able to force BNSF into submission with threats to block them from moving coal to China and potentially even using eminent domain to seize the railroad if they don't agree to electrification on the Sounder route.

I suspect the real reason we can't get this done is political. Moderate, cost-effective rail improvements do not win politicians enough votes from excited members of the public or the bags of campaign cash from construction companies that high speed rail would bring.
By law only the Federal government can compel the freight railroads to do anything (an artifact from when Robber Baron railroad owners basically ran the country and didn't want to have to deal with the demands of states or city governments). With congress in the hands of anti-transit Republicans such a thing is unlikely at best.
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Old December 19th, 2017, 10:27 PM   #6992
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IIRC the Dallas station will be less than a mile from Union Station anyways, it would be possible to build a pedestrian skywalk alongside the convention center if necessary I think. A little bus or van could meet Amtrak trains to shuttle passengers between the two.
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Old December 20th, 2017, 05:35 AM   #6993
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The station location for Houston is actually reasonably close to the Galleria area which is almost a second downtown for Houston. They could probably extend it to downtown proper if the demand is there and if the project can be completed at a reasonable price.
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Old December 21st, 2017, 03:04 AM   #6994
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Vancouver to Seattle in an hour? Ultrafast rail study brings it one step closer

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Washington State study examined technology, routes, station locations, costs for linking Pacific Northwest
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An ultra-high-speed rail line linking Vancouver to Seattle and Portland would cost between $24 billion and $42 billion US and attract around 1.8 million riders per year, according to a study conducted by Washington’s department of transportation.
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Old January 7th, 2018, 10:11 PM   #6995
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Enthusiasm for ‘maglev’ train between D.C., Baltimore mounts — as does opposition

https://www.washingtonpost.com/ampht...010_story.html

Opponents of a proposal to build a high-speed train line that could make the trip between Washington and Baltimore in 15 minutes are asking state and federal officials to kill the project.

Northeast Maglev, the Washington-based company behind the project, says the 40-mile "superconducting magnetic levitation train system," commonly called a maglev, would be the first leg of a line between Washington and New York — a trip that could be done in an hour.

Proponents say the project would ease travel in the congested Interstate 95 corridor, but many residents are concerned about the environmental impact and the homes that would be taken to make way for the line.

And, with limited public funding available for transportation projects, opponents say, any taxpayer money that would be used for the maglev would be better spent improving the existing rail infrastructure.

"We don't believe it is economically viable. We don't see the ridership. We don't see the revenue," said Dennis Brady, a Bowie resident who has organized a grass-roots group against the project.

"We are concerned that they will end up coming to the state and the feds for subsidies and it will be a pocketbook issue for taxpayers," Brady said.

Supporters counter that the Maryland maglev project, estimated to cost $10 billion to $12 billion, will create jobs, spur economic development and provide a fast, green and innovative "transportation solution" using a proven technology.

The system, in use in Japan, harnesses powerful magnetic forces that lift and propel trains four inches above a U-shaped guideway at speeds of up to 375 mph.

"It is going to be three times as fast as anything we have now," said Wayne Rogers, chief executive of Northeast Maglev. The train would travel at 311 mph, he said.

Amtrak's fastest service, the Acela Express, makes the trip from Washington to Baltimore in 32 minutes, and to New York's Penn Station in just under three hours. Acela trains run at speeds up to 135 mph, but more than half of Amtrak trains operate at top speeds of 100 mph.

'Transformational' plan

Known as the world's fastest train, the maglev is faster than Japan's famous bullet trains, which travel at about 200 mph, and some of Europe's high-speed trains that travel at up to 186 mph.

Discussion of a maglev system for the Washington region goes back at least two decades. The Federal Railroad Administration studied a German version of the maglev technology in the early 2000s. Interest in the project waned as the region — and country — braced for the economic recession, but picked up again with the success of the Japanese system.

Japan is one of the first countries to develop and adopt maglev trains.

Supporters tout the Maryland project as "transformational" for American travelers who often face delays on the country's aging rails, gridlocked roads, and in outdated airports. The Northeast Corridor, the country's busiest rail network, would benefit from additional capacity, they say.

The project has the backing of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), and the state has received a $28 million federal grant to cover impact studies. If things go as planned, construction could begin as soon as 2019, with service starting in 2027, officials said.

But critics aren't convinced the system is needed or economically feasible.

Some residents and elected officials of communities in the proposed path of the line are concerned about the homes and businesses that would be displaced through eminent domain. They also contend the service would target the "elite business traveler" and be out of reach of most citizens, with high ticket prices and limited access to stations. More than 1,300 people have signed a petition to be presented to Hogan and the FRA asking the project be killed.

Project leaders say the maglev line is planned to run about 60 percent underground; the aboveground portion would be built on less developed areas of the corridor, reducing impact on residential communities.

They also say ticket prices probably would be slightly more than an Acela fare. The one-way adult business-class fare between Washington and Baltimore costs about $46.

Plans call for three stops: one in each city and at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport.

The project is in the early stages of a multiyear environmental study required by the National Environmental Policy Act. Led by the FRA and the Maryland Department of Transportation, the study will analyze impacts on communities and the environment and ultimately determine a preferred construction alternative. The impact study began last summer and is expected to be completed in 2019.

As part of the process, officials have narrowed the project's potential routes to three, eliminating in recent months some of those that would have necessitated the leveling of hundreds of homes. Two of the proposed routes parallel the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. A third option, the one that raises the most concerns, runs along Amtrak's Penn Line, a heavily-developed corridor.

Maryland and Northeast Maglev officials say they expect that option will be left off the final list. MDOT spokeswoman Erin Henson said the agency is working with the FRA "to eliminate the Amtrak route outright and will continue to closely examine remaining potential routes to guard against any possible harm to local communities."

'Train to nowhere'?

Hogan and Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn promised to bring maglev technology to Maryland after they rode Japan's 27-mile Yamanashi maglev line during a 2015 trade mission.

Maryland has since pursued grants for the project and has looked at other initiatives that could bring a high-speed transportation system to the state. Maryland recently gave conditional approval for construction of a tunnel from Baltimore to Washington as part of entrepreneur Elon Musk's plans to build a super-high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop. Musk's Boring Co. envisions tunnels that will cart goods and people underneath major cities in vacuum-sealed tubes at high speeds.

Maglev proponents say while the Hyperloop remains a concept, maglev is a proven technology already carrying passengers. "We are talking about bringing a train that already exists, it's already been designed. It's already something that you can ride on," Rogers said. And it has financing commitments.

Japanese media have reported that the nation's government has offered $5 billion in financial backing for the Maryland line, while Central Japan Railway, the train operator, has said it will not charge any licensing fees for the technology. Northeast Maglev would have to raise the remainder from public and private sources, company officials said. Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pitched the Washington-to-New York maglev as an opportunity to invest in infrastructure at a White House visit last February.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D), a proponent of the project, has called it a stimulator for growth and economic development and a generator of jobs with potential to transform neighborhoods and communities.

"I am excited about being able to travel to D.C. in 15 minutes," Pugh said at a recent announcement of a labor agreement for the project. North America's Building Trades Unions are backing the *effort.

Chanda Washington, a spokeswoman for the D.C. deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said the District is engaged in the environmental review process for the project but has not committed to it.

"It is premature to speculate on the District's position overall, but we are interested in the project," Washington said. "We are always interested in transit options that will provide opportunities for our residents and businesses."

State Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-Prince George's) said most people agree the focus moving forward should be on narrowing the route options to one that has minimal impact on communities.

In a Dec. 19 letter to Rahn, Rosapepe and six other lawmakers from Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties asked the state to drop the Amtrak route and urged the state to "identify and mitigate any community impacts of underground routes."

In northern Prince George's County, Laurel officials, including Mayor Craig Moe (D), are among those who say money should instead be spent on fixing existing infrastructure, including Metro.

"I have repeatedly heard that this is a train to nowhere!" Moe wrote in a Dec. 22 letter to Hogan. "I share that thought and believe that taxpayers need better infrastructure and upgraded services, and not the commitment of funds for another system that serves no one in the greater Laurel area.

"Our sparse transportation dollars are needed to fund projects that will truly serve all of the constituents in this region in a cost effective manner," he wrote.

Community activists, meanwhile, are mobilizing to distribute hundreds of "Stop the maglev train" yard signs, and get residents to project meetings. A Facebook page, "Citizens Against SCMaglev," is available for residents to voice their concerns.

"Now that they seem to be lining up the money, we are more concerned," Brady, the Bowie resident, said.

Proponents say they understand the residents' fears. They say they hope to settle on a route that most people can agree on.

"Our infrastructure is old and straining. The car traffic is terrible. The rail infrastructure is 100 years old. And the airports are overcrowded. So we got to do something about it," Rogers said. "We have to move on this today."
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Old January 8th, 2018, 11:39 AM   #6996
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Alstom's numbers says the Avelia Liberty can do 300km/h on curves, but will that be commercially possible on East Coast tracks? In my opinion the new service should be an hour faster than the Regional...
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Old January 9th, 2018, 10:46 AM   #6997
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The new platform (which marries the Pendolino with whatever it is the TGV uses - I can never really remember what they call that) will allow for actual use of tilt. There have apparently been issues with the current Acela rolling stock that have prevented full utilization.

However, I don’t think service ever hits 300kph, in regular service - with existing infrastructure.

I believe the highest speed [restriction] is ~265kph, and I don’t know how many curves can be taken at this speed. Very few, I suspect (probably closer to 115-130kph range).
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Old January 12th, 2018, 08:22 PM   #6998
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The Japanese maglev is in testing phase and not in production. A maglev from Washington to Boston would be amazing though.
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Old January 14th, 2018, 05:57 AM   #6999
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Yeah, it's fast but the border check point with eat up one hour or is it going to be done during check-in?
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Old January 14th, 2018, 07:31 AM   #7000
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That’s how it’s done for the London-Paris Eurostar, and from personal experience, the process need not take more than a few extra minutes.

I can, though, hear the uproar over a true high-speed train in the same area in which there was recently a fatal train crash. Ugh.
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