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View Poll Results: Should the US build or improve it's HSR network?
Yes 249 89.57%
No 29 10.43%
Voters: 278. You may not vote on this poll

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Old October 17th, 2019, 11:19 PM   #7681
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Thanks for the clarification. I was not aware Brightline shared tracks with freight services instead of running on dedicated ways.

Now, speaking of 200 kmh (125 mph) is not that high speed, right? Aren't we referring to High Speed when speeds are above 250 kmh?

Anyway, if the track is mixed and you still got level crossings and such, it would make no sense to allow higher speeds.

Finally, it is a cultural battle yes. Train services in the US need to win that battle first and gain ridership and trust
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Old October 18th, 2019, 12:00 AM   #7682
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Vegas to LA high-speed train looking more realistic


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After years of chatter, Virgin Trains USA appears ready to bring the long-discussed Las Vegas to Southern California high-speed rail project to life.

Bob O’Malley, Virgin Trains’ vice president of corporate development, told the Clark County Commission on Tuesday that the Las Vegas to Victorville, California, rail line is on track to break ground in the middle of next year, with operations to start toward the end of 2023.

The station would be on Las Vegas Boulevard between Warm Springs and Blue Diamond roads, moving away from a long-rumored site near the Rio.
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Old October 18th, 2019, 03:07 AM   #7683
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Maybe niche if you talk geographically. But if you look at population and economic activity the places you mentioned ( Bos-NY-Wash, LA-SF, Florida, Texas Triangle, CHI/DET/CLE/PIT/PH, Pacific NW) are covering huge chunk of the US.
The geography really does matter, though. In Japan and in France a central city located within feasible distance for HSR is the commercial hub, political hub, cultural hub, et al. Germany is less centralized, but the various political and commercial hubs are still located within reasonable distance for HSR to service.

In North America this is not the case. Seattle, Portland and Vancouver could be linked to each other by high speed rail. But political people in Seattle need to travel to Washington DC, bankers need to travel to New York, people in the entertainment industry need to travel to Los Angeles, and so on. There is much less trade between Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver than there is within a comparable European region like Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo.
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Old October 18th, 2019, 09:58 PM   #7684
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Maybe niche if you talk geographically. But if you look at population and economic activity the places you mentioned ( Bos-NY-Wash, LA-SF, Florida, Texas Triangle, CHI/DET/CLE/PIT/PH, Pacific NW) are covering huge chunk of the US.

Those places probably create majority of the US GDP and are inhabited by 100+ million people. If you call it "a few niche markets", well, so it be...
You misread by post. I stated that that HSR is only viable in Bos-NY-Wash but that QUALITY, HIGHER SPEED trains are viable in those other corridors. That is improved service but by no means HSR. Those areas would certainly benefit from improved service but are no where even remotely close to justifying the massive expense of HSR.
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Old October 19th, 2019, 09:36 AM   #7685
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You misread by post. I stated that that HSR is only viable in Bos-NY-Wash but that QUALITY, HIGHER SPEED trains are viable in those other corridors. That is improved service but by no means HSR. Those areas would certainly benefit from improved service but are no where even remotely close to justifying the massive expense of HSR.
HSR also becomes expensive when even these modest but critical improvements to speed, capacity and frequency are resisted especially for idealogical reasons or vested interests. Such obstacles often force the proponents to raise the stakes and aim for bigger money.


The minimum one can do is to consider the different mega regions in the US (NorthEast, Chicago hub, Atlanta hub, Dallas hub, LA-SF and Pacific Northwest and connect the different metropolitan/urban/suburban agglomerations with ATLEAST double track(or quadruple track) electrified railway lines with top speeds of 125 mph or higher supported by modern communication based signaling.
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Old October 19th, 2019, 07:40 PM   #7686
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Originally Posted by Smooth Indian View Post
HSR also becomes expensive when even these modest but critical improvements to speed, capacity and frequency are resisted especially for idealogical reasons or vested interests. Such obstacles often force the proponents to raise the stakes and aim for bigger money.


The minimum one can do is to consider the different mega regions in the US (NorthEast, Chicago hub, Atlanta hub, Dallas hub, LA-SF and Pacific Northwest and connect the different metropolitan/urban/suburban agglomerations with ATLEAST double track(or quadruple track) electrified railway lines with top speeds of 125 mph or higher supported by modern communication based signaling.
One thought that I had not long ago on the serious difficulties in electrifying current freight lines is that for the freight railroads, it would involve a LOT more then the simple act of stringing a 25kVAC catenary wire above the existing, somewhat upgraded track. Right now, North American (Canada is in this same boat here) freight railroads are running highly efficient, albeit very LARGE freight cars that would not fit under a catenary wire on their current tracks - double-stacked containers barely fit under current bridges and into current tunnels. In fact, clearance expansion work (ie, cutting notches into their tops) had to be done inside of many existing tunnels in order to clear modern intermodal freight equipment. Ditto trailers, tri-level auto racks, etc. This is with diesel locomotives and mechanical ventilation of the tunnels.

An example:



This is BNSF's ex Great Northern Cascade Tunnel, which had to be 'notched' so that those double-stacked containers would fit. When that tunnel was first opened in 1929, it was electrified with a 12.5kVAC catenary wire that was abandoned for diesel locomotives and ventilating the tunnel in 1956.

The only place in Europe were anything remotely that tall is regularly operated is through the English Channel Tunnel (their 'Le Shuttle' ferry trains).

For that reason, to electrify existing North American freight lines while allowing that equipment to keep running would be unimaginably expensive - nearly every overhead structure, especially bridges, would have to be replaced or significantly modified to clear it all.

Mike
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Old October 19th, 2019, 09:14 PM   #7687
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWelXkX9dY0



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Originally Posted by mgk920 View Post
One thought that I had not long ago on the serious difficulties in electrifying current freight lines is that for the freight railroads, it would involve a LOT more then the simple act of stringing a 25kVAC catenary wire above the existing, somewhat upgraded track. Right now, North American (Canada is in this same boat here) freight railroads are running highly efficient, albeit very LARGE freight cars that would not fit under a catenary wire on their current tracks - double-stacked containers barely fit under current bridges and into current tunnels. In fact, clearance expansion work (ie, cutting notches into their tops) had to be done inside of many existing tunnels in order to clear modern intermodal freight equipment. Ditto trailers, tri-level auto racks, etc. This is with diesel locomotives and mechanical ventilation of the tunnels.

An example:



This is BNSF's ex Great Northern Cascade Tunnel, which had to be 'notched' so that those double-stacked containers would fit. When that tunnel was first opened in 1929, it was electrified with a 12.5kVAC catenary wire that was abandoned for diesel locomotives and ventilating the tunnel in 1956.

The only place in Europe were anything remotely that tall is regularly operated is through the English Channel Tunnel (their 'Le Shuttle' ferry trains).

For that reason, to electrify existing North American freight lines while allowing that equipment to keep running would be unimaginably expensive - nearly every overhead structure, especially bridges, would have to be replaced or significantly modified to clear it all.

Mike
I think a number of solutions can be adopted.
- For tunnels the height can be increased to accommodate the catenary.
- If increasing tunnel height is not an option then a third rail can used wherein a loco can draw down the pantograph and switch to 3rd rail as it enters the tunnel and switches back to catenary after it exits the tunnels.
- For bridges the track can be lowered below the bridge to make space for the overhead catenary.
- The catenary section under the bridge can have a small neutral zone without any power. The locomotives will have no power fo a few seconds as they cross the bridge.
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Old October 19th, 2019, 10:01 PM   #7688
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Originally Posted by Smooth Indian View Post
I think a number of solutions can be adopted.
- For tunnels the height can be increased to accommodate the catenary.
- If increasing tunnel height is not an option then a third rail can used wherein a loco can draw down the pantograph and switch to 3rd rail as it enters the tunnel and switches back to catenary after it exits the tunnels.
- For bridges the track can be lowered below the bridge to make space for the overhead catenary.
- The catenary section under the bridge can have a small neutral zone without any power. The locomotives will have no power fo a few seconds as they cross the bridge.
The autoracks and stack wells are wider than the freight locomotives towing them. There's just no way third rail will work. Alternatively, they can do a catenary/battery hybrid to solve this. Concerning bridges, a lot of them are decades old. They should just make a new one from scratch.
And something worth mentioning http://testplant.blogspot.com/2013/0...ouble.html?m=1
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Old October 20th, 2019, 04:32 AM   #7689
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The thing that really bugs me about the whole rail situation in the U.S. is that rail really does work better for people than it does for freight.

People can--mostly without assistance--walk, bike, or switch public transit modes to reach their final destination. Freight obviously can't. Especially now that the economic frontier has moved past agriculture and manufacturing, most people are only moving themselves and, say, a suitcase or briefcase to get to their final destinations.

It seems like a major sector of productivity which is ripe for advancement in the U.S. isn't even accounted for. Because people in this country have to drive everywhere to get anywhere, they commit huge resources to driving when it's not even close to the most efficient way for most people to fulfill their occupations.

But then, people have it absolutely glued into their heads that public transit, of which HSR functions as a major component, is undesirable, overpriced, and inefficient. So instead, people waste hours of their lives sitting in cars, unable to do anything but stare at the road ahead of them, while using so much more energy and money to do so, when they could be sitting in trains or buses, reading/writing/working/socializing/whatever, while using a fraction as many resources. And this is a problem that extends to the banality of driving oneself 5 miles to work instead of living close and walking 1.5 miles. It benefits absolutely no one (except oil and car companies).
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Old October 20th, 2019, 05:04 AM   #7690
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Originally Posted by aquaticko View Post
The thing that really bugs me about the whole rail situation in the U.S. is that rail really does work better for people than it does for freight.

People can--mostly without assistance--walk, bike, or switch public transit modes to reach their final destination. Freight obviously can't. Especially now that the economic frontier has moved past agriculture and manufacturing, most people are only moving themselves and, say, a suitcase or briefcase to get to their final destinations.

It seems like a major sector of productivity which is ripe for advancement in the U.S. isn't even accounted for. Because people in this country have to drive everywhere to get anywhere, they commit huge resources to driving when it's not even close to the most efficient way for most people to fulfill their occupations.

But then, people have it absolutely glued into their heads that public transit, of which HSR functions as a major component, is undesirable, overpriced, and inefficient. So instead, people waste hours of their lives sitting in cars, unable to do anything but stare at the road ahead of them, while using so much more energy and money to do so, when they could be sitting in trains or buses, reading/writing/working/socializing/whatever, while using a fraction as many resources. And this is a problem that extends to the banality of driving oneself 5 miles to work instead of living close and walking 1.5 miles. It benefits absolutely no one (except oil and car companies).
Much of America's bias against public transit is bias against anything that's not indivisualism, said bias being exaggerrated thanks to the cold war as treating anything that's not individualism/"freedom" as communism, and they viewed cars as the ultimate embodiment of "freedom". Another obstacle (itself tied to the whole individualism) is NIMBYism, even when it's pretty obvious far more people will benefit than otherwise, even when it would cost less to build a wholly new rail line than to build one new lane in each direction on its competing freeway in that same distance (i.e. I-5 between Portland and the US-Canada Border).
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Old October 20th, 2019, 09:35 AM   #7691
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Originally Posted by D.S. Lewith View Post
The autoracks and stack wells are wider than the freight locomotives towing them. There's just no way third rail will work. Alternatively, they can do a catenary/battery hybrid to solve this. Concerning bridges, a lot of them are decades old. They should just make a new one from scratch.
DC catenary for long tunnel sections might work in some cases since DC can work with low clearances. The Locos/trainsets will just need to have the ability to work on multiple traction voltages.
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Old October 20th, 2019, 07:41 PM   #7692
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Originally Posted by Smooth Indian View Post
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWelXkX9dY0




I think a number of solutions can be adopted.
- For tunnels the height can be increased to accommodate the catenary.
- If increasing tunnel height is not an option then a third rail can used wherein a loco can draw down the pantograph and switch to 3rd rail as it enters the tunnel and switches back to catenary after it exits the tunnels.
- For bridges the track can be lowered below the bridge to make space for the overhead catenary.
- The catenary section under the bridge can have a small neutral zone without any power. The locomotives will have no power fo a few seconds as they cross the bridge.
Remember that the tunnel that I featured in the video clip in my above post is approximately 7.9 miles/12.7 km long, the longest drilled railroad tunnel in the USA. It would be a major undertaking to lower its floor enough to safely allow a catenary wire - especially while keeping train traffic flowing. Ditto the other tunnels on that line, including the ones under downtown Everett and Seattle, WA.

They'd essentially have to drill paralleling tunnels, open them and then modify the existing ones. Including modifying bridge clearances (and many through-truss bridges would have to be completely replaced), that would be an *expensive* undertaking, indeed.

The alternative would be to stop handling double-stacked containers, tri-level auto racks, etc.

Mike
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Old October 20th, 2019, 08:43 PM   #7693
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Remember that the tunnel that I featured in the video clip in my above post is approximately 7.9 miles/12.7 km long, the longest drilled railroad tunnel in the USA. It would be a major undertaking to lower its floor enough to safely allow a catenary wire - especially while keeping train traffic flowing. Ditto the other tunnels on that line, including the ones under downtown Everett and Seattle, WA.

They'd essentially have to drill paralleling tunnels, open them and then modify the existing ones. Including modifying bridge clearances (and many through-truss bridges would have to be completely replaced), that would be an *expensive* undertaking, indeed.

The alternative would be to stop handling double-stacked containers, tri-level auto racks, etc.

Mike
But they won't. Double stack containers are too profitable to sacrifice for electrification, which is why they've been pushing for battery trains
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Old October 21st, 2019, 01:36 PM   #7694
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JFC shaking my head at some people's insistence on 'American Exceptionalism' ... Of course double stacking is not a problem for electrification .. a simple google search shows that this is not an issue ... double-stack containers all you want .. you can easily fit it under properly tall catenary.

Sure, many tunnels would need to be redone .... they needed to be redone for double stacks .. so 'boo hoo' .. they can be redone again for this addition of some 50 cm in clearance.



Re 3rd rail .. solution always exists ... Railways in the US can be almost entirely bespoke in terms of power pickup .. they can hide a 3rd rail between the rails, where no cars have clearance issues ... there are multitude of solutions. The reason US long distance rail is not electrified is because maintaining catenary is a hassle and the loco diesel is cheap and emission control is lax and thus it makes no financial sense for the privately owned railroads to electrify.

EU is electrified because the infrastructure operators are public and the public demands that the nearby railroad do not spew tons of soot into the air as they pass by and now demand that railroad to their most to not contribute to climate change. . No such public pressure can be exerted in the US:
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Old October 21st, 2019, 07:48 PM   #7695
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Sure, many tunnels would need to be redone .... they needed to be redone for double stacks .. so 'boo hoo' .. they can be redone again for this addition of some 50 cm in clearance.
I totally subscribe to your post, except that redoing a tunnel is no easy job.

First of all, most of the times you cannot work on the ceiling, because due to how tunnels are build it will collapse, and redoing a piece of the ceiling will cause the walls to be completely redone as well.
When possible, the floor is dug instead, and lowered by more or less 50 cm... but this is still a time-consuming process and the tunnel is unusable for weeks or months.

This job is usually not comparable to "smoothing" the edges to accomodate double stacks.
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Old October 21st, 2019, 11:25 PM   #7696
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EU is electrified because the infrastructure operators are public and the public demands that the nearby railroad do not spew tons of soot into the air as they pass by and now demand that railroad to their most to not contribute to climate change. . No such public pressure can be exerted in the US.
EU is electrified because it is, essentially, passenger-oriented:
1) compared to electric traction, in terms of speed, acceleration, and comfort, diesel traction just sucks;
2) above a certain level of traffic, electric traction becomes less expensive.
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Old October 22nd, 2019, 01:55 AM   #7697
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I think it will be a very long time, even in Bos-NY-Wash, before the US gets any truly HSR akin to Europe.

This entire California HSR fiasco has done as much damage to HSR as the Simpsons did to monorail. Critics can now use California as a stellar example of how HSR is far too expensive with politicians and policy makers that cannot be trusted. The soaring price of the project that took it completely into stratospheric territory has put a bad taste in everyone's mouth including politicians. Due to this, HSR will forever be associated with corruption, skyrocketing prices, endless delays, and political interference.

The California HSR project was a test-run to see if such a massive project is worth the money and gets the ridership expected to really make a difference in the lives of the travelling public, Other areas that may have been looking at HSR were waiting for the results of the California experiment to see if such projects are funds well invested or a money pit......….critics can now use the California example to prove that it is the latter.
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Old October 22nd, 2019, 07:06 AM   #7698
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I think it will be a very long time, even in Bos-NY-Wash, before the US gets any truly HSR akin to Europe.

This entire California HSR fiasco has done as much damage to HSR as the Simpsons did to monorail. Critics can now use California as a stellar example of how HSR is far too expensive with politicians and policy makers that cannot be trusted. The soaring price of the project that took it completely into stratospheric territory has put a bad taste in everyone's mouth including politicians. Due to this, HSR will forever be associated with corruption, skyrocketing prices, endless delays, and political interference.

The California HSR project was a test-run to see if such a massive project is worth the money and gets the ridership expected to really make a difference in the lives of the travelling public, Other areas that may have been looking at HSR were waiting for the results of the California experiment to see if such projects are funds well invested or a money pit......….critics can now use the California example to prove that it is the latter.
Of course not pursuing HSR or rail for that matter will still leave US public at the mercy of the beloved highways and adorable airlines.
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Old October 22nd, 2019, 11:28 AM   #7699
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ssiguy2 has a point... highways and airlines are massive investments the general public is already used to, they don't need to prove themselves worth like rail has.
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Old October 22nd, 2019, 04:52 PM   #7700
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The thing is, highways and airports are too space-inefficient to work in urban areas, and urban areas are what's really needed to run efficient service economies. The only reasons U.S. urban areas remain internationally competitive are a.) fixed assets, and b.) strong institutions. The former are increasingly less fixed--less real estate and manufacturing equipment, and more intellectual property rights and educated workforce--and the latter...well, I feel like I shouldn't need to explain.

The classic, American, autocentric model of development never really worked all that well for everyone, always being too expensive in terms of money and other resources. East Asian density--like you see in Tokyo, Seoul, and Singapore--paired with Western-quality institutions (at least as they are idealized to be) will be what makes urban areas in the 21st century.

And the most way efficient way connect those areas is high-speed rail.
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