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High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby lpetrich » Mon 18 Feb 2019, 02:28:23

There was an earlier effort around 1990, and Southwest Airlines lobbied very hard against it: Bullet Train Failed Once, but It's Back for Another Go | The Texas Tribune
Texas TGV’s optimism was based in large part on its backers’ confidence that a high-speed rail line would draw thousands of Texans who regularly flew between the state’s major cities for work. The plan was a threat to Southwest Airlines, which had built a large portion of its business on the state’s “super-commuters.” Southwest officials said the Texas project was unlike any other high-speed rail project in the world, in that it was focusing more on taking customers from air travel rather than cars.

Herb Kelleher, Southwest’s CEO at the time, predicted that the bullet train would force the airline to raise fares on some Texas routes and end service on others. He also warned that the company might move its corporate headquarters to another state. Southwest Airlines declined to comment for this article.

However, Southwest Airlines does not seem to be opposing this most recent project.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 18 Feb 2019, 07:44:43

lpetrich wrote: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.


I over looked this excellent post above. I think that analysis is about right. Which is one of the problems with HSR in the USA, there are few geographic pairings where it makes sense, and most of them are already so overbuilt with suburban sprawl to make a new build impossible.

I’ve only been to Paris once, it I was struck that when approaching it we seemed to be in agricultural land right up to the city limits. Whereas here you have continuous sprawl development from Richmond to Boston.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Wed 20 Feb 2019, 14:51:59

California killed their HSR project, and then Feds promptly cancelled the one billion dollars they were going to pay California to complete the project. Not only that, they want California to repay the 2.5 billion they already took from the Feds for this project.

trump-administration-demands-2.5-billion-repayment-californias-high-speed-rail-fail

The obvious solution for this is for California to reverse itself and recommit to building the HSR project. Then they would be in compliance with the terms of their federal grant and this federal clawback of grant money based on California's concompliance wouldn't be a concern.

It would be ironic if Trump demanding the money back actually caused California to recommit and build HSR. But that isn't likely.....California thinks it can just steal the money and not do the project they promised to do. In the old days the kind of deceitful financial dealing California is engaged in here was called fraud.

There is a very simple lesson for California here----when you take money and sign a contract and promise to do something.....then you should then do it or you will get sued.

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Wed 20 Feb 2019, 17:19:50

I think it’s Federal law they have to give it back. They also have a couple of hundred million in carbon offsets that need to be repaid.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Fri 22 Feb 2019, 19:41:09

News from India.

.NEW DELHI: The railways has lined up a mega expansion plan, including more than doubling the freight capacity and adding new high-speed trains for which 10 corridors with a cumulative length of about 6,000km have been identified


https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.timesofi ... 119972.cms

6,000kn is about 3,600 miles divided by 10 is average of 360 miles. But it’s not clear from the link if those are “route miles” or “rail miles.” A quick look at the graphic makes me think it’s a mix. Maybe about 4,000km or 240 miles average. Can’t tell if there will be intermediate stops or not.

Wiki has an extensive write up of the first segment, under construction.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumbai–Ahmedabad_high-speed_rail_corridor

I see one of my old companies has their fingers in the mix. SYSTRA.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sat 23 Feb 2019, 12:40:37

Even India is moving ahead on HSR as California and the rest of the USA do nothing.

Its truly sad to the see US refusing to modernize.

I suppose the plan for decarbonizing the economy in the US is for everyone to buy $100,000 Tesla EVs with the free money we get from the Ds for our racial reparations.

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sat 23 Feb 2019, 17:18:52

Note that they are NOT going ahead with any projected route that crosses “ghet”, mountains.

India is far more densely populated than the USA. I don’t know Jack about OlIndia but I suspect the suburban demographics are significantly different. It may be that HSR works in India but not in the USA. Or it may be that they are simply more corrupt or more naive. Or what ever. Just because it is being discussed there doesn’t mean we should do it here.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sat 23 Feb 2019, 18:54:01

There is still the one unsurmountable problem: American cities did not grow around rail systems. The important thing to realize is that they don't go anywhere useful. I live two miles from a light rail station which took me to the commuter train, seven miles further, which took me to the diesel shuttle bus my employer ran. The wife would drop me at the light rail in the morning, and I would walk home the same two miles at night.

It was annoyingly complex and thus not an improvement over the overcrowded roads, where at least you had the satisfaction of being a road warrior.

After a few decades, the people build homes in around the train stations, and services cluster around the trains. THEN trains make sense. Because its not really about the trains, its about people and their lifestyles.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sat 23 Feb 2019, 19:05:29

In Europe, where you had small tight population centers separated by agricultural land public transit made more sense. In th USA suburbanization and the dream of every house with a lawn makes it damn near impossible to feed those areas with transit.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Sat 23 Feb 2019, 20:18:21

I don't follow you there KJ. Before 1950 every major US city was served by and centered around railroads. As they built the interstate highway system the layout might vary from the old rail line between cities but every major junction had a railway junction within a couple of miles of it to serve the same city the railroad was serving. As the highways won out many of the old rail lines have been abandoned and the tracks sold for scrap but the ROWs still exist and often have fiber optic communication lines buried along them. I know of no city that was started after 1950 so what we have is railroad serviceable even if the suburbs have sprawled far into the hills in the last seventy years.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sun 24 Feb 2019, 08:00:50

The rational for public transit and HSR are different. And there are many different types of public transit. So there is a communication problem when discussing these issues because we all have different images of what “public transit” is.

High Speed Rail - think Bullet trains
Acela - the highest speed in the USA
Commuter rail - Selta, Metro North, CalTrain
Heavy Rail - NYC subways, DC Météo
Light Rail - Houston, Oceanside Escondido
Intercity bus - Greyhound
Regional bus
People movers
Irregular bus - individual operators
Taxis
Uber

Each has its time and place.

My contention is high speed rail may be a solution when you have sufficient traffic between points. It’s sweet spot is as a cost and time effective alternative to commuter air. Within the USA it makes a very small contribution to green house gasses for the massive investment required. Where it would prove in, on the Richmond/DC/Baltimore/Philly/NYC/Boston run, the land is already so highly developed that securing a ROW is cost prohibitive. There are also numerous navigable waterways to be crossed, high bridges. And that run is already served by Amtrak, albeit slowly.

San Fran to LA is too far and through mountains.

Other routes have been proposed but none have gained sufficient backing, the cost benefit is not there.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sun 24 Feb 2019, 08:42:49

vtsnowedin wrote:I don't follow you there KJ. Before 1950 every major US city was served by and centered around railroads. As they built the interstate highway system the layout might vary from the old rail line between cities but every major junction had a railway junction within a couple of miles of it to serve the same city the railroad was serving. As the highways won out many of the old rail lines have been abandoned and the tracks sold for scrap but the ROWs still exist and often have fiber optic communication lines buried along them. I know of no city that was started after 1950 so what we have is railroad serviceable even if the suburbs have sprawled far into the hills in the last seventy years.


What happened after 1950 was the suburbs grew up around the cities. The inner cities were abandonned to the poor, and began to decay. Today we have the Upper Middle Class and the Middle Class living distributed away from city centers. The shopping centers and medical and professional services they need are also distributed. The suburban lifestyle came about because in this vast and relatively underpopulated country, land was relatively cheap.

The great enablers of this distributed suburban lifestyle were ICE vehicles and cheap petroleum fuels. Now that fuel is not so cheap, and understanding that it will steadily get more expensive in the coming decades, it is a popular thing to do around here to cry Doom! Doom! Doom! and to disparage perfectly usable tech that will allow such a lifestyle to continue.

The beginning of the suburban lifestyle was arguably Ford's Model T and all it's myriad competitors. Stop for one moment and compare that Model T to a modern EV - not a $100K Tesla, but an under $35K BEV - last count, there were 8 of those for sale from various manufacturers in 2018. Take the 2018 Nissan Leaf as an example. It has 151 miles of electric-only range and a base price below $30K. Decent performance with 147hp and 236ft-lbs of torque. Comfortable interior with a heater and A/C and power reclining seats, power steering and power brakes.

Quite simply, the Nissan Leaf blows away the Ford Model T in terms of relative cost, performance, range, and comfort. There is no doubt - none at all - that the American suburban lifestyle can be sustained comfortably in an era of expensive petroleum based fuels, using today's BEV technology. Those of us who like the suburbs and don't like cities have available and affordable alternatives is the message.

YES, it is possible to make an argument that you will get more value from buying an ICE vehicle today when fuel is $3/gallon. But I'm not planning on buying another ICE vehicle, only a BEV. I also plan to have solar panels, a wind turbine, or both wherever I end up living, to keep my residence warm in the Winter and cool in the Summer, and to "fuel" my vehicle. I will after all, be a older person on a fixed income, it's only prudent.

I personally don't plan to move anywhere near a train of any sort. If access to mass transit makes real estate more expensive - and that does seem to be happening now in overcrowded Silicon Valley - then I want to live less expensively away from the train. After all, the trains and busses don't go where I need to go, they are just not convenient compared to owning a BEV. If my advancing age means that I am restricted from owning a highway-capable vehicle such as a Tesla or Nissan Leaf, then I'll own an under-25mph NEV.

Again, I just don't see Doom around the corner with the end of oil. Not for me, and really not for my grandkids. They might end up living in a world where BEVs are the norm, only the rich can afford ICE vehicles, and they spend a quarter of their incomes on food (i.e. 4X what we spend today in the USA) because of expensive fuels, but that's not anywhere near to Doom.

It will be a pity when all those people in the Third World perish, and expensive energy will eat into the First World lifestyles noticeably - but I just do not see any form of Doom as likely.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Sun 24 Feb 2019, 10:25:47

KaiserJeep wrote:
It will be a pity when all those people in the Third World perish, and expensive energy will eat into the First World lifestyles noticeably - but I just do not see any form of Doom as likely.

Given how used to adversity people in the third world are I expect their percentage of survivors a hundred years from now will be higher then Americans or Europeans.
What percentage of Americans especially young ones have ever eaten a meal they produced themselves, start to finish, seed to harvest, hunt to roast fishline to platter?
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Tanada » Sun 24 Feb 2019, 10:31:48

KJ you skipped right over the primary factor of the Model T. When Ford built his moving assembly line in 1912 he was able to drop the unit price of the Model T into the range where average working Joe could afford to buy one.

$30,000.00 might not be much of an investment for an EE like yourself, but trust me on this in most of the country where wages are low and living standards are lower that is a big money purchase. I was thirty before I had a job that would support a purchase like that and I am fairly average for a post manufacturing area that is seen as 'flyover country' by you coastal dwellers. It isn't just the cost of the vehicle, it is rent and food and all the other expenses of contributing to a family lifestyle. Until I was 40ish every car I ever purchased was used, usually in the 5+ year age range to get the price within my reach.

The magical thinking that when half the population can not afford a new vehicle and pay their rent but they will all run out and buy a fancy new EV when they can get a third hand reliable Honda or Toyota for a third the price is the problem.

There are sound economic reasons why the average car on American roads is 11 years old and the average age at scrapping is 17 years. You know if you stop and think about it a minute that the vast majority of the cars you see on any road trip are not new, ranging all the way down to rolling wrecks that still manage to get the owners from a to b most of the time.

You want the EV dream to come true the first step is to get enough used EV's in the market at a price that average Joe can actually comparison shop them with the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla that experience teaches them will last a decade for the cost. Until you do that the EV remains the province of the upper middle class.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Sun 24 Feb 2019, 11:47:07

Not to dismiss Henry Ford's achievement but I think today EVs will follow the pattern of our recent high tech. inventions. First adapters will buy all of the first production at inflated prices because they want to be first and have the money to burn. After that market is saturated the manufacturers will use economies of scale to bring prices down to sell to ever lower price points to sell to ever larger groups of customers.
My father in his day was a first adapter. In 1915 he and his three brothers used the profits from sugaring to buy a model T cost $390 plus shipping by rail to WRJ VT. They had run two sugar evaporators on both sides of a hill and made about 1000 gallons which sold at war time high prices of $1.10 a gallon. The four brothers wore out that model T in just two years squiring girls around to dances and such, flogging over what passed for roads in those days. They even snapped an axle one frosty morning finding that Mr. Ford didn't have the metallurgy quite right yet. That was much improved by the time of the Model A. You can take an axle from one of those and strike it with a hammer and it will ring like a bell.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sun 24 Feb 2019, 11:54:10

But also mass transit needs to improve. I lived in center city Philly and almost never took a local train, bus, or trolly. Because the transit system did not work for someone with an available car and convientnoarking space.

To get to 30th Street Station was about a bit more than a mile walk, it would require 2 separate bus rides and about 1/4 mile walk. Walking ate into my “me” time, so I took a cab and expensed it.

To go to a Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart, Target was about five miles and required 3 bus trips, each way. Then how do I carry my purchase. It took an hour minimum to drive, walk in buy a light bulb, and drive home because of traffic. The buss would have required about 3 hours with the wait for the transfer and still having to walk a mile or more in total.

When we went out we either walked or took a cab. If a bus trip is $2.50/ person and two are traveling that’s $5. A taxi could move us door to door for $7.

We need a evolution in transit to make it more efficient. I see some promis in Uber ride sharing. Why run 40 passenger busses with 4 riders when you can have someone run a 12 passenger van who picks up and drops at the door? If I were some city mayor I’d be talking to Uber about how to make that model work. Maybe subsidize the fares a bit.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Sun 24 Feb 2019, 12:02:06

Wouldn't raising fuel prices with a gas tax or carbon tax drive improvements in mass transit service?
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sun 24 Feb 2019, 14:03:08

You people just don't seem to be understanding what I am talking about.

Firstly, those 8 new BEVs under $30K ARE cheap cars in a country where the average price is $36K. There are 8 ICE models below $20K today, but if the gas price per gallon increases from $3/g to $4/g, the ICE vehicles cost more per mile than do the BEVs. I remember $5.67 per gallon a few years back when California banned MTBE in fuels, even the wealthy were paying attention then.

Secondly, the suburbs already exist. Even in Silicon Valley, where people move every 5 years or so and re-finance every 3 years or so, the new criteria of how close you are to the train will take decades to have an impact. If gas prices double, would you consider that reason enough to move to a new more expensive home near a train station? I certainly would not, nor I think would most people. The alternative would be simply planning ways to reduce fuel consumption, which is easy and anyone can do it.

Bottom line is that it will be a long long time - and more probably NEVER - when transit alternatives replace cars. Even here in Silicon Valley, the illegals are pooling their money to buy a van and driving to work. They are NOT using the train - it doesn't go where they need to go.

Multiply this by nearly everywhere in the USA. If the trains are usable, they are already being used. The NYC train system and busses are succedding, but there are still enough cars to produce traffic gridlocks in NYC. The "T" system in Boston is an older transit system that is not being used, and has never been a financial success. Silicon Valley's light rail system, even with CALTRAIN transfers, is not working. But nearby BART in San Francisco has been a success, as it replaced street cars.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sun 24 Feb 2019, 14:51:49

vtsnowedin wrote:Wouldn't raising fuel prices with a gas tax or carbon tax drive improvements in mass transit service?


It doesn’t help the folks that currently live in the city without cars. Or who need the cars because there is no viable alternative.

What you need to do, and it’s difficult, is lure folks with a good system and then they will drive less. And it’s not fast.

So here’s an issue: you have a good service that leaves center city at 4:00, 5:00, 6:00, and 8:00. Let’s say you need to work overtime, or do something after work: if you miss the 5, you wait an hour for the 6; if you miss the 6 you wait 2 hours for the 8; if you miss the 8 you are screwed. But for the transit company the 6 has a light load already and the 8 is damn near empty. And if you want to come into the city to catch a show, well it can’t get you home.

There needs to be some more flexible lower cost alternative.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Yonnipun » Sun 24 Feb 2019, 15:38:02

We have a free public transport here. I still do not use it but when the gas price gets too high I am going to use it instead of buying a EV which needs a battery replacement after every 5 years. Also the grid in our country certainly will not survive a mass transition to EV-s without a major upgrade which means a serious increase in electricity price. By-bye heat pumps. I have a heat pump in my garage and it takes about 70 dollars in cold month to heat it. Fortunately all my houses have wood furnaces. My neighbour in the countryside who uses wood furnaces spends on average 7 dollars per month on electricity. He also collect all his firewood ( half rotten ) from the forest nearby. He has not worked for decades. I think he gets ca 500 dollars per month from the state. He does not have a phone , computer etc but I can see he is very happy with his life. About 10 years ago he started travelling. Small cheap trips (max two weeks) from travel agencys to egypt, cuba , sri lanka, thai etc etc 3-4 times a year. He told me that there was a time he worked a lot and saved all his money. He had so much money that he could by a house but it was not possible to buy a house in soviet union if you already had a house. When the soviet union started to collapse he spent all his money on pointless things like furniture , soda, candies etc. My point is that sometimes less is more.
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