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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » OK, so what will be the first new High Speed route and when will it run?

   
Author Topic: OK, so what will be the first new High Speed route and when will it run?
mr williams
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Let's see who can win this little predictor contest.

Quite simply, which of the routes do you think will be the first to actually start operating revenue generating passenger service and in what year?

We may have to wait a while before we can declare the winner.........

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Gilbert B Norman
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Definition of High Speed Rail for the purpose of this discussion, SVP?

Presume we are addressing within the USA.

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Ocala Mike
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This is just a guess, but I'll go with something Chicago-centric like Chicago-Toledo-Cleveland starting, say, in 2011. I'm assuming we're sticking to the map of potential HSR corridors that came out a few months ago as part of the stimulus bill, right?
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RRRICH
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Either the Chicago corridor or something in California (if they can come up with the funding) -- say L.A. to San Francisco. As for what year -- ??????????????
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sbalax
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Well, you may have heard that the State of California is nearing bankruptcy and is issuing IOU's to debtors...

I got my retirement check on 1 July but can't be sure about the next one. They tried to raid the teachers' retirement fund once before and we had to sue (and won!!) to get the money, interest and costs back.

So, I think I'll need to go out of state to ride HSR in this lifetime in the US.

Frank in sunny SBA

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zephyr
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Is the FRA definition of high speed rail still 90+ mph?

If so, how about the Northern Lights Express (Minneapolis/Duluth corridor)?

At a Northern Lights presentation I attended three weeks ago in Duluth, they seemed confident it will be running by 2012. And it will not require subsidies shortly thereafter (heck, it will be profitable). And, and, and it will solve all Zip Code 5 issues with mosquitos, arctic winters, and Northern Cities Vowel Shift.

Yah, you betcha.

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Ocala Mike
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Interesting, zephyr, but that is not one of the HSR corridors identified by the DOT as part of the stimulus bill. For that matter, neither is the LA to Las Vegas route that generated so much flak when the HSR stimulus plan was first announced.

Being a resident of the Sunshine State, a distinctly non-rail oriented venue, I can say with certainty that I won't see a high speed route down here in my lifetime, although such was bruited quite a lot for Florida before this "drecession".

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yukon11
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I agree with Frank. I think the LA to SF HSR train could well never get off the ground, considering the economic situation in Calif.

It is to my thinking that the DOT reserves the right to change the designated corridors for HSR plans, across the country. Thus, maybe it's possible that the Northern Lights Express or other corridors could get stimulus money. I would love to see a high-speed train along the Cascade route.

Maybe, to answer the question, the Las Vegas to Victorville will be the first as it is primarily going to use private funding.

Richard

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zephyr
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My money is on Northern Lights Express, and I'm letting it ride.

Look, connect the dots. Just answer these simple questions:

1. What state "deserves" a little "consideration" for recently sending one of its State Birds to the US Senate? (Ans- Minnesota)

2. Who's the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure? ( Jim Oberstar )

3. What District does Jim Oberstar represent? ( 8th Congressional District of Minnesota, which includes Duluth and Hinkley on the proposed Northern Lights route)

4. What's in Hinkley, Minnesota? ( A very big Indian Casino)

5. Excluding government, what is the most powerful economic force in this country today? ( Indian Casinos )

So see? Simple. The Northern Lights has got both the political and economic bases covered. It'll be the next HSR route, or my name ain't TwinStarRocket.

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TwinStarRocket
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I believe in zip-5 land, high speed is defined as anything faster than a carp swimming upstream. Thats faster than the traffic on I35 to Duluth was when I was on it this weekend.
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George Harris
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Supposedly the Calif. HSR funding is outside the general Calif. budget or Sacramento insane asylum control. But not sure how that is really going to play out. At any rate, those involved tend to be believers that it will happen and will be the first and will meet the general definition in most of the rest of the world for high speed. That is, in the 250 km/h (155 mph) plus range, instead of the rather pathetic 90 mph plus range. Many systems run their "ordinary" railroads at above this speed.

I would think a committe of inmates at most insane asylums could do better than the California legislature.

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zephyr
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George, since use of the American FRA 90+mph standard is crucial to my winning this contest, may I respectfully suggest we stick with it. It's really, really important to me. And I could care less what countries with hoity-toity fancy-smancy modern trains think.

But if it makes you feel better, we can hereon refer to the Zip 5 project as the Northern Lite Express.

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palmland
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The Southeast HSR route gets my vote, since it's in my backyard. Aside from that, it may make the cut because much of the engineering work on the former Seaboard portion has been done, a portion of the track has been partially upgraded, thanks to NC DOT, and both NC and VA have shown the political interest in working for passenger rail, as evidenced by their funding of state supported trains.

Also, Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh/Durham are some of the fastest growing cities in the south and in 2000 had a metropolitan population of about 4 million (I know not much compared to Houston, Phoenix etc).

This would be a good test to see if you provide fast frequent service, will the passengers come.

Realistically I think Ohio 3C project has a better shot at it, especially if they combine forces with Indiana for service into Chicago. I think Ohio DOT head (and former FRA chief) Molitoris has a lot of clout in her state and in Washington to get things done.

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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by palmland:
The Southeast HSR route gets my vote, since it's in my backyard. Aside from that, it may make the cut because much of the engineering work on the former Seaboard portion has been done, a portion of the track has been partially upgraded, thanks to NC DOT, and both NC and VA have shown the political interest in working for passenger rail, as evidenced by their funding of state supported trains.

Good points. They also have considerably smarter politicians than the crowd out here, but then who doesn't?
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Mr. Toy
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I think California's will be the second. Something around Chicago first.

California's program won't be too severely affected by the budget mess, which is temporary. But some obscure group with some pet cause (such as frog lovers, wealthy NIMBYs, or anti-pork gurus) will find reason to tie it up in court for 10-15 years.

I take it back Chicago first, Texas second, Florida third, Pacific Northwest fourth, California last.

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mr williams
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Good to hear from you again Mr T - do you realise it's almost three years since I dropped in to see you in Monterey one lunchtime?

At that time the proposal to re-open your own line from Monterey had been put back to....er....2009....

I can't see the LA - SFO route running much before 2020. Chicago - St Louis might have something going for it as favourite but I can't help thinking that those folks down in Texas might suprise us all

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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Toy:
But some obscure group with some pet cause (such as frog lovers, wealthy NIMBYs, or anti-pork gurus) will find reason to tie it up in court for 10-15 years.

Exactly my fear. We will find that there will be some location where the all practical routes go through the "last know habitat" of some critter no one ever heard of before. I put last known habitat in quotations because I remember the flap about the "snail darter" an obscure fish whose only known habitat would be obliterated by the construction of Tellico Dam. Within a few years these things were found to inhabit almost every middling and larger stream in East Tennessee and the dam finally got built. Whatever you may think about dams, the reason used to delay this one was completely bogus.
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mr williams
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Didn't they actually start work on the LA - Las Vegas line around 2001/02 only for it to be stopped by the "save the desert tortoise" campaign (I kid you not!) and by the time it was resolved the cutbcks had come in and it was shelved?
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Gilbert B Norman
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Sorry to say Mr. Williams, that is "more or less' correct. Nevada even went and acquired a Talgo train that was eventually sold to Washington for Seattle Portland service.

Yup, Tuffy the Turtle is UP's mascot; he single handedly whacked this passenger train intrusion on their lines.

However, allow me to note I hold that a properly "launched" Angels-Meadows service i.e. "five a day" or better, well-stocked and properly staffed F&B service (last call WB would be @ Summit on Cajon) but otherwise plain old trains, would be an overnight success.

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Ocala Mike
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Well, maybe it is going to be Florida, but I'll have to see it to believe it.

http://www.masstransitmag.com/publication/article.jsp?siteSection=3&id=9061

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RRRICH
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Mike -- I agree. I too will have to see it to believe it. I'm not even sure we're ever going to get our light rail commuter service down in this part of the state.
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amtraxmaniac
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Now, I am typically the eternal optimist when it comes to expanded rail options, however I'm not sure California will be the first. I site these reasons:

1. Mr Harris, general fund or not desperate people do desperate things. Sacramento has robbed every last cent from COUNTY coffers to feed the general fund. They will attempt to get their hands on ANYTHING to feed that fund. They tried once (AND FAILED) to raid Prop 10 funds. I'm not so sure ANYTHING'S safe here anymore. Just because it's outside the general fund, doesn't mean its not in jeopardy.

2. Sacramento politicians have PROVEN inept. Secure districts have removed competition. Legislators pander to their party elites rather than the general population. Don't count on them to spearhead any efforts or remove any bariers.

3. If I'm not mistaken, don't these stimulus funds require some match from the state? California can't even afford pennies on the dollar.

4. Our courts tend to be NIMBY friendly.It will be start...gripe...injunction... stop work....EIP...court case...appeal...back to drawing boards....restart...new gripe...another injunction....yet another expensive EIP....another lengthy court case followed by appeals....on and on and on......

In a perfect world it would be (as Larry the Cable Guy says) 'Git'R Done'.

I say, we might be fortunate to see a yard of rail laid down this century.

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Gilbert B Norman
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I wonder if Amtrak is looking forward to being paid by California with 'Registered Warrants" (especially since it appears that banks will no longer accept them as checks contending that they are "securities"). Or how about you, Patrick, if you are with a State Social Service agency?

SBA Frank, I guess you are safe; don't think CALPERS is broke.

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George Harris
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I agree that California is about the last place in the country likely to have a git'R done attitude. To give an idea of how rediculous this can get, I quote the following paragraphs from the American Railway Engineer Association Bulletin 758, December 1996:

quote:
Stanislaus River Truss Replacement
. . . .
During the design process, a Consultant was hired to secure permits from the U. S. fish and Wildlife, Army Corps of Engineers, and the California Department of Fish and Game.

The Consultant's biology report indicated that a threatened species, the "Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle," might someday make its home in the Elderberry bushes located under the bridge. Please note that this is a Threatened Species; not an Endangered Species. If it were "Endangered," the environmental cost would likely be much higher. Also please be aware that a biological survey did not locate any of the threatened species of beetle in the Elderberry bushes. In fact, there was not sign of any active beetle species, threatened or otherwise, within the last five years.

The Elderberry bush itself is not endangered or threatened. But because the bush is a potential host for a threatened species of beetle, we were required to transplant 111 elderberry bushes. Cost of the environmental consultants, biologists, permits, and transplant costs totaled $960,000. That calculates to about $8,600 per bush.

The environmental costs included a permit from the State Historical Preservation Officer. They surmised that the bridge was eligible for listing in the National Register of Historical Places. Documents had to be filed to demonstrate to the Historical Preservation officer that efforts were made to advertise and market the truss to anyone who may be interested in "rehabilitation and preservation" of the span. Two consecutive weeks of advertising in local papers produced no one single buyer. Therefore a permit was issued to allow Santa Fe to demolish the truss.

Need I say more about the possibility of ANYTHING being done quickly in California?
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amtraxmaniac
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No IOU's GBN. Department employees aren't getting IOU's, just contracted vendors and pentioners. So If your a clinic looking to be reimbursed for services rendered, or a construction company contracted to build a highway overpass, or a STATE PENTIONER, expect that worthless piece of paper. CURRENT employees are taking 3 furlough days per month-a pay cut of about 14%. Thanks for asking (tongue in cheek).

Anyhow....

There is no sacred cow. If the state is robbing constitutionally protected funds like Prop 10, does anyone really think they won't try to divert(ROB/RIP-OFF) Prop 1a funds?

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George Harris
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I wonder if the Feds will decide that California is trying to print their own currency with these things?
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Ocala Mike
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I seem to remember back in the 70's or early 80's, NY State workers were paid for a short time in "scrip", so I guess there's a precedent for it.
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Gilbert B Norman
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That is good to know, Patrick, that a State employee continues to be paid in real money. The Registered Warrants are being used to pay vendors.

Of course "that's no good" as say, using your profession as example, a private child welfare agency holding a contract with your State's child protection agency (looks like CFS is the alphabet soup of the day) to provide care-days for clients has their own payroll to meet.

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amtraxmaniac
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Very true.
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