High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

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High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby Haggis@wk » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:01 pm

3 Reasons Why Obama’s High-Speed Rail Will Go Nowhere Fast. With bonus Supertrain footage. It’s 1979 all over again!
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Alexis De Tocqueville 1835
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby jamiebk » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:11 pm

Haggis@wk wrote:3 Reasons Why Obama’s High-Speed Rail Will Go Nowhere Fast. With bonus Supertrain footage. It’s 1979 all over again!


It would be nice though to give the airlines a run for their money...I tire of them having no competition at all and having no alternative mass transportation. The airlines are getting away with murder on fees. Now we get to pay to sit at a window, have a snack, get a pillow, carry a bag, etc. etc. My hope is that a viable alternative to the 300-600 mile trips will restore some competition to the cost of travel.
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby dai bread » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:16 pm

Having travelled several times on the Japanese Shinkansen, I have to say that high-speed rail is a very good idea indeed.

I'm sure Americans can put in a system that's just as good. Whether they will or not is another matter. As has been noted several times when this subject has been discussed, politics and pork barrels get in the way.
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby Haggis@wk » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:47 pm

jamiebk wrote: It would be nice though to give the airlines a run for their money...I tire of them having no competition at all and having no alternative mass transportation. The airlines are getting away with murder on fees. Now we get to pay to sit at a window, have a snack, get a pillow, carry a bag, etc. etc. My hope is that a viable alternative to the 300-600 mile trips will restore some competition to the cost of travel.



What's your thoughts on the current California effort at high speed rail?
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby jamiebk » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:18 pm

Haggis@wk wrote:
jamiebk wrote: It would be nice though to give the airlines a run for their money...I tire of them having no competition at all and having no alternative mass transportation. The airlines are getting away with murder on fees. Now we get to pay to sit at a window, have a snack, get a pillow, carry a bag, etc. etc. My hope is that a viable alternative to the 300-600 mile trips will restore some competition to the cost of travel.



What's your thoughts on the current California effort at high speed rail?


Nice to have but I don't think we can afford it. We have so many other priorities (like closing a $20 Billion budget deficit). Also, I wonder why taxpayers have to pay for the thing. Seems like private enterprise should be building it. It's tantamount to the state (and fed) buying airplanes for United. I guess we do build the airports, but I think you see my point.
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby Shapley » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:36 pm

California wants to put its high-speed rail lines on the ground, not elevated. That limits them in speed, presents hazards to people and animals, and will probably run into numerous environmental roadblocks.

Noble idea, foolish execution...
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby jamiebk » Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:09 pm

Shapley wrote:California wants to put its high-speed rail lines on the ground, not elevated. That limits them in speed, presents hazards to people and animals, and will probably run into numerous environmental roadblocks.

Noble idea, foolish execution...


elevated roadways would double the cost...we can't afford what we are planning.
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby Shapley » Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:49 pm

jamiebk wrote:elevated roadways would double the cost...we can't afford what we are planning.


Actually, that's not necessarily the case. High speed rail requires very flat gradients. The land has to be leveled, often at great cost. Roadways have to have crossing barriers, overpasses, underpasses, also at great cost. Additionally, the rail line must be fenced off to protect pedestrians and animals.

Elevated rails require little or no grade work, do not have to be fenced, and do not impede traffic flow beneath them, requiring little rerouting of extant traffic patterns.
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby jamiebk » Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:28 pm

Shapley wrote:
jamiebk wrote:elevated roadways would double the cost...we can't afford what we are planning.


Actually, that's not necessarily the case. High speed rail requires very flat gradients. The land has to be leveled, often at great cost. Roadways have to have crossing barriers, overpasses, underpasses, also at great cost. Additionally, the rail line must be fenced off to protect pedestrians and animals.

Elevated rails require little or no grade work, do not have to be fenced, and do not impede traffic flow beneath them, requiring little rerouting of extant traffic patterns.

I don't deny that it is a better design (elevated)...but it is expensive and we have these pesky little earthquakes around here too...
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby dai bread » Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:14 pm

Earthquakes wreck railways whatever they're on. I have my doubts about high-speed rail in California, and here, for that reason. The Japanese are willing to take the chance. In more geologically stable places, Oz and Europe for example, and most of the U.S., high-speed rail is a great idea.
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby Shapley » Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:45 pm

An elevted track can be made at least as earthquake-resistant as a grounded one. As Dai notes, if the ground shifts direclty below the track, it doesn't matter whether it is just a pedastal base or the entire track, the track will fail and the train, if not checked in time, will crash. At speeds over 100 miles per hour, it probably doesn't matter much whether you're 30 feet above grade or at it.

As I note in my lengthy discussion of high-speed rail, the train will have to continuously monitor the track before it, and shut down if the track integrity is breached. This will allow the train to stop if an earthquake renders the track unusable, and will prevent death and injury, unless the train is at or near the breach at the time of the earthquake.

There will be some risk, to be sure. However, the risk from earthquake is one thing, the continuous risk of collision with ground traffic, such as is typical at rail crossings, is another. The elevated rail will eliminate them. There has not been a crossing gate devised yet that is foolproof. How many rail-crossing accidents happen annually?
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby analog » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:20 pm

the map at 1:17 in that video shows they're using existing rail routes... i guess that's the least expensive.
compare with Amtrak route map at http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentSe ... 7405732511

if the purpose is to cut down on car traffic shouldn't they parallel the most crowded interstates ?


Maybe this is just the beginning ,,, i'd sure feel better if there were routes paralleling I70 and/or I40...

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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby GreatCarouser » Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:36 pm

analog wrote:....
if the purpose is to cut down on car traffic shouldn't they parallel the most crowded interstates ?


Maybe this is just the beginning ,,, i'd sure feel better if there were routes paralleling I70 and/or I40...

a.


I wonder whether there are any feasibility studies for those routes (I80 too?). My guess is the Continental Divide crossing would probably be the major 'rub. Not to mention that 'right of way' very close to the Interstates themselves would probably be logistical and financial nightmares.
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby dai bread » Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:33 pm

I'm a fan of putting rail alongside road so long as the trains travel at a decent speed, i.e faster than the road traffic. There's nothing like seeing something in action to spur desire for it, and if you're stuck in traffic while the train goes by, next time you'll go by train if you can.

High-speed rail needs dedicated tracks. The Japanese have them, and I'm fairly sure the Europeans do too. I know a stumbling block in the operation of the England/France Channel line was the absence of decent track on the British side.

Like Shap, I favour an elevated track. A monorail would be ideal IMO.
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby Shapley » Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:40 pm

Running them along the Interstates would require a re-write of the legislation creating the Interestate Highways system. Eisenhower was a military man, and he envisioned the interstates as a military route designed to facility the movement of war materiel. This included the requirement that a large percentage of the right-of-way remain unobstructed to allow the landing of aircraft on the highways. I believe the figure is something like 1 mile in every four that has to be straight and free of aerial obstructions.
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby analog » Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:14 pm

A project that innovative needs a Walt Disney not a Department of Transportation.

Forty years ago he built that monorail for Disneyworld using precast concrete spans that he shipped(by rail) clear from California to Florida.
Now virtually all the highway bridges there use similar concrete beam construction.
Maybe he wasn't the very first but he sure demonstrated it to a lot of young future highway engineers.

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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby BigJon » Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:55 pm

If I could pull my car onto a high speed train and rocket towards my destination, I'd do it in an instant.
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Re: High Speed Rail; Good or Bad?

Postby Schmeelkie » Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:45 pm

They're trying to put in some rail for high speed in NY state. We get a lot of - why does anyone need to get to Albany that much quicker. My arguement is not getting from Rochester to Albany more quickly, but getting out of upstate NY to the major East Coast cities a couple of hours faster would totally be worth it. Currently, if we take Amtrak from Rochester NY to Worcester MA it takes 10 hours (1.5-2 hr layover in Albany), we take about 7.5-8 hours to drive it (actual driving time is about 5.5 hours), so have only taken the train when one child was at that 'need to move around a lot- can't entertain self in backseat for too long-won't sleep the whole way' age. My MIL takes Amtrak all the time to visit us. Course, there's only one schedule - leave Worcester ~1pm, arrive Rochester ~11pm, then leave Rochester ~10am, arrive Worcester ~8pm. High speed rail would make this take much less time, obviously, and might open up the possibility of more choices for travel time. We never fly, cause you get to airport 1.5 hours early, 1 hour flight, then about 1/2 hour waiting for luggage and getting rental car, the 1 hour drive from Boston back to Worcester. Only saves a couple of hours and the cost of a flight from Rochester to Boston hasn't been below $200 in years - not feasible with 2 kids...especially when you're likely renting a car on the other end.
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