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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » AMTK aims at 220 mph in the NE Corridor

   
Author Topic: AMTK aims at 220 mph in the NE Corridor
Henry Kisor
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From Media Relations today:

AMTRAK REORGANIZING TO ADVANCE
HIGH-SPEED RAIL IN AMERICA

Aims to deliver high-speed service up to 220 mph (354 kph)

WASHINGTON –Amtrak announced it is reorganizing and establishing a new department to pursue opportunities to develop new intercity high-speed rail service in select corridors around the country and to plan for major improvements on the Northeast Corridor, including determining the feasibility of increasing top speeds up to 220 mph (354 kph).

“Amtrak is the unparalleled leader in high-speed rail operations in America today and we intend to be major player in the development and operation of new corridors,” said President and CEO Joseph Boardman, noting Amtrak is the only railroad in America to operate passenger trains at 150 mph (241 kph). “New high-speed rail services, linked together with conventional intercity passenger rail and local transit, are a key part of a sustainable future for America.”

Boardman explained the Amtrak board of directors recently approved the creation of a new High-Speed Rail department as the next step in an ongoing process to better position Amtrak to maximize the opportunities available in the new intercity passenger rail environment. He said the department will be led by a vice president that reports directly to the president and CEO and that he will move quickly to fill the position with a highly qualified individual.

The new department will focus on the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor and conduct the necessary planning activities required to provide: a major reduction in trip-times between Washington and New York and New York and Boston; a significant increase in the number of train frequencies; and determining the feasibility of increasing top speeds up to 220 mph (354 kph). In addition, it will pursue partnerships with states and others in the passenger rail industry to develop federally-designated high-speed rail corridors such as the new projects moving forward in California and Florida.

As America’s intercity passenger rail service provider and only high-speed rail operator, Boardman said Amtrak’s leadership on this issue was reaffirmed by Congress in the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. He added Amtrak is uniquely qualified to fulfill the goals laid out by the Obama administration in its Vision of High-Speed Rail in America.

“We look forward to the day when a network of high-speed, regional and long-distance intercity passenger trains can provide a majority of Americans with a high-quality and environmentally-friendly alternative to driving or flying,” Boardman stated.

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Gilbert B Norman
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But on the flip side, Dr. Utt hath spoken:

Heritage Foundation

Brief passage:

  • Abstract: President Barack Obama has committed the United States to building at least 13 high-speed rail (HSR) lines, one of the most expensive forms of transportation that a nation could choose. Even in a strong economy, building HSR makes little sense, offering minimal reductions in travel times at exorbitant costs. In the current weak economy and with the government facing massive budget deficits, the country simply cannot afford to squander $8 billion in stimulus funding, $5 billion over the next five years, and billions of dollars in matching state funding on a transportation system that will at best serve a minute fraction of the traveling public. The country would be better off either not spending the money or spending it on something productive.
While anyone who reviews the material I submit to this forum must acknowledge I hold that short distance rail passenger service between and through population centers is what 21st century passenger rail is all about, I'm prepared to recognize the "$8B for HSR" for which Dr. Utt is evidently opposed, is simply representative of "the ways of Washington'.

In short, if our duly elected representatives are going to commit $4B to an HSR project within Florida (that may or may not be completed and if the latter may or may not provide economic benefit to the region) in order to get that support, the largess must be passed around. At least in this instance, the largess to Kansas, where there is virtually no market for any kind of HSR and not much of one for additional 79mph service through much of the State at 0dark30, has been limited to a $250K 'study'.

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Tanner929
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I think the President looks at HSR as past presidents looked at NASA visions of Mars landing and Star Wars transportation systems.
The government is in competition with its self, has anyone seen the low coast and improvements in Bus Travel lately? I am sittin here overlooking the NEC tracks right beside those tracks is a large expansion project on I-95. If they build a HSR will the public use it? I don't see it I don't see how we can pay for it. Will they force the public to use it?

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George Harris
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Mr. Norman:

The problem with Dr. Utt and the Heritage foundation is that when it comes to high speed rail, or for that matter urban rail trasit or any other passenger carrying rail, their conclusions are all the same: It will not work, nobody will ride it, etc., etc.

I am a believer in high speed rail. I am a believer in rail transit. That is not because I work in the field. Coversely, I work in the field because I am a believer.

Having said that, however: To achieve 220 mph for any meaningful lenght of line in the northeast, and by meaningful, I mean for a length that decreases ride time by somthing measured in minutes, not seconds, and preferable double digits of minutes, will require HUGE amounts of money. Just about all the speed that can be suqeezed out of the system without major realignments has been achieved. A rebuild of the south end catenary to a constant tension system should be step one in increasing speed. This will not be cheap, but I would think that it is proportionately cheap comparted to, say, a 10 mile straight east-west relocation through Baltimore, which is what is necessary to achieve any real speed up there.

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notelvis
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I feel like Amtrak whiffed in the 1990's by not going with the Swedish X2000 trains for the NEC. Proven technology (tilting mechanism) available off-the-shelf would have brought faster (as in Acela fast), more reliable trains to the US sooner and for a smaller price tag.

--------------------
David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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Geoff Mayo
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Sounds like trying to run before they can walk. I agree with George, it is fact that taking an existing railway and making minor improvements here and there to squeeze a few extra MPHs out is immensely costly and does little to affect overall journey time. Look at all the high speed lines in the world (>125mph) - they are all on new alignments for the majority of the route, usually well away from existing population, and scores of miles between stations. You just can't do that with an existing railway hemmed in on all sides by existing non-rail infrastructure.

--------------------
Geoff M.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Anyone else in receipt of same from Dr. Utt?

  • America's Coming High-Speed Rail Financial Disaster

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/03/America-s-Coming-High-Speed-Rail-Financial-Disaster

    by Ronald Utt, Ph.D.

    Backgrounder #2389

    March 19, 2010

    President Barack Obama has committed the United States to building at least 13 high-speed rail (HSR) lines, one of the most expensive forms of transportation that a nation could choose. Even in a strong economy, building HSR makes little sense, offering minimal reductions in travel times at exorbitant costs. In the current weak economy and with the government facing massive budget deficits, the country simply cannot afford to squander $8 billion in stimulus funding, $5 billion over the next five years, and billions of dollars in matching state funding on a transportation system that will at best serve a minute fraction of the traveling public. The country would be better off either not spending the money or spending it on something productive.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Ron Utt
    Herbert and Joyce Morgan Senior Research Fellow
    The Heritage Foundation
    214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
    Washington, DC 20002
    202-608-6013
    heritage.org

    The Foundry has a new look. Check out The Heritage Foundation's policy news blog for insight into the day's news, featuring research, data, charts and analysis. We've made it easier to navigate the site and interact with Heritage. Click http://blog.heritage.org to view the Foundry.
Oh well, somebody must be "farming" one rail forum or the other.

Since I take many a position here that can be construed as "anti-Amtrak", I would think that he would leave me alone and go after the "advocates' we have around here.

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Ocala Mike
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Gil, I don't think it works like that. The bottom line for political parties, non-profits, and charities is to "farm" locations where they have access to friendly eyes and ears. The ultimate goal is not to proselytize people, but to go after the almighty contribution dollar.
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Gilbert B Norman
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Even the generally "pro-passenger" New York Times REPORTED (as distinct from editorializing) on skepticism regarding the McCoy Field (Orlando International Airport; KMCO) to Downtown Tampa HSR project. Of interest are the Canadian Mother and Daughter tourists that wanted to "do Tampa/St Pete without a car".

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/23/us/23train.html

Brief passage:

  • TAMPA — The drive from Orlando to Tampa takes only 90 minutes or so. Despite the short distance, the Obama administration awarded Florida $1.25 billion in stimulus money to link the cities with a fast train to help kick off its efforts to bring high-speed rail service to the United States.

    The Florida train would indeed be high speed — as fast as 168 miles per hour. But because the trains would make five stops along the 84-mile route, the new service would shave only about half an hour off the trip.

    Time-pressed passengers may also find themselves frustrated at the end of their trip. Neither city is known for great public transportation, so travelers may discover that they have taken a fast train to a slow bus.

I continue to hold that $8B for HSR simply should not have been; if this Florida project "goes South" (never mind it already is) either because it is never completed (but leaving a dug up I-4 median in its wake), or does not become anything resembling a commercial success (people ride it), then the "movement' for any kind of enhanced rail passenger service anywhere will suffer a severe setback. I'm all in favor of having $8B spent on passenger railroad infrastructure, but that funding should have gone to the "sure bets" out there.

However, I'm quick to recognize such is not "the ways of Washington".

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Geoff Mayo
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Orlando to Tampa? Five stops on an 80-something mile route? The train will have barely got up to speed before having to brake for the next stop. Somebody has seriously lost the plot. Either lose most of the intermediate stops or save money by abandoning high speed (<125mph).

So gracious of Disney to "donate" land for a stop, though they will lose out on the parking fees - possibly offset by reduction in the number of trams and parking attendants they need to support.

Not going to downtown Orlando is sensible: too short a route for high speed, no tourists, and better suited to mass rapid transit.

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Tanner929
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Remeber the SST Concord? You know that even if this system is put in some group will file suit that the high speed disturbes something or someone. Americans need to learn to use trains, even in my liberal conclave going green means driving an electric car.
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irishchieftain
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220 miles per hour BOS-WAS is not only impractical, it's not even desirable; what you're trying to achieve is average speeds in the low triple digits, which can be done for far less investment, never mind the overspending that's occurred already.

And that's aside from the fact that there just is no room across the various states for a route to institute 220-mph BOS-WAS operation on, unless you intend to bypass New York City as trains between Boston and Washington DC did in the past. (For example, this train of the B&O used to traverse the Poughkeepsie Bridge, which is now one of the world's tallest rail trails, operating from Boston North Station via the Lehigh & Hudson River into Bethlehem PA and from there to Philly and Washington DC. A 220-mph HSR route would have to bypass a lot of metro areas in some similar fashion.)

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chrisg
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To bad Amtrak didn't look at the Talgos as well
back in the 1990's. Look what they have done for
the Northwest they could have done wonders in the Northeast.

Chris

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Gilbert B Norman
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Mr. Guenzler, I think that Amtrak and its consultants allowed the New Haven to do the "heavy lifting' for them with regards to the Talgo:

http://www.nhrhta.org/htdocs/images0605.htm

Not sure for how long you have followed passenger railroad affairs; just know you have ridden 'an awful lot", but to one-line the whole sorry history, Talgos were delivered "over budget and behind schedule" then were withdrawn from revenue service within a year.

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irishchieftain
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quote:
Originally posted by chrisg:
Too bad Amtrak didn't look at the Talgos as well back in the 1990s. Look what they have done for the Northwest they could have done wonders in the Northeast

Talgos would have been useless for the Northeast, unless all the high platforms were torn down, and the window to do that and make it cost-effective passed during the 1960s; since then, the number of high platforms has only increased, especially due to pressure from the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Talgos are about ten feet tall above rail (perhaps near eleven feet max) and have low floors, so they cannot be used with high platforms at all. High-floor single-deck trains are about 12' 8" tall, so there's almost a three-foot height differential.

Note the Talgo at the low platforms in Sacramento CA; now imagine where the doors would open next to a 51"-tall high platform. There are standard single-deck cars in front of the Talgos on this train, so one can see where the line would be for a high platform; the doors on the Talgo are far lower than that floor level.

 -

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Gilbert B Norman
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Today's Wall Street Journal has a comprehensive and objective article (some within the passenger train advocacy community hold they know not the definition of objectivity) regarding the status of the Acela replacement project:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/next-generation-acela-rail-cars-taking-shape-in-n-y-factory-11557662401

Fair Use:
  • The future of American high-speed rail is sitting in a building older than the Battle of Gettysburg: a cavernous factory that holds the first shells of a $2 billion fleet of Amtrak Acela trains due to begin running from Washington, D.C., to Boston two years from now.

    Even as Congress moves toward renewed debates over the future of both Amtrak and high-speed rail, the first of 28 new Acela train sets are starting to take shape here. They are the first new generation of passenger trains on the railroad since the Acela’s debut in 2000.

    For Amtrak, that means a chance to relaunch a service that has been both a commercial success and a procurement headache—and still the nearest approximation in the U.S. to the high-speed trains that whisk travelers among major cities in Europe and Asia..
Let us hope that the boondoggle sixty six miles to the East does not have "fallout" on this equipment.
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Gilbert B Norman
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It appears Amtrak and Alstom sponsored a "media day" at the latter's Hornell facility. CBS This Morning aired a segment on the new Acela equipment; meanwhile, Railway Age has gone a bit more "in depth" with coverage.

Wonder if POTUS45 will even show up at Union Station for the rollout?

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George Harris
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A 220 mph maximum speed in the Northeast is about as useful as the 79 mph speed between Atlanta and Birmingham. The curves and other constraints render it nigh useless. There are precious few places where you could more than a couple miles running flat out at 220 mph. I would suspect the time saving would be measured in a small number of minutes and all of those south of New York. If you want to reduce run time you are looking at the need for some serious line relocations.
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