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High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

How to save energy through both societal and individual actions.

Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 13:18:42

Newfie wrote: ..... your joy does not mean it is energy efficient. Or, even if energy efficient in that environment that the same system would be efficient in THIS environment.


??????

Of course my joy doesn't make trains energy efficient----its physics that make trains more energy efficient.

Its well known that trains are much more energy efficient then airplanes and/or private cars.

For instance, from Wikipedia:

Trains

Trains are in general one of the most efficient means of transport for freight and passengers. An inherent efficiency advantage is the low friction of steel wheels on steel rails compared especially to rubber tires on asphalt. Efficiency varies significantly with passenger loads, and losses incurred in electricity generation and supply (for electrified systems),[67][68] and, importantly, end-to-end delivery, where stations are not the originating final destinations of a journey.

Actual consumption depends on gradients, maximum speeds, and loading and stopping patterns. Data produced for the European MEET project (Methodologies for Estimating Air Pollutant Emissions) illustrate the different consumption patterns over several track sections. The results show the consumption for a German ICE high-speed train varied from around 19 to 33 kW⋅h/km (68–119 MJ/km; 31–53 kW⋅h/mi). The data also reflects the weight of the train per passenger. For example, TGV double-deck Duplex trains use lightweight materials, which keep axle loads down and reduce damage to track and also save energy.[69]

The specific energy consumption of the trains worldwide amounts to about 150 kJ/pkm (kilojoule per passenger kilometre) and 150 kJ/tkm (kilojoule per tonne kilometre) (ca. 4.2 kWh/100 pkm and 4.2 kWh/100 tkm) in terms of final energy. Passenger transportation by rail systems requires less energy than by car or plane (one seventh of the energy needed to move a person by car in an urban context,[41]). This is the reason why, although accounting for 9% of world passenger transportation activity (expressed in pkm) in 2015, rail passenger services represented only 1% of final energy demand in passenger transportation.[70][71]


And, just as importantly, electric trains emit no CO2, while ICE cars and planes emit huge amounts of CO2.

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All I'm saying is lets see what Biden proposes to do.

The man is a huge train advocate.......who knows.......perhaps he'll advocate for HSR trains. Or perhaps he's been lying his life about being an advocate for trains.

Image
Amtrak Joe is now our president. It seems likely to me he'll push for more funds for Amtrak

Time will tell.

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 14:11:01

Newfie wrote: ..... your joy does not mean it is energy efficient. Or, even if energy efficient in that environment that the same system would be efficient in THIS environment.

And of course, the BUILDING of the entire system is a HUGE part of the overall energy budget, which often gets overlooked by many hyping public transport solution X.

The Washington DC subway system is AWESOME. It really helps one get around the city well enough that for much of the city, if willing to walk several blocks at either end of a subway stop, one can skip the need for a car altogether (and the traffic, the horrendous parking crowding and high fees, etc). And it helps alleviate the traffic mess considerably (bad as it is anyway).

HOWEVER, the ENERGY it took to build and reinforce all those tunnels (very deep where trains cross) will take something on the order of TWO HUNDRED years to make up for, re the "energy savings" aspect of the project.

Now, I look at the idea of US "High Speed Rail" and the infrastructure and location issues (including lots of tearing things down and moving them), and let's say I'm HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS of claims that in the relatively short term, we'll be awash in net energy savings from such projects as a given high speed rail corridor. Oh, and we WILL be awash in debt for decades for each such venture, so there's that.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Simon_R » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 15:57:26

Hi Outcast

Seems to me that on the Carbon Front, we are (for some reason) separating CAPEX and OPEX carbon budgets.

We need to know how much the road infrastructure costs to repair in the US (in terms of Carbon) compared to the Cost of Repairing the Rail network (in Carbon) until
we know these, we cannot judge the cost in terms of carbon.
A similar argument exists for financial costs.

However if these costs were taken into account when building the transcontinental railroad (or tarmacced roads) I suspect you would still be using horse and carts.

more important high speed trains are coool, go on join us, and while you are at it, get a tunnel to Kamchatchka and link up with the trans-siberian

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby mousepad » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 16:12:26

Simon_R wrote:more important high speed trains are coool,


I'm always wondering why those crazy rag-heads havent' placed few bombs on european high speed tracks. Heck, weld on a few beams across the tracks during nighttime and the shiny 300km/h train goes flying.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Simon_R » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 16:46:47

Two words

Legion Etranger

:)
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 16:56:43

Simon_R wrote:However if these costs were taken into account when building the transcontinental railroad (or tarmacced roads) I suspect you would still be using horse and carts.


You have a poor view of the value of being able to transport cargo and passengers from one coast to the other in a matter of days instead of weeks or months. Once opened the transcontinental railroad was a major commercial success far outpacing the Erie canal some fifty years previous. A bit of research on freight rates, New York to San Francisco, before and after the completion of the rail line would enlighten you.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby mousepad » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 17:14:30

vtsnowedin wrote:
Simon_R wrote:However if these costs were taken into account when building the transcontinental railroad (or tarmacced roads) I suspect you would still be using horse and carts.


You have a poor view of the value of being able to transport cargo and passengers from one coast to the other in a matter of days instead of weeks or months. Once opened the transcontinental railroad was a major commercial success far outpacing the Erie canal some fifty years previous. A bit of research on freight rates, New York to San Francisco, before and after the completion of the rail line would enlighten you.

The cost/benefit of such a large enterprise is largely unknown before it's built.
The transcontinental was only built because of a ridicules amount of federal subsidy in both $ and land. If it were such a no-brainer success project, private investors would have been all that's needed. But the opposite was true. Federal had to pick up the tab, and the 2 top men of the central pacific and union pacific were practically 100% in lobbying mode in washington always afraid the plug gets pulled.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 17:14:59

Plant,

I was responding to this.
I'm coming at this from the perspective of someone who loves to ride on trains.....I've spent a lot of time riding on trains and trams and cable cars and trolleys and cog railways and high speed trains and funiculars all over the world, and I think they're all great.


And my response is specific to HSR in America. So when you quote:
Trains are in general one of the most efficient means of transport for freight and passengers.


That CAN be correct in specific settings. But it may also he very incorrect. These things are subject to all kinds of analysis; lies, damn lies and statistics.

For example: one gentleman took some bus system (Boston?) and analyzed its 24 hour operations and found it to be horribly inefficient. Why? Because they were running 60 passenger busses to carry one to three people for extended periods. Many of those “high efficiency” statistics are based upon unrealistic ridership numbers.

Same with rail; Amtrak, outside of the NEC is very inefficient because or low ridership. And it takes something like 4 days to cross the country at a fare comparable to or more than air. And that doesn't include the cost of a sleeper or food for those days.

Lets not kix up France and Japan with the USA; completely different.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 19:17:18

Outcast_Searcher wrote:the BUILDING of the entire system is a HUGE part of the overall energy budget, which often gets overlooked by many hyping public transport solution X. .


The same thing happens everywhere. For instance, people who push EVs because they are energy efficient and don't emit CO2 always fail to include all the energy used and all the CO2 emitted during the mining, processing, transport and manufacturing of the EV. When you add all that in, the carbon footprint of an EV actually starts out being much worse then the carbon footprint of an ICE car....and both of them are much worse than the energy efficiency and carbon footprint of electric train and tram systems, i.e. mass transit.

AND people who push for EVs never mention the overall energy budget involved in building the entire freeway system and road paved road systems. Its hardly logical to critique railroads because they require infrastructure while ignoring the fact that cars and planes and boats ALL also require federal support for their infrastructure construction and maintenance.

The fact of it is that the federal government does all kinds of huge infrastructure projects to make our country more efficient and more productive. We build freeways and airports and dredge rivers and harbors and even do crazy things like build the big ditch in Boston.

My point is that if one looks at CO2 emissions and energy efficiency from the OPERATION of various kinds of transit options , the only logical conclusion is that we should be putting more of our infrastructure money into building infrastructure for trains and less into freeways and airports, because trains are about the most energy efficient mode of transport and freight moving you can find.

Outcast_Searcher wrote:I'm HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS of claims that in the relatively short term, we'll be awash in net energy savings from such projects as a given high speed rail corridor.


Well...the physics is pretty clear. Trains are much more energy efficient then cars or planes, and they emit zero CO2, so there isn't really any question about the energy savings that come from using trains for travel instead of cars and planes. Its basic math....trains are much much much more energy efficient. In my post above I quoted an estimate that trains are SEVEN TIMES MORE EFFICIENT then cars, for instance.

I repeat....trains are SEVEN TIMES MORE EFFICIENT. Thats not a minor differential.

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 19:26:41

Plantagenet wrote:AND people who push for EVs never mention the overall energy budget involved in building the entire freeway system and road paved road systems.

Wrong. Spouting BS wihout ANY supporting data or citations doesn't make you right.

As long as 99% of the vehicles are ICE's or HEV's, what the hell are you talking about anyway?

When BEV's get to be, say, 30% of the light vehicle network, be SURE and get back to us with CREDIBLE citations, supporting your claims.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 20:33:08

A point being missed is that the interstate system is already built and the bills including carbon costs are already paid. Ongoing maintenance of course goes on and if (when) EVs become a significant share of the mix including large heavy EV trucks then some other method then the fuel tax will have to be adopted for them. A mileage driven times a vehicle weight factor being my first choice.
On the other hand true high speed rail requires a complete new acquisition of' right of way' and construction of all new track and bridges. The math on that should stop any reasonable government from proceeding but the reasonableness of the incoming administration remains to be seen.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Subjectivist » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 22:32:12

Look I freely admit that in terms of land travel railroads with the very low rolling resistance and massive load capacities make a ton of sense for moving stuff and even people from A to B when you have to travel over land. But anyone who can do math knows that mater travel with its super low friction losses at moderate speeds will always win the energy in for cargo delivered metric and air cargo with its huge energy in for ton of freight delivered will be a distant third.

HSR is nice if you live in the Boston-Washington corridor and would probably work in the San Diego-San Fransisco setting as well and for the same reason. Millions of people packed into a narrow strip of coastal land gives you a maximum customer impact of anywhere in the USA. But taking HSR form Albany to Buffalo-Chicago-Saint Louis-New Orleans is just plain and simple a major money losing operation. Anyone wanting to travel from the Hudson Valley to those cities can fly in a couple hours per leg of the trip, or drive it in about 8 hours a leg using the existing interstate highway system. Why would anyone pour billions of dollars into building an all new HSR route to follow the same path given the immense cost of seizing the right of way, constructing the route and stops, and them maintaining the whole thing as a Class A+ HSR route when the passenger traffic would never pay 10% of the investment back!
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby JuanP » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 23:26:51

Subjectivist wrote:Look I freely admit that in terms of land travel railroads with the very low rolling resistance and massive load capacities make a ton of sense for moving stuff and even people from A to B when you have to travel over land. But anyone who can do math knows that mater travel with its super low friction losses at moderate speeds will always win the energy in for cargo delivered metric and air cargo with its huge energy in for ton of freight delivered will be a distant third.

HSR is nice if you live in the Boston-Washington corridor and would probably work in the San Diego-San Fransisco setting as well and for the same reason. Millions of people packed into a narrow strip of coastal land gives you a maximum customer impact of anywhere in the USA. But taking HSR form Albany to Buffalo-Chicago-Saint Louis-New Orleans is just plain and simple a major money losing operation. Anyone wanting to travel from the Hudson Valley to those cities can fly in a couple hours per leg of the trip, or drive it in about 8 hours a leg using the existing interstate highway system. Why would anyone pour billions of dollars into building an all new HSR route to follow the same path given the immense cost of seizing the right of way, constructing the route and stops, and them maintaining the whole thing as a Class A+ HSR route when the passenger traffic would never pay 10% of the investment back!


That makes a lot of sense! I agree 100%.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Simon_R » Tue 01 Dec 2020, 04:06:14

Transport needs to be thought of as a service, rather than a profit making venture.

You dont pay tolls on the roads (ok we do) your tax money is spent providing the infrastructure as a SERVICE.

So why should rail be any different ?

Only question is, as a society do you want rail ?
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Tue 01 Dec 2020, 10:01:03

I repeat....trains are SEVEN TIMES MORE EFFICIENT. Thats not a minor differential.


Under specific favorable conditions trains can be efficient. Barges are even more efficient, under the right circumstances.

Those circumstances do not exist for HSR in the USA.

HSR is Green washing like the Green New Deal and Paris Accords.

First you need to acquire a brand new ROW and build a completely new road bed. Track centers existing roadbeds are to close together, the substructure is insufficiently stable to support the close rail tolerances required. Then you need to make sure it is completely grade separated, no crossings; it needs to go over or under every road, waterway, rail line, power transmission line, gas line, etc. It can carry no other traffic, commuters get in its way and freight wrecks the track. And it needs to have sufficient ridership to make it viable, and that needs to be sufficiently cheaper and more efficient than other means to off set the enormous costs.

Amtrak Acela, which is NOT HSR and shares commuter trackage wi is MUCH cheaper/more efficient; Philly to NYC is about $150 for a 50 minute trip. Mega Bus is about $5 and 90 minutes.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Simon_R » Tue 01 Dec 2020, 10:22:12

Hi Newfie

You are talking economics, I believe the other gent was not.

Whilst having a HSR dedicated to passengers is ideal, it is not compulsory, I know I travel on them all the time.

In france cars can cross the TGV lines using a level crossing (its rare) but if they get it wrong, generally the car is simply cut in half ... but this happens very rarely as people are aware.

The point about economics is well made, but only, if the train needs to make a profit, for example the amount of wear and tear on a road caused by a bus or truck is (I believe) in the order of 00s of times worse than a car, yet they are not taxed equivalently, so tax the little devils and use the money to build out your rail infrastructure

Thanks

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Tue 01 Dec 2020, 10:32:27

Simon_R wrote:Transport needs to be thought of as a service, rather than a profit making venture.

You dont pay tolls on the roads (ok we do) your tax money is spent providing the infrastructure as a SERVICE.

So why should rail be any different ?

Only question is, as a society do you want rail ?


On the right track (LOL) but not quite there. I advocate for making MASS TRANSIT free. It is a huge capital investment that only pays back if there is sufficient ridership yet we stifle ridership by imposing fees. For low paid workers a transit ticket represents a significant portion of their income, it is a regressive tax that discourages employment.

I have ridden the Philadelphia Broad Street subway at mid day and been the only rider on that car. I routinely see full size busses running around out if rush hour with under 10 riders, frequently near zero.

So reduce or eliminate fees while rationalizing the system, stager work hours.

Then there is Covid which is staggering transit. Car sales are holding about steady even as transit is falling and folks are out of work. People are working at home and moving to cars. Studies have shown that once interrupted it takes about 3 hears for a transit system to regain ridership. The problem now is that tuis is not a simple shut down for repairs but interjection if distrust that you may catch a bad disease by riding.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Tue 01 Dec 2020, 10:39:05

Simon_R wrote:Hi Newfie

You are talking economics, I believe the other gent was not.

Whilst having a HSR dedicated to passengers is ideal, it is not compulsory, I know I travel on them all the time.

In france cars can cross the TGV lines using a level crossing (its rare) but if they get it wrong, generally the car is simply cut in half ... but this happens very rarely as people are aware.

The point about economics is well made, but only, if the train needs to make a profit, for example the amount of wear and tear on a road caused by a bus or truck is (I believe) in the order of 00s of times worse than a car, yet they are not taxed equivalently, so tax the little devils and use the money to build out your rail infrastructure

Thanks

Simon


Simon,

Economics is oil and energy. If we ignore economics then you might as well fly.

And I am not arguing universally against HSR, just in the special case of the USA (Canada or Oz). Our housing and city infra structure is built out differently and also there is a different mind set.

And I am not arguing against steel rail travel, but specifically against USA HSR.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Tue 01 Dec 2020, 12:18:53

Simon_R wrote:
The point about economics is well made, but only, if the train needs to make a profit, for example the amount of wear and tear on a road caused by a bus or truck is (I believe) in the order of 00s of times worse than a car, yet they are not taxed equivalently, so tax the little devils and use the money to build out your rail infrastructure
Simon

You are correct but the heavy truck does pay higher taxes in registration fees based on loaded weight and diesel tax which is often higher then the same state's gas tax per gallon and the truck might get six miles per gallon vs. your cars 30MPG.
For example the diesel fuel (state + federal) tax in VT is 56.4 cents per gallon and the gas tax is 49.12 cents per gallon. So the truck getting six mpg is paying 9.4 cents per mile and the car getting 30mpg is paying 1.6 cents per mile.
On top of that a truck having a loaded weight pf 70,000 lbs. has a registration fee of $2118 per year or if it uses some other fuel then gasoline or diesel (electricity or propane etc.) a whopping $3701. A 90,000 pound truck pays $2698 or $4628.
That might not make up the entire difference in wear and tear on the roads but they at least have made a stab at it.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Tue 01 Dec 2020, 12:21:34

Oh and you will need a lot of those trucks to build out any rail structure so best not tax them out of business.
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