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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 June 12th, 2019, 01:29 PM   #7561
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dysharmonica View Post
JFC ... people refuse to accept that cross borer train is a thing that exists and is solved. You either do a border check at the station, or you let the border agents ride on the leg that spans the border. This has been solved, people. I discusses it here already before.
On the borders between Switzerland and the EU, border controls are done on the leg that spans the border. However, given the free circulation agreements and the time available, just a fraction of the documents is actually controlled.

I travelled by car from US to CA, just to ask every passenger the reason of his/her visit and stamp the passport would take much much more than 5'. Or you need more people.
A complete ID control takes up to 15/20' on night trains, where the passenger density is lower.

As an alternative, you could have gates at the stations, like we have in Europe when boarding trains to London. I believe it's a shitty system because as a passenger you waste a lot of time queuing up and being scanned, and UK is spending a lot of money staffing these checkpoints, at the point that they don't want to expand the rail services anymore because every time they have to refurbish a station and put customs staff in it.
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Old June 12th, 2019, 06:14 PM   #7562
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Originally Posted by annman View Post
I do see the problems with an expensive high-speed service, versus a 125MPH service on mostly existing alignment. However it's owned by a freight rail operator, BNSF. This makes creating a reliable, mid-speed, rail service nearly impossible. American freight rail operators are notoriously obstructionist and habitually hamper passenger rail efforts. I don't know how BNSF is as an rail entity compared to their counterparts in the eastern US like Norfolk-Southern, CSX etc. I have heard rumors that BNSF is the reason Sounder services are not more frequent... correct me if this is wrong.

In South Africa, most of our rail system is electrified. Frankly, compared to an African nation, America (world's largest economy) has zero excuse other than being politically obstructionist and climate-backward to not follow suit. The Cascades corridor, whether it be mid- or high-speed solution, should be electrified. With our inexpensive, clean hydro power, it should be. With Jay Inslee in charge, it could be a signature project.
Blame America's view on rail as purely private enterprises because of its overt adoration of capitalism and demonization of public "anything" because commies.
About BNSF and comparing to Norfolk Southern, AFAIK, NS is more lenient when compared to CSX, and Union Pacific's even more stingy with their tracks compared to BNSF.

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Originally Posted by annman View Post
Then there's the do nothing scenario. We will get to a point in the very near future, when PNW's growth will warrant rapid intercity connectivity. Salesforce just bought Tableau in Seattle and announced their 2nd HQ would be here. Portland is going to keep growing, Vancouver is going to keep growing, and Seattle certainly seems like there is little slowing in sight. People will increasingly seek affordable housing options in between: like Longview, Olympia, Tacoma, Everett, and Bellingham. I-5 is eventually going to have be widened at a cost of R100-bn throughout its alignment... or we do something like rail? Any other options?

Anyone who is an urban planner knows what will happen with that aforementioned R100-bn... it'll take a decade to widen I-5, and it'll be at capacity already when it's done. Lovely induced demand in an already constrained system. Rail doesn't have that issue... just add another train-car or scheduled service. I believe we have to play the long game in Cascadia, as the US's fastest growing region, or we can kiss our quality-of-life and competitive edge goodbye.
And this is just only one lane per direction. Bear in mind, a full 2-track railroad (when utilized right) can reduce the equivalent of 16 freeway lanes' worth of traffic.

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Originally Posted by dysharmonica View Post
Also, US has virtually zero models on hand to predict ridership and revenues for high capacity, high speed, and high quality public transit. This is the land where every highways pays for itself, but every public transit project is a money pit.
I heard the government subsidizes the highways extensively.
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Old June 12th, 2019, 06:36 PM   #7563
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Originally Posted by davide84 View Post

As an alternative, you could have gates at the stations, like we have in Europe when boarding trains to London. I believe it's a shitty system because as a passenger you waste a lot of time queuing up and being scanned, and UK is spending a lot of money staffing these checkpoints, at the point that they don't want to expand the rail services anymore because every time they have to refurbish a station and put customs staff in it.
Yes it is a shitty system, but it is a decision that does not depend on rail service but politics and how extreme border controls have to be. In the end, every mode of transportation is effected by that. The point is that rail can actually cope with it just as well, if needed. But just with any of the other modes, those extreme border checks add a lot of discomfort to travellers.
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Old June 13th, 2019, 09:04 AM   #7565
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Old June 14th, 2019, 03:33 AM   #7566
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dysharmonica View Post
JFC ... people refuse to accept that cross borer train is a thing that exists and is solved. You either do a border check at the station, or you let the border agents ride on the leg that spans the border. This has been solved, people. I discusses it here already before.

Also ... there is currently a border check between Sweden and Denmark ... it takes about 5 minutes to check the train. I will never understand why Sweden does not make this check while the train is running over the bridge from DK, but before EU had open borders, that was 100% the norm - border agents checked the train while the train was in motion between the nearest station on either side of the border.
Attention! Both Sweden and Denmark are within the EU and the Schengen free-travel area.

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Originally Posted by davide84 View Post
On the borders between Switzerland and the EU, border controls are done on the leg that spans the border. However, given the free circulation agreements and the time available, just a fraction of the documents is actually controlled.
Exactly. Switzerland is not in the EU, but it is part of the Schengen free-travel area.

Probably the most similar case to the US borders of heavy border controls on trains in Europe must be... the Eurostar these last years, as passengers entering the UK must alight (I think that is usually done at Lille or Calais if it's not a non-stop train, otherwise right at Brussels or Paris), checked, then they reenter the train.
Note that this is done only on trains from France/Belgium/Netherlands bound for the UK, not the other way around.

That said, someone said it's only the USA who don't have passenger trains anymore.
That's not true, it's all of the Americas, from Alaska to Argentina. Countries such as Argentina or Brazil used to have massive railway networks, now mostly abandoned.
It is true that in some places they're being reintroduced, but those are exceptions.

Asia and Europe are another story, obviously (and even certain parts of Africa - even Morocco has a high-speed line now!).
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Old June 14th, 2019, 05:23 PM   #7567
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annman View Post
The train would not be stuck at the actual border... you'd go through customs/passport control at the train station, and it could be pre-check like we have at Canadian airports (allowing you to fly and disembark free of customs control anywhere in the US). So that point is irrelevant.

I do see the problems with an expensive high-speed service, versus a 125MPH service on mostly existing alignment. However it's owned by a freight rail operator, BNSF. This makes creating a reliable, mid-speed, rail service nearly impossible. American freight rail operators are notoriously obstructionist and habitually hamper passenger rail efforts. I don't know how BNSF is as an rail entity compared to their counterparts in the eastern US like Norfolk-Southern, CSX etc. I have heard rumors that BNSF is the reason Sounder services are not more frequent... correct me if this is wrong.

In South Africa, most of our rail system is electrified. Frankly, compared to an African nation, America (world's largest economy) has zero excuse other than being politically obstructionist and climate-backward to not follow suit. The Cascades corridor, whether it be mid- or high-speed solution, should be electrified. With our inexpensive, clean hydro power, it should be. With Jay Inslee in charge, it could be a signature project.

Then there's the do nothing scenario. We will get to a point in the very near future, when PNW's growth will warrant rapid intercity connectivity. Salesforce just bought Tableau in Seattle and announced their 2nd HQ would be here. Portland is going to keep growing, Vancouver is going to keep growing, and Seattle certainly seems like there is little slowing in sight. People will increasingly seek affordable housing options in between: like Longview, Olympia, Tacoma, Everett, and Bellingham. I-5 is eventually going to have be widened at a cost of R100-bn throughout its alignment... or we do something like rail? Any other options?

Anyone who is an urban planner knows what will happen with that aforementioned R100-bn... it'll take a decade to widen I-5, and it'll be at capacity already when it's done. Lovely induced demand in an already constrained system. Rail doesn't have that issue... just add another train-car or scheduled service. I believe we have to play the long game in Cascadia, as the US's fastest growing region, or we can kiss our quality-of-life and competitive edge goodbye.
Doesn't matter where it is, it'll take time.
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Old June 14th, 2019, 09:00 PM   #7568
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 437.001 View Post
Probably the most similar case to the US borders of heavy border controls on trains in Europe must be... the Eurostar these last years, as passengers entering the UK must alight (I think that is usually done at Lille or Calais if it's not a non-stop train, otherwise right at Brussels or Paris), checked, then they reenter the train.
Not exactly. Gates are created at platforms at every possible departing station and manned by UK Border Control officers. That's why it's so hard to add stations to any route or even new routes, e.g. London - Berlin: every new station must have infrastructural works and the UK must pay for the staff.

See https://www.seat61.com/London-to-Par...tar%20check-in

Quote:
Note that this is done only on trains from France/Belgium/Netherlands bound for the UK, not the other way around.
No, it happens in both directions. I boarded in London while going to Paris and had to queue at the gates in St. Pancras. The system is similar to platform access in Washington DC Union Station, but with more controls - more like an airport, with police and other staff, and similarly time-consuming. I feel it really kills part of the railway efficiency.
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Old June 14th, 2019, 09:30 PM   #7569
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davide84 View Post
Not exactly. Gates are created at platforms at every possible departing station and manned by UK Border Control officers. That's why it's so hard to add stations to any route or even new routes, e.g. London - Berlin: every new station must have infrastructural works and the UK must pay for the staff.
Yes... but no.


Eurostar trains coming from stations without these control installations (namely Marseille and Lyon) must stop at Lille-Europe where all passengers have to disemark for controls.
But it's true most departures are made from stations where passemgers are screened before departure (Paris-Nord, Marne-la-Vallée, Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Brussels Midi, and soon Amsterdam).
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Old June 14th, 2019, 11:55 PM   #7570
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I didn't know abou Marseille and Lyon. I checked Marseille, there's only one train per day, and the journey time is more than 7 hours; this is probably why they have controls in Lille, kind of a compromise for a special connection... I am not sure that would be an effective solution for more regular timetables, which you need in order for the HS operating costs to be sustainable.
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Old June 15th, 2019, 11:58 AM   #7571
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Originally Posted by sponge_bob View Post
Why the US has no high speed rail (CNBC) , a history lesson.

Thanks, that's a very good summary.
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Old June 17th, 2019, 01:23 PM   #7572
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Straight electric locomotives are also much less expensive to maintain than diesel-electric, due to there being far fewer moving parts inside of them.
Not only less expensive to maintain, also less expensive to procure. A modern diesel electric locomotive is pretty much an electric locomotive that has its own onboard power plant instead of a pantograph. But that onboard power plant has a limited power. You need tractive effort to move a train, but you need power to move a train quickly. If you were to build a modern variant of the Bombardier Iore, balasted to 32ton per axle. You would only need six locomotives to move a train that now needs ten GE ET44's.
So less locomotives needed, less expensive to procure, less expensive to maintain.
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In some part of USA, electricity is mostly produced with oil: better use it directly in the locomotive.
You can't use oil directly, you first need to refine it. A stationary power plant could handle pretty unrefined oil if need be, a locomotive can't.
Added to that: North America has multiple long and steep slopes. An electric could feed the power generated during electric braking back into the net to be used by other trains; diesel electrics can only dissipate that energy with rheostats.
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Don't forget that bringing electricity along an HSR line may cost a lot in a country as big as USA are.
Don't forget that transporting diesel fuel in large amounts all across the country and building fuel stations isn't exactly cheap either. Yes, initial cost is high, but in the end it pays. That's why PRR did it in the past and several other countries as well.
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Old June 17th, 2019, 02:38 PM   #7573
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Plus, just to be a little pedantic :-), one oil-powered electric plant is likely to be more "thermodynamically" efficient than 100 small diesel generators running on the railway.

But remember, it all boils down to the traffic intensity. You electrify a line when the number of (potential) trains is above a certain threshold, and you buy electric trains when all the lines you plan to use are electrified.
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Old July 18th, 2019, 06:27 AM   #7574
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High-speed rail could travel from Seattle to Portland in less than an hour, report says


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SEATTLE -- A new report released this month that looks at ultra-high speed ground transportation between Vancouver, B.C., Seattle and Portland says passengers would be able to travel between each city in less than an hour.
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Old July 18th, 2019, 08:41 PM   #7575
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Still only predicting 3mil riders/yr at a cost of $25bil-$42bil I'm very skeptical of the financials of doing the full dedicated HSR line in that corridor.
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Old July 18th, 2019, 10:34 PM   #7576
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If that part of the country ever gets a handle on its real estate prices, the region would be poised for explosive growth, and it'd be easy to envision a population, decades from now, of many times what it currently is. Building one of these systems now would be a way to get ahead of any major population growth choking the region, while promoting the sort of denser settlement patterns that it (and the rest of the U.S.) ought to have had in the first place. Public infrastructure's payment of debt is not and should not just be financial.

If costs are kept under control during this project, and funding for the entire line can be secured up front (to avoid California's mess), it is absolutely worth the investment.
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Old Today, 10:58 AM   #7577
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Still only predicting 3mil riders/yr at a cost of $25bil-$42bil I'm very skeptical of the financials of doing the full dedicated HSR line in that corridor.
US transit demand models are straight up garbage. This is the ideal corridor for a dedicated high speed line focused on moving people. not goods. This will have ridership similar to Philly - Baltimore - DC - this will take a lot of pressure off the highway system, and decimate air demand between these cities. Everywhere else in the world, and in the US corridors just like this make money and are backbones of their regions. US is not exceptional enough to be the exception to this rule.

(in other parts of the world where the state owns all rails, I could see this being developed as a high speed good-and-people line - Denmark for example chose not to do dedicated passenger high speed rail at 350kmh (220 mph) and is instead building 250kmh (155 mph) carg-and-passenger lines. But in the US that makes no sense - as cargo owns its rails already and seems to not care at all about speed on this corridor - so we need a corridor to move people fast)

Further ... the alternative is 108bn USD in expanding the highways ... so .. 25-42bn USD seems like a bargain in comparison.
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Old Today, 11:29 AM   #7578
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Quote:
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High-speed rail could travel from Seattle to Portland in less than an hour, report says

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Originally Posted by BoulderGrad View Post
Still only predicting 3mil riders/yr at a cost of $25bil-$42bil I'm very skeptical of the financials of doing the full dedicated HSR line in that corridor.
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Originally Posted by dysharmonica View Post
US transit demand models are straight up garbage. This is the ideal corridor for a dedicated high speed line focused on moving people. not goods. This will have ridership similar to Philly - Baltimore - DC - this will take a lot of pressure off the highway system, and decimate air demand between these cities. Everywhere else in the world, and in the US corridors just like this make money and are backbones of their regions. US is not exceptional enough to be the exception to this rule.
Two things:

1) Never (never) solely rely on a article about a report; read the report yourself. Most news outlets suck at covering these things, likely because they're all in a hurry to get some "angle" on a breaking story rather than fully understand what they're covering first.

2) I think...they misinterpreted the report findings?

I'm unclear, but I believe that 3mil figure corresponds specifically to Seattle-Vancouver trip pairs, not cumulative corridor ridership...I can't really tell because it's an awful way to present the figure; though, if it's cumulative, it's something like 15mil+ annual trips for the corridor, no?

I could be reading this wrong, but my suspicion would tell me that if 3mil sounds too low, maybe that's because it might be?




It's also maybe important to distinguish a ridership forecast/analysis from a scoping of demand? This report seems to do the latter. What I read insinuates a conservative-ish expectation of mode shift from existing trips between these city-pairs based on surveys that apply weights to time priority to "assign" a mode; it's not exactly attempting to be more complicated than what it is, I think.





It isn't a comprehensive study (ie. it isn't modeling anything - network effects, population/job growth, inter-regional connectivity, latent-induced demand, effects of pricing other modes, etc) but a scoping one meant to flush out the contours of whether there is a practical case for the corridor and to determine - before solicitation of any further funds - whether it makes sense to proceed. In other words, they need to present a reasonable case to make any ask for federal funds (now...that's a different story...).

It's rather bread and butter. It's not about being "straight up garbage" - it isn't attempting to be a comprehensive demand model. Indeed, those look a bit different
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Old Today, 01:20 PM   #7579
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It's rather bread and butter. It's not about being "straight up garbage" - it isn't attempting to be a comprehensive demand model. Indeed, those look a bit different
Thanks for a very informative post. Yes this is not a comprehensive ridership study. And ridership is very hard to estimate. My point is that the models used in the US to estimate ridership demand for transit seem just broken. I never read a study that made any sort of sense.

This is not a problem with this paper, or any particular study. It's a problem with the models that are mandated to be used in EIS and other studies for federal approval that then make all transit look like absolute garbage of an investment and highways as a god savior of all.
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