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High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Tanada » Tue 10 Dec 2019, 10:28:26

Worst thing to me is the obsession with speed. If we were smart enough to stop flying voluntarily and set a speed limit of say 80 kph for all passenger locomotives our energy use per passenger transported would drop like a rock.

Unfortunately our modern culture is obsessed with speed to the point that most passengers will avoid taking a turboprop airliner because it is thought of as slow when the arrival time and fuel efficiency over any trip less than say 1600 km is all in favor of the turboprop. That actual speed difference is about 120 kph, but the time to and from the airport, getting through security, and circling in the holding pattern at the congested airport destination remain the same and make up about 50% of the total trip time. In effect your flight time point to point might be 100 minutes longer, but your whole trip time is only about 10% longer, and your fuel use is significantly less.

You can do the same kind of math for rail travel, at 80 kph you need X kWh of energy to move the entire mass of train and passengers but make that into high speed rail and takes more than 2X kWh of energy to move the same mass in less time.

It is even true of cargo ships on the ocean. Up until WW II a typical cargo ship would cruise at 12 knots or less. If you took the exact same hull and mass and accelerated it to 18 knots fuel use roughly doubled, at 24 knots it was quadruple the 12 knot rate and at 30 knots it was a massive octuple fuel consumption. Ships are like aircraft in that they move through a fluid that resists their passage, however water is a great deal more resistant than air so the effect is much more quickly realized. Modern cargo ships balance themselves between fuel cost and labor cost, when fuel is cheap they go faster to save on labor costs for a given trip duration and vice versa, high fuel costs slow things down until added labor costs balance the equation for a longer trip. This effect was blatantly shown in 2008 when world oil prices shot sky high the first time, suddenly many ships at sea received radio orders from home base to slow down and conserve fuel.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Tue 10 Dec 2019, 15:57:02

Many years ago now Scientific American had a short article on speed of transportation. Their point was any technology that increases the speed of transport will be adopted and will be successful. The Concord be the only counter example.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Tue 10 Dec 2019, 16:03:02

Newfie wrote:Many years ago now Scientific American had a short article on speed of transportation. Their point was any technology that increases the speed of transport will be adopted and will be successful. The Concord be the only counter example.

Many years ago things like AGW weren't generally big inputs, re negatives. I wonder how their calculations would go if they re-did them now looking at things like pollution, crowding, climate change, etc. given modern predictions and data points.
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 Outcast_Searcher » Tue 10 Dec 2019, 16:11:34

Newfie wrote:Copied from l: THINKING; FAST AND SLOW

A 2005 study examined rail projects undertaken worldwide between 1969 and 1998. In more than 90% of the cases, the number of passengers projected to use the system was overestimated. Even though these passenger shortfalls were widely publicized, forecasts did not improve over those thirty years; on average, planners overestimated how many people would use the new rail projects by 106%, and the average cost overrun was 45%. As more evidence accumulated, the experts did not become more reliant on it.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00555X8OA/re ... TF8&btkr=1

This is a common phenomenon, re more bad predictions following bad predictions by group X with set of assumptions S and biases B.

An example I noticed in my 20's, when I was investing in some utilities, was how the predictions of the PSC re energy usage and growth was HIGHLY skewed toward the attitude of the PSC (how hostile they were to the local utility).

For example, LG&E (Lousiville Gas and Electric) had consistently had much better estimates for demand and growth for their products than the PSC they had to answer to. But would the idiot PSC even consider changing their methods or assumptions to try and make more reasonable estimates over time?

Of COURSE not. :roll: 8)

And did any of TPTB intervene to try to fix that? Of COURSE NOT. After all, the only people suffering were rate payers and shareholders, and who cares about THAT? After all, there are elections to win, etc. :x

The human tendency to ignore even blatant bias in favor of thinking that protects perceived self-interest may well be our greatest overall fault -- AND the consequences over time are of course, disastrous.
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 Tanada » Tue 10 Dec 2019, 18:51:52

Newfie wrote:Many years ago now Scientific American had a short article on speed of transportation. Their point was any technology that increases the speed of transport will be adopted and will be successful. The Concord be the only counter example.


Concorde is NOT the only counterexample. For another, we have had the technology since the 1950's to equip merchant ships with nuclear energy which would let them travel at 28 knots or faster for 25 years like a modern nuclear aircraft carrier does. The powerplants on a Nimitz class supercarrier are designed to operate for the period from construction until midlife rebuild at 25 years without need of refueling. They are capable of propelling a 105,000 ton ship at speeds in excess of 32 knots 24/7/365 for much of that time between crew rotations and routine dockside maintenance. And yet here we are more than 60 years after nuclear powered shipping was invented with fewer nuclear powered ships at sea today than there were in the 1980's.

Another example if you need it, again from shipping. In the 1970's the USSR developed Ekranoplan which was in competition to American Hydrofoils. Ekranoplan Hydrofoils
Both designs are extremely fast compared to a regular boat that drags its hull through the water. Both designs were built and proven successful, and by 1995 both designs had been decommissioned by their respective governments.

So now you have multiple examples of Faster=Better being put into question. Heck we can even say it about railroads. In the 1930's the last generation of super speed steam locomotives came on the market and proved they could make speeds of up to 100 mph over well maintained track while hauling significant numbers of boxcar cargo cars at speed. By 1975 what was the average speed of a cargo locomotive over well maintained track? Yup, 45 mph.

So forgive me if I disagree with this short article you remember from some time ago in Scientific American Magazine.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Tue 10 Dec 2019, 19:42:11

That’s OK Tanada, its SA you are questioning, not me. :-D
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Fri 07 Feb 2020, 15:51:38

Welcome aboard RAJ31.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby dissident » Sat 22 Feb 2020, 12:37:30

Going for a TGV or Shinkansen option as the only one is stupid. Even a 200 km/hr speed is already a vast improvement on the rubbish we have in Canada and the USA where the passenger trains travel mostly under 130 km/hr and always are in some milk run mode even if they are called "express". In Canada, the main Toronto-Montreal route is shared with freight traffic. That is basically a banana republic development level. A proper passenger-only rail link with 200 km/hr trains not stopping in every station would provide under 2.5 hour travel time, which is no worse than flying considering all the time wasted on security. And it would be over twice as fast as going by car.

Both car and air transport burn more fuel per passenger than even 200 km/hr rail. High speed rail can be electrified which makes it even more efficient even if it uses coal power plant electricity (42%).
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Subjectivist » Sat 28 Nov 2020, 14:32:41

Rail is ideal for heavy bulky cargo or people not in a hurry. Aircraft for speedy trips, private vehicles for short trips make high speed passenger rail a non-starter in North America. So your train can go 300km an hour? That's nice, my turboprop passenger plane goes 450 km/h and flies on a much more convenient schedule for lower expense because it doesn't have to maintain track and right of way through land is never interrupted by natural events like snow storms or floods.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sat 28 Nov 2020, 15:44:55

Subjectivist wrote:Rail is ideal for heavy bulky cargo or people not in a hurry.


In the real world thats not true. Go to countries with modern high speed rail networks you'll find the trains are packed with people in a hurry traveling quickly between cities in Europe and Jpana and China. (well....at least they were packed before the #$%$# covid virus screwed everything up).

Subjectivist wrote:Aircraft for speedy trips, private vehicles for short trips make high speed passenger rail a non-starter in North America. So your train can go 300km an hour? That's nice, my turboprop passenger plane goes 450 km/h ....


You're leaving out all the time wasted on plane flights driving out of town to the airport, parking, going through security, and then waiting for the flight. Then on the other end you have to travel from the airport back into the town that is your destination.

On a train you travel from downtown to downtown, and there is little to no delay in long lines for security like you have to do at airports. For instance, imagine you are traveling from London to Paris.......by plane you can waste up to three hours getting out to the airport, going through security, and then waiting for the plane to depart. But if you had taken the Eurostar HSR you would be done with trip and walking around in downtown Paris before the plane even takes off from Gatwick back in suburban London.

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sat 28 Nov 2020, 15:53:12

Joe Biden is an advocate of High Speed Rail

joe-biden-high-speed-rail

Joe is known as a train fanatic. Folks involved in HSR think Joe Biden is going to support building out HSR in the US.

But Joe spent most of the campaign hiding in his basement so its hard to know exactly what he supports.

Biden says the word "infrastructure" a lot.....maybe Joe will build some HSR infrastructure, unlike that big liar Obama who pledged to build out HSR and then did nothing.

Here's hoping Joe builds HSR for America.

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GO JOE! Build some High Speed Rail and reduce carbon emissions in the USA

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sat 28 Nov 2020, 18:26:16

Plant,

What is appropriate in Japan, France or Germany is not always appropriate here in the USA.

I support the Amtrak NEC operation, but have not seen any other corridors that make sense.

And the Amtrak NEC is most defiantly NOT HSR. More a gussied up commuter operation.

I have read that in Philadelphia public transit usage is down by OVER 50%. That is gonna take a while to bounce back.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Sat 28 Nov 2020, 19:59:20

Newfie wrote:
I have read that in Philadelphia public transit usage is down by OVER 50%. That is gonna take a while to bounce back.

If your job has been shutdown for Covid you don't need to take the trains to work. Ridership will comeback once we get past Covid.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sat 28 Nov 2020, 22:38:19

Joe Biden’’s nickname in the Senate was “Amtrak Joe.” The man has been a huge HSR advocate for decades.

Biden’s campaign literature says Joe will spark the “second great railroad revolution” in the USA.

Its now or never for HSR in the US. Joe Biden personally shepherded 3 billion dollars of the 1 trillion dollar Obama stimulus money to California to pay for starting HSR there.

Now Joe has a chance to push his plans for HSR much much harder then ever before. Personally, I look for Joe to make HSR part of his infrastructure plan and his efforts to fight climate change when he becomes president.

Once we get a decent HSR electric train intercity network in the USA along with local electric tram systems in the cities, it becomes that much easier for Joe to really jack up carbon taxes and force people to abandon their cars and use mass transit.

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sun 29 Nov 2020, 11:07:21

Plant,

Can see where you are coming from, and it fits neatly with The Great Reset. And who knows, perhaps it will come about.

I remain convinced that HSR in the USA is a green mistake.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sun 29 Nov 2020, 21:30:32

Yo Newfie:

I know you worked in the train industry, and I respect your professional experience and knowledge of trains and rail networks.

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 I do think trains and trams are green.....I think replacing ICE cars with HSR intercity train systems and local electric tram networks is a great way to reduce carbon emissions.

Joe Biden is why this time might be different....Biden is true advocate of HSR and rail in the US, and its not impossible he'll make building out HSR a big priority of his administration. I'm very curious to see what his plans actually will turn out to be.......

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby JuanP » Sun 29 Nov 2020, 22:12:48

I support building all types of trains in the USA 100%. My favorite toy as a child was an HO scale train set, with parts mostly made in Italy, Germany, and France.

I have only used a train once in my adult life, though. I took a train from Madrid to Pamplona to attend my sister's wedding around 30 years ago. It was a great ride. While trains are my favorite form of public transportation, I haven't used any public transportation other than planes in the last 30 years. I don't like crowds. I hate flying commercial airliners, but sometimes I had no choice.

I hope you are correct about Biden and trains, Plantagenet, but I doubt it. Biden will spend his whole presidency putting out fires, and will not have the time, money, or energy to build trains. Passenger trains are not popular at all in the USA, and definitely not a priority for the vast majority of Americans.

Biden will almost certainly be a one term president. He will spend his first year or two mostly dealing with COVID-19 and the economic devastation it caused in the USA. He may or may not get a Democrat majority in the senate; we don't know yet. Even if he does, he will be the president of a country that is in very clear decline and is simply not capable of building a national HSR network, IMO. If he doesn't get a senate majority, then the senate will not support HSR, unless a miracle happens.

Building a national HSR network in today's USA would take decades. We no longer are the nation that sent the first man to the moon or built the Interstate Highway System. We can barely maintain the infrastructure we already have these days.

I hope you are correct and I am wrong, but I will be extremely surprised if Biden pulls something like that off. I expect Biden to achieve very little or nothing at all worth getting excited about.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sun 29 Nov 2020, 23:03:47

JuanP wrote:I hope you are correct about Biden and trains, Plantagenet, but I doubt it.


All I'm saying is look at Biden's own past positions.....Biden's nickname is "Amtrak Joe." The man is a train nut and HSR rail supporter. Biden personally was an advocate for the pittance the Obama administration spent on High Speed rail. Now Joe is in charge....so what in heck will Joe want the US to do? What will he push for?

JuanP wrote:Biden will ....not have the time, money, or energy to build trains.


Again, it depends on whether or not Biden makes HSR a priority. If Biden gets behind HSR and makes it a top priority and pushes then its got a chance of happening. If it turns out Biden is just lying about supporting HSR the way Obama turned out to be lying about it, then nothing will happen.

JuanP wrote:Biden will almost certainly be a one term president. He will spend his first year or two mostly dealing with COVID-19 and the economic devastation it caused in the USA.


Of course. And no doubt Biden will push for a big infrastucture bill to help recovery from the COVID recession.

We'll just have to wait and see what Biden is willing to push for HSR in his infrastructure proposal, or if Biden follows in Obama's footsteps and basically wastes any money the Congress appropriates for infrastructure


JuanP wrote:I hope you are correct and I am wrong, but I will be extremely surprised if Biden pulls something like that off. I expect Biden to achieve very little or nothing at all worth getting excited about.


I'm not saying Biden will do it....I'm saying based on his past record and statements that what I think Biden is likely to do.

But I won't be surprised if Biden turns out to be flop.....

I mean look at today's Biden news.........the poor guy is so old and feeble he can't even play with his dog without breaking his foot.

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 09:52:45

Plant,

My criticism for HSR, not Amtrak, remains. The USA is jotnthenrest of the world, we have different geography, different population distributions, different political structures.

I have no doubt you enjoyed the experience, but 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.

Its not surprising you found it pleasant, it is basically a subsidy for the upper middle class.

Just look at the NEC where you have essentially 3 classes of service on the same tracks.

Freight has been effectively eliminated.
SEPTA/NJT run cost efficient commuter services.
Amtrak runs a relatively effective intercity connector/commuter service.
Amtrak runs the faux “High Speed” Acela service, for 2x - 3x the regular Amtrak price and about 10x the SEPTA/NJT price and 20x - 30x the bus price.

The very marginal higher speed requires a much higher infrastructure investment. The roadbed must meet much higher loads, rail tolerances increase greatly, all the interlocking have had to be replace with much longer switches, inspection rates are much higher. In short its f#%^*%g expensive and screws up the regular traffic because it messes with the scheduling. It actually decreases throughput.

Imagine a highway where everyone is driving at precisely 60 mph, tightly packed, all in harmony. Then 10% decide they want to drive at 80. Screws things up. Now imagine some want to drive at 140 mph. Thats HSR and thats why it requires separate ROW.

Even the track centers need to different, the trains need to be further apart. Sucks the windows out, knocks each other around. Even at much lower speeds Amtrak had this problem and needed to come ip with tilting trains, which they found would still hit one another.

Musk har the right idea, build a tunnel DC to NYC with stops in Baltimore and Philly. Love to see the REAL cost estimates on that one.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 30 Nov 2020, 13:01:21

To hit the nail on the head, very little of North America from the Arctic coast to the Colombian border has the kind of population density common in those parts of Europe and Asia where HSR is effective.
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