Best place in North America to build a Swiss-style train network

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 4:45 PM

Gramp
If they only realized...but road travel defies economics. 

And if you have an accident, the salaries of the police and/or fire department are not paid by gas taxes but by the local property taxes. The court cases may get some fines collected but much of the infrastructure is not paid for through vehicle charges but by the local taxpayer. 

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Posted by Shrike Arghast on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 4:04 PM

My vote would be Vancouver, BC - Salem, OR - it's a crowded, wealthy area that isn't as thickly settled as the NEC (so there's plenty of wilderness to build in, as opposed to someone's back yard), much of the land is fairly flat, and the population is exploding, so the need is great and growing with time.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, August 18, 2019 9:34 PM

Miningman

I'd settle for this :

 

 

 

Me too!  How cool is that?  

I'll tell you what, one of the reasons Lady Firestorm and I bought our first house in Sussex County NJ was the nearby Morris County Central, a very cool steam tourist railroad.

It went out of business just before we moved in!  DAMN IT!!!  Of all the rotten luck!!!

It was a nice place to live just the same. Just not the same. 

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Posted by Gramp on Sunday, August 18, 2019 2:55 PM

Agreed. At the same time, if people had to face the full cost of owning and operating an auto on the street/road network, they’d shudder. Here in Wisconsin, title and registration fees are going up and there will be a surcharge on hybrids. People squawk. If they only realized...but road travel defies economics. 

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, August 17, 2019 7:53 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH

If railroad passenger service was as potentially profitable as some people claim, Amtrak would never have been established in the first place.

 

Some people look at the history of passenger service and believe that they can do it better and so make a profit. Such people do not look at the whole picture of the cost.

Johnny

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, August 17, 2019 7:00 AM

If railroad passenger service was as potentially profitable as some people claim, Amtrak would never have been established in the first place.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by tree68 on Saturday, August 17, 2019 6:46 AM

SD60MAC9500
As long as the monopoly known as Amtrak keeps passenger rail from striving in the US.

I would opine that, left to it's own devices (and with able management), Amtrak could thrive.  Unfortunately, there are a good many people whose goal seems to be to close it down.  There's a lot of outside meddling going on.

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Saturday, August 17, 2019 2:30 AM

Steve Sweeney

It will take billions of dollars. Many billions. Land acquisition. Court fights. There will be construction corruption, financial manipulation. Buy America vs. off-the-shelf European/Japanese/Chinese/[fill in the blank]. Most people won't want it in their back yards, but tourists and Millenials will flock to it. And when it's finished, it will be glorious: Half-hourly, clean, coach passenger service to even the remotest rural towns, deer path-crossings, and fishing spots.

I vote for central and southern Wisconsin because:

1: That's where I live now.

2: Grades are mild.

3: Rail parcels, baggage service, and LCL freight service with rural broadband could really improve the quality of life in small towns and make moving there easier and more affordable. Connected properly, it should help people who live in big urban areas the opportunity to reverse commute to wherever they want and get me out of my car for nearly two hours a day.

What say youse guys?

 

 

Nowhere...As long as the monopoly known as Amtrak keeps passenger rail from striving in the US. You're better off building it in Asgard......Thor can help you flash butt weld the CWR.. He is the God of Thunder! Might come in handy..

Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, August 10, 2019 6:54 PM

I don't want our descendents to struggle to exist on an apocalyptic earth if we could stop being so shortsighted and selfish and address this crisis. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, August 10, 2019 6:45 PM

The Earth will survive our train wreck stewardship of it, however human beings may not.  The Earth in its over 4 Billion years has survived many calamities, being struck by the body whose debris form the Moon and millions of asteroids - some big, some 'shooting stars' that just add 'dust' to the surface - each of the major calamities did have the effect of changing the life forms that inhabited the Earth.  Are we, by our own actions creating that next life form changing calamity?  The Earth will remain long after our present life forms have been replaced by whatever it is that will follow us!  Then they can create their own 'Ancient Aliens' form of program - and we will the the Aliens that are being discussed.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, August 10, 2019 5:50 PM

I'm  older than you  by seven years.  This is the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River burning which led to the first Earth Day in 1970 and Nixon pushing many environmental laws including the EPA.  I hope they survive the current train wreck. [see?  on topic! ]

But protection means more than cleaning up dirty or water. Methane and CO2 have more and longer lasting negative consequences. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, August 10, 2019 5:23 PM

I see your point Mr. Privara, but you're painting with much too broad of a brush.  The environmental laws on the books now are doing a fine job and just what they're meant to do.  

I don't know how old you are, but I'm old enough (65) to remember what it was like before those laws were passed.  Believe me, it a LOT better now than it was 50 years ago, especially in the Northeast (Greater NY Area) where I'm from.  Trust me on that.  

If you want to beat the drum for saving the planet talk to the REAL culprits in this day and age, China, India, and parts of Africa.  See if they'll listen.  

Would I want a rail line next to me?  You have to ask?  I'm a railfan, man!  What do you think?  Especially if it's something I could use!  

I'd love it even more if it was steam-powered!  Wink

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, August 10, 2019 2:34 PM

I'd settle for this :

 

 

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Posted by JOHN PRIVARA on Saturday, August 10, 2019 1:46 PM

Flintlock76

  I mean really! 

You are forgetting the "track record" of infrastructure in the US, which allows anything to be destroyed for the "good of society" ("society" being translated in the US as: "those who own the society").

 

If it wasn't for the NIMBY's, lawyers, and environmental-groups most of the country would have been destroy with concrete and toxic chemicals by now.  

There's no "good guys" when it comes to money.   Only duplicitous mean self-servicing #posterior-cavity# people.    Plus, most of the anti-NIMBY people are those who are rich enough to never have been threatened with concrete or toxic chemicals.  

Flintlock76

And even if they can be sold on a modern rail transportation system they'll want it some where else, not next door to them.

I mean REALLY, would YOU want it next door to YOU? 

And REALLY, what would YOU do if it was (I mean REALLY)?

(AND,  I know what I'd do... Join a NIMBY group). 

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Posted by JOHN PRIVARA on Saturday, August 10, 2019 1:34 PM

Steve Sweeney

What say youse guys?

(I'd say...) You need a "Swiss like" society first;  not a #batpoop# crazy mean neurotic paranoid "US like" one.   

When you fix THAT problem, then I'd recommend starting where there's some "Swiss like" population density:

http://luminocity3d.org/WorldPopDen/#5/38.668/-77.915

 which, based on the map above, is basically anyplace east of Illinois.  

 

Wake me up when you get the first problem fixed...

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Posted by Steve Sweeney on Saturday, August 10, 2019 1:34 PM

York1

 

 
Convicted One
BTW, what does affordable broadband for farmers have to do with railroading?

 

 

I don't think he intended that the broadband was necessarily for farmers.  (By the way, almost every farmer I know already has broadband service.)

"3: Rail parcels, baggage service, and LCL freight service with rural broadband could really improve the quality of life in small towns and make moving there easier and more affordable."

I read the statement as meaning that more people could be encouraged to move to the rural or small town areas if service was available to work from home or run a business in a small town.  That's how I interpreted it anyway.  

 

 

Correct: Without giving away my exact location, broadband would be a big improvement for me, small businesses out here (and the nearby farmers).

It would also enable us or our neighbors to engage in work-from-home employment made possible by video conferencing and dependable, secure, data links. The rail system would be the physical complement to broadband's digital connectivity.

I imagine the combined connectivity would make small towns everywhere more desireable — for some — or at least more competitive and certainly more diverse, and therefore, resilient.

Steve Sweeney
Digital Editor, Hobby 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, August 10, 2019 1:17 PM

Zardoz, you make some good points, but remember NIMBYs, BANANAs, and all the law firms ready to make money representing them aren't effected by elections.  They'll never go away.  

And even if they can be sold on a modern rail transportation system they'll want it some where else, not next door to them.

The endless cycle of "Environmental Impact Statements" that stall rail development for years, plus the firms that make money off of them might  be effected by elections, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

The whole "EIS Complex" strikes me as a protection racket even Al Capone would envy. 

I mean, there's rail lines up in New Jersey that have been in place since the 1850's that need EIS's before anything can be done to improve them!  As if anyone's going to run smoky, sparky 4-4-0's on them nowadays!   I mean really! 

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Posted by Convicted One on Saturday, August 10, 2019 1:15 PM

York1
That's how I interpreted it anyway.  

When I think "rural people"...farmers come to mind way before the thought of people living in the city who would like to live in the country, but can't. 

Silly me, I suppose.

 

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Posted by Convicted One on Saturday, August 10, 2019 1:10 PM

charlie hebdo
I still have hope that folks will wise up. 

I believe that any proposal for such a system including a new freight network will just provoke the common carriers currently serving those needs...to hire a lobbyist...or worse.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, August 10, 2019 12:33 PM

BaltACD

 

 
charlie hebdo
Why does it need to be self-sustaining? The Swiss network is subsidized because it provides utilitarian value beyond the limits of balance sheets (double-entry accounting was created for small businesses,  not nations). 

 

Amtrak cannot get the subsidies necessary to operate in anything more than a subsistance level of operations.  What makes you think a 'Swiss styled' network would be treated any different in its infancy.  There are predators that feast on infants - be they in financial or animal form.

 

 

I still have hope that folks will wise up. 

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Posted by York1 on Saturday, August 10, 2019 12:30 PM

Gas prices:

In my area a liter of gas goes for about 63¢, in Switzerland the average is $1.64.

 

https://www.globalpetrolprices.com/gasoline_prices/

 

Just another roadblock to building a rail system.

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Posted by York1 on Saturday, August 10, 2019 12:20 PM

Convicted One
BTW, what does affordable broadband for farmers have to do with railroading?

 

I don't think he intended that the broadband was necessarily for farmers.  (By the way, almost every farmer I know already has broadband service.)

"3: Rail parcels, baggage service, and LCL freight service with rural broadband could really improve the quality of life in small towns and make moving there easier and more affordable."

I read the statement as meaning that more people could be encouraged to move to the rural or small town areas if service was available to work from home or run a business in a small town.  That's how I interpreted it anyway.  

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Posted by zardoz on Saturday, August 10, 2019 12:15 PM

Flintlock76
Well, I'm kind of with you Mr. Steve, there's a lot of reasons why it should be done, but a lot of reasons why it can't and won't  be done.   For a very  sobering appraisal I'd suggest you read Fred Frailey's column in the August "Trains" titled "Another Train Derails" if you haven't done so already. That's what we're up against. Mr. Fred says it all. Until something's done about all the "Why We Can'ts" enumerated in the column a Swiss-style rail set-up's never going to happen here.  Assuming anything can  be done about the "Why We Can'ts." And the other wrinkle in the situation is the fact that while there's money to be made building a high-speed rail system there's probably damn near as money to be made blocking it at every turn.   It sucks, I know, but the situation is what it is.

Right now, in 2019, you are absolutely correct. Perhaps after the 2020 elections, the attitudes of people might change sufficiently to encourage the administration to actually support infrastructure improvements.

What will be more likely to effect change is the global financial situation, such as the trade wars plunging the world into a recession, along with (or independent of) the effects of climate change.

If global warming causes such incredible weather changes to the extent that only the fanatics or those with self-serving intentions still espouse that 'everything is ok', then the world will attempt to mitigate some of the causes. One method will be to make driving so uneconomical that people will be forced to consider using alternate forms of transportation, despite the inconvenience. Then the trains will start to look better.

Flintlock76
Right now the only thing Swiss-style we can enjoy in this country is cheese and chocolates.

And the occasional Army Knife.

Mmmmm, chocolate. Swiss chocolate. Hershey's chocolate. World's Finest chocolate. Aldi's chocolate. And at this time of year--chocolate ice cream!

   23 17 46 11

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Posted by Backshop on Saturday, August 10, 2019 12:01 PM

Rural Wisconsin doesn't have broadband?  The horrors...

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, August 10, 2019 12:01 PM

charlie hebdo
Why does it need to be self-sustaining? The Swiss network is subsidized because it provides utilitarian value beyond the limits of balance sheets (double-entry accounting was created for small businesses,  not nations). 

Amtrak cannot get the subsidies necessary to operate in anything more than a subsistance level of operations.  What makes you think a 'Swiss styled' network would be treated any different in its infancy.  There are predators that feast on infants - be they in financial or animal form.

 

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Posted by Convicted One on Saturday, August 10, 2019 11:55 AM

charlie hebdo
Why does it need to be self-sustaining?

I really don't believe that you would be able to obtain concensus for a new,  largescale, subsidized system that delivers freight, much less people.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, August 10, 2019 11:37 AM

Why does it need to be self-sustaining? The Swiss network is subsidized because it provides utilitarian value beyond the limits of balance sheets (double-entry accounting was created for small businesses,  not nations). 

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Posted by Convicted One on Saturday, August 10, 2019 10:33 AM

Steve Sweeney
Almost interurban-ish. ;)

When reading your original post the first thought that came to mind was "oh so you want to restore the interurban networks?"

Sometimes I think that would be a great idea,  then when I ponder how much they would have to charge in order to be selfsustaining (including long term maintenance) I have to wonder if I could afford to be a regular rider.

BTW, what does affordable broadband for farmers have to do with railroading?Confused

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Posted by kgbw49 on Saturday, August 10, 2019 8:14 AM

I have biked most of the southern Wisconsin rails-to-trails many times. There is a literal spider web of former roadbeds that could be converted back, in theory. (To the howls of many.) The Glacial Drumlin trail still has super-elevated bridges on curves that helped C&NW Class D Atlantics and Class E Pacifics keep their speed up to make time between Milwaukee and Madison.

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