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FINALLY! Government planning on high speed rail

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Copzilla, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    '
    In hindsight, wise words.

    Here's NYT's front pager and it's a blazing criticism of Obama's plan and what has been done so far (not much).

    $11 Billion Later, High-Speed Rail Is Inching Along - NYTimes.com
     
  2. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    You know why everything we try to do costs so much. It is the old Not Invented Here syndrome. We are incapable of taking a foreign design, working foreign design, and just implementing it. We are incapable of deciding that this corridor is the best to use for the train. We will be fighting those who bought up what they thought we would use to change the corridor to benefit themselves. We will be fighting two hundred and twenty-three environmental groups because there is a newly discovered amphibian bee's habitat that will be threatened.

    It will be a true miracle of biblical proportions if a cost effective high speed rail system is ever built in this country.
     
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  3. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    That's basically the conclusion I got from that piece.

    Here's the thing, when I came to this country, it wasn't like this, was it? Or was I just naive?
     
  4. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

    No, it's changing, not for the better.
     
    ethics likes this.
  5. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    Looking at Amtrak, which hasn't turned a profit in decades, why do people think spending money on another probable black hole (namely high speed railroads) for federal funding is going to work?
     
  6. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

    For the same reason that highways work. Only easier than driving.

    Amtrak isn't high speed raid. It's slow as all hell. It's inefficient and expensive. It's dirty.

    I don't think you have a clear concept of what high speed rail is, because you keep comparing it to Amtrak.
     
  7. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    Thing is, highways aren't really working at this point. The taxes gathered for maintenance isn't being used for maintenance. And there isn't any land available for the construction of a new rail. Existing rail can't handle high speeds.
     
  8. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

    Highways are working just fine. I use one every day. So does 3/4ths of America.

    And THAT IS THE POINT.

    Not the point of nitpicking every thing that is negative about highways.

    You're throwing everything you possibly can against this idea, but you're bouncing all around the real points. High speed rail would work because people use the highways. Not fail because Amtrak fails.

    As we become a more and more congested nation, THAT is why high speed rail would work. And if we have right of way for highways, we already have the right of way needed for rail.
     
  9. cmhbob

    cmhbob Did...did I do that? Staff Member

    This.

    I-71 was rebuilt a few years ago from Cleveland to Columbus. There was talk then of putting in a railway, or at least a railway foundation on the median strip, while they had the equipment out and everything torn up. They didn't do it. But that's the perfect place for it. Especially out west where the medians are twice as wide as they are back east.
     
  10. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    I think you guys are talking around each other. Let me clarify:

    1. The billions was thrown at Amtrak specifically (Biker's point).
    2. High Speed Rail is NOT throwing money at Amtrak (I think everyone's point).
    3. Highways are increasingly becoming unmaintained (Biker's point and I will add that as well from the NE corridor).

    I think you folks out in the West are very fortunate for not seeing what commute is like in to Manhattan by wheels and by rail. It's a nightmare.
     
  11. cmhbob

    cmhbob Did...did I do that? Staff Member

    I get your points, Leon. Not sure that we're actually talking around each other or just making independent points.

    Part of the problem with roads is that states are moving road-repair funds into the general fund, or just away from road projects. That, and the fuel mileage mandates issued in the 80s are starting to come back and bite the government, since higher MPG ratings mean people are buying less gas for the same amount of travel.

    What's the best way to get HSR actually working? The existing RR companies let Amtrak use their rights of way, but freight has the priority over people, doesn't it? Until that changes, any idea that depends on a 3d party using existing freight rail routes is going to be a non-starter, I think.

    What would it take, I wonder, to get BNSF to buy its own passenger stock and take over the Amtrak routes that it shares rail with?

    And why can't we get a decent public railroad service running, like the Germans, Japanese, or others seem to be?
     
  12. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    Because they planned for it decades ago and purchased the land needed for passenger rail.

    In the US, freight lines would need to be upgraded to high speed rail standards. If high speed rail started using freight lines, you can bet your bottom dollar that freight rates are going to go through the roof due to freight trains competing with "rail time" with the high speed trains. Regulation will come back and as a result, freight will suffer.

    If the US was serious about high speed trains, there should have been plans put into place decades ago to bring the plan into fruition. Hell, even Europe's high speed rail system is still subsidized heavily at the tune of billions per year.

    The US has one of the best run freight train systems in the world (if not THE best). Put high speed rail into the mix and now you're flirting with not only rising costs for goods, but a total clusterfuck that the government will have no choice but to throw more money at a what is a doomed project from the start.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  13. dsl987

    dsl987 Member

    Many of the freight tracks are overloaded right now due to the huge expansion of ethanol rail cars and crude oil rail cars. The delay of the Keystone pipeline has forced many producers to turn to rail instead.
     
  14. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

  15. Greg

    Greg Full Member

    Wow. Not only is this a travel topic, it's a time travel topic: 7 years since OP!

    I'm beginning to seriously think that we should not let the government handle money. Except in rare corridors it's highly unlikely the government could obtain the land to straighten out the current railroad right of ways without disrupting the citizenry and economy.

    Maybe it might make sense in a few corridors, maybe East Coast NY-FL, but it makes zero sense in the previously mentioned SF-LA or SF-LA-SD corridors. Or God, worse, the entire West Coast! We Angelnos just don't travel to SF frequently. It's almost as if there is a mutual dislike or ill will between the two cities. If that rail is ever built I'm dead certain the trains and rails will wear out before they reach the break-even point.

    At least airplanes are disposable and you don't have to maintain the air. Yeah, I know the kerosine they burn will eventually warm the atmosphere so much that most of Florida will be underwater. I went there once, wasn't impressed. Maybe they can use their train to evacuate Florida.

    But really, what are the relative total cost of travel comparing auto, aircraft and train? You gotta include the infrastructure cost in your calculations. I doubt most high speed routes will ever achieve the cost of auto or aircraft.

    On a related subject, big cities that don't have subways are almost impossible to convert once urban congestion has built up, Los Angeles being the best example. Angelinos will never be able to dig the tunnels necessary to put in a usable system. Our best efforts to date, a combination of Metrolink (trains often sharing Amtracks) and busways, often requiring conventional buses to complete the trip. And worst of all: we have a star system (mostly) where you can get downtown from almost any area, but you have to go downtown and back out to get from one peripheral area, for example the San Fernando Valley to Santa Monica. By auto off-hours on a non-work day it's a 30 minute drive. Commuter times could easily be an hour or more. No room for tracks through the main connector, the Sepulveda pass. Situations like this exist throughout the city.

    I seriously doubt the government's ability to spend money, except when spending it stupidly. If I were in charge I would spend the money on (1) repairing and updating our Interstate highway system for auto travel -- it is seriously deteriorated here in the West and probably everywhere, and (2) if you want rail -- and we need MORE rail -- double and triple FREIGHT railways and get the semi trucks off our highways. A final (3), it's stupid, stupid, stupid to transport huge quantities of petroleum via highways! Railway transport is almost as stupid except where pipelines are not practical. I can't think of a single argument against pipelines being much better except those that are part of the progressive liberal agenda, none of which I agree with.
     
  16. damonlab

    damonlab Veteran Member

    The highway system is a mess. In the metro Detroit area in Michigan, they are adding 1 lane each direction to a 17 mile stretch of I-75. Cost? $1,000,000,000. Time it will take to complete? 16 years.

    Are you ready? Massive I-75 project has begun
     
  17. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    16 years? I came to this country in 1978, they used to build roads in MONTHS not years. What happened?
     
  18. dsl987

    dsl987 Member

    Who knows maybe the Hyperloop concept will work and replace high speed passenger rail
     
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