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High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sun 09 Jun 2019, 18:56:24

Iptec,

ONE of the major problems with trying to significantly raise the NEC speed is the track spacing. The tracks are too close together, they need to be spread apart. That is an extremely difficult effort, more likely impossible. Even you had the ROW (width-and mostly you don’t) ALL of the catenary poles will be in the way, and every single bridge would need to be replaced.

Much of this ROW is 4 track, the putter 2 tracks supporting the local commuter service. So you need to start from the outside in, redo the commuter tracks, which means replacing every single station.

But also the tracks substructure, the sub grade and ballast, are insufficient to support higher speeds. Back in the 70’s AMTRAK ran under, massive strings of equipment that picked up the rail, scooped out the ballast, cleaned it discarding the fines, and put the rail back often in new concrete ties. That was a massive and expensive project that allowed them to do higher speed, but not good enough to do much beyond where they are now. In short to meet Biden’s goals you would need to start 6’ under the existing rail top and excavate all the sub-ballast and build a new rail bed, complete with new and improved drainage.

The existing NEC ROW is relatively twisty, the Acela vehicles can only make the speed they do because they tilt. This has already caused problems because when first introduced some bright light figured out that it could cause the vehicles to side swipe one another. That was big news back then. So anyway that trick has already been used to get them where they are.

And remember that all of these renovations would have to be accomplished while maintaining existing service.

The existing g ROW is pretty well maxed out speed wise. Trying to straighten curves is massively expensive. When they built the Garden State Parkway hey put a big S-curve in the ROW at Metro Park to keep the parkway reasonably straight. I think that little obstacle is on the order of 12 lanes that would need moving to straighten that particularly troublesome S curve.

All joking aside, it would be cheaper and more practical to tunnel the route.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sun 09 Jun 2019, 19:12:53

Plant,

AMTRAK provides a useful service on the NEC because of the math you cite.

But once outside that corridor it becomes dicey. Half full trains have terrible fuel economy per passenger mile. Same thing with big busses. They just don’t prove in except under high load.

I’m not going to nit pick your math, close enough. What I will ask is what problem is this fixing? It’s a nice perk for the upper middle class, a useful subsidy for a small segment of the population. Any Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will look at projected ridership and ask how much carbon is being off set by the investment. I’m not sure but I don’t think they add in the carbon cost of the project itself. But any project today should show a life cycle that it reduces the overall carbon footprint. That means high ridership rates. And most of the time that argument means folks are arguing the increased convenience will increase the number of folks traveling.

Frankly there is a climate benefit to making travel expensive and uncomfortable. Some travel is necessary, but IMHO much business travel is just a vanity thing. Buzz around like a jet setter to this and that meeting. That should be discouraged.

What are the alternative programs that money could fund? How about programs to reduce the impact of SLR? Or ways to reduce rush hour traffic? I think a free gigabit FO connection to every house might do more to encourage home office work.

Not saying HSR would not be a nice perk, is it something our environment can afford?
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sun 09 Jun 2019, 23:02:09

Newfie wrote:I’m not going to nit pick your math, close enough. What I will ask is what problem is this fixing?


I already listed some things that building out HSR in the USA would accomplish. Here's another list:

1. HSR is part of the transportation infrastructure in the rest of the developed world. Improving infrastructure has big paybacks in the economy-----thats why the government builds and maintains infrastructure in the first place.

2. A major HSR initiative in the US would put a lot of people to work, and it would provide business for a lot US manufacturers and factories.

3. HSR runs on electricity. Putting people on trains would reduce US CO2 emissions.

4. A commitment to HSR also means a commitment to cities. HSR trains run from downtown terminal to downtown terminal. Instead of gutting our cities and moving everything into the suburbs, a commitment to HSR means a commitment to rebuild the cities.

5. We avoided peak oil problems 10 years ago thanks to fracking. But oil remains a finite resource. Having means of transportation other then ICE cars is just common sense.

Newfie wrote:..... any project today should show a life cycle that it reduces the overall carbon footprint. That means high ridership rates. And most of the time that argument means folks are arguing the increased convenience will increase the number of folks traveling.


When we finally introduce a carbon tax to reduce oil and NG use, cars will become increasingly expensive to run. At that time we will need alternative mass transit, like HSR. And a carbon tax and restrictions on oil and gas are coming......

Newfie wrote:Not saying HSR would not be a nice perk, is it something our environment can afford?


I don't see HSR as a cost on the environment----I see HSR as an pro-environmental zero carbon emissions project. We need to tax carbon and get people out of their cars. Having alternative means of transportation ready for them that are carbon neutral (or as close as we can get) is part of the deal, IMHO. I really don't think we can afford to have every American go from ICE vehicles to $150,000 Tesla model X cars.....a HSR system connected to urban light rail mass transit systems makes more sense IMHO.

Of course I've spent years now traveling around in Europe and Japan and China on HSR, so I seen these HSR systems in operation.....and they are FANTASTIC! In Europe gas is very expensive for cars due to taxes, and the trains really are jammed and packed with all kinds of people. I think we need to move the USA in that direction.

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby EnergyUnlimited » Mon 10 Jun 2019, 02:06:45

@Plantagenet,
All these ideas are looking very well but there are 2 significant issues which are making it very unlikely for HSR to be ever built on larger scale in the US.
1. Lack of adequate capital.
2. Lack of adequate engineering skills.
Of course, weird things do happen, AOC might become to be your president 5 1/2 years from now on and some monumental white elephant projects could be undertaken even if never completed.

My observations are showing that HSR are built at the time when a given nation is rising rather than winding down as unfortunately is the case of US now.
Reversal of US decay would be a monumental task to undertake by now.
You would need to consider at least following tasks:
1. Slashing your military budget by 80-90% just in order to shift liberated resources to more productive use.
2. General overhaul of academia, just to resume educating engineers instead of snowflakes, SJW and self entitled but nevertheless stupid peoples of all sorts.
3. Shift a paradigm from *safety first* to *duty first*
4. Rebuild & retool your manufacturing sector.
5. Dismantle most of your financial sector, which is now nothing more than a self serving parasite detrimental to your future.
These are the most basic tasks you need to complete.
But I would rather bet on finding snowflakes on Sun than on your government voluntarily attempting *any* of these.
Hence no HSR is coming, sorry.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 10 Jun 2019, 05:42:19

Plant,

IMHO your reasoning has many flaws, primarily the “pro-growth” element.

But I’ve no need to engage in a lengthy argument. I hear your position and I strongly disagree.

EU,

I think you make many good points. Having been engaged in the design of some of these projects I can only reinforce you comments about how low our engineering capability has sunk. Shocking. There are some good engineers, but also far too many not.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Ibon » Mon 10 Jun 2019, 07:01:56

Humans in the digital world are like barnacles, they can stay fixed in one spot and filter feed on shit.
No need to build out any more infrastructure. There is no need to go anywhere.
Our resiliency resembles an invasive weed. We are the Kudzu Ape
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Mon 10 Jun 2019, 10:41:32

Ibon wrote:There is no need to go anywhere.


Everyone is different.

Some people have to travel for their work.

Oher people want to travel for various reasons.

Cheers!

-------------------

Newfie .... I know you are a train guy, so I respect your opinion on this.

However, the idea of a High Speed Rail Network is not some science fiction fantasy that requires super-engineering.

All I'm saying is the US should have the same level of infrastructure that the EU, Japan and China have.

Right now SPAIN is building out their HSR network. Surely the US can match the infrastructure of Spain?

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby lpetrich » Sat 22 Jun 2019, 02:16:56

I will now consider the question of limits on HSR performance.

A rather obvious one is stopping at stations. The train has to stop, wait for passengers to arrive and depart, then restart. To avoid doing so, one can skip some stations. Thus being an express trains. Another label common from the early to mid 20th cy. was "limited", meaning "limited stops". A famous train that bore that adjective was the Twentieth Century Limited run by the New York Central railroad - 20th Century Limited - Wikipedia

High Speed Railway Capacity attempts to estimate constraints on HSR capacity.

For constant acceleration a over time t, velocity v = a*t and distance x = (1/2)*a*t^2. The paper's author adopted an acceleration of 0.3 m/s^2 and a braking of 0.5 m/s^2. Going up to 300 km/h or 83 m/s and back requires times of 4.6 and 2.8 minutes, a total of 7.4 minutes. The distance for each part is 11.5 and 6.9 kilometers with a total of 18.4 km. The time to travel this distance at full speed is 3.7 minutes, meaning an "acceleration penalty" of 3.7 minutes.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby lpetrich » Sat 22 Jun 2019, 02:54:31

I will now estimate actual travel speeds, using Rail Europe - Rail travel planner Europe - Train travel in Europe (Eurostar – TGV – Eurail – Eurorail) and Train Schedules & Timetables | Amtrak for travel times and Google Maps for great-circle and highway distances
  • Paris - Lille: 59 m - 203, 219 km - 206, 223 km/h
  • Paris - Strasbourg - 1h 46m - 397, 491 km - 225, 278 km/h
  • Paris - Lyon: 1h 57 m - 392, 466 km - 201, 239 km/h
  • Paris - Tours: 1h 12m - 205, 239 km - 171, 199 km/h
  • Madrid - Seville: 2h 32m - 391, 533 km - 154, 210 km/h
  • Madrid - Barcelona: 2h 30m - 505, 623 km - 202, 249 km/h
  • NYC - DC: 3h - 328, 365 km - 109, 122 km/h
The Amtrak one stops at Newark, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, and BWI -- the best case for Amtrak's NEC trains. Subtracting 5 minutes for each stop gives 2h 35m, giving 127, 141 km/h.

I estimate an average speed of 200 km/h = 124 mph under good conditions with not many stops. The 3.5-hour service radius is 435 mi or 700 km. With this more pessimistic service-radius estimate, the neighboring cities for NYC to I-35 are close enough to be feasible, but between I-35 and the west coast, Kansas City (I-35) - Denver and Denver - Salt Lake City are too far apart, and SLC - Las Vegas is barely within the limit. KC - Denver is mostly flatland, so it may almost be possible, but Denver - SLC - LV is in mountains, making it difficult to build very straight track.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sat 22 Jun 2019, 09:09:38

Ipetrich,

I think you are using the right approach if you really want to understand how HSR works. It takes some serious thought to understand it all.

Not sure but something that MIGHT be usefully to you would go to look at the Environmental Impact Statement if a new rail line. Say maybe something like the Oceanside-Escondido line. It’s not HSR but considerations should be similar.

https://ceqanet.opr.ca.gov/Project/1996051021

See EIR download.
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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sat 22 Jun 2019, 17:23:04

Another great advantage in HSR is that trains go from downtown terminal to terminal. This removes any need to drive to the suburbs and park your car and catch the bus to the terminal and go through security lines etc......all things that add hours of time on each end of an intercity plane flight.

And implicit in the HSR idea is that travel and business infrastructure will be build up not along interstates and in the suburbs, but in the cities near the HSR train stations. Hotels and restaurants will naturally be built near train terminals, but in Europe you also see business parks and corporate headquarters locating downtown near the train stations.

Unfortunately in the US we've allowed our central cities to decay. Building HSR will help trigger the urban renewal we need to revitalize our central cities in the United States.

Joe Biden gets it. Thats one reason he supports HSR across the USA. Unfortunately, Joe does't get a lot of other things, like why southern D racists and segregationists shouldn't have been put in charge of the Senate by Biden and his fellow Ds, but at least he's go the HSR part right.

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Re: High Speed Rail: Pros and Cons

Unread postby Newfie » Sat 22 Jun 2019, 19:03:23

While not HSR you can see that kind of development very clearly around DC Metro stations.

There is great haggling and political posturing and arm twisting by real estate developers in any ROW development. It means a great deal of money to get it right.
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