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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 August 31st, 2009, 12:54 PM   #701
hans280
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That must be seed money to fund the feasibility studies? You're not going to get any HSLs for a few hundred millions. - But, fair enough: in Europe as well federal money (well, government money more generally...) to finance the initial studies have sometimes acted as an important foot in the door. I guess it's now up to the state authorities to put down their cards and come forward with concrete plans (plus perhaps supplementary seed funding) if they really mean business?

One question, though: isn't there a risk that many local politicians will merely recycle railway projects they already had in their drawers and rebrand them as "high speed"? I'm asking because in Europe renovations of existing railway lines these days routinely - even if they are essentially regional - upgrade these to 160 km/h. If they are to serve as important intercity links the upgrade more often than not targets a speed of at least 200 km/h. These are normally not considered as highspeed rail, merely bread-and-butter line upgrades. Many of the plans that I have seen so far from various parts of the US are no more ambitious in terms of operating speed. Is there a risk that the whole American "high speed project" will fizzle into a dour federal co-funding of line upgrades?
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Old August 31st, 2009, 03:19 PM   #702
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This likely isn't "high speed" the way the Europeans think of it. High speed in this case likely menas upgrading trackage to handle 100mph trains, or adding passing sidings or extra tracks to make passenger service a bit quicker. We considre the Acela service from DC to Boston to be "high speed" but it certainly isn't when copmpared to the European or Asian trains.

Your concern is valid about what this will fall into. It will likely fizzle as you say because there is not broad taxpayer support (other than folks on this board) to spend the kind of money that would be required to build a true high speed system. I would think that by the time the inevitable lawsuits from the environmental concerns, cities that are skipped, landowners near the rails etc etc etc are settled and the thing gets bid out and built it would be 40 years and would run into many hundreds of billions of dollars. By that time we'd have ended up building an obsolete system.

We're in such a fiscal mess right now thanks to both parties that I really don't think this will get very far off the ground. Our government just does not have the money and those who fund our government are getting really sick of the way they have spent money over the past twenty years and are forecast to continue to spend it over the next ten. True super fast Euro style high speed rail is just not a priority. We can argue all day about whether or not it should be, but the fact is that it just isn't.
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Old September 1st, 2009, 08:33 AM   #703
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Well, I suppose you can call anything "high speed" provided it's faster than what went before. The only reason there's such a thing as a Euro definition is squarely that the EU Commission had to decide what they are willing to subsidise and what not. In Europe the HS definition is thus newly laid tracks for speeds exceeding 250 km/h (155 mph). This was done mostly to suit the Germans who are a bit less "ambitious" than their neighbours. In France and Spain tracks are not currently characterised as HS unless they enable speeds exceeding 300 km/h.

That said, by this standard the new line between Los Angeles and San Francisco would truly be characterised as high speed? We'll see if it gets built, though. The Californian economy is not exactly healthy these days. However, your more general point about HS getting mothballed because of the financial crisis is, I think, a bit silly. The one European economy which is in as much of a mess as the US these days in Britain, and the Brits are drawing up pretty ambitious plans for a "HS2" high speed line from London to Glasgow. At the end of the day...

...I guess it's a question of priorities. The British government has announced that it will likely respond to the financial crisis by cutting military budgets. The German government has announced that it will respond by cutting back on road construction work. But, both of them consider railways as a high priority. The United States, with its car-loving culture and international military engagements, may ultimately choose differently.
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Old September 2nd, 2009, 05:26 PM   #704
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I think your last sentence hits the nail right on the head. Right or wrong, when you come right down to it, the US is auto-centric. IN Europe rail has a much bigger profile in moving people. Here is it the auto and the airplane. As I said that may be right or it may be wrong but as the cheezy saying goes,.....it is what it is.
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Old September 2nd, 2009, 11:13 PM   #705
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFish View Post
I think your last sentence hits the nail right on the head. Right or wrong, when you come right down to it, the US is auto-centric. IN Europe rail has a much bigger profile in moving people. Here is it the auto and the airplane. As I said that may be right or it may be wrong but as the cheezy saying goes,.....it is what it is.
I think that has to do with the fact that much of the US in the way as we know it was built and established as the car was becoming popular for the average consumer. On the other hand, modern Europe had most of its development occur during the industrial revolution when railroads were coming around. Yes the US at one time embraced railroads, but the infrastructure was never as established as the Europeans. When prosperity hit after WWII, interstates were built and the infrastructure framework of the US was based on the car and plane, both relatively newer forms of transportation for the average person to use. That said, they certainly are far less efficient than trains, and hopefully the mindset will evolve in the US to include trains and provide a complete mix of transportation options.
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 01:10 AM   #706
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dl3000 View Post
I think that has to do with the fact that much of the US in the way as we know it was built and established as the car was becoming popular for the average consumer. On the other hand, modern Europe had most of its development occur during the industrial revolution when railroads were coming around. Yes the US at one time embraced railroads, but the infrastructure was never as established as the Europeans. When prosperity hit after WWII, interstates were built and the infrastructure framework of the US was based on the car and plane, both relatively newer forms of transportation for the average person to use. That said, they certainly are far less efficient than trains, and hopefully the mindset will evolve in the US to include trains and provide a complete mix of transportation options.
There are still extensive railways throughout the nation, many of which obviously are abandoned, yet their rights of way are still in tact. If there was enough money to bring these corridors back to life again, and improve the current passenger corridors where high speed rail would be profitable, I think there is still a fighting chance. Europe has capitalized on its railways substantially, and I think the US can look to them to develop corridors here.
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 03:43 AM   #707
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Agreed.
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 03:51 AM   #708
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Originally Posted by FlyFish View Post
We're in such a fiscal mess right now thanks to both parties that I really don't think this will get very far off the ground. Our government just does not have the money and those who fund our government are getting really sick of the way they have spent money over the past twenty years and are forecast to continue to spend it over the next ten. True super fast Euro style high speed rail is just not a priority. We can argue all day about whether or not it should be, but the fact is that it just isn't.
Compared to all the other stuff that the Federal government is willing to spend on (war, bailouts), a few billions on a HSR network from DC to Boston for example is a drop in the bucket and won't really make much of a difference. The US is going bankrupt regardless of what happens, we may as well improve our infrastructure and well being for once while we're at it.

Besides, fixing our fiscal house in order would make a tax hike almost necessary, as well as reduced spending. Nobody seems to want that.
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 12:18 PM   #709
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Originally Posted by mrmocha413 View Post
There are still extensive railways throughout the nation, many of which obviously are abandoned, yet their rights of way are still intact.
I've read about that as well. It certainly sounds sounder than certain other suggestions to piggyback on existing freight corridors. The latter is really a weak idea: TGVs mix very poorly with portly freight trains. That said, is this a road to highspeed railways or merely to a reactivation of a railway architecture that once was? I'm asking because HS lines need a radius on every curve exceeding 3000 metres (4500 according to some HS definitions). Would existing rights of way allow for such traces? I somehow doubt it, but supplementary works here and there could of course be put in place.
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 12:26 PM   #710
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As Hans280 said it's unlikely you can drive at high speed on a conventional line, if you want HSR as it exists in Yurp or some Asian country you'll most likely need to rebuild the lines anew.
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 03:04 PM   #711
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xusein View Post
Compared to all the other stuff that the Federal government is willing to spend on (war, bailouts), a few billions on a HSR network from DC to Boston for example is a drop in the bucket and won't really make much of a difference. The US is going bankrupt regardless of what happens, we may as well improve our infrastructure and well being for once while we're at it.

Besides, fixing our fiscal house in order would make a tax hike almost necessary, as well as reduced spending. Nobody seems to want that.
True dat!

I'd like to see a real effort at spending cuts, just once.
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Old September 4th, 2009, 05:15 AM   #712
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I'm sure the rebuilding of abandoned lines and the upgrading of conventional lines to high speed may come true in the US, though the hurdles are massive. Take for example the Northeast Corridor, which is severely congested partly due to Amtrak rolling stock showing its age, and the fact that there are too many different owners on different segments of the line. For god sake!!!!!! I may take advantage of my dual US-British citizenship and go to the UK because I may be able to live out my dream of seeing one of my homelands with a developed network!
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Old September 4th, 2009, 10:22 AM   #713
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As far as I know the only HSR line in UK is used by the Eurostar
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Old September 4th, 2009, 11:14 AM   #714
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True, but you have to give one thing to the Brits: they are good at squeezing speeds close to 200 km/h out of renovated tracks - on both the eastern and western main lines. Their main Achilles's heel so far is the massive congestions around a handful of cities.

In the medium term, the upgraded lines between, first, London and Birmingham, secondly, Birmingham and Manchester will however also become saturated. IMHO opinion it is this fact that has affected an apparent U-turn in UK thinking. New tracks WILL be needed and, if so, why not build the best and most modern? All of a sudden, after scoffing at TGVs for decades, everybody seem to agree that an HS2 from London to Manchester must be built.
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Old September 4th, 2009, 12:05 PM   #715
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Hello everybody....
Its really a good news for the US peoples.
It will really boost up the transportation and huge development in US rail transportation.
Anyways good too see the achievement.
Thankyou for the news.
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Old September 4th, 2009, 12:18 PM   #716
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmocha413 View Post
I'm sure the rebuilding of abandoned lines and the upgrading of conventional lines to high speed may come true in the US, though the hurdles are massive.
I agree.

One just to has to have patience. I'm sure the United States will one day, one day, see high speed rail lines built en-mass. It's not really a question of money, it's more a question of building up momentum and overcoming what you might call cultural inertia.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that perhaps the fact high speed rail is a European-dominated concept, is in itself a handicap to 'selling' the idea to American taxpayers. I'm thinking specifically of the hostility by some US citizens - and Fox News - towards the idea of a universal healthcare system, akin to the NHS in Britain. The scenes I've seen on youtube and The Daily Show have been both funny and bemusing. If Obama has two terms, and providing he does not completely screw anything up, I think perhaps he'll stand a good chance of instilling some kind of change within the mindset of America.

Failing that, a massive hike in gasoline prices might do the trick.
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Old September 15th, 2009, 07:02 AM   #717
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Bad news?

I picked this off AP:

"Upgrades to Rail Networks Will Come Slowly, Offiical Says

The Obama administation's top railroad official says Americans should not expect to see networks of bullet-fast trains after the $8 billion set aside in the federal stimulus bill for high-speed rail is spent.

But the official, Joseph Szabo, head of the Federal Railroad Admnistration, said in prepared remarks for an industry conference Friday in Chicago that the White House was committed to upgrading train service, adding that the stimulus cash was just a down payment on what he dubbed "a rail renaissance".

Mr Szabo noted that US speending should be seen in perspective of the huge amounts spent by some other countries, like Spain, which he said has devoted more than $140 billion to its high-speed networks."

* * *

Well, it looks like my fears were correct. Words like "upgrading" makes me suspect that all that's going to happen is a few line renovations which, insofar as the trains will be running a bit faster than before, will be dubbed as "high speed".

A bit depressing, really. I need not compare with the France where I live. I can compare with the Denmark of my birth: the Danes run conventional intercity trains at 160 km/h, soon to be upgraded to 200 km/h. Nobody in the Kingdom considers this as high-speed. On the contrary, they look a bit folornly across the borders, to the HS trains of the Swedes and the Germans, and mumble "Yeah, but in our small country we don't need that kind of speed..." If Mr. Szabo thinks he's going to convince anybody that 100 miles per hour equals high-speed then he's got another thing coming.

Last edited by hans280; September 15th, 2009 at 08:38 AM.
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Old September 15th, 2009, 07:20 AM   #718
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This money is probably going to Acorn instead!
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Old September 15th, 2009, 08:40 AM   #719
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So after all the excitement seen on this thread, it seems that HSR in the USA is just the stuff of fantasy.

I am more curious now to know what exactly will result from the $8 billion plan. A brand new HSR is one thing, but just what kind of 'upgrades' does the Federal government have in mind for existing lines?

As virtually all railways/railroads in the US are freight-centric, and owned by rail freight companies, how can they be made to be any better, in passenger train terms, than what they are today?
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 09:00 PM   #720
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http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/60077732.html

Milwaukee to Chicago in 36 minutes? French railroad says "oui"
By Larry Sandler of the Journal Sentinel
Sept. 21, 2009

With 110-mph trains still on the drawing board, a French railroad is proposing service twice that fast, claiming it could cut the travel time from Milwaukee to Chicago to 36 minutes by 2018.

SNCF, the company that owns and operates France's high-speed trains, submitted proposals to the Federal Railroad Administration to build and run a 220-mph rail system throughout the Midwest, as well as similar systems in California, Florida and Texas. The Midwestern network would cost $68.6 billion, with U.S. taxpayers picking up 54%, or $37 billion, says the proposal from SNCF, which is 51% owned by the French government.

That proposal dwarfs a separate push by Wisconsin and other Midwestern states to establish a 110-mph passenger rail network, starting with $3.5 billion for Milwaukee-to-Madison, Chicago-to-St. Louis and Chicago-to-Detroit routes. The Midwestern governors are competing with other states for a slice of $8 billion in federal stimulus funding set aside for high-speed rail, and none of the rail funding proposals being debated in Congress would appropriate amounts on the scale sought by SNCF.

In a news release, SNCF acknowledged that its proposal was part of a process that started under the Bush administration and has been eclipsed by the current scramble for stimulus funds. But the company decided to submit its proposal anyway "in the interests of advancing the discussion about how high-speed rail can benefit the U.S.," SNCF Chairman Guillaume Pepy said.

SNCF's proposal envisions the already-planned Midwestern network as a "feeder system" to its faster trains, which would run on separate but parallel tracks. That would mirror Europe's rail network, in which express trains offer swift service between major cities and somewhat slower trains provide local service to more stops. Sturtevant, for example, would be served by 110-mph trains but bypassed by 220-mph trains, in the SNCF plan.

In the SNCF proposal, the first 220-mph route would connect Milwaukee and Chicago to Fort Wayne, Ind.; Toledo, Ohio; and Detroit by 2018. Service would extend to Madison, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cincinnati and St. Louis by 2023. The lineup of 28 stations in seven states would include both downtowns and major airports, such as Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

..
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