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Old January 2nd, 2006, 12:25 AM   #41
Frank J. Sprague
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A number of the NHS High Priority Corridors have parallel rail routes or at least have rail lines connecting their end points. An example would be the (3) East-West Transamerica Corridor commencing from the Hampton Roads, going by way of Roanoke and ending up in New Mexico, going through Amarillo along the way.

Amarillo is on the BNSF transcontinental mainline which is already in very good shape, nearly all double tracked (with plans to close the few remaining gaps). A lot of intermodal traffic flows on this line between California and the Midwest. At one time Amarillo was a gateway from this line to Memphis via the Rock Islands "Choctaw Route," but this was severed in 1980 with the bankruptcy of the Rock Island.

Further east the short route between Nashville and Knoxville on the old Tennessee Central Railway has also been cut, but plans are underway to rebuild the missing link.

From line between Knoxville to Roanoke is on the route which has been proposed for upgrading as far as Harrisburg.
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Old January 2nd, 2006, 09:50 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank J. Sprague
Interesting article, I've also spend a great deal of time in Japan and am amazed at some of the private railways which began as interurban's, and they keep getting better! For work I travel on the Keinan line between Moriguchi and Kadoma (Kansai region around Osaka), its only 2 stops but I've traveled the entire line in my off time including several branches.

There is a branch which travels to the town of Uji (with a temple shown on the 10 yen coin). 1997 was the first time I visited, in 2000 I went again and they had built a beautiful new station.

In Kyoto there was a line which traveled on the surface from a terminal at Sanjo station eastward to Lake Biwa, with in a few years it had been relocated to a subway which it shares with other subway trains.

The tempo of operation is amazing to see. Where the branchline to Uji meets the Keihan mainline there are 6 tracks IIRC. The eastmost pair handle the Uji branch trains, of the remaining 4 tracks the the inside pair handle both express and limited express trains with the other 2 handling locals. The local and express tracks in each direction share a platform, making transfers very easy.

You can watch as a local pull into the outside track and waits, a few minutes later the express arrives and the passengers can transfer bewteen trains. Then the express will leave, followed shortly by the local. This is where the mainline is only 2 tracks, closer to Osaka it is a 4 track main. This shows what is possible with light rail lines in the future.

In Japan people seem to have higher expectations which begets higher results. In the US we seem to settle for low expectations and end up with low results. The one flaw I see with the article is the bilingual PA system, a nation which sets higher expectations of its railway system will set higher expectations for immigrants, that they assimilate to us rather than we assimilate to them. Its hard to be a first rate nation when you become balkanized, Japan has not balkanized and they seem far ahead of us in many aspects. If the US is a first world nation they must be zero world nation.

The Indianapolis Interurban Terminal.

"Of all the words on tongue and pen the saddest are what might have been."
@Frank--
I think there are a couple of reasons that the Japanese passenger rail system is in much better shape than the American. High expectations are definitely one reason.

Japanese rail companies and the government have consistently funded improvements (not necessarily expansion) over the past 50 years. In many families, it is rare to have two cars.

Even in the suburbs, parking is often unavailable. Dad (almost always) takes the train to work, and Mom keeps the car during the day.

Gasoline is also quite expensive here, compared to the US, although the gap has narrowed in the past year.

Highways are also all toll here, and the narrow streets in most of Japan mean that fast driving is definitely not an option. That cant be said in most of the US...

I think that any expansion of rail in bigger car-dependent cities would have to be coupled with a reduction in car-capacity (either by reducing lanes or not expanding in the face of growth), to push people to transit. The cities will then build around it.
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Old January 2nd, 2006, 07:55 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjfjapan
Highways are also all toll here, and the narrow streets in most of Japan mean that fast driving is definitely not an option. That cant be said in most of the US...

I think that any expansion of rail in bigger car-dependent cities would have to be coupled with a reduction in car-capacity (either by reducing lanes or not expanding in the face of growth), to push people to transit. The cities will then build around it.
I think the philosophy should be to attract people to transit rather them push them to it, and I think the auto and transit should be viewed as complimentary to each other. The US over past several decades has failed to invest in all sorts of infrastructure for several decades, including both highways and rail. Investing in both would allow shared ROW such as the T-REX project in Denver, this is how many of our urban freeways should have built to begin with.

This type of construction would also allow for future conversion to automated rapid transit in the future. We also need to address why transit projects in the US have such high costs compared to other nations. An example is the River Line DMU in New Jersey compared with the Metrosur of Madrid.

Transit in Japan or Singapore is easier to use than in the US, and that is even considering that I do not speak Japanese! I am free to take long trips in Japan that I would not dare attempt in the US. In Seattle we have a bus tunnel beneath the city (actually shut down right now). A few years ago we were parked in the south end of town and took the bus through the tunnel up to Westlake Mall on a Saturday. Amazingly it shut down at 6:00PM (and never opened on Sundays) and we were forced to find our way back on another bus that ran on the surface, which took some doing.

In Singapore I can go to bus stop and they will have a sign telling each bus which stops there, and listing destinations and telling you which buses you can take to get there. Complete freedom to travel. I bought a pass in Singapore that you merely scan getting on and off the bus or MRT to deduct the cost of your ride, it even takes into account transfers so you pay only the extra cost of continuing your trip rather than paying for 2 separate trips.

My daughter is in college and wanted to take the bus, after 2 months she gave it up. She did not mind the extra time but the Byzantine rules that went with the monthly pass. She also wished to make other journeys on the card but finding information on the complete sytem is like pulling teeth. I'd like to take someone who runs a system like Singapore or in Japan and see what results they could get with an American transit system.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 12:24 AM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank J. Sprague
Yes, however there are proposals to electrify the line that runs between San Fransisco and San Jose.

A very low percentage, I think about 5 billion passenger miles per year, in 1945 at the peak it was nearly 100 billion. To put that in perspective the airlines in the US handle about 700 billion passenger miles per year, and the highways handle several trillion. So it would be less than one percent.
Yeah, cuz trains never appear on movies, its like they dont exist.

Quote:
I'm not able to post HTML yet so I will give a few links:
http://www.pell.portland.or.us/~efbrazil/russa_pb.html
http://www.pell.portland.or.us/~efbrazil/russa_pb.html
http://www.pell.portland.or.us/~efbr...ef_delect.html
That is a sad thing to see, it gives me a sense of deja vu. I recall in 1973 our family was returning home from vacation through Montana on I-90. At one point the Milwaukee Road ran parallel to the freeway and as luck would have it a freight train pulled by a "Little Joe" was going our way. We ran alongside for miles, that was so cool.
Great, thanks for the links!

Quote:
Later that year we had the Arab oil embargo and I thought how lucky the Milwaukee Road was to be using electricity rather than oil. How wrong I was, the next year they tore it out, I can still remember reading it in the newspaper and thinking we were stepping back from the future.
That was the time we implemented the Alcohol for Cars program in Brazil, but unfortunately scrapped most railroads, so today we have virtually no passenger trains.
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Old January 4th, 2006, 06:02 AM   #45
Frank J. Sprague
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A network of passenger trains is being promoted by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.



For a larger image click here, then click on the map for magnification. One of the groups proposals is the Abe Lincoln Express which would connect Chicago and St Louis 5 times a day. This follows the incremental approach and would allow for expansion in the future.

The federal government should set a policy of creating grade separation where ever a US Highway crosses a designated high speed corridor. Even if it is a single track the overpass (or underpass) should allow for a 4 track main in the future with electrification at 25,000 volts. In addition finacial aid and encouragement should be given to do the same with state and local highways and arterials.

As can be seen by the map the network is focused upon Chicago which would be logical given it relative size in the area. Future upgrades should connect other cities independently of Chicago, for example a line line between Indianapolis to Dayton would allow the former a highspeed connection to Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

The line between Chicago and Indianapolis would make an excellent conversion to a true high speed line delivering TGV and Shinkansen levels of service. On this stretch of line it could then improve service between Chicago and several other points such as Cinncinatti, Louisville and Dayton, and even further points such as Nashville.

The feeder bus lines could be converted to DMU, providing this can be done at German levels of cost rather that to costs of several recent examples closer to home. Then we could see something like the Talent in service along the old route of the Crandic Comets.

Through Iowa they make use of the Iowa Interstate Railroad. This uses the old mainline of the Rock Island Railroad and passes through Des Moines, Iowa, the largest city between Chicago and Omaha. Amtrak trains are currently routed to the south between these 2 points, missing Des Moines. This line presents an opportunity to create a higher speed rail line connecting Chicago-Des Moines-Omaha, leaving most of the existing traffic on the present UP mainline.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 05:49 AM   #46
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Really great idea, and a nice plan, but it still seems a bit like an overgrown commuter rail system still. It's cool for those people going to and from Chicago, but what about everyone else? What about connecting other cities? A good transportation system will drive business and development, and I think that the plan shown really only works for Chicago workers and business, and probably would be ignored by everyone else. That's why the idea of having local states control rail in their area is, I think a bad idea.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 05:54 AM   #47
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The problem with this proposal is, what do people do once they arive at their destination? In Europe, you get on a high speed train in Madrid, and you can get off in Seville which has a great bus network as well as regional train network. Better yet, in a couple of years, high speed rail will connect Madrid and Barcelona, two cities with fantastic subway networks. Or an even better example is London and Paris, which have some of the largest public transport networks in the world.

If I take the train from Des Moine to Omaha, I will need to rent a car because there is no real public transportation (we know how Americans approach buses). So, what is the use of taking a train if I have to rent a car once I reach my destination?
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Old January 6th, 2006, 08:18 AM   #48
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DonQui, I agree with you. This is what I was thinking about US public transportation all the time. I live in DC-Baltimore area. DC and Baltimore are about 35 miles apart. It is like northern Tokyo and Yokohama. However, DC and Baltimore are pretty much two different cities while Tokyo functions together with Yokohama. DC metro and bus transportation are actually very good by the American standard. However, Baltimore public transportation is not well organized. I often travel between Georgetown in DC and Mount Vernon in Baltimore. It takes only 90 to 100 minutes by car. But if I use train and bus, it would take more than three hours, probably close to four hours. At the current gas price, it costs far less by car than by train and bus. Then what is the point of using public transportation?

Expanding the public transportation in US is very difficult. The low population density is partially blamed on about the failure of public transportation in US. For example, there is a big residential area in Towson, north of Baltimore. However, the houses there are rather big and sparsely built, which means that even though we build train network there, there are not many people living around each station and there shouldn't be many passengers using the service. As a matter of fact if we can build nice metro rail connecting from north of Towson through Penn Station and Baltimore harbor to Fells Point and there are train services every 15 minutes from 6AM to 1AM, this train service should be very convenient for many people living in both downtown Baltimore and Towson. However, I doubt if this kind of project economically makes sense. But I would say that we need to think about the public transportation system from down-to-top rather than from top-to-down if we are really serious about it.

In a way you can say that the city planning in US is a result of cheap oil. Even in Japan there are some sprawls in north of Tokyo, which is pretty much the result of popularity of private cars. In the era of cheap oil, freight transportation business by train hasn't been able to compete well with the business by truck and ship in Japan either. But as we already know, the era of cheap oil is ending. The city structure and the mode of transportation will be forced to change anyway. The transition would be hard because it will cost much more then than now to build nice train systems. Then the failure of building good public transportation system might be the result of errors of governmental policy to keep the gas tax low and to let car makers to make a lot of profits.
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Old January 8th, 2006, 05:09 AM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudship
Really great idea, and a nice plan, but it still seems a bit like an overgrown commuter rail system still. It's cool for those people going to and from Chicago, but what about everyone else? What about connecting other cities? A good transportation system will drive business and development, and I think that the plan shown really only works for Chicago workers and business, and probably would be ignored by everyone else. That's why the idea of having local states control rail in their area is, I think a bad idea.
That was why I made the suggestion that Indianapolis be connected to Dayton, in addition Indianapolis to St Louis would allow more travel patterns. The NYC and Pennsylvania Railrods each had a line connecting these points, this was consolidated into a single line by Conrail.

You are correct that this needs to be a federal program in the long run, but the initial phases may well be local, just as the Pennsylvania Turnpike preceded the Interstate Highway System by twenty years. High priority corridors such as the Avenue of the Saints should be paralleled by upgraded rail lines to handle freight at up to 70mph and passenger at 100mph.
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Old January 8th, 2006, 05:53 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonQui
The problem with this proposal is, what do people do once they arive at their destination? In Europe, you get on a high speed train in Madrid, and you can get off in Seville which has a great bus network as well as regional train network. Better yet, in a couple of years, high speed rail will connect Madrid and Barcelona, two cities with fantastic subway networks. Or an even better example is London and Paris, which have some of the largest public transport networks in the world.

If I take the train from Des Moine to Omaha, I will need to rent a car because there is no real public transportation (we know how Americans approach buses). So, what is the use of taking a train if I have to rent a car once I reach my destination?
Europe spent decades building their public transport infrastructure, we cannot expect the same results overnight. Unlike Europe I think we would need to have a greater emphasis on travel with the auto using RO/RO overland ferry trains. Something like the trains used to shuttle passengers below Alpine passes but traveling greater distances with overnight accomodations.

Personally I would find such a train which departed the outskirts of Seattle and traveled overnight to Bozeman, Montana very useful. Traveling to a city which has good public transport would also make a passenger train a better option, such as going from Des Moines to Chicago. I drove to Portland last year and it ended up that the places I visited were all next to light rail lines with the exception of a museum in McMinnville to the southwest.

One thing against such a trip is getting to downtown Seattle and parking, there is a station closer with good parking in Everett but most of the trains do not run north of Seattle. In the long run the service should be hourly in both directions between Vancouver BC and Portland running on electrified trackage. It will take time to achieve this of course but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Changing a trend at three percent a year yields big results in the long term. We did not get hooked on imported oil overnight, it happened incrementally. Right now we import 4 billion barrels of oil per year, we won't be weaned off of it overnight. Reducing oil imports by three percent per year is a reasonable goal and in a decade the results will be dramatic. Whatever gets us there is a good thing, better fuel economy, synthetic fuel and substitutes to using oil (rail electrification) is worthwhile.

We spent, prior to Iraq, sixty billion defense dollars per year to assure the flow of oil from the Middle East even though most of our oil imports are obtained elsewhere. A $15 bbl import tariff on oil would yield 60 billion dollars per annum at present levels of consumption and serve to discourage oil imports while raising money to spend on infrastructure to make us less dependent upon imported oil.

As the oil imports are brought down the tariff would need to go up to raise the same revenue. For example importing three billion barrels of oil per year would require a $20 bbl tariff to compensate for the oil defense costs. At a certain time you will reach the point where it is no longer possible to raise the funds to pay for defense of the Mideast oil supply, but that will be because imports are so low that defending the supply will no longer be needed (at least for the US).
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Old January 8th, 2006, 07:28 AM   #51
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Currently US import 60-65% of oil from Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Venezuela. Canadian and Mexican oil fields have peaked recently. According to Mr. Simmons (a famous oil investor in Texas and a former advisor for Mr. Bush), Saudi Arabia oil fields peaked last year. US oil fields peaked in 1971. Since then US oil production has decreased year by year. US generate only 3-4% of electricity from oil. Therefore construction of coal and nuclear power plants does not help to reduce oil consumption (US are currently constructing about 100 coal-fired power plants and one nuclear power plant). US import about 30% of natural gas from Canada and Mexico. However, natural gas has already peaked in North America. Therefore US government is trying to build liquid natural gas facility in several places. The biggest natural gas reserves in the world are located in Russia and Middle East. Therefore US will have to import a lot of LNG from those countries very soon. Russia already used their natural gas reserves to give a wake-up call to Europe last week. US are not a favorite country in most of Middle East countries.

Since I am not a geologist, I am not in a position to evaluate the whole issues about oil peak. For those who are interested in this line of issues, please refer to some websites (http://www.theoildrum.com/, http://www.peakoil.ie/) and withdraw your own conclusions. Although US major media is silent about oil peak issue, BBC in UK and several major networks in Europe and Australia already reported the issue on air. As far as I see, it would be very difficult for US to be independent of imported oil. It seems to me that international geopolitical games revolving around oil have already started.

But still energy conservation is very important. In Europe about 60 to 70% of gas price is tax while in US only about 20% is tax. Therefore US gas price is far cheaper than European gas price although the gas price without tax is not much different between US and Europe. High gas price encourages Europeans to use small cars and mass transportation. European governments have spent the money on development of mass transportation systems. Europeans have worked on this policy step by step. Therefore people could adjust their life style gradually. On the contrary, US will have to do the same with a very short notice. People who bought big SUVs cannot sell their cars for small cars immediately. People who bought big Mac mansions in suburbia cannot sell their houses for small houses in downtown immediately. The city planning in US makes very difficult for Americans to be energy-efficient.
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Old January 8th, 2006, 09:12 AM   #52
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Strandk, that was a very good post. Since I use Frank J. Sprague as my nom de plume I must point out that nuclear energy can in fact replace oil imports via railway electrification. This is from replacing the oil used by our railroads, plus the oil used by transportation that is shifted to rail. Substituting trackless trolleys for buses has the same potential.

A $15 per bbl tariff on oil will also prevent any synthetic oil producers in the US from being strangled in the crib by OPEC, as Saudi Arabia did to the oil shale industry back in 1985.

I think Russia provided a valuable refresher course on the dangers of becoming dependent upon other nations for energy. A lot of our natural gas is actually being used to generate electricity, that is very wasteful. A tariff on LNG imports would keep us from getting in the same spot as we are with oil imports, anyway LNG tankers are a disaster waiting to happen.
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Old January 8th, 2006, 01:49 PM   #53
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There are numerous oil rigs in USA where workers collect small amount of oil each by each in very inefficient manners. At the current oil price this kind of business is very viable. Canadian oil shale is getting attentions because high oil price makes exploitation of oil shale economically competitive. However, oil shale business is very energy-intensive. It requires a lot of heat generated by natural gas whose reserve is now dwindling in North America. There is even an idea to build nuclear reactors for oil shale fields. The problem of the exploitation of small oil fields or oil shale is that we cannot expect a lot of oil from these oil fields. No matter how much money and efforts we spend, the amount of oil that we can get is getting smaller and smaller when oil fields get depleted. This is the fundamental problem derived from oil peak. Tariff is meaningless because we just don't have a lot of oil under the ground.

Therefore there are only two ways to deal with this problem, alternative energy and energy conservation. What you are suggesting is exactly what France and Japan are trying to do. France has 63 nuclear reactors (75% of electricity comes from nuclear energy. They are planning to add another one reactor by 2020) and good train systems. Japan has 56 nuclear reactors and is still constructing nuclear reactors (They said that they would double the power generation from nuclear reactors by 2050) and has probably the best train system in the world. When they need to reduce the number of cars, they could do without a lot of pains because of their good mass transportation systems. I saw energy news about the energy conservation plan in Japan. They said that they would aim to cut 30% of energy consumption by 2030.

US have entertained big advantages having a lot of oil, natural gas, and coal. Therefore if US have put comparable effort to France or Japan, US energy situation should have been much better than energy situations of any other countries. However, US have not done anything since Mr. Carter tried to start up the energy program. US wasted thirty years.

This is a Department of Energy-commissioned report of February 2005, "Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management" by Dr. Hirsch. If you are not familiar with this report, this website will help you to understand it (http://globalpublicmedia.com/interviews/615).











In the world of ideology of free economy, only viable way to force people to change their life styles is to change the price of merchandize. High oil price does the job in this case.
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Old January 8th, 2006, 04:37 PM   #54
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By the way, I have a movie of a "Russa" of FEPASA in action. If someone here has some interess on it, just ask!
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Old January 8th, 2006, 04:46 PM   #55
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The problem of Amtrak is that is a system based on poorer versions of the luxury trains of *fourty*, fifty years ago. Why, except a tourist, railfan or some happy children will want to travel, for an example, in the Southeast Chief, instead of flying between Chicago and LA?
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Old January 8th, 2006, 09:21 PM   #56
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Actually tariffs will encourage both conservation, substitution and alternative energy such as silviculture, thermal depolymerization and cellusose ethanol. Oil in and of itself has no intrinsic value, it is only a means to something else rather than an ends. Oil only has value due to the investment of massive amounts of both public and private capital.

Up to a point the public capital invested in making oil useful was collected mainly from the users of the oil, eg gas taxes for roads. Assuming the burden of defense "East of Suez" in the decade following 1971 changed this. At the time getting involved in the Mideast was seen as a strategic distraction from the main event and the US prefered supporting the "twin pillars" of Imperial Iran and Saudi Arabia to direct involvement. With the winding down of the Cold War the Mideast now seems to be the raison dtre of our defense rather than a mere sideshow.

In peacetime this reached the point where we spent sixty billion dollars per year to assure the free flow of oil from the Mideast. Even were a tariff to fail to reduce America's oil imports by a single drop it would still be worthwhile in that it would raise the revenue to cover these costs from where the costs are incured. Considering the number of years oil imports have gotten a free ride courtesy of the US treasury a tariff of $15 per bbl would actually be too low.

Right now we have 150,000 Americans deployed to Iraq, imagine what we could achieve if 150,000 Americans were erecting overhead catenary, laying extra track, building new railway lines and tunnels.
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Old January 8th, 2006, 10:11 PM   #57
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About 70% of oil is consumed for transportation in USA. More than 90% of it is used for car transportation. The rest is for airplanes. Energy used for train transportation is negligible compared with other modes of transportation. Therefore if we can replace all the gas guzzling cars with small hybrid cars, we should be able to cut the oil consumption by up to 20%. It is even better if we can use mass transportation on the scale of Japan. Then we could reduce oil consumption by another 20%. I think that Mr. Simmons was also talking about the number such as 20 to 30% oil consumption cut in one of his interviews. However, as I wrote, people who bought big SUVs cannot sell their cars for small cars immediately, and people who bought big Mac mansions in suburbia cannot sell their houses for small houses in downtown immediately. It takes time to change our lifestyle. But the time is limited. Even after this grandiose effort, US will still have to import a lot of oil.

There are many debates about biofuels in many websites (http://peakoil.com/index.php, http://www.theoildrum.com/). As far as I know, the availability of biofuels as alternatives for oil is very limited. If you think about coal and oil as the result of accumulation of solar energy for million of years, it is pretty natural that the energy that can be harvested from plants on the yearly basis is very limited. China started to construct two coal liquification plants. Japan started to construct a pilot gas-to-liquid plant which will be applied to gas fields in Indonesia. If you check out the Hirsh report, you will know that US government is considering everything including coal liquification plants. Dr. Hirsh is an expert in this field who used to work for Mr. Schlesinger, a former Secretary of Energy, Defense, and so on. Recently Mr. Schlesinger made a speech about the grave situation of energy at the congress. Any debates on this issue must start from the opinions of experts such as Dr. Hirsh.
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Old January 8th, 2006, 10:29 PM   #58
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Mr. Sprague, I agree with you about deployment of US military for infrastructure construction. Actually I was thinking about the same thing for a long time. The US government might start considering this when the situation is getting more desperate than now. Some people say that we need a plan like 'Manhattan project' to deal with this problem. Once we reach to some point, I think that we will start something very aggressive including deployment of military for infrastructure construction.
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Old January 9th, 2006, 09:02 AM   #59
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Thanks for the links, that was very interesting. I found the Hirsh Report (pdf) and found it very interesting. They used estimated peak oil at 100 MM bpd but figured it could run 20% either way. Ken Deffeyes has gone on record as saying it already occured this past Thanksgiving.

Rails do at present consume only about 1.5% of our oil, most of the saving from electrification would come from shifting long haul freight to rail, of course it will take more than just electrifiction to be able to handle the traffic, more lines with multiple track, better signaling and realignments. Trucking consumes 16% of our oil so shifting half of our trucking ton-miles to rail could yield a savings approaching 10%.

I found the section on coal to liquids most interesting, the report stated that the Sasol 3 plant went on line threes after the decision to build it was made. The report estimated that five 100,000 bpd plants could be built per year, 4 years after the decision to construct them was made, on a crash program basis similar to to the synthetic rubber industry we built in WW2. It also carried the caveat that the US may end up exporting coal to another nation such as China to have it converted into liquid fuels. That would be very wasteful due to all the oil consumed in shipping.

In fact the one weakness I can spot in the report is that it had no mention of the oil used in shipping goods across the ocean that can be made nearer to the consumer. Sending a shipload of iron ore from Australia to South Korea, and then shipping the autos made from that ore to the US uses far more fuel than if the iron ore was sent to the US in the first place.

Finally I was thinking about your scenario of all the McMansion owners in exburbia unable to maintain their lifestyle after peak oil. Considering the vast investment that would be lost if they abandoned their homes it would be worthwhile for them to develop mass transit to protect their homes, in particular if the projects can be implemented for Spanish or Norwegian levels of cost rather than recent US experience. Say their suburb has 5000 homes (each costing an average of $400,000) located 10 miles from rapid transit. A ten mile line such as the Gardermoen line "should" be doable for about 113 million dollars. That would be for a double tracked and electrified line with some degree of tunneling involved. Their houses would represent two billion dollars in value. If their suburb happens to have a rails to trails pathway they can do a trails to rails program and come up with something like the Ammertalbahn for even less. In the past several trolley lines were built to promote real estate values, the present system in Cleveland began this way.
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Old January 9th, 2006, 11:26 AM   #60
FM 2258
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndreKenji
The problem of Amtrak is that is a system based on poorer versions of the luxury trains of *fourty*, fifty years ago. Why, except a tourist, railfan or some happy children will want to travel, for an example, in the Southeast Chief, instead of flying between Chicago and LA?
I agree, there's really no point in taking rail for long distances unles you live between Washington, DC and Boston, MA. Then again in that case maybe flying or driving is better. At least with trains you don't have traffic jams.....or I don't think they do.



Aside from Amtrak, we need to figure out a rail solution for cities with lots of suburban sprawl. I recently took a flight from Houston to Austin and it was really sad because my drive home from the airport was a little over an hour while the flight was 30 minutes. I would gladly take a train to the airport if we had one. I'd have someone drop me off at a local station and hop on. No paying a shitload of money for gas, airport parking or taxi's.
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