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Old January 16th, 2008, 08:29 PM   #281
UrbanBen
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Originally Posted by grimesdr View Post
Now think how sad it is to see china have a maglev train that runs at 265 mph !! Now think of that same solution from NYC to Boston ( 235 miles ) do the math !! Why are we being left behind the rest of the world !! And we are wasting billions of $$ on a war just so oil compaines can have a big source of OIL !!!
Maglev is costly and unnecessary. With standard rail, you can do 225mph already (the Shinkansen FasTech 360, and planned TGV extensions in France). We could even do most of it with existing right of way - there are something like a dozen grade separations in Mass. that need to be funded, and trackwork and electrification need work. Granted, those speeds would also require right-of-way for curve work, but you could go a lot faster than we are now.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 08:39 PM   #282
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Amtrak needs to be destroyed and replaced with a reliable, regional, electric high-speed rail system (after the govt changes the weight requirements for trains which is absolutely ridiculous). Amtrak is probably the worst travel experience I've ever had in my life. It's absolutely dreadful!
If you destroy Amtrak, people will quickly forget about passenger rail entirely, and you'll never get what you want. Upgrading Amtrak is the only option that gets you anywhere.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 10:24 PM   #283
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Originally Posted by Svartmetall View Post
#1. Transportation of electric current over long distances = problematic.
Wrong: you don't need to do that: you can use several power station along the track.
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Originally Posted by Svartmetall View Post
#2. Money involved in upgrading such a vast network = problematic.
Wrong: you invest a bit but electric locomotives are more powerfull and spend less time in workshop than diesel-electric one that got two kind of engines.
A few pain for a big gain.

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#3. Poltical will = problematic.
Tis is THE only one problem.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 11:06 PM   #284
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Originally Posted by grimesdr View Post
Now think how sad it is to see china have a maglev train that runs at 265 mph !! Now think of that same solution from NYC to Boston ( 235 miles ) do the math !! Why are we being left behind the rest of the world !! And we are wasting billions of $$ on a war just so oil compaines can have a big source of OIL !!!
You have a valid argument, but to say that we went there just for oil is a little ridiculous. Why are gasoline prices so high and why has the US taken no oil from there if that is true?

Even if we had that money, I don't have enough faith in our current congress that it would be spent responsibly.
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Old January 17th, 2008, 03:30 AM   #285
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You have a valid argument, but to say that we went there just for oil is a little ridiculous. Why are gasoline prices so high and why has the US taken no oil from there if that is true?

Even if we had that money, I don't have enough faith in our current congress that it would be spent responsibly.
Well, we're not going to replace our federal programs at the state level at this point, so instead of faith, I'd say try work.
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Old January 17th, 2008, 03:33 AM   #286
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I work locally, I know what's going on and I write to politicians sporadically. But how much can I do to persuade the federal level besides writing to my congressman?
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Old January 17th, 2008, 04:42 AM   #287
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Well, I do work to support Amtrak Cascades at the state level, so I should qualify what I was saying before: I don't think Amtrak can be completely state-level, but for short routes like Portland-Seattle-Vancouver BC we can have state funding pick up some slack.

I think the real answer *for* the federal level is to create ridership locally. Supporting mass transit projects at home brings transit-comfortable pedestrians to mainline stations, and helps create corridor density. Potential ridership is a lot higher in corridors where there's a way to get to the main station without your car.
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Old January 17th, 2008, 01:21 PM   #288
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If you destroy Amtrak, people will quickly forget about passenger rail entirely, and you'll never get what you want. Upgrading Amtrak is the only option that gets you anywhere.
Well, I said replaced too. Build something really good like HSRs and also decent commuter rail services and kill Amtrak as soon as it is all done.

Laws need to be changed too, as I just mentioned in another thread, to remove ridiculous weight requirements for trains. Salt Lake County in UT is finally getting commuter trains -- huge, slow diesel monsters!

With these types of things and Amtrak, I think people have already forgotten rail. My Amtrak experiences sure made me want to (in the US that is).
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Old January 17th, 2008, 05:35 PM   #289
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Well, I said replaced too. Build something really good like HSRs and also decent commuter rail services and kill Amtrak as soon as it is all done.

Laws need to be changed too, as I just mentioned in another thread, to remove ridiculous weight requirements for trains. Salt Lake County in UT is finally getting commuter trains -- huge, slow diesel monsters!

With these types of things and Amtrak, I think people have already forgotten rail. My Amtrak experiences sure made me want to (in the US that is).
As long as you build HSR first, then merge the Amtrak routes into a new umbrella, I'm happy. I think, though, that it needs its own funding source - going to Congress every year for handouts doesn't work.
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Old January 18th, 2008, 02:49 PM   #290
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Breaking Amtrak into regional companies may be the way to get local needs but make them divisions of a Amtrak National Mass Transit Autority and make funding a 50/50 between states and the feds

For Example:

NERMTA = New England Regional Mass Transit Autority or
NERMTA = NorthEast Regional Mass Transit Autority
MARMTA = Mid Atlantic Regional Mass Transit Autority
SWRMTA = SouthWest Regional Mass Transit Autority
SERMTA = SouthEast Regional Mass Transit Autority
CRMTA = Chicago Regional Mass Transit Autority
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Old January 18th, 2008, 05:55 PM   #291
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Originally Posted by grimesdr View Post
Now think how sad it is to see china have a maglev train that runs at 265 mph !! Now think of that same solution from NYC to Boston ( 235 miles ) do the math !! Why are we being left behind the rest of the world !! And we are wasting billions of $$ on a war just so oil compaines can have a big source of OIL !!!
Dude, maglev is not going to happen for several reasons. First, it is unproven over long distances. Second, it is WOEFULLY horrific on energy usage. Third, it is doubtable how profitable it would be.

It is MUCH better to build a high speed CONVENTIONAL rail service. I mean, for example, by the end of 2008, Europe's fastest high speed rail service should be the one linking Madrid and Barcelona in under 2.5 hours (500 km separate the city as the crow flies, but the entire length of the HSL is 670 km as it was constructed to connect smaller cities like Zaragoza and Tarragona with the two main centers of the Spanish economy.

670km/2.5 hours = 268 km/h = 168 miles per hour average speed.

By a rough estimate, there are about 500 miles in between Boston and Washington, or about 800 km by road. Assuming that a new HSL would have roughly the same length, if we were to build as high quality a HSL, BOSTON and WASHINGTON would be 3 hours apart! Boston would be about 1hour and 20 minutes from New York City, and New York City would be 1 hour and 40 minutes from Washington.

The benefit of this would be that by stopping in more intermediate stops (by way of exiting the HSL and connecting to the current NE corridor, something that is IMPOSSIBLE to do with maglev), then Boston and Washington DC could be linked with smaller cities in UNDER 4 HOURS! Imagine what this would do to the NE corridor. Then imagine how impossible this would be with maglev, as you cut out all the intermediate cities.
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Old January 18th, 2008, 06:06 PM   #292
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First of all, Amtrak should be split into two divisions: Long-distance trains and regional trains. Those are two very different types of customers served. But you have to keep them connected under one organization so they can share things like ticketing. If you're going from Milwaukee to Denver, you need to be able to book one ticket, instead of one regional to Chicago and then the long distance to Denver.

Secondly, you need to have separate funding for capital improvements. That's what's holding passenger rail down right now. Amtrak can't afford to buy new rolling stock to increase capacity, and they don't have money to improve tracks to increase on-time-performance or reduce travel time.

I don't see why Amtrak shouldn't be given the money to double-track most of its corridors. Not only will that help passenger rail, it will also be a great thing for freight rail capacity and ultimately for our economy.

If we could get most passenger trains to run at 110 mph (I think that's the limit without having to separate the freight and passenger tracks), that would greatly increase the number of people using Amtrak. Then we'd have the critical mass and political will to build truly high-speed rail in select corridors.
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Old January 18th, 2008, 06:22 PM   #293
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First of all, Amtrak should be split into two divisions: Long-distance trains and regional trains. Those are two very different types of customers served. But you have to keep them connected under one organization so they can share things like ticketing. If you're going from Milwaukee to Denver, you need to be able to book one ticket, instead of one regional to Chicago and then the long distance to Denver.


The problem is I think Amtrak knows that doing so will lead to a more visible mildly profitable regional service but disastrously unprofitable long distance service.

I say that we simply get rid of the delusion of having a national passenger network and simply just have regional networks centered on major cities. What I think remains to be debated is what constitutes as "regional." IMO, if it under 4 hours from a major city by train, it can fall under a regional service.

Obviously though, improving the infrastructure means that this network could be extended further by way of increase speeds. Amtrak should concentrate on doing this, using money to improve regional services, as opposed to running long distance, even sleeper services that lose money just for the sake of having them.

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Secondly, you need to have separate funding for capital improvements. That's what's holding passenger rail down right now. Amtrak can't afford to buy new rolling stock to increase capacity, and they don't have money to improve tracks to increase on-time-performance or reduce travel time.

I don't see why Amtrak shouldn't be given the money to double-track most of its corridors. Not only will that help passenger rail, it will also be a great thing for freight rail capacity and ultimately for our economy.
I agree whole heartedly again.

The problem is that the US American public is hoodwinked by this delusion that passenger rail infrastructure should be private, but our passenger road infrastructure (i.e. interstates, state highways) should be toll-free and publicly funded. Until this mentality changes, it is political suicide to throw money at Amtrak. All that differs between the two major parties is the degree of political suicide.

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If we could get most passenger trains to run at 110 mph (I think that's the limit without having to separate the freight and passenger tracks), that would greatly increase the number of people using Amtrak. Then we'd have the critical mass and political will to build truly high-speed rail in select corridors.
IMO, we should have European-styled grades:

High Speed Lines - top speed of 320 km/h (200 mph) average speed of 240 km/h (150 mph)
Medium Speed Lines - top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph); average speed of 160 mph (100 mph)
Regular lines - top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph); average speed 120 km/h (75 mph).
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Old January 19th, 2008, 05:50 PM   #294
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Dude, maglev is not going to happen for several reasons. First, it is unproven over long distances. Second, it is WOEFULLY horrific on energy usage. Third, it is doubtable how profitable it would be.

It is MUCH better to build a high speed CONVENTIONAL rail service. I mean, for example, by the end of 2008, Europe's fastest high speed rail service should be the one linking Madrid and Barcelona in under 2.5 hours (500 km separate the city as the crow flies, but the entire length of the HSL is 670 km as it was constructed to connect smaller cities like Zaragoza and Tarragona with the two main centers of the Spanish economy.

670km/2.5 hours = 268 km/h = 168 miles per hour average speed.

By a rough estimate, there are about 500 miles in between Boston and Washington, or about 800 km by road. Assuming that a new HSL would have roughly the same length, if we were to build as high quality a HSL, BOSTON and WASHINGTON would be 3 hours apart! Boston would be about 1hour and 20 minutes from New York City, and New York City would be 1 hour and 40 minutes from Washington.

The benefit of this would be that by stopping in more intermediate stops (by way of exiting the HSL and connecting to the current NE corridor, something that is IMPOSSIBLE to do with maglev), then Boston and Washington DC could be linked with smaller cities in UNDER 4 HOURS! Imagine what this would do to the NE corridor. Then imagine how impossible this would be with maglev, as you cut out all the intermediate cities.

True I don't know what the energy cost are to Maglev. And maybe its not the solution, but there is room for it along I-95, but how it would fit into NYC is where the problems come in.
If we would fix the tracks so the trains could do 150 + MPH that would be great. Maybe add a third track for freight traffic and keep them off the passenger rails as much as possible.
I am not sure if you ever ride this line from Boston to NYC, but I do and its still need millions of dollars to fix bridges overhead power lines etc. And all our congress men ever do is say it needs to pay for its self or put band aid fixes to it. I have traveled on trains in Europe & Asia and ours over here are disgraceful.
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Old January 19th, 2008, 06:01 PM   #295
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You have a valid argument, but to say that we went there just for oil is a little ridiculous. Why are gasoline prices so high and why has the US taken no oil from there if that is true?

Even if we had that money, I don't have enough faith in our current congress that it would be spent responsibly.
I guess we agree on a few things. As far as why we have not taken oil out, well if they did then the price would go down and the oil companies would see their profits go down, second oil is a comodity and people that have vested interest in it want it to stay high. My thought is they want us to control Irag and so they (OIL industry ) can sit on it and tap into when they see the need.
And I agree that our Congress is useless when it comes to solving transportation problems.
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Old January 19th, 2008, 08:04 PM   #296
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The reason I don't think that we went there just for oil is that it would not be a partisan issue. Everyone would be against that and everyone would be calling for Bush's head. It's just too stupid of a move and not only would the whole US be against him, but all of the world. That's why he can't touch even a drop of that oil.

Anyway, I'm getting off topic. Yes, it would be great to have that money, but I'm betting that the money would be going down the black holes that are education and prisons (along with many others, but those two are the most glaring to me).
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Old January 20th, 2008, 11:34 AM   #297
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why is it that the United States one of the greatest countries in the world has a third world railway network that is something i am figuring out why???
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Old January 20th, 2008, 12:55 PM   #298
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why is it that the United States one of the greatest countries in the world has a third world railway network that is something i am figuring out why???
Its not very complicated!

We, The People, chose to build a first world highways system and support a first world airtravel network instead.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 01:18 PM   #299
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It would take more than just politics to roll out large scale electrification. It would take a complete cultural change to get people out of their cars and on to a train. Taxpayers are going to want to know why they they should pay the millions (if not billions) it would cost as well.

Freight alone would not be enough to warrant it either I don't think. Freight trains are run for hundreds of miles. The cost of electrifying that sort of distance is high, and furthermore the tracks and trains are all generally private companies. Why should the government pay to electify the tracks of a private company? Also unless there is an abundance of cheap electricity available it doesn't really make it such a worthwhile investment either.

I'm not sure but I also recall the public has at times become touchy about passenger trains sharing the same tracks as freight trains on account of accidents and stuff? To my knowledge the NE Corridor for example is not used for freights?
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Old January 21st, 2008, 06:28 AM   #300
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why is it that the United States one of the greatest countries in the world has a third world railway network that is something i am figuring out why???
I've been following this thread since you started it, and let me first thank you for bringing up the subject. Rail electrification has been an interest of mine since I purchased a new copy of "When the Steam Railroads Electrified" by William Middleton, that was nearly thirty years ago. In fact my nom de plume here is from a pioneer in rail electrification.

This is a very interesting subject, and I will start with some history using a few maps.

This was the maximum extent of electrification, reached in the thirties.

This map shows some postwar proposals, the only one executed was between New Haven and Boston.

This map shows what was proposed during the seventies in response to the oil embargo and its aftereffects. This map is the most disgusting due to the total inaction over the next three decades. At the time of the embargo I had a paper route, my father had a sales job and thus had to have gasoline to put food on the table, so he or my mom was forced to wait in a line several blocks long in order to buy a few gallons for the VW bug. I would see them while doing my rounds early in the morning and saw the hardship imposed upon my parents as a result of the embargo. And that was when we imported one third of what we need, today it is two thirds!

The electrification path not taken offered great potential to reduce our imports of oil. In peacetime we incurred around sixty billion dollars a year in military costs related to our dependence on oil from the Middle East, the Iraq War has totaled 457 billion dollars last time I checked. We spend a fortune to deal with symptoms of oil dependence, we need to shift the effort towards curing the disease itself. We need to attack the problem from both ends, the production and consumption ends, and rail electrification can make a key contribution towards the latter.

More details to come.
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