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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 May 26th, 2010, 03:57 AM   #1541
Nexis
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I think Amtrak has plans to bump the average speed of the Acela to 150mph for the entire corridor and higher tops.....but there mainly focusing on more capacity and better on times. They laided out a 52 billion $$$ improvement plan. I rather see added Capacity , then HSR.....if you use the NEC a few times a week you'll know what i mean....
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Old May 26th, 2010, 06:09 AM   #1542
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52 billion for just an improvement plan.. what are they doing? Beijing-Shanghai 350km/h line costs less than that.
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Old May 26th, 2010, 06:58 AM   #1543
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Who knows, its America for you

Maybe there is the matter of actual trip time, door to destination. Getting the infrastructure up to a constant 90-125 mph standard with a few 150 mph segments and running frequent express trains with a variety of stop combinations, running around the clock, hassle-free cross ticketing arrangements and local transport that arrrives in a coordinated fashion with the train, that would have some marked improvements that raw speed might not even match.
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Old May 26th, 2010, 02:36 PM   #1544
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Its the Northeast Corridor and A few Feeder lines , its Upgrades / Electrification. + New Tunnels , Stations , Bridges , more Tracks etc......Tunnels will cost a big bulk of that....
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Old May 27th, 2010, 08:29 AM   #1545
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+wider turn radii because I think the tilt still has its limits.
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Old May 27th, 2010, 10:58 PM   #1546
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Just the amount of money that has to be spent on this "improvement" shows that a HSR network is almost impossible to materialize, at least in current economic and political circumstances.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 02:18 AM   #1547
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That's the problem with trying to further develop an already developed country...any major infrastructure project has to force its way through a colossal wall of red tape, health and safety, and NIMBYism.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 09:21 AM   #1548
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That and people trusted the government more back when the last huge infrastructure project took place (the interstate). WWII was just won and people felt good and the government got out of the depression. Nowadays wars like Vietnam and Iraq drained resources and increased protesting, everybody has their little piece of suburbia that they will defend to the end, plus you have all these lawyers who are more than eager to represent whining NIMBYs. I'm not saying those were much better, the interstates plowed through poor neighborhoods when land was cheap and transformed the cultural landscape of cities and many cases for the worse, but things got done. HSR is much less negatively impactful than the interstate but its a different world.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 01:19 PM   #1549
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Add to that HSR requires straighter routes than interstates or normal railways making avoiding nimbyism harder
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Old May 29th, 2010, 03:06 AM   #1550
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Old May 31st, 2010, 06:40 AM   #1551
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When the first major part of the Interstate network was built, NIMBYism was either a) nonexistent or b) flat-out ignored. It was rare that an urban NIMBY group managed to successfully fight off an expressway proposal in their neighborhood; today we have to live with the effects of that. At the time, however, it was a fairly unanimous appraisal among all interested parties--except, of course, those being displaced--that they were a good thing, and in part I think this was because of how strong the dedication was to supporting them.

This is, in my mind, the problem we have with our HSR. Obama has managed to tap something in our Zeitgeist or Gestalt or something, managed to make us dream HSR dreams in ways his predecessors never did, but has as of yet failed to unveil a system that looks like it ought to live up to our dreams. China has a 4x4 HSR grid linking together their whole country; the U.S. needs, to make HSR a success, to dream Interstate dreams about it. Instead of just cobbling together inter- and intra-state corridors like the NEC, 3-C, Chicago Hub, CHSR, etc., we should demonstrate a Grand National Plan and the way the current corridors would fit into it, much as when the Interstate Highway System was first created, the turnpikes and thruways of the previous generation were for the most part incorporated into it (I-76, I-90, I-95, etc). Perhaps what's called for is a national super-grid consisting of a handful of major axes interlinked, with the current plans being shown as parts of this greater whole? Perhaps we need the vision we were once able to muster and sadly can't seem to anymore?
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Old May 31st, 2010, 09:49 PM   #1552
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hammersklavier View Post
When the first major part of the Interstate network was built, NIMBYism was either a) nonexistent or b) flat-out ignored. It was rare that an urban NIMBY group managed to successfully fight off an expressway proposal in their neighborhood; today we have to live with the effects of that. At the time, however, it was a fairly unanimous appraisal among all interested parties--except, of course, those being displaced--that they were a good thing, and in part I think this was because of how strong the dedication was to supporting them.

This is, in my mind, the problem we have with our HSR. Obama has managed to tap something in our Zeitgeist or Gestalt or something, managed to make us dream HSR dreams in ways his predecessors never did, but has as of yet failed to unveil a system that looks like it ought to live up to our dreams. China has a 4x4 HSR grid linking together their whole country; the U.S. needs, to make HSR a success, to dream Interstate dreams about it. Instead of just cobbling together inter- and intra-state corridors like the NEC, 3-C, Chicago Hub, CHSR, etc., we should demonstrate a Grand National Plan and the way the current corridors would fit into it, much as when the Interstate Highway System was first created, the turnpikes and thruways of the previous generation were for the most part incorporated into it (I-76, I-90, I-95, etc). Perhaps what's called for is a national super-grid consisting of a handful of major axes interlinked, with the current plans being shown as parts of this greater whole? Perhaps we need the vision we were once able to muster and sadly can't seem to anymore?
I disagree. The real problem with HSR in the US is that there simply isn't enough money, not with federal deficits well past the $1 trillion mark essentially for the foreseeable future and with states and localities forced to balance their own budgets in the face of weak tax revenues.

Beyond that-- if you're like me, you've prolly pipedreamed about being Bill Gates and spending $50 billion of your own money on HSR. But... if I were a hypothetically generous Bill Gates, I still have serious doubts that HSR would be the best way to blow $50 billion. What about alternative energy instead? Or huge improvements to the freight rail network? Or transit-friendly urban reconstruction? Even in fantasyland, the case for making investments that would pay off sooner is pretty compelling. Building a wind farm might take a year or two, and it starts making the nation a better place immediately, while even under ideal conditions it would likely take at least a decade for HSR to really make much of a difference.

In a way I share your disappointment with the Administration's plan, but at least it's somewhat realistic. And if we want something better, perhaps this plan will focus people's attention on what it'll actually take to do it.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 02:35 AM   #1553
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Good points from both posts. Personally, I think the entire project should start at the local level. Address sprawl and increase transit-oriented development in our cities. Make sure that intra-city public transportation spurs dense growth in existing cities and use the density to create even more public transportation to increase its effectiveness.

Once you have a well-established and effective intra-city public transportation system in all the cities along a single corridor, then you should focus on inter-city high speed rail.

My reasoning behind that is simple; you want to maximize the advantages of HSR, which are:

1. Link high density urban cores
2. Move the most amount of people, possible only with increased density
3. Travel from your origin to your destination without the need for a car

Otherwise, you get on "HSR" from Seattle and get off at Eugene, Oregon, and then what? Rent a car?

You need maximum accessibility to public transportation at both your origin and destination to make HSR truly effective.

So long story short, focus on getting people around the city effectively before trying to get them out of the city.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 02:51 AM   #1554
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HAWC1506 View Post
Good points from both posts. Personally, I think the entire project should start at the local level. Address sprawl and increase transit-oriented development in our cities. Make sure that intra-city public transportation spurs dense growth in existing cities and use the density to create even more public transportation to increase its effectiveness.

[...]

You need maximum accessibility to public transportation at both your origin and destination to make HSR truly effective.

So long story short, focus on getting people around the city effectively before trying to get them out of the city.
Although I understood your idea, I respectfully disagree with it. HSR is meant to be a competitor to air travel in short haul routes, mainly. Then, as people can rent cars in airports, they could rent cars in HSR stations, if they were properly built near major interchanges instead of being cramped in a CBD or a downtown.

I don't like the idea of using the HSR as a mean to "address" a housing and living pattern (suburb) that majority of American households have chosen to live in as for 2007.

If I, a reasonable person willing to discuss the issue carefully, can spot this problem (using HSR as a corollary to impose top-down restrictions on development or to "fight" the suburban way of life, restricting choice for American citizens), you can easily imagine how easy would it be for a regular Tea Partier to grab the argument and run an ad accusing HSR projects as being "social engineering orchestrated by the liberal-in-Chief".

On the other hand, you wouldn't like to sell expensive (true) HSR projects as something to be used mainly by yuppie fat-cats living in Midtown, Manhattan to get to their preferred lobbyist in DC. So the best case scenario, IMO, would be to have a "non-European" HSR design, in which stations are places on cheap land nearby a massive edge town or office park complex, thus avoiding expensive urban construction costs and so.

Then, you replicate for HSR the same structure you have for airports: rail (normal or light, non HSR) connections to downtown, massive car rental parking lots, easy access to the regional interstate network, business hotels and outlet complexes. That would be a truly American HSR, one that people would find attractive to ride: driving there, parking their car, boarding the train, renting a car/taking a cab and reaching destination. There is nothing inherently wrong with that.

But if you want to "increase density" and "put growth boundaries in place" or so, people will start looking suspiciously at HSR.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 06:25 AM   #1555
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normally I don't agree with your posts but I agree with that one(sort of)

Many US cites don't have real train stations anymore, and it would complicated, expensive, and politically challenging to build a line directly into a city center when the majority of a metropolitan area's population is not concentrated there.

As for urban transit investment, I am a realist and would like to point out the comments made by current Federal Transit Administration chair, Peter Rogoff

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Old June 1st, 2010, 08:52 AM   #1556
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Quote:
I don't like the idea of using the HSR as a mean to "address" a housing and living pattern (suburb) that majority of American households have chosen to live in as for 2007.
Perhaps they chose it, or perhaps it was a choice of the government in concert with certain industries to promote the suburban lifestyle- the interstate highway system was a massive public i.e. government (tax) funded works project, not to mention zoning regulations favoring single use land and deemphasizing development (or indeed maintenance) of public and rail transport. Which is fine, considering the ample and seemingly endless quantities of cheap oil available. Some people believe that oil supplies have already peaked and are on a downward trend (we don't know, our Middle East suppliers keep supply information secret), and that the current pattern of US development (as well as agriculture and product distribution) which depends on cheap oil, will not be sustainable in the future. Whether that will come true we don't know, but if it does, it will certainly come at greater cost to adjust to the new conditions than if measures are begun now to somehow deal with the possibilty. As the well-known CIA motto goes- "hope for the best, prepare for the worst".

I certainly agree that HSR should be built to compete with short haul airline routes, which in most cases in the world subsequently disappear or diminish in the face of frequent HSR service. Airlines would rather focus on more profitable long haul routes than the short hauls- that's why so many of the big airlines spun off their short routes to subsidiaries or contract airlines with lower costs. "Transcon HSR" is a pipe dream- better to spend that money on upgrading the air traffic control system and promoting more efficent jet engines for airliners.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 09:07 AM   #1557
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No, many people choose suburbs because they like them. I know I prefer suburbs over the hell holes that are cities.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 02:27 PM   #1558
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No, many people choose suburbs because they like them. I know I prefer suburbs over the hell holes that are cities.
But you do have no prejudices against cities, right...
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Old June 1st, 2010, 04:20 PM   #1559
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Well, it would be futile to restart the discussion again. Some people think of suburbs as degenerations of cities, some (me including) think of them as the ultimate realization of post-industrial democratic Western individualism, allowing people to have mode discretion about where, when and with whom they want to interact.

This being said, my point is that, no matter how fancy they might sound, HSR projects will have a (probably) insuperable obstacle if they are not sold as a more efficient alternative to short haul flights (and indirectly to long haul flights through freeing up airport capacity) but as a mean to "reinvent" the way American people live.

Most American families are scared by the crisis, and they want to be reassured they will keep living in a good way, with decent houses, privacy, the autonomy conferred by a car and by a car only and so.

If one just ignores these political realities, HSR will never come to fruition in US.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 04:44 PM   #1560
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NIMBYism in the Northeast against Transit is strange , it works like this. If 1-2 Towns oppose it and the rest of the towns along the planned / proposed support it the nimby's are silence basically. As for High Speed Rail / Intercity there are a growing support for them in the Northeast , people are realizing we can't just build all these freeways. White / Black Flight is reserving and the Cities are becoming dense cores again. Like Newark or New Haven , which by the end of the decade will be the JCT for New lines. The Sprawl growth is starting to die and New Urbanism is happening more and more. Most College , singles and Couples without Children are moving to the Urban areas for a cheaper and simpler life. 60% of them use Mass Transit & 50% don't own cars. The Region is slowly become Europeanized , the New thing popping up in cities is Pedestrian plazas or Markets and reuse of industrial buildings. The Northeast is taking advantage of the many old and Abandoned Rail lines and restoring them for Light Rail , Commuter or Intercity purposes. The region seems to leaning away for the European type trains and for Asian type trains. We have alot of Asian Plants here like Rotem , Hyundai , Kawasaki ,& Siemens
Bombardier Transportation , GE Transportation , Alstom
have plants here aswell , and alot of those companies are building more plants to keep up with demand. The Majority of the Region's car Culture is starting to die , as new Transit lines and better connectivity opens up. The Political climate towards transit Republican or Democratic is also warmer and nicer.
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