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lucariello
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except the whashington dc philadelphia high speed line exist other high speed line in US?
Because an article on a important Italian financial newspaper said that the new high speed line will become cheaper than planes in the middle distance (1000-1500km) so I want to know your opinion about that!
Sorry for my bad english!

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Luca, Yes I'm a railfan, Sapere Aude by Kant

Posts: 16 | From: Italy | Registered: Apr 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ehbowen
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There really are no purpose-designed and built high speed rail lines (in the Japanese and European sense) in the United States. What we have in the Northeast Corridor is a right-of-way which was built piecemeal (bit by bit) by various companies in the 19th century, assembled into a coherent system in the 1880s and 1890s, and upgraded and electrified by the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1920s and 30s as purely a private, profit-making venture. The basic layout and right-of-way is largely unchanged since then, although there were some upgrades made in the 1960s under Pennsylvania ownership for the Metroliner service, and the trackage (but not the electrification) was overhauled under Amtrak ownership during the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project (NECIP) in the 1980s. George Harris, who posts here from time to time, will be the first to tell you that there are significant speed restrictions and bottlenecks throughout the Northeast Corridor which would not be there had it been laid out as a modern high-speed line from the beginning. With the sky-high costs of right-of-way nowadays, it is growing less and less likely that those bottlenecks will ever be cleared.

Most of the railroad lines in this country were built in the years when right-of-way was essentially free (towns often donated right-of-way and even made cash payments as incentives for railroads to build through them) and the country was almost completely undeveloped, and so the lines were built as cheaply as possible. In later years some improvements were made and the slowest bottlenecks were bypassed, but as free right-of-way went the way of the dinosaur and land prices rose it became harder and harder to justify making extensive changes as a profit-making venture.

Those original right-of-ways served well for the better part of a century and in fact did host some fairly high-speed trains--until the ICC imposed a 79 mph speed limit in 1947 it was quite common for premium passenger trains to operate at 100 MPH or a bit more. But the current US trackage is not capable of safely taking advantage of the full capabilities of modern high-speed trainsets like the Shinkansen or TGV. For one thing, our lines outside of the Northeast Corridor still have a lot of highway crossings at grade and many on secondary roads are even unsignaled.

In the US, aside from Amtrak and the Alaska RR, virtually all railroads are private, for-profit companies who own, maintain, and pay stiff property taxes on all of their trackage. Their truck, auto, and bus competition uses taxpayer-supported infrastructure which is essentially free to the end user; the wonder is that railroads are still able to compete at all in any part of the transportation sector. But in the passenger sector--well, if I chose, I could hop into my car in Houston right now and drive to Dallas (239 miles away) in about four hours on a taxpayer-subsidized Interstate (as long as I missed rush hour!), and my total marginal cost for the trip would be US$27 worth of gasoline--and that's with up to three additional passengers. That's what railroads in this country have to compete against, and that is why we will never have high-speed rail in this country until someone in higher office makes the decision to support rail transportation in the same way and to the same extent that highways are now supported.

The Interstate system is great--as long as you are physically and financially blessed with the ability to own and operate an automobile. But if you are poor or seriously handicapped (especially visually), then, in the most polite term that I can think of, you are royally shafted.

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--------Eric H. Bowen

Stop by my website: Streamliner Schedules - Historic timetables of the great trains of the past!

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George Harris
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The northeast corridor designation applies for the line Boston - New Haven - New York City - Philadelphia - Washington DC. The original railroad companies were New Haven northeast of New York City and the Pennsylvania south of it. It is currently electrified at 25,000 volts, 60 cylcle Boston to New Haven, 12,000 or 12,500 volts 60 cycle New Haven to New York City, and 11,000 volts 25 cycle New York City to Washington. Approximately 15 miles of the north end is cleared for 150 mph, (241 km/h) but most is considerably less down to most of the New Haven to New York City at around 70 to 75 mph 113 to 121 km/h). South of New York City, much of the line is cleared for 135 mph (217 km/h), and even with some fairly long straight segments will not go higher until the old style cantenary is replaced with a constant-tension system. Even then, there are a lot of slower speed areas that will remain. This need for constant acceleration and braking was the primary reason for the early brake problems with the Acela train sets, regardless of much blame passing to the contrary. No other line in the world that attempts to operate at high speed has so many changes in allowable speed within an equivalent distance.

There have been a number of high speed lines proposed in various parts of the US, but none have ever gotten beyond preliminary reports and lines on a map. The one most likely to break that trend is in California, but if I were a gambler, I am not sure I would be willing to be money on this one, either. Many of the intermediate type "high speed" schemes, such as the Southeast High Speed Rail really should not be classified as such since their concept is simply to run more trains on existing lines and improve signals and track so as to permit a relatively consistent 90 mph.

I am not intending to disparage the concept. I think these schemes could attract significant ridership.

In the past there were several attempts to run long distance trains at high speeds.

One of the best servce was probably Chicago to Minneapolis. At one time their were three railroads that managed to run trains between these points with slightly above a 60 mph average speed, all stops included.

Through the 1940's to mid 1950's, at least, the Santa Fe line currently used by the Southwest Chief between Chicago and Los Angeles had much of its distance cleared for 100 mph (160 km/h) but even with that, the fastest train still took 39.5 hours to cover the 2222 miles for an end to end average of 56.25 mph (90.53 km/h) due to much lower speeds through several mountainous areas.

Some of the other lines that attempted to run relatively high speeds did so under circumstances that would be considered irrational and irresponsible today. For example, for part of its life the 4 hour service Dallas to Houston on the Burlington-Rock Island line was allowed 90 mph on a line with 90 lb/yd rails and no signals. Likewise, the Seaboard's line into Miami was unsignalled until the ICC order of 1947 forced them to do so, and even then the nominal 79 mph that permitted was generally ignored with the full knowledge of all the corporate hierachy.

George

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sojourner
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You asked what I think--it depends on how fst the train goes and how well I can see the sights as we go past. If the answer is "very fast" and "not too well," I for one won't enjoy it. I am not interested in taking trains merely to get from one place to another; I want to be able to see what is in between.

However, if they develop a way where you can get on and off at whim and no extra cost, and there were lots of trains all the time on all routes, then I guess i wouldn't mind it as much.

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George Harris
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Luca,

As I go back and re-read your post:

In almost any distance short of 1000 km or more, rail should be cheaper than air. As petroleum costs keep rising, so will that distance. A big plane such as a 747 or a 380 is relatively cheap to operate on long hauls, but for short runs, the load and unload time plus simply getting the monstor off the ground kills them. Normally for a full 747 it takes 30 minutes just to stuff the people on, and the baggage and freight loading starts before that.

The real question is at what distance will people choose rail. If getting there is your concern, I would say if you have a good 300 km/h high speed, then anything under about 600 km they can compete. This is about the distacne Los Angeles to San Francisco, and the high speed rail seems to win in everything except getting money out of the various governments. The main problem in the IS is that there is no automatic or semi automatic source of funding for rail as their is for road and iar. Therefore, major road projects in particular are simply a mattier of allocation of the flow of money that is already running. Air is almost the same, but slightly more difficult. But rail? For that you must beg, plead, and justify every thing you want to do and then go through a grovel, beg and plead process for every dollar you need, meanwhile fighting all the vested interests in continued road spending. If you want somebody to speak against rail projects there are several "think tanks" and "study groups" that have people with impressive credentials and the ability to make black appear white ready to go speak, write, lobby, or whatever is needed to kill the project under the guise of their heartfelt concern for the taxpayer.

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delvyrails
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To update George Harris' posting, BNSF still alows Amtrak a 62-mph start-to-stop average speed, including six intermediate stops, for the westbound Southwest Chief over the 437 miles from Chicago to Kansas City.
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lucariello
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Thank you very much...
And what about freight?
The US federal governement prefer train or truck?
Or does it depends on local states so for example Ohio develop train and New Jersey develop new routes?

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Luca, Yes I'm a railfan, Sapere Aude by Kant

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ehbowen
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As I said above, the US highway system is heavily taxpayer-subsidized and, with the exception of a few tollways (which make up about 1% of the total), is essentially free to the end user. Railroads are private, for-profit enterprises and with only a very few exceptions are still living off of infrastructure constructed a hundred years ago. New railroad construction in the US is very rare and when it does occur is generally for one of three reasons: upgrade to an already existing line (such as double tracking or bypassing a speed restriction), service to a newly developed customer facility with a large traffic potential (such as a new coal mining area or powerplant or perhaps a large industrial park), or to eliminate grade crossings and/or reroute lines away from residential areas with local or state assistance (such as the recent project in Los Angeles which constructed a new grade-separated heavy-traffic line to the port from downtown).

In the US, freight ladings smaller than a full carload invariably move by truck; the railroads essentially exited the less-than-carload business 40 years ago. For carload ladings rail is still competitive price-wise but generally takes longer point-to-point than trucking. Most purely rail freight nowadays is bulk freight--unit coal trains, grain hoppers, chemical tank cars. The boxcar is a disappearing icon. However, there is a thriving intermodal business in the US - containers or truck trailers which arrive by ship from overseas or by truck from a local shipper which are then loaded onto railcars and shipped overland to a terminal near their destination, and then transferred back to a truck for final delivery.

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--------Eric H. Bowen

Stop by my website: Streamliner Schedules - Historic timetables of the great trains of the past!

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Tanner929
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Money needs to be put into commuter lines. If people won't get on a train for a 1 hour to 30 minute trip they won't get on a train for a 2 long distance trip.
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George Harris
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To expand on Eric's post: Freight by rail is not determined by government policy, but generally by private initiative. In fact, a lot of government policy is counter to freight by rail. A major example being the huge funding of highways used by truckers. The taxes paid on fuel, licenses, etc. amounts to only a small fraction of the costs attributable to the wear and tear and construction costs relevant to trucks. The construction of the Interstate Highway system greatly reduced the cost of long distance trucking, along with the whipsaw techniques used to get legal permission to operate larger and heavier vehicles.

By whipsaw technique I mean the game of, 1. the trucking companies go to the various state legislatures and moan about their inability to haul full loads of a number of materials because of weight restrictions. They get the weight restrictions increased. Then: 2. the trucking companies go to the various state legislatures and moan about their inability to haul full loads of low weight items because of size restrictions. They get the size restrictions increased. 3. the trucking companies then go to hold out states and say because state A to the east allows larger heavier loads and state C allows larger heavier loads, you in state B are losing money and hurting your industries because we can not operate efficiently into your state and must go around you through state D for through loads. State B then caves in. The cycle can then be repeated to whatever extent it takes to get what they want.

The railroads did not really give up on boxcar traffic. They lost it to boxcar size trucks.

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Tanner929
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Seems to me a good place to put a hi speed train, which need to be able to beat a car from point a to point b, would be Richmond to DC and Albany to NYC. These would be express trains making perhaps three to four stops with Metro North taking up the closer stops. But again the train has to get to its destination faster then a car or people will take the car.
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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by Tanner929:
Seems to me a good place to put a hi speed train, which need to be able to beat a car from point a to point b, would be Richmond to DC and Albany to NYC.

There are studies and estimates for both these lines. The state of Virginia is paying for some third track sections. South of Fredericksburg the line has numerous 2 degree curves which keep the speed from getting above the current 70 mph. Albany south already allows 110 mph, I think. To reduce time much more would also require a lot of curve straightening.
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George Harris
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At the risk of hijacking the thread, here is one that comes as a total surprise given that the last that I heard they guy was opposed to allowing any money for studies and design criteria development to go forward:

abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=local&id=5275225

In essence the message is:
05/05/2007 - Governor Schwarzenegger has suddenly endorsed the concept of a high speed rail system in California, and supporters believe voters will soon get the chance to decide if it will become a reality.

After being pushed off the ballot in 2004 by Governor Davis, and 2006 by Governor Schwarzenegger, high speed rail is slated to be on the 2008 ballot, and this time may have the governor's support.

In a letter the Governor sent to the Fresno Bee, he said "I strongly support high speed rail for California, and especially for the San Joaquin Valley."

The governor says the recent truck crash that shut down a Bay Area freeway helps make the case for high speed rail. He notes it would also reduce traffic congestion, cut air pollution and create 300 thousand jobs.

State Legislators are also getting on board. A delegation looked at French high speed trains last month and Assembly member Fiona Ma of San Francisco was one of the passengers when the French train set a speed record last month.

Representative Jim Costa, Democrat Fresno, says "I think there's bi-partisan support and it's going to keep this on the ballot next November 2008."

Costa and other supporters say despite the high costs, the trains should more than pay for themselves.

Pourvahidi says "if you look at what's going on in Japan, and France and Germany their high speed train system well exceeds their operating costs."

The measure on the 2008 ballot would allow the state to sell ten billion dollars in bonds for the L.A. to Fresno to San Francisco phase.

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Tanner929
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There always seems to be plenty of money being passed out for studys but haven't seen to many tracks being lain. USNews and World Report did a cover story on commuting. Some citys are putting money into light rail. When ever I see a story on commuting or high gas prices on TV they always interview the self centered commuters who must have there space and solitued that only a Caddilac Explanade can give you on there 2 plus hour commute.
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George Harris
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I have long since decided that calling for studies is a standard government bureaucrat method of avoiding doing anything while you look like you are.

On another job in a place not to be named until I don't care wheter I work again or not: We as the general engineering consultant came up with two different segments that were so controversy free that they could be built quickly. These were presented to our board of political apointee bosses. It was explained that "the public" would not consider the project real until we could start digging holes and pouring concrete to show that the intent to build something was real. Until that happened there was always the possibility that the "anti-builds" would call a referendum and kill the whole thing. Usually, places like Cincinatti being an exception, once you start building you have committed yourself far enough to get something open. Once you get any part open the obvious benefits usually work to see the system grow. They responeded to actually starting construction with the same enthusiasm as being told that they were going to lined up against a wall at dawn and shot. And, yes about a year later the project was killed. Fortunately it did come back later but not in the same form.

As long as your studies are linear, that is you go from preliminary studies to environmental impact studies, to design concepts and standards to actual design, the thing has a chance. But, once you start going in circles, that is doing reanalysis, new studies of what has already been studied, you might as well pack your books and go looking for another job. The project may still be breathing, but it has been given a death sentence.

There will always be the sole commuter regardless of cost and time component. You are not building for them, anyway. You will see them everywhere. They are the guys that will leave 1/2 hour to an hour earlier than they would have to if he rode a bus or train so they can get the preferred parking place. There are people that will pay more to park their car than the ticket cost of public transportation. These people are beyond help.

Posts: 2693 | From: Olive Branch MS | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Zephrette
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quote:
Originally posted by George Harris:

In a letter the Governor sent to the Fresno Bee, he said "I strongly support high speed rail for California, and especially for the San Joaquin Valley."

The governor says the recent truck crash that shut down a Bay Area freeway helps make the case for high speed rail.

Back in 2005, as a class assignment for a news feature, I started interviewing folks about the planned High Speed Rail system for California. Some of the first people I spoke to were Amtrak employees who said that the biggest opponents of high-speed rail, and the guys with the political clout to stop it, are the civil construction companies who literally pave the way for more cars and trucks instead of trains.

The "hero" who is doing the repairs for the freeway meltdown you refer to in your post is one of those civil engineering whizzkids. Does he drive on congested roads himself? No sirree, Bob. He has a private plane:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/13/MNGMSPQ8LE1.DTL&hw=myers&sn=001&sc=1000

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George Harris
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Don't recall that I have ever referred to the Governator as a "hero" or any other personal characterization. Merely relaying a report that he appears to have done a U-turn on the issue of the HSR. Whether this is a permanent change of heart or done for political expediency I really do not know nor care so long as there is not another U-turn in support for the project.

I think you give the construction contractors too much credit for their power. Most of course want to see construction continue, but whether it is for a road or a railroad it is unlikely that they really care. The only exception would be the specialty subcontractors that only lay pavement. Even they can get a slice because subballast is essentially a base course paving operation, and if the track is on a concrete base as it should be, the rest of the track is a lot like specialized paving construction.

If ANY of it ever gets built, I fully expect it to make so much difference that it will be the first of many.

George

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