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View Poll Results: Should the US build or improve it's HSR network?
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Old February 22nd, 2010, 08:23 PM   #1241
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English-language national radio reported locally/regionally this morning that Quebec's premier met with US's secretary of transport in DC yesterday about HSRs between Montreal & NYC and Boston.....as much as these routes keep getting talked about over the past few decades, I can't imagine either one ever coming to be .....wouldn't Vermont oppose the Boston one (coz Vermonters strike me as being sensitive about their land/environment)?

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Old February 22nd, 2010, 10:21 PM   #1242
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vermonters being opposed to an electrified railway for environmental reasons? as opposed to people driving and taking the petroleum burning planes?

the nimbies are either way too gullible, or the anti-rail propaganda is way too effective.
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 05:15 AM   #1243
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IIRC, the biggest hangup WRT passenger rail on that corridor, as well as others between Canada and the USA, are the attitudes of the border guards, especially the USA ones.

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Old February 23rd, 2010, 12:54 PM   #1244
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It would be nice to see a more streamlined border process. I understand that they have pre-clearance in Vancouver for Seattle-bound trains. It would be great if they could arrange that in Montreal, as well as putting Canadian customs and immigration in the station as well. The train just powers through and then you clear customs when you arrive.

The Great Lakes area is a little more problematic, as the major Canadian destination in the area (Toronto) is quite far from the border points. I guess you could do customs & immigration at key stations along the route (Windsor, London, Hamilton, Niagara as well as Toronto), and if people want to get to some place between, they could get off at the close border stations and transfer to a local train.
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 09:53 PM   #1245
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Quote:
Originally Posted by particlez View Post
vermonters being opposed to an electrified railway for environmental reasons? as opposed to people driving and taking the petroleum burning planes?

the nimbies are either way too gullible, or the anti-rail propaganda is way too effective.
Media on both sides of the border have been taking to reporting there being no HSR in N America, i.e., the Acela Express corridor is just a mildly fast train line. It would appear that HSR (a.k.a. TGV) would involve a new alignment, such that I can't imagine Vermonters saying OK to tearing up their mountain-lined valleys.

Anyhow, here's how French-language media reported yesterday's news (http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpost.php?p=52368299&postcount=174):
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Originally Posted by Guimcho View Post
Les projets de TGV Montréal-New York et Montréal-Boston ont été relancés :

TGV Montréal-New York et Montréal-Boston?

A la suite de leur rencontre privée à Washington, le secrétaire aux Transports américain, Ray Lahood, et le premier ministre Jean Charest ont annoncé dimanche formation d'un groupe de travail pour étudier la faisabilité de deux lignes de train à haute vitesse entre Montréal et New York et Montréal et Boston.

Le secrétaire américain a soutenu que le groupe de travail devrait être mis sur pied dès que seront nommés les participants. Il devrait aussi réunir tout le monde autour d'une table. Ni le premier ministre ni le secrétaire aux Transports n'ont pu fournir d'estimé des fonds nécessaires à la mise sur pied de ce groupe de travail.

A priori, le Québec, les gouvernements fédéraux américain et canadien, ainsi que les Etats américains concernés devraient prendre part aux discussions, ont indiqué les deux hommes politiques.

Comme Jean Charest, le secrétaire américain aux Transports a refusé de spéculer sur la finalité de ce groupe de travail. Ce dernier devrait permettre «d'avoir un plan pour aller de l'avant et voir où cela mènera», a simplement dit Ray Lahood.

Soulignant que le tronçon en sol canadien était très court, Jean Charest a dit que le Québec puisse financer une partie de la ligne qui pourrait voir le jour en sol américain. Selon le premier ministre, ce projet est assez important pour le Québec, en conséquence, il serait un investissemble justifiable.

M. Charest a également précisé que le groupe de travail devrait notamment plancher sur «la possibilité d'avoir du pré-dédouanement des côtés américain et canadien comme on le fait dans le transport aérien pour accélérer les déplacements». Il estime qu'il s'agit d'une bonne nouvelle puisqu'il touche un projet caressé depuis très longtemps par le gouvernement québécois.

Evoqué depuis de très nombreuses années, ce projet a fait l'objet de bien des spéculations au cours des années sans qu'il n'ait connu de réel progrès. Le premier ministre québécois espère toutefois que l'engagement à long terme de l'administration Obama en faveur du transport ferroviaire pourrait faire finalement avancer ce dossier.

De manière générale, le premier ministre Jean Charest s'est félicité des trois journées qu'il a passées dans la capitale américaine en compagnie de sept autres premiers ministres provinciaux canadiens et des gouverneurs américains. Il espère d'ailleurs que les premiers ministres provinciaux et les gouverneurs puissent se rencontrer à l'avenir sur une base plus régulière.

Cyberpresse.
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Old February 24th, 2010, 05:07 AM   #1246
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Originally Posted by trainrover View Post
English-language national radio reported locally/regionally this morning that Quebec's premier met with US's secretary of transport in DC yesterday about HSRs between Montreal & NYC and Boston.....as much as these routes keep getting talked about over the past few decades, I can't imagine either one ever coming to be .....wouldn't Vermont oppose the Boston one (coz Vermonters strike me as being sensitive about their land/environment)?
If this is true, the NYC-Montreal route could still happen since the rails between those cities don't go to Vermont, and New York has been relatively gung-ho about HSR planning compared to other neighboring states.

Boston to Montreal would be more difficult since at the moment, there isn't even a direct connection between those cities using conventional rail.

For NY-Montreal, there is a separate plan to upgrade the NY-Albany section (for the proposal to connect NY-Buffalo), so all that would need to be done is to improve the Adirondack route...although that could be hard since it goes through very sienic terrain (more NIMBYs!).

Last edited by Xusein; February 24th, 2010 at 05:12 AM.
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Old February 24th, 2010, 10:06 PM   #1247
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Boston to Montreal would be more difficult since at the moment, there isn't even a direct connection between those cities using conventional rail.
I doubt this be accurate. True, passenger service was abolished some decades ago, plus I doubt any freight diagram exist between the two port cities, although I'd bet a relatively direct right of way still links the two by rail. (It might be better to thread the HSR via NH and Sherbrooke, QC, whereafter a branch could be shot up to Quebec City.)


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Originally Posted by Xusein View Post
all that would need to be done is to improve the Adirondack route...although that could be hard since it goes through very sienic terrain (more NIMBYs!).
I'd say it involves adding virtually a whole new Adirondack route coz the current ROW snakes along the western shore of Lake Champlain for dozens of miles that (still?) prohibits trains from exceeding 10 or 15MPH.

Last edited by trainrover; February 24th, 2010 at 10:17 PM.
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Old February 26th, 2010, 02:46 AM   #1248
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High Speed US Rail: Roadblocks Ahead
Source: Stateline.org
Published Thursday, 25 February, 2010 - 17:52
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The last time intercity passenger trains served Madison, Wisconsin’s capital city, students at the University of Wisconsin campus there were protesting the Vietnam War. The trains stopped running when Amtrak took over passenger service around the country in 1971. But last month, the federal government announced it would give the state $810 million in stimulus money to return passenger trains to Wisconsin’s second-biggest city for the first time in more than four decades.

The January announcement clears the way for a new passenger route between Madison and Milwaukee starting in 2013. It will take that long to rebuild track, renovate old stations and build new ones, roll out satellite navigation technology to prevent collisions and even determine who will run the trains. At first, passengers will reach top speeds of 79 mph – the same as today’s Amtrak trains – until new trains that can reach 110 mph go into service in 2016.

(The U.S. government classifies “high-speed rail” as trains that reach 110 mph, which is half as fast as many bullet trains in Europe and Asia.)

The $8 billion in federal stimulus money billed as “high-speed rail” funding that will pay for the Wisconsin improvements is going to 31 states to improve service on trains of all speeds. But as even the straightforward case of Wisconsin shows, the path for states to actually build high-speed rail promises to be long, costly and, in some cases, politically contentious.

“These investments have several goals,” Vice President Joe Biden told a Tampa crowd while announcing the grants in January. “First, to improve existing rail lines to make train service faster, more reliable; two, to pull cars off the road, reducing congestion, cutting pollution and increasing productivity; and three, to begin to develop new corridors for high-speed trains that will go from 169 to 230 miles an hour.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood explained, on his blog, that upgrading existing rail lines was an important step in developing high-speed rail. “We’ve made awards to states to improve existing track, repair tunnels and bridges and increase the speeds of lines already serving passengers,” he wrote. “We can’t just put faster trains on old tracks and send them across bridges that need repairs.”

For advocates of high-speed rail, the inclusion of so much money in last year’s stimulus bill was a major shot in the arm. States that hoped to build faster train networks spent years drawing up blueprints, assessing environmental impacts, testing new technologies and straightening short lengths of track. But without federal money, those ambitious plans were stuck on the drawing board.

The passage of the stimulus bill last year, officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, marked the first time the federal government put any major money behind high-speed rail.

States clamored for the money. California, which already secured $10 billion in high-speed rail bonding authority from its voters, asked for another $4.7 billion from Washington – more than half the federal money up for grabs – to help pay for trains whisking along at more than 200 mph between San Diego and San Francisco. Midwestern states put in a plug for help to pay for a significantly slower network based out of Chicago. Even Oklahoma got in the game, with a $2 billion request for high-speed service between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. All told, 40 states initially inquired about funding for 278 projects. Their requests totaled more than $102 billion, nearly 13 times what was available.

Last month, the Obama administration announced that 31 states would get a slice of the pie, but the biggest chunks went to California, Florida and the Midwest. In nearly every case, states got less than they asked for.

“This is a big-picture, long-term endeavor. We always knew $8 billion wasn’t nearly enough for the whole program,” says Rob Kulat, spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration.

Administration officials repeatedly have referred to the stimulus funds as “seed money” to be followed by more federal resources. Indeed, Congress included another $2.5 billion in the transportation budget it passed in December, compared to the $1 billion Obama had originally proposed. The president’s budget for next year also calls for another $1 billion, although Congress could change that amount again.

Questions of cost

The price tag of high-speed rail remains a big sticking point, even in Wisconsin, where the federal government granted the state its full request for the Milwaukee-Madison leg. At issue is whether the state could subsidize the route’s operating costs once trains start to run in 2013. The state, in its application (PDF), estimated that the Milwaukee-Madison route would require $7.5 million a year in state subsidies, on top of the $8.1 million needed to keep trains running between Milwaukee and Chicago.

The two leading Republican candidates vying to succeed Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, cited the route’s ongoing costs as the reason they opposed construction of the new route. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker says Wisconsin should reject the stimulus money.

“I’m still waiting to see all those jobs and projects already promised to us from the stimulus, so I’m doubtful our state should accept yet another big check from Washington,” Walker said in a statement. “At a time our state has a $2 billion budget hole, it’s reckless for Governor Doyle and (Milwaukee) Mayor (Tom) Barrett to commit Wisconsin families to footing the bill for the ongoing costs of a rail line without even knowing the full price tag or the effect it will have on our already stressed transportation fund.”

His opponent in the GOP primary, former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann, went so far as to say he’d stop the project if he became governor. Barrett, the Democratic mayor of Milwaukee, by contrast, supports the project as he seeks Doyle’s seat. And, of course, Doyle has been a vocal proponent of the high-speed rail plans, traveling to Spain to ride on the country’s recently built bullet trains and convincing a Spanish train manufacturer to build an assembly plant in Wisconsin.

The partisan split also played out in the Democratic-controlled Legislature, when Republicans unsuccessfully tried to block the state from accepting the stimulus money. “I think the fight has more to do with what we see nationally, which is the argument of whether or not recovery dollars are helping the economy,” says state Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Madison “I think it was on the basis of that, rather than … the merits of high-speed rail.”

For other states, the more immediate question is whether they can find a way to pay for the construction in the first place.

Florida leaders, for example, plan to meet soon with federal officials to map out their next steps. Florida had asked for $2.6 billion for a route between Orlando and Tampa. It got half that, announced by President Obama in Tampa the day after his State of the Union address. The state’s original plan called for using trains that could reach 168 mph by the end of 2014. But the shortage of funds may force state officials to alter those plans, once they talk to their federal counterparts.

“Is there a plan through other appropriations to make up the difference? Is there a process or a phase or a staging that they thought about to get us to that number that they gave us? That’s all part of our coordination and conversations with them,” says Kevin Thibault, interim executive director for the Florida Rail Enterprise, which is part of the Florida Department of Transportation.

Likewise, Washington state officials are waiting for more details on how they’re expected to spend the $590 million the state will receive, says Vickie Sheehan, a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Transportation. “The only thing we know at this point,” she says, “is that the funding will enable two additional round trips between Seattle and Portland and improve our reliability up to 88 percent.”

Starting small, but quick

North Carolina got more specific directions. A $520 million chunk heading there will go toward 30 specific improvements between Raleigh and Charlotte, and another $25 million will be used to reduce congestion between Raleigh and Richmond, Va.

Eugene Conti, North Carolina’s secretary of transportation, says work on the upgrades will start within a few months. The projects include adding more double-tracking that would allow freight and passenger trains to pass each other and separating rails from roads. The changes are designed to cut down on delays for both trains and auto traffic.

Currently, Amtrak trains in the corridor can reach top speeds of 79 mph, but they average about 50 mph, Conti says. His agency is focusing on ways to improve the average speed, Conti says. “We really want to go less slow.”

Conti, who chairs the rail committee of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, emphasizes the need roll out improvements soon. The public should see improvements in stations, on the track and with equipment in the next couple years, he says. “Our focus is to show progress in the immediate sense,” says Conti, “so people don’t think it’s something that’s coming in five or 10 years.”

Indeed, many of the projects going forward nationally have seemingly modest goals. The feds designated $31 million for Missouri to use on construction projects – such as expanding bridges and improving road crossings – between St. Louis and Kansas City. The objective? Improve the on-time arrival rate to 85 percent, compared to 16 percent today.

“We’re not out to make an Asian- or European-style system right out of the box,” says Kulat, the FRA spokesman.
lengthy but interesting story
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Old March 8th, 2010, 10:49 AM   #1249
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The NYTimes has an op-ed on this that, I suppose, could count as a bit of an update: it's a plea that Obama should not spread out his spending so much, and should focus more on improving the current Acela line and make it a more genuine high-speed line.

Slug on the Tracks

Quote:
President Obama has repeatedly insisted that there is no reason why Europe or China, rather than the United States, should have the world’s fastest trains, and since coming to office he has committed the country to developing a high-speed rail network of its own.

Yet the $8 billion set aside for high-speed rail in his 2009 stimulus package, split among 31 states, includes only two genuine high-speed rail projects — in Florida and California. And even that money will do little more than kick-start the schemes. The rest of the package will go to upgrading various sections of the Amtrak network.

High-speed rail lines are expensive and can take years, even decades, to complete, particularly in a country as large as the United States. As a consequence, the president needs a quick success to show America what a genuine high-speed railway can offer. Fortunately, he has a great test case right on his doorstep: the Acela services along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, which the stimulus package essentially ignored.

A high-speed rail service is not just a matter of a few sleek carriages running a couple of regional trips per day on lines already crowded with freight trains. High-speed rail services need dedicated lines. And they operate best between cities a few hundred miles apart — longer trips take too much time, making aviation attractive, while shorter trips are easier by car. That’s why the world’s first high-speed rail line was built between Tokyo and Osaka; likewise, across Europe city pairs, like Madrid-Barcelona and Paris-Lyon, have been linked by high-frequency services.

And that’s what makes the Acela lines from Washington to Boston the best opportunity to create a real high-speed, high-frequency service to compete with air travel along the Northeastern Seaboard.

But isn’t Acela already a high-speed service? Not at all. By European standards, it would be a regional express: It runs just once an hour, the track is too curvy for the trains to reach their potential speed of 150 miles per hour (except on one 35-mile section of the line), and because Acela is often held up by freight trains and road crossings, it averages barely half that speed for the entire journey.

The 450-mile trip from Boston to Washington takes almost seven hours and averages just 71 miles per hour, hardly faster than by car and uncompetitive with air, while the 225-mile journey from New York to Washington takes two hours and 45 minutes, longer than Penn Central’s Metroliner often took in the 1960s. Contrast that with the nearly 500 miles covered by Paris-Marseille trains in just three hours, an average of over 160 miles per hour.

While Amtrak claims that Acela has carved out a good share of the market — 49 percent of the rail-air passengers traveling between New York and Boston — there is the potential to do far better with improved speeds and frequency. More than 70 percent of travelers between London and Paris go by rail, whileon routes like Paris-Lyon air travel has been virtually eliminated.

How can Acela be improved without building an entirely new system? Money is needed to improve the overhead electric wires, straighten out curves and upgrade the track. And more trains are needed to increase trip frequency, reduce overcrowding and offer flexibility.

It’s not just a matter of money, though. The government must do away with a host of state and federal regulations that reduce train speed and are far too restrictive.

America needs to be lured back to the railways that once dominated its transportation system. If we can show what can be done in one corridor, we can inspire the development of better train service in other parts of the country.

Who knows? Perhaps someday, like the Trains à Grande Vitesse in France or the Shinkansen in Japan, an Acela train speeding past the Statue of Liberty could be the defining image of a second great American railway age.
Not a bad read I thought.
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Old March 8th, 2010, 04:36 PM   #1250
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koen Acacia View Post
The NYTimes has an op-ed on this that, I suppose, could count as a bit of an update: it's a plea that Obama should not spread out his spending so much, and should focus more on improving the current Acela line and make it a more genuine high-speed line.

Slug on the Tracks



Not a bad read I thought.
The only part I strongly disagree with is saying that the government should "do away" with safety regulations. Safety parameters for passenger rail in US are far above those of certain European countries and should remain the highest.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 11:35 AM   #1251
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I rode German ICE several times, and I absolutely loved it. Although, it only reached 200 km/h, it was still quite fast. I would love to see this in the USA, especially in rural areas because I am sick of driving 500 km just to get to a major urban centre.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 05:51 PM   #1252
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I rode German ICE several times, and I absolutely loved it. Although, it only reached 200 km/h, it was still quite fast. I would love to see this in the USA, especially in rural areas because I am sick of driving 500 km just to get to a major urban centre.
If you're sick of driving 500km just to get to a major urban centre then you need to move. You obviously live in a very thinly populated area and there you will always have to travel far to get somewhere. :-)

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Old March 10th, 2010, 03:16 AM   #1253
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The only part I strongly disagree with is saying that the government should "do away" with safety regulations. Safety parameters for passenger rail in US are far above those of certain European countries and should remain the highest.
A lot of FRA regulations is actually outdate and quite redicioulus. Crash energy management, for example, is something quite new to the FRA. Instead, the FRA mandates heavier trains than neccessary to survive crashes, resulting in situations where trains have been loaded with concrete blocks to meet the necessary weight. The Acela is twice as heavy as other HSTs. Train protection systems are virtually non-existant. Horn blowing at crossings is required, unless it has four-quadrant gates.

All in all, it makes passenger rail a lot more expensive than it has to be.

But the report isn't completely accurate. The NEC has recieved quite a bit of additional funding for infrastructure improvements, just not from the ARRA.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 07:24 AM   #1254
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The only part I strongly disagree with is saying that the government should "do away" with safety regulations. Safety parameters for passenger rail in US are far above those of certain European countries and should remain the highest.
What matters for the passenger is the actual safety, not the "parameters". Do you want rail to be safe on paper only, or in the real world?
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Old March 10th, 2010, 10:05 AM   #1255
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Quote:
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Do you want rail to be safe on paper only, or in the real world?
Rail safety is not his concern. He just wants rail to be incompetitive to cars. That's his post a couple of pages back:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
The most I've so far achieved in my "pro-car crusade" was promoting a restless campaing that resulted in a university expanding parking lots over a green, other university cutting extensivelly bus and van shuttles instead of rising room&board fees for everyone by $70 and a (private, not published yet) controlled experiment in which extensive negative publicity about "the dangers of buses" affected attitudes of university students about bringing or not their cars to the campus - even some bad news publicity about a rape in a bus stand 10 years ago dramatically affected the attitude of new female students about bringing their cars to campus.
Keeping the FRA regulations, which make trains heavy, slow-accelerating, with 79 mph max speed unless on dedicated track - makes them basically useless for convenient and cheap intercity travel. The cars on freeways win. That's what he wants.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 12:33 PM   #1256
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Yeah I know, unfortunatly I couldn't resist.
[edit]
Oh look here is the video I was looking for:

A lot safer those American trains.
[/edit]

Last edited by Crownsteler; March 10th, 2010 at 07:56 PM.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 06:59 PM   #1257
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There are US cities that have no train service, such as Phoenix and Columbus.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 09:11 PM   #1258
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Quote:
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What matters for the passenger is the actual safety, not the "parameters". Do you want rail to be safe on paper only, or in the real world?
I want to see an aircraft-like security protocol for trains (and trams, buses and whatever vehicle used in commercial public transportation): preemptive security measures, traceability up to the bolt level, certification of individual parts, critical or not (albeit with different levels of control for sure).

I also want to make sure that car and truck drivers are not put at risk at grade crossings. So, please, explain me how a train required to horn at a crossing has its costs increased? I don't think a powerful horn would be ever a significant cost concern. Meanwhile, they should install laser detectors on all grade crossing to ensure emergency brakes can be applied if a closed gate is trespassed while there is enough space for the train to reduce its velocity.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 04:17 AM   #1259
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Can someone detail the general European standards that are better? I know they rely heavily on signaling. I can tell that they should be better since the trains aren't tanks on rails, but what exactly are the regulations?
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Old March 11th, 2010, 05:22 AM   #1260
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Why I love Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood:

Quote:
http://blogs.wsj.com/middleseat/2010...h-speed-train/

LaHood to airlines: Get onboard the high-speed train


(The following story by Scott McCartney appeared on the Wall Street Journal website on March 10, 2010.)

NEW YORK — The airline industry was left fuming last year when some $8 billion on federal stimulus money was appropriated for high-speed rail while air-traffic control modernization got no new funds.

Airlines see high-speed trains as competition that could further erode their customer bases, and they were left befuddled how rail projects decades away could be “shovel ready’’ when the next-generation air-traffic control system that airlines say will reduce delays and boost air-travel capacity didn’t get any action from the Obama Administration.

And so when Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood addressed the Federal Aviation Administration’s annual forecasting conference in Washington, D.C., the first question from the airline industry audience was about trains. Why so much for trains and not for planes?

Mr. LaHood gave a politician’s answer about how important the NextGen air-traffic control modernization effort is to the Administration. Then he paused and went off-script.

“Let me give you a little bit of political advice: Don’t be against high-speed rail,’’ Sec. LaHood said. “It’s coming to America. This is the president’s vision, this is the vice president’s vision, this is America’s vision…. We’re going to get into the high-speed rail business.’’

In two or three decades, Mr. LaHood said, U.S. cities will be connected by high-speed rail – whether airlines like it or not.

“People want alternatives,’’ he said pointedly. “People are still going to fly, but we need alternatives. So get with the program.’’


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