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High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sat 16 Feb 2019, 12:09:52

Zarquon,

What you write above is essentially correct, and I’ve sat in meetings where that “Cover up” was patently obvious.

When you write about how everyone loves it you are very correct again, each player has something to gain from the project going forward, but not quickly, need to keep the boat alive to drain all its blood.

As Plant notes many places greatly talk up HSR. Because it’s a major money dispenser.

I for one will argue against “more jobs”. That’s always a false economy.

Back to Plant,

Your argument about who gets to travel is somewhat disengenious. The developers are always begging for more and more fail development because it brings in ridership which boost land prices and makes development possible. The expansion of the DC Metro is a perfect example. In front of a line expanission is much wrangling over routes with specific land investors twisting arms. Once building begins the developers start building the “mushroom development” that erupts at each station. The development, thus the need for rides, FOLLOWS the rail line development more than it leads it.

I’ll grant that I’m arguing from a purely American POV in line with the reasons KJ outlined above. USA development planning completly assumes a high reliance upon cars. We have 100 years of misguided suburban development that is hostile to mass transit. We also have vastly greater distances to travel between major population centers. And where we don’t, such as in the NEC, there is already so much suburban development as to make true HSR impossible.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sat 16 Feb 2019, 12:23:05

FYI to anyone interested. A few facts.

HSR, true HSR, requires a separate dedicated ROW from other trains, passenger or rail. The normal separation between vehicles as they pass is too tight, so the track centers need to be further apart. Also the forces and tolerance on the track is much greater in HSR, therefor the underlying structure, the roadbed, is substantially more massive and requires much higher levels of maintenance.

The USA is a special situation because of the regulatory requirements. FDOT crash worthiness requirements are such that American rail vehicles are about 59% heavier than in other countries with much lower standards. But this also means our roadbeds need to be heavier, the engines bigger, the trains slower.

Regulations are complex and I’m no expert but generally you are to mix passenger (not just HSR) and freight on the same line then there needs to be some absolute “time of day separation” where there is a complete moratorium of both modes sharing the same line at one time.

The track center problem noted above is a significant problem for Amtrak on the NEC. The “typical” corridor trackage is 4 tracks, the outer 2 being local passenger trains (SEPTA, NJT) and the inner two being reserved for fast trains, (Amtrak.). But there overall width of the alignment is limited by the catenary poles holding up the contact wire. Even if you had enough land on either side, mkbjng the track centers would require a complete redo of all the overhead transmission system. It’s roughly 80 years old now but no one is talking of redoing it in total. It would be both hugely expensive and would require major operational disruptions.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sat 16 Feb 2019, 12:39:04

Newfie wrote:The USA is a special situation because of the regulatory requirements. FDOT crash worthiness requirements are such that American rail vehicles are about 59% heavier than in other countries .... this also means our roadbeds need to be heavier, the engines bigger, the trains slower.


This is a clear case of government over-regulation killing an industry.

The Europeans have been running a highly successful HSR network for decades. They are still expanding it today.

The smart thing to do would be to re-write and reform our safety regs to bring them in line with the standards established in the EU.

If the goal is to build out a US HSR network quickly and for less money, the smart thing to do would be to do what the Chinese did. Start out by buying EU trains and equipment off the shelf, and even hire EU rail companies to build a few EU standard HSR in the US, and then copy their technology and shift to US manufacturing.

Building out a US HSR network would be a great infrastructure project. It would create many many jobs, at all levels of skill, and it would start the transformation of the US to a post-carbon economy.

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sat 16 Feb 2019, 12:46:34

Yes, except no one is talking about that.

And also, the goal should be towards degrowth. We don’t need more jobs, we need fewer people.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby evilgenius » Sat 16 Feb 2019, 12:50:57

I've thought about the road train thing before. Maybe I've even mentioned it here. I don't know. The reason I brought up trains that can contain cars, over those that become trains, is because standardization is as repulsive to the American mind as public transport is. I can't see Americans accepting a standardized box, which would fit together into a road train. It's for the same reason that the idea that the future of car travel is non-ownership will fail: Americans like a personal touch to their transport method. They like to keep stuff in their cars. They make a mess out of their cars, and don't worry about it. They ding them up, and decide for themselves whether they will fix them. The standardized model would work, up until the point in time where someone had developed something that gave people what they have become accustomed to. Then, it would go away. Since it would take a huge investment to shift over to standardization, investors might not make their money back from such a scheme. You can bet that as soon as it got to the drawing board someone would be working on a way to have transport that gave people more choice.

The train only needs one concession to standardization, a maximum size. If the congestion relieving trains are not closed, but open topped, that might not even be the case. The best way to do it would be with an autoloader. It would defeat the purpose to have everyone drive onto the train. Though they do that at the Chunnel, it takes a lot of time. When the object is to save that time, driving onto a spot and then getting loaded, probably along with the section underneath you, all at once with the other cars makes more sense. It might be more economical to have a single loading point, like how proteins don't assemble everywhere at once, but from a single point. But that's something that actually experimenting with the idea would discover. I should think that, since the idea is getting from one place to another en masse, that loading all along the length of the train at once would be much better. The single point might work for a train that broke apart during the trip, and sections of it independently went to diverse places all across the city. In that case, people would line up in lines according to their destination, and the loader would pick from each line as the program running it figured was the best way to load. So, you drive up next to it in a long line, or two. It loads you in about a minute. Then everyone goes to the next point at some multiple of the speed any car on the highway could have gone, it doesn't have to go so many hundreds of miles per hour. It takes another minute to get off. After that you drive off into a manifold, which delivers you to the nearby highway structure. Big cities like Delhi and Moscow, where traffic is really terrible, would benefit most from such a thing, but it would lend itself to the non-standardized American way of thinking about highway transportation as well.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Sat 16 Feb 2019, 12:51:30

Newfie wrote:Yes, except no one is talking about that.

And also, the goal should be towards degrowth. We don’t need more jobs, we need fewer people.

We are pretty much stuck with the number of people we have plus those jumping the fence. Best to have as many of them working and self supporting as possible.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby GHung » Sat 16 Feb 2019, 13:08:56

Newfie wrote:Yes, except no one is talking about that. [high-speed rail]


Some are. High-speed rail is one of the transportation points in the "Green New Deal".

https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environm ... sio-cortez
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby evilgenius » Sat 16 Feb 2019, 13:38:05

What we need to be talking about is electrification of our automobile fleets. First of all, it works against the easy come, easy go gas station model that comes with refueling. Unless the "Jesus battery" thing actually works, we will have to recharge our cars for hours. That's where a train that contains cars can really come in handy. It could take your car from your neighborhood along with the others, since if we don't even have jobs we will still probably all keep the same schedules, to the vast recharging lots where most cars would go to recharge out of the view of people. Those trains from your neighborhood could be drive on trains for loading, since your self-driving car would be in no hurry. From those lots it might well use a version of the single point method of loading the train, where the train breaks apart to go to several different destinations based upon need, to get your car back to you. It wouldn't have to be high speed. Your self-driving car wouldn't care how fast the journey was. That way a neighborhood would only need a few charging places, for cars that got over used in a single day, or for those buffoons who you will always have who either can't get their too early to run down cars fixed or can't adjust to a life where they only travel however many miles in a period of time. Alternatively, we could try for a charge at home model, but how would we fit in apartment buildings and the ad hoc houses broken up into apartments where there is only one spot for five to ten units? This way we could have a much denser housing structure, and not allow transport to limit the number of people our cities can support out of an at home model perverting the need for density into a more spread out reality.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sat 16 Feb 2019, 14:42:42

GHung wrote:
Newfie wrote:Yes, except no one is talking about that. [high-speed rail]


Some are. High-speed rail is one of the transportation points in the "Green New Deal".

https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environm ... sio-cortez


Plantnwas talking about changing the USA safety standards for crash worthiness to meet EU levels.

To be honest, if you have a dedicated line in a single state that does not ever touch an DOT/FRA regulated railroad you may well be able to use different safety standards.

I THINK that was the origional concept behind the Cali HSR but it was modified to joint use in order to reuse existing ROW for cost cutting reasons.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sun 17 Feb 2019, 03:18:01

Yes, exactly. The highest performing HSR implementations involve widely spaced rails and non-traditional train designs. But any speed that is faster than diesel trains today is sufficient for heavy frieght, and electrfying the existing lines would save much carbon emissions. The HSR should be a dedicated ROW and a safe wide rail design.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sun 17 Feb 2019, 07:38:21

I’m not sure how much it would save if all you were doing was replacing existing diesel locomotives with electric locomotives.

If you were replacing diesel TRUCKS with electric locomotives then you have something. But the trend has be in decreasing rail miles, not increasing them. The money is in the long haul business, not the short line.

There are freight choke points that need to be addressed, but I don’t know of any active projects. Basically it’s crossing the Rockies and some Midwest hubs IIRC. Adding transcontinental lines would lessen ship traffic through the Panama Canal. But I don’t know if that results in a carbon savings. M

A few decades ago freight lines went through a relatively major improvement project to double stack routes. That involved replacing bridges and enlarging tunnels. But I think the majority of that work has been completed.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby evilgenius » Sun 17 Feb 2019, 11:27:20

There is something to consider now with high speed rail that doesn't seem to matter, but actually needs consideration early on. That is actual train car configuration. How tall are these things going to be? People think that with trains you can simply keep adding cars to the train to add capacity. That doesn't always work. If you consider how tall they have to be now, before the rail spacing and clearance guidelines are written, then you can avoid the embarrassing problem of needing to go taller, but not having the capability. If it makes sense to standardize the entire rail network, then some of the stuff I was talking about above could be integrated into a system without there being a total disconnection between modes of travel. So, if you are going a long distance and want to take you car, you could, at speed. You'd pay for that. Otherwise, that space would be taken up with cargo, or people. That way anybody with local access to the system could enter it for any purpose close to where they live, and not far away, at the equivalent of an airport.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sun 17 Feb 2019, 13:11:21

In fact those limits are already apparent. The Western US has higher tunnels and road overpasses than the trains AMTRAK uses East of Chicago. There are different classes of locamotives and train cars for the two different standards. When you travel from coast to coast, they make you change trains in Chicago.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sun 17 Feb 2019, 14:24:14

KJ,
Yes but a little misleading. There are two different sets of signal rules, East and west coast. Positive Train Control was supposed to clean up some of that mess and the 5 class 1’s collaborated on a GPS based standard. EXCEPT Amtrak had been working on a speedster standard for the NEC for years. And since it met the essential requirements it has been allowed to stay. So all NEC is in a speedster standard. (Trivia you will find nowhere: that standard came initially from a Paris underground expansion project. It does not relate to GPS or any functional survey system. It requires its own unique survey irrespective of anything else. And is fundamentally limited in the number of track segments it can manage).

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_A ... ad_signals

.Typically railroads in the Eastern United States ran speed signaling, while railroads in the west used route signaling, with some mixing of systems in the Midwest and South. This was due to the lower train density in the west combined with generally simpler track layouts. Over time, the route signaling railroads have incorporated segments of speed signaling through merger and have also adopted more speed-based aspects into their systems. Of the five major Class 1 railroads in the United States, CSX uses speed signaling, Union Pacific and BNSF use speed enhanced route signaling and Norfolk Southern uses a mix of speed and route signaling based on the original owner of the line. Commuter railroads and Amtrak all use speed signaling where they own or maintain the tracks they run on. Canadian railroads all use a strong system of speed signaling in Canada, but have some segments of route signaling on lines they have acquired in the United States.


A little more on PTC. The EU has their own variant. It relies, as does PTC, on cell like radio coverage. The EU got together and came up with a unified plan and assigned certain radio frequencies for its use.

In the US PTC was mandated by Congress after a fatal crash in Cali. The FCC has sold off all the radio channels so there has been a mad rush to gain back those channels and use them for PTC. Congress did not see fit to mandate any RF be set aside for PTC. Amtrak has the same issue with their system. So many millions are being spent buying RF channels, millions in taxpayer money. Far more than the FCC got when they sold the channels.

In fact, in this instance, the EU states acts more like an adult cooperative group than the US Federal Government.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sun 17 Feb 2019, 15:09:16

Improving track, raising bridge of tunnel heights, etc. all go under the category of infrastructure spending.

The US has spent many billions of dollars maintaining and improving infrastructure for highway and airplane transportation. Infrastructure is just plain expensive. I know just a couple of years ago here in central Alaska the Feds spent 30 million dollars putting in one overpass on our only highway. IF the Ds in Congress are serious about the "Green New Deal" and its commitment to rail transport, then serious infrastructure money will have to go into improving rail infrastructure across the USA.

IMHO it could be done if the US would just prioritize its spending a little bit more intelligently. For instance, the US is wasting incredible amounts of money on military spending that could be diverted to domestic infrastructure spending. Consider the fact that aircraft carriers and all other large naval vessels are basically obsolete ---- one Chinese hypersonic missile, costing just millions can destroy any aircraft carrier costing billions. IMHO, the US should start retiring aircraft carriers and other large naval vessels and shift that money to building hypersonic missiles and to building out US rail infrastructure etc.

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby lpetrich » Sun 17 Feb 2019, 17:40:31

High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly’s Statement on Governor Newsom’s State of the State Address

What will continue:
  • Building the under-construction parts
  • Working on planning the rest of the system
Goals:
  • Getting the system to work in the Central Valley
  • Seeking Federal and private funding for further development

I'm not sure what they'll be doing. Electrifying the Central Valley line and running 200-mph trains on it? Or moving the Amtrak San Joaquin trains onto it?

Next would be extending northward and southward:
  • Merced - (Pacheco Pass) - Gilroy - San Jose - San Francisco
  • Bakersfield - (Tehachapi Pass) - Palmdale - Burbank - Los Angeles
Last edited by lpetrich on Sun 17 Feb 2019, 18:26:22, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby lpetrich » Sun 17 Feb 2019, 17:51:11

I have found a study of high-speed rail service vs. air travel: Air and Rail Competition and Complementarity Figure 1 (PDF page 8) shows rail vs. air market share for several city pairs as a function of rail travel time. The rail fraction varies from 11% (Madrid-Barcelona in 2002: 7 hours) to 97% (Frankfurt-Cologne in 2005: 1 hour). Half-half market share is roughly at 3.5 hours, 75% rail at 2.5 hours, and 25% rail at 4.5 hours.

With some more detailed numbers, I once worked out this model: (market share) = 100% / (1 + exp((t - t0)/tw)), with t0 = 3.5 hours and tw = 1.1 hours.

Looking at Presentation from the US DOT Intercity Passenger Rail Forum | Federal Railroad Administration I found that this model gives good agreement with its Amtrak vs. air numbers.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sun 17 Feb 2019, 17:58:13

It would be very interesting to go back to the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) and see what claims were made for this project. Do they hold up in light of the shortened section?

Merced to Bakersfield is about like bumfuck to Egypt. I would not be suprised to see someone make ansuite to cancel the entire project because without a path to completion then it looses is reason for being. My belief is they have now run afoul of federal laws which, I believe, says you cantnstart a project with federal funds until all funding is in place. Could be wrong, not my field.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby lpetrich » Sun 17 Feb 2019, 18:25:00

Now for average travel speeds. For Paris - Lyon, I estimate 150 mph / 240 km/h, and for Madrid-Barcelona, 130 mph / 210 km/h.

From these speeds, I estimate a sort of breakeven distance for HSR travel: 500 mi or 800 km.

The contiguous United States is much larger than that distance, but there are plenty of heavily-populated areas that are well within that distance from each other.

The most obvious such place is the Atlantic coast, and one can extend the Northeast Corridor along it to make an Atlantic Axis, as I like to call it. It would run Portland ME - Boston - New York City - Washington DC - Richmond - Raleigh - Charlotte - Atlanta - Jacksonville - Orlando - Miami.

The Atlantic Axis's length is nearly 1900 miles, but many of its passengers would be traveling only part of the way.

Another one is what I like to call Greater Chicagoland. From Chicago, Minneapolis, Omaha, St. Louis, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Detroit are all within this 500-mile limit.

Houston, Dallas, and Austin, the three cities of the Texas Triangle, as it might be called, are all within that limit relative to each other.

In California, San Francisco and Los Angeles are within that limit, even using the somewhat roundabout route of the CA HSR system.

In the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver BC and Eugene OR are within that limit.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Zarquon » Sun 17 Feb 2019, 23:43:10

https://www.texastribune.org/2014/03/07 ... -past-pit/

"As Texas Central Railway works to develop a high-speed rail line connecting Dallas and Houston, its leaders say they expect to avoid the pitfalls that killed a similar project more than 20 years ago."

Do you think this one will work out? From what I understand, it was lobbying that killed half the project, and financing that killed the other half. And it's not clear how the two affected each other - no support without the money, and no money without enough support.
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