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Author Topic: Little HSR Engine that Couldn't
yukon11
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Gov. G. Newsom has just announced that California High Speed Rail will be limited to the Central Valley:

https://is.gd/womN1a

Maybe they could convert it to an experiential, tourist train. A great trip from Merced to glamorous Bakersfield.

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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Will Newsom prove to be "Moonbeam's" "Earl Warren" as was the latter to Eisenhower?
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Vincent206
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So, what went wrong? There are plenty of examples of economically advanced nations building HSR without enormous cost overruns. Did the process overwhelm the project? Or is HSR an impossible task in the USA?
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yukon11
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What went wrong? Flawed decision making and poor contract management, among other problems. Calif Prop 1A was voted for by estimating a 32 billion overall cost. I voted for prop 1A to my regret. I think HSR proposals are too often a tool to get politicians elected to office.

I would really like to see, Vincent, some sort of HSR from Eugene to Vancouver, BC. However, looking at the Calif. fiasco, I hope they would give OR/WA/BC citizens a true idea of cost and cost overrun.

https://is.gd/TnlRm2

24 to 42 billion for Portland to Vancouver. I wonder if the train could really reach 250 mph speeds? That would be great if feasible.

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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The Journal has editorialized is a quite predictable manner.

Fair Use:
  • The new Governor is thus proposing to finish the initial planned route from Merced to Bakersfield, now with the stated goal of revitalizing rural areas that have been parched due to water rationing. Lo, high-speed rail is “about economic transformation and unlocking the enormous potential of the Valley,” which is “hungry for investment” and “good jobs.” Mr. Newsom in his speech also pared back a project championed by Mr. Brown to deliver more water to farmers.

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George Harris
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I hardly know where to begin. This was a project that would have served a high demand corridor that had several intermediate cities.
For all the environmentalists, it would have significantly reduced the fuel usage per passenger compared to either air travel or automobile.

We have here a truly great idea that suffered a death by a thousand cuts. More aptly, agony from a thousand cuts until finally killed because the multiple injuries resulted in it failing to do its job.

There was an endless run of needless reports and studies, demands for rediculous changes that were accepted by politicians who had no clue about anything related. Changes that added costs demanded and accepted. Multiple unrelated work made part of the project. Examples: Complete rebuild of a couple of miles of highway 99 in Fresno, electrification and othere modifications of Caltrain San Francisco to San Jose.

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yukon11
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I'm starting to think that the entire subject of high speed rail needs some rethinking.

Looking at the "Illinois High Speed Rail" thread, (Mr Norman's post) they conclude:

"In fact, a fast-rail project is under way in Illinois. Yet the trains will top out at 110 mph, shaving just an hour from what is now a 5½-hour train trip. After it’s finished, at a cost of about $2 billion, the state figures the share of people who travel between the two cities by rail could rise just a few percentage points. Behind such modest gains, for hundreds of millions of dollars spent lie some of the reasons high-speed train travel remains an elusive goal in the U.S."

Are High Speed Railroads really necessary? Japan has huge financial debts due to their bullet trains. If you could have, for example, HSR from Portland to Seattle to Vancouver with no other stops along the way, it might make sense. A fast way to travel without the hassle of the airport experience. However, the big advantage of trains, over planes, is all the possible destinations along the way. However, HSR advantages, I think, are somewhat delusional.

The Empire Builder is a train that many might think is mainly an experiential or excursion train, with a large percentage of passengers going the entire route. Yet, only about 9% of passenger do travel the full route. 46 stations along the way with 1080 trip combinations. Not trying to make a case for keeping all LD trains, but it seems that getting from A-B-C (as, for example, Winona to Havre) is the main passenger objective, not speed.

The emphasis should shift from the need for speed to the quality of the trains, themselves.

Having modern train equipment, good on board services and adequate food, as well as a very positive entire train experience is more important than speed, in my opinion. I think the speed obtained by the NEC and the Amtrak Cascade trains is quite adequate and serves the essential need of passengers. If you need speed, you could fly from Winona to Havre..are there nearby airports?

Richard

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PullmanCo
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What went wrong? It was under capitalized from the very first Obama grant...

--------------------
The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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Vincent206
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NPR's business program, Marketplace, ran a story tonight about the CAHSR project and the history of high(er) speed rail in America. The story starts with a synopsis of the status of CAHSR and then recaps the history of American streamliners and foreign HSR before returning to the mess in California. Two transportation experts then give their opposing opinions about the need for CAHSR. One claims that the money would be better spent improving transportation in the crowded cities so that it would be easier for people to get to the airport. The other expert says that high speed ground transportation is a needed third option.

The story ends with a dubious statement that monorail trains were "debuted" in 1964 at the New York World's Fair. Anyone who attended the 1962 Seattle World's Fair knows that there was a monorail connecting the Fairgrounds and downtown Seattle. Does anyone know of any earlier systems?

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Gilbert B Norman
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Vincent, does this count?
Posts: 9391 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
George Harris
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Wuppertal should count.

Generally I avoid listening to or reading the views of "experts" when rail systems are involved. Almost all have an ax to grind.

I have spent most of my working life on rail transit, with the two major systems, Washington Metro and Taipei, Taiwan transit. Both these are carrying people far beyond original estimates to the point that the areas can't imagine how to live without them and have had or are now in the process of building lines far beyond those in the original plans into the maybe someday but probably never extensions or fill-ins. In both these cases there were all the "experts" claiming it costs too much, it is taking too long to build, and "no one" will ever ride it to the point that it will have no effect on traffic congestion. By the way there was also 7 years on the Taiwan High Speed with the design build operate group from a line on the map to riding trains. Parallel air service has gone from near nose to tail flights to a few that serve primarily as connections to international flights and flights to places not served.

Saying all that to say this, I feel that the California High Speed rail should be built as originally envisioned from San Francisco to Los Angeles. When it happens, it will serve its area to the point of becoming regarded as being indispensable.

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