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Old January 1st, 2016, 10:09 AM   #3101
zaphod
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Originally Posted by Tower Dude View Post
Ya but with out regional rail or metro rail systems high speed rail is basically pointless
People might think this is crazy, but in 25 years I think self-driving cars will make high speed rail more practical. Basically super cheap taxis that instantly arrive to greet you at the station will make reaching your final destination much easier. A lot of people opt to drive distances of 3 or 4 hours not because it is convenient but only because they need to have a car with them at their destination. Otherwise the time savings would make a train or plane more desirable. Also eliminating the necessity of having the stations downtown(though desirable anyways) greatly increases the feasibility of getting a line built in the first place since urban segments will always be costly.

Of course on the other hand I think the comfort level of a self driving car might greatly reduce demand for commuter or slow speed intercity rail. Right now people chose rail and even flying so they can chill instead of driving. But if you could watch netflix and browse SSC while in your pajamas drinking a beer(why not?) while the car drives itself its no worse than being at home. Without the flaws of a human driver, who knows how fast these cars could go, too. 90 mph top speed for normal cars on rural interstates if a computer was behind the wheel seems plausible. Since they won't need close-by parking(your car will automatically valet itself) they will reduce demand or need for mass transit too. Especially if subscribing to a robot car share is affordable to low income people who currently ride the bus.

This is something that's been in the back of my mind when I think of the future of passenger rail and whether or not certain long term investments are worthwhile or not.

High speed rail, yes. General purpose road transportation will never be able to go that fast. But I don't know much money should be put into slow speed regional rail that isn't being built so much for capacity and speed but trip comfort.
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Old January 1st, 2016, 10:26 AM   #3102
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Ya you are right outside of New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Chicago. Maybe Los Angeles, San Fransico, Portland, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, and Denver. HSR is useless to most people but with Electric driverless cars HSR and other forms of mass transit become slightly more plausible
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Old January 1st, 2016, 01:08 PM   #3103
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The point of self-driving technology, however, are that the cars themselves will be a service, not a good, as you astutely pointed out. THIS is what car manufacturers are increasingly beginning to realize.

As a service, like any other, it internalizes all of the external costs associated with that mode. The idea that people will suddenly begin taking 500mi+ trips, just because the car can drive itself is misplaced, because the cost of that service will be higher, or as high as, flying or inter-city rail.

Think about it, if you have a service that forces the "driver" to suddenly pay, and consider, all of the marginal costs that are currently not charged to them (or are invisible), other modes become more competitive, not less.

Self-driving cars will likely never replace the role of regional/commuter rail in most markets (e.g. between NJ and NYC). In fact, I believe it will push more commuters in the opposite direction.

Taking away the human driver in an Uber won't necessarily reduce the price that much, overall, because it will still charge based on demand, and local governments will quickly learn it's easy to introduce user fees to "drivers" when these charges are masked as the marginal cost of a "fee" to use this service (i.e. you're gonna be paying a "VMT" equivalent, higher share of the fuel costs, a penalty for low occupancy, etc).

Self-driving cars won't harm transit, and they will not be a panacea. They'll simply ratchet down the personal-vehicle from the most preferred option, to one more equal with others.

As for HSR not being needed outside of the largest cities, the point of HSR is not that it's fast but that it connects markets between which people travel. The speed is ancillary. We focus too much on technicalities, whether something is above such-and-such threshold. The bottom line is the service needs to pair enough travel markets that demand is high enough to sustain the entire route. Speed is an operational consideration that helps induce demand by making the service more attractive than others, not the other way around; it only needs to be "fast enough" for what is needed to push passengers toward the mode. In fact, you'll notice that, despite much fanfare indicating otherwise, very few services in China actually even operate above the 300kmh, threshold. The half dozen or so that do, are longer-distance services that are aggressively competing with air travel, and many are services (lines) that operate along similar routes.

There are plenty of places where high-speed, inter-city service makes sense, if the service is adequate. The reason so few people take Amtrak, today, isn't because it's slow, I think. Amtrak either can't offer - or has failed to recognize the opportunity for - the shorter, intermediate services on its long-distance routes that are the true travel markets in much of the country. Because of this, ridership is low and fares are way too high, even for these shorter-distance trips.

Very few people travel between New Orleans and NYC, but more would travel between New Orleans and Charlotte (and all points, in between), if service - and fares - were adequate.

The challenge in establishing a National Network, in this country, is first bolstering this segment of the travel market before trying to embark on the more ambitious project of connecting some of them to one another - very few will need to be. There just isn't a market for much trans-continental, rail travel.
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Old January 2nd, 2016, 03:16 AM   #3104
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Old January 2nd, 2016, 12:02 PM   #3105
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Don't give up on US rail just yet. Amtrak, and other privately funded schemes may pull through.

The downfall of rail in the US was not without extensive help from tire, oil and bus companies with a strong interest in rails demise.

These companies have been hobbled, offshored, and otherwise disempowered, and the transit need remains.
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Old January 2nd, 2016, 01:19 PM   #3106
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HSR is useful even without great public transportation at both ends as long as either the place you are going to OR coming from is close to the station. For the other end you can use your car or taxi. That's a fairly common situation if you live in a vicinity of city A and go for a business trip to the downtown of city B.

About Chinese HSR - the top speed is not always extremely high, but they do achieve very high average speeds due to brand new lines almost entirely on viaducts or in tunnels.
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Old January 2nd, 2016, 08:59 PM   #3107
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The federal government should fund the construction of completely new lines and/or buy ones from private railroads.

I've always felt that good "low hanging fruit" exists between DC and Richmond. It would be an extension of the NEC and show off to the rest of the country what high speed rail can look like if done right. The line would go through moderately rolling hills but it would be pretty rural and not too hard to get land for tracks I think. It would greatly speed up many different trains and improve quality of travel for many passengers since Richmond is where multiple long distance and regional services from the South combine into a single "trunk". Longer term it would be cool if we had fast diesels as far as Norfolk.

I guess all this boils down to why we actually need/want better trains though. Is it just national pride, or is there some serious need? Is it a problem in search of a solution or what? Personally I think it does fill a real need for transportation between strong urban economies and marginal outlying ones, creating more opportunities. People could do job interviews in another city easily, businesses could shuffle managers between locations, specialist doctors could commute between different hospitals without sacrificing lots of time. I dunno. What proposals accomplish that and which ones don't? CAHSR would be helpful to the Central Valley. So would anything in the Midwest, but those states are going through a conservative swing and won't commit to a project like this.
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Old January 2nd, 2016, 09:31 PM   #3108
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The NEC should be at least extended down to Richmond and Northwards to Portland,ME... I would completely grade separate and build bypasses to reduce the travel times.
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Old January 3rd, 2016, 12:48 AM   #3109
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You'd be talking billions and billions to directly link south station and north station in Boston though. I think the Big Dig being a big hassle may have ruined a big dig for trains, right?

I think it would make more sense to have "fast" 125 mph trains with Siemens Charger diesel locomotives going to Portland, ME and also Nashua and Manchester in NH. The difference in speed between that and a true high speed railway would be marginal but the difference in cost very large I think due to the short to moderate distances involved. But fast rail would be good enough to make trips between downtown Boston and those places really convenient and help improve their local economies. Its an example of what I thinking about in my last post-Boston has lots of jobs and business and opportunities but its also very expensive to live there. Southern New Hampshire and Maine are economically depressed but cheap and just barely beyond the limit of what most people consider reasonable commute times from Boston. Joining them would give each the thing it lacks and fix the greatest problems the region faces.
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Old January 3rd, 2016, 02:48 AM   #3110
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Ya and if Boston is going to spend billions on transportation projects an extension of the blue and green lines, and the conversation of the silver line to LRT would be good, also the electrification of the south station lines would be good as well as well as a renegotiation of the NEC deal they have with Amtrak.
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Old January 3rd, 2016, 04:53 AM   #3111
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Some trains at Monmouth JCT

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Old January 3rd, 2016, 04:48 PM   #3112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod View Post
I've always felt that good "low hanging fruit" exists between DC and Richmond. It would be an extension of the NEC and show off to the rest of the country what high speed rail can look like if done right. The line would go through moderately rolling hills but it would be pretty rural and not too hard to get land for tracks I think. It would greatly speed up many different trains and improve quality of travel for many passengers since Richmond is where multiple long distance and regional services from the South combine into a single "trunk". Longer term it would be cool if we had fast diesels as far as Norfolk.
A good eye!

DC-Richmond has historically been something of a bottleneck in the US rail network. From DC north was historically the province of Northern railroads (esp. the PRR and B&O); for routes that served Tidewater, Richmond was the northern terminus.

These two termini were historically linked by a bridge hauler, the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac (RF&P) that maintained a monopoly status on the traffic all the way to 1991 (!) when it was merged with CSX, which, by that point, it was making most of its money from anyhow.

A new high-speed line between DC and Richmond would therefore be useful to increase capacity between the two cities for both passenger and freight trains. Heck, done right, you would put a high-speed and fast freight line right next to each other, and reserve the old ROW for local pax services. That would be the solution most in keeping with international best practices.
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Old January 5th, 2016, 08:22 AM   #3113
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Some Recent Beautiful Northeast Corridor photos taken by Jose Rendon


Amtrak Pennsylvanian Train No. 42 on Track 2 approaching Edison Station as the sun goes down on a cold and windy day
by J Rendon, on Flickr


Amtrak Pennsylvanian Train No. 42 heading to NYC
by J Rendon, on Flickr


Amtrak Acela Express heads westbound as the sun sets
by J Rendon, on Flickr
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Old January 6th, 2016, 01:05 AM   #3114
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One day soon there will nice modern catenary installed and that view will look even better!
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Old January 7th, 2016, 04:30 AM   #3115
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Overhauled Penn Station

Some New/Old Renderings of Penn station


Redeveloped Penn Station Exterior: View from 8th Avenue
by governorandrewcuomo, on Flickr


Farley Post Office Redevelopment: View from New Train Hall
by governorandrewcuomo, on Flickr


Completed Empire Station Complex Rendering
by governorandrewcuomo, on Flickr


New LIRR 33rd Street Concourse Rendering
by governorandrewcuomo, on Flickr


Empire Station Complex: 33rd Street Entrance by Day
by governorandrewcuomo, on Flickr


Empire Station Complex: 33rd Street Entrance by Night
by governorandrewcuomo, on Flickr


Empire Station Complex: Exterior View from Southeast
by governorandrewcuomo, on Flickr


Empire Station Complex: Midblock Section
by governorandrewcuomo, on Flickr
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Old January 7th, 2016, 06:00 AM   #3116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod View Post
One day soon there will nice modern catenary installed and that view will look even better!
There keeping the PRR design , so while it will be newer it won't change.
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Old January 7th, 2016, 06:08 AM   #3117
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Wallingford rail project on track for 2018 completion

http://www.nhregister.com/general-ne...018-completion
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Old January 9th, 2016, 03:56 PM   #3118
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New Hudson rail tunnel project would dwarf initial plan < read the article here

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ARC vs. Gateway

Both the current Gateway proposal and the canceled ARC project would put two new sets of tracks under the Hudson River and build a loop that bypasses Secaucus Junction to provide a one-seat ride from North Jersey. Here are some of the key differences:

COST

ARC: $8.9 billion

Gateway: $20 billion

NEW YORK TERMINUS

ARC: New transit hub under West 34th Street between Eighth and Sixth avenues.

Gateway: Expansion of Penn Station one block south between 30th Street and 31st Street.

NEW TRACKS

ARC: Additional tracks between |Secaucus Junction and Manhattan.

Gateway: Additional tracks between Newark Penn Station and Manhattan.

ADDED TO GATEWAY
  • Rehabilitation and rebuilding of existing Hudson tunnels.
  • Replacement of century-old Portal Bridge in Secaucus with twin, two-track, high-level bridges.
  • Replacement and renewal of 105-year-old, two-track rail embankment between Newark and Secaucus. Also, building of two additional rail lines running parallel to the embankment.
  • Replacement of Sawtooth Bridge over |Passaic River, plus expansion of railway line from two to four tracks.
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Old January 11th, 2016, 09:00 AM   #3119
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nice footage from Prelinger Archive showing the Key Railroad, which serviced San Francisco Transbay Terminal from East Bay communities including running on dedicated lanes of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge.
https://archive.org/details/6358_HM_...59_01_15_49_00

this Transbay light rail service ended in 1962
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Old January 12th, 2016, 01:54 AM   #3120
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Gateway is an extremely exciting project.. It would fix almost all the major issues with NYC and intercity services. Too bad it has an absolutely stupifying price tag.
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