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Old July 26th, 2008, 12:53 AM   #601
Chafford1
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Originally Posted by miamicanes View Post
Anyway, the moral of the story is that HSR might be "perfect", but it's NOT going to happen anywhere in the US anytime soon. But 110mph service that's convenient, reliably on-time, and comfortable IS coming to most of the corridors identified on the "HSR map" within the next 10-15 years... as long as passenger rail advocates can manage to NOT shoot their cause in the foot by holding out for "true" HSR. The fact is, if push comes to shove, and rail supporters decide to hold out for "HSR or nothing"... they're going to get their wish, and get "nothing".
Very interesting post.

However I wonder whether the 220mph California HSR scheme will see the light of day before the 110mph Mid-West, Ohio Hub and South East HSR schemes.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 05:22 AM   #602
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It is not an argument for the sake of an argument, its complete common sense. Why would you think that trains would be less vulnerable to an attack and once that attack happens why would authorities be more nonchalant about allaying public fears with the steps to ensuring "the public safety" then they do currently with airports?

Your point about nuclear power plants has much to do about nothing. Such an attack could very well be a bigger potential danger and need better protection yet the public doesn't chose to go buy a ticket to a nuclear plant routinely and more importantly there yet been a successful detrimental attack on a plant yet. If there is at all what is perceived to be a successful attack on a nuclear power plant then you better beleive there will be calls for more robust defenses.

I guess you think that we have "let the terrorist win" because we do security checks at airports that we shouldn't be doing just becuase they can attack malls or buses but I find that just to be rhetoric. The reality is that much of the public or politicans will expect security to be beefed up at choke points like train terminals where experiance has shown there is intention to attack. Rails are no differant then planes in this regard. Most indivuals don't prefer getting didmembered a dozen ways over a pair of tracks anymore then they care for falling rapidly 30k feet into the sky.
if someone talks about airplanes flying into skyscraper users like you moan about it beeing offtopic/nonsense, and here? dude, someone could put a bomb in your toilet, car, office, everywhere. if someone wants to do bad, he can, whatever you do.
but its not my country, if you want to have your a--hole checked for a bomb everytime you go to public places, go on.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 05:37 AM   #603
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Well, California is kind of a special case... LA and SF are sufficiently far apart that 40-60mph could make a difference in its viability. In Florida's case, Orlando and Tampa are both farther from Miami than anyone really wants to drive, but are close enough that the difference between 110mph and 180mph is something like 2:08 vs 2:30 if the trains both ran nonstop at full speed, and even less of a difference when you factor in a half-dozen 5-minute stops in between. Plus, with the exception of about 10-20 miles between Auburndale and Tampa, the existing track (owned by CSX) is practically abandoned (2 Amtrak trains/day, plus maybe a dozen freight trains a week). So the cost difference between 110mph by throwing down a second track in the existing corridor and 180mph in a brand new corridor is astronomical. The situation in the midwest is similar... lots of disused rail corridors that are useless for freight, but great for passenger trains.

As some others have pointed out, California has no such disused corridor, so its passenger rail is going to have to be 100% built from scratch in a brand new corridor anyway. Plus, California is a big, wealthy state that also happens to have ~90% of its population living within 20 miles of the proposed corridor. California's big problem is going to be generating enough new consumer demand for HSR before the construction debt explodes. It just might be able to pull it off.

As for who'll be first... almost certainly Florida or the Midwest. Why? The planned passenger rail service lies entirely within existing rail corridors, which (under Florida law, at least) entitle their owners (ie, CSX, or FDOT if FDOT buys the corridors) to acquire land from adjacent property owners by eminent domain with no limits that have ever been tested in court. So the new tracks can be built as a matter of right, and all the NIMBYs in Florida won't be able to do a damn thing to stop it. Compare that to California, where the NIMBYs and environmental whackos openly compete to see who can stall and stonewall the most new transportation projects. Plus, once FDOT gets the green light and funding, it won't take more than 2 or 3 years to get the new track built, because we're talking about terrain that's flat as a board (and in many cases, even has the original roadbed of a long-since torn up second track). California has to deal with lots of hills, mountains, and probably a tunnel or ten.

Florida and/or the Midwest being first isn't necessarily a bad thing for California. If California comes "next", they'll get to enjoy a few years of free PR and "buzz" from the new lines elsewhere to generate rider interest for their own trains. They might even manage to learn from the mistakes Florida and the Midwest will certainly make along the way. So CALIFORNIA HSR can hit the ground running, and be generating sufficient revenue right from the start.

Last edited by miamicanes; July 26th, 2008 at 05:44 AM.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 10:29 AM   #604
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its pathetic because of Chevron, Exxon, Texaco, Shell, etc.

the thought of slightly lesser profits is unacceptable to them, and therefore cross-country rapid transit by means of electric trains is outrageous, which makes it communistic, which makes it anti-American, which makes it "what Osama would ride," etc.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 01:05 PM   #605
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Originally Posted by miamicanes View Post
As for who'll be first... almost certainly Florida or the Midwest. .
I thought the Miami scheme was cancelled in 2004 - didn't voters rescind a previous decision to go ahead with the scheme?

In contrast, planning for the South East HSR Corridor looks well advanced - but where is the money to build it going to come from? Pity also that this is not going to be an electrified railway.

http:www.sehsr.org/
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Old July 26th, 2008, 07:07 PM   #606
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Florida will have 110mph first.

The "spare-no-expense 150mph HSR" proposal is safely dead & buried, and everyone in Florida (rail supporters included) breathed a sigh of relief when it happened. Had the first Tampa-Orlando segment been constructed, it would have become the poster child for HSR white elephants and set back the cause of passenger rail in the US for at least 25-50 years. Even moreso, if St. Petersburg prevailed in its lawsuit and forced the immediate construction of a 15 mile causeway across Tampa Bay for the HSR train -- at ungodly cost -- as part of the Tampa-Orlando segment.

Why?

Because it was the wrong segment to build first. Tampa and Orlando just aren't sufficiently far apart for anyone who lives in either city to justify the hassle and expense of doing anything besides driving straight there on I-4. Even if gas were $10/gallon, most Americans would say 'screw it,' and drive anyway. It's not worth turning a 60-90 minute trip into a 2-3 hour trip (door to door, driveway to driveway) just to save $5-10 each way.

Tampa-Orlando only makes sense as a free bonus mainly for tourists after building the tracks for Miami-Orlando and Miami-Tampa. It can't be justified on its own merit. FDOT's studies have concluded that Miami-Orlando (sans Tampa) could almost be justified, but to really generate adequate business, all three cities need to be in place as destinations... and Tampa-Orlando specifically as an isolated HSR segment could never economically sustain itself.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 07:27 PM   #607
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Originally Posted by miamicanes View Post
Florida will have 110mph first.
Do they plan to use Bombardier's Jet Train?

Are there any references or links to the latest Florida HSR i.e. the 110mph project? I can't seem to find anything on the web.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 11:21 PM   #608
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No. It's technically "ISR" (intermediate-speed rail), not "HSR". As a practical matter, even Amtrak's creaky old SLOW trains can do 110mph on good track, where legally permitted, without breaking a sweat. That's another part of the reason why 110mph is so cheap compared to 150-180mph... there's absolutely nothing exotic about the rolling stock. In contrast, anyone who wants to buy FRA-approved rolling stock capable of 125-150mph is going to pay dearly for it, because just about EVERYTHING they buy is going to be a proprietary, "one-off" design built for them, and them ONLY (ie, they're going to ALSO end up paying for 100% of the R&D costs).

IMHO, this would be a GREAT opportunity for California to collude with OTHER states interested in passenger rail (Florida, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, Washington state) and try to get their representatives to twist the FRA's arm a bit and get it to make some sensible exceptions to the rules that currently make "true" HSR an "all or nothing" proposition.

One example is the FRA's insistence that a passenger train that travels at 150mph at ANY POINT during its journey be capable of withstanding a 150mph head-on collision with a mile-long freight train -- EVEN IF the passenger train would NEVER exceed 40mph at any point where it could conceivably come into contact with that freight train. A simple amendment requiring crash-worthiness ONLY to the speeds at which a passenger and freight train could conceivably ENCOUNTER each other would eliminate most of the absurd situations passenger-rail planners find themselves in today, and make it possible to do "incremental HSR" -- building NEW track to HSR standards where it's cheap and easy to do so (ie, ultra-rural areas, like Florida between West Palm Beach and Winter Haven), but leveraging existing track where the alternative (all-elevated or tunneled, like it would have to be through almost the entire area south of West Palm Beach that's basically one linear megalopolis a hundred miles long and 10-20 miles wide) would be cost-prohibitive in the beginning.

Last edited by miamicanes; July 27th, 2008 at 06:50 AM.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 12:15 PM   #609
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miamicanes View Post
No. It's technically "ISR" (intermediate-speed rail), not "HSR". As a practical matter, even Amtrak's creaky old SLOW trains can do 110mph on good track, where legally permitted, without breaking a sweat. That's another part of the reason why 110mph is so cheap compared to 150-180mph... there's absolutely nothing exotic about the rolling stock. In contrast, anyone who wants to buy FRA-approved rolling stock capable of 125-150mph is going to pay dearly for it, because just about EVERYTHING they buy is going to be a proprietary, "one-off" design built for them, and them ONLY (ie, they're going to ALSO end up paying for 100% of the R&D costs).

IMHO, this would be a GREAT opportunity for California to collude with OTHER states interested in passenger rail (Florida, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, Washington state) and try to get their representatives to twist the FRA's arm a bit and get it to make some sensible exceptions to the rules that currently make "true" HSR an "all or nothing" proposition.

One example is the FRA's insistence that a passenger train that travels at 150mph at ANY POINT during its journey be capable of withstanding a 150mph head-on collision with a mile-long freight train -- EVEN IF the passenger train would NEVER exceed 40mph at any point where it could conceivably come into contact with that freight train. A simple amendment requiring crash-worthiness ONLY to the speeds at which a passenger and freight train could conceivably ENCOUNTER each other would eliminate most of the absurd situations passenger-rail planners find themselves in today, and make it possible to do "incremental HSR" -- building NEW track to HSR standards where it's cheap and easy to do so (ie, ultra-rural areas, like Florida between West Palm Beach and Winter Haven), but leveraging existing track where the alternative (all-elevated or tunneled, like it would have to be through almost the entire area south of West Palm Beach that's basically one linear megalopolis a hundred miles long and 10-20 miles wide) would be cost-prohibitive in the beginning.
So what you're saying essentially is that the Federal Railroad Adminitration is standing in the way of a viable passenger rail system in the USA.

Presumably, the only way you'd gain an exemption from the crash tests would be if the entire system - lines and stations - was separated from the freight network. Then you could use off the shelf European rolling stock: Velaro, AGV, Pendolino etc.

The obsession with crash testing in the US is strange, when you see pictures of trains running at high speeds with inadequate barriers at crossings and no fences at the side of the track!

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=QWg8rr3r39Y

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=gb9Z07...eature=related

Last edited by Chafford1; July 27th, 2008 at 02:00 PM. Reason: Adding additional link
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Old July 27th, 2008, 12:42 PM   #610
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Thats basically it. I think the California HSR proposal follows this concept - I can't see how it could possibly be viable unless everything is entirely separated. It doesn't mean that the HSR couldn't share stations and some existing corridors, but that it would have to have segregated tracks. However thats not really that hard. London to Paris HSR is effectively on segregated tracks - even the approaches to Paris which are shared with local traffic has been remodelled for the TGV and it can be seen from google earth that the TGV tracks remain pretty much separate. There are a few links here and there, but these aren't fundemental to the operation of the railway, and the route could quite easily have been concieved as entirely segregated. Obviously without the necessity it wasn't done but its an interesting example nonetheless.

The FRA are definately the problem. What is ironic is that the FRA's extreme safety rules do not in reality make the USA's railway system significantly safer either, if at all. The most dangerous aspect of rail in the USA is the ridiculous time it takes a freight train to stop. In the UK every freight wagon has its own brakes and so the train will do an emergency stop in a comparable time to a passenger train. Correct me if I'm wrong, but seeing all the crashes / level crossing strikes on you tube freight trains in the USA tend not to be able to stop that well?

Being able to use off the shelf trains is the only way to make HSR financially viable these days. The USA could afford bespoke products, but I doubt it would be paid for by anyone, with the option of line segregation and European/Japanese trains available being too attractive an alternative.

Last edited by elfabyanos; July 27th, 2008 at 12:49 PM.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 02:10 PM   #611
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I just can't understand a system that runs trains at 90mph past crossing with no barriers at all. The train driver sounds his horn and hopes for the best!

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=4vJbps...eature=related
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Old July 27th, 2008, 10:19 PM   #612
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The FRA are definately the problem. What is ironic is that the FRA's extreme safety rules do not in reality make the USA's railway system significantly safer either, if at all. The most dangerous aspect of rail in the USA is the ridiculous time it takes a freight train to stop. In the UK every freight wagon has its own brakes and so the train will do an emergency stop in a comparable time to a passenger train. Correct me if I'm wrong, but seeing all the crashes / level crossing strikes on you tube freight trains in the USA tend not to be able to stop that well?
Well there is a massive difference between a European freight train and an American one, namely about a mile. Every freight car in the USA does have brakes, just the rolling mass of a freight train is so incomprehensible and the kinetic energy so strong that braking quickly is impossible.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 12:41 AM   #613
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That doesn't make any sense. If you multiply the number of wagons you multiply the weight but also the braking force as you have more brakes. 1x60 ton wagon should stop in the same distance as 1000 wagons hauling 60,000 tons.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 05:01 AM   #614
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That doesn't make any sense. If you multiply the number of wagons you multiply the weight but also the braking force as you have more brakes. 1x60 ton wagon should stop in the same distance as 1000 wagons hauling 60,000 tons.
Well I forgot the explanation, I have had it explained to me, but while all North American rail cars do have air brakes, the distributed braking system which runs off of compressed air is not enough to exponentially grow with the increase in rolling mass.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 09:08 AM   #615
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Rail construction is useless to US military force. The US gave up improving the rail system to protect the western bloc.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 12:34 PM   #616
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Well I forgot the explanation, I have had it explained to me, but while all North American rail cars do have air brakes, the distributed braking system which runs off of compressed air is not enough to exponentially grow with the increase in rolling mass.
That makes sense actually - the air brakes are powered by the locos which only have a finite amount of air brake power. So short of hauling another 4 or 5 locos to power the air brakes, this would leave a monstrously poor braking performance.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 05:40 PM   #617
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I wonder why the russians don't have the same problem, they have long freight trains too.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 05:54 PM   #618
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A lot of the Russian network is electrified - maybe because that isn't as finite a power source more braking power can be provided as required?
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Old July 29th, 2008, 03:22 AM   #619
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The U.S. government is already paying several hundred billion $ a year to pay off the interest generated by its national debt, mainly due to the tax cuts for the rich proposed and implemented by Reagan and Bush II.

No discussion of that cost but when it comes to spending money on something that actually helps people, the possibility of deficit financing is a HUGE issue all of a sudden.
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Old July 29th, 2008, 03:22 AM   #620
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200 mph HSR is a white elephant but an aircraft carrier or submarine isn't?

So let me get this straight, unlimited funds for WMDs is great but $500 billion for some HSR that would improve the environment and reduce congestion is a bad thing?

When it comes to the military, cost is never an issue. But when it comes to investments that HELP people, every ******* cent is scrutinized for possible waste.
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