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

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Posted by Gramp on Friday, August 9, 2019 1:28 PM

To start to design this project, we need to identify a ground zero.  I'd like to suggest New Glarus, Wisconsin, a Swiss community southwest of Madison.  The New Glarus Brewery is located there, and certainly a lot of Spotted Cow, which can only be sold and distributed in Wisconsin, will be needed to lubricate the wheels of this venture.  The Milwaukee Road once served this community, and the depot still stands, and there is still a Railroad Street in the center of town.  Our interurbanish vision should meld goods transportation in with providing useful movement for people.  Afterall, today we are witness to a renewal of the Sears and Montgomery Ward mail order catalog system of old to homes and businesses far and wide through the likes of Amazon et. al., making use of the internet.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60135-d10285245-Reviews-Sugar_River_State_Trail-New_Glarus_Wisconsin.html#photos;aggregationId=101&albumid=101&filter=7&ff=344756852

 

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Posted by Steve Sweeney on Friday, August 9, 2019 10:25 AM

MidlandMike

 Steve Sweeney

2: Grades are mild.

 

Maybe in Wisconsin, but that is not like Switzerland where there are rack (cog) rail sections or really long tunnels.  The country is mountainous, and rail or road routes are limited.

Colorado would be the obvious place to try to copy Swiss rail.  Their DOT has studied alternatives (including rail) to I-70 thru the mountains, and I-25 along the Front Range.  There are a half dozen mega ski resorts (and some smaller ones) within 100 miles from Denver along the I-70 corridor, and the interstate becomes a parking lot on weekends.  The resorts are also popular in summer.  The I-25 corridor contains all the big cities in the state.  Of course money is the big problem, and most people in the state seem to like cheap gas and open roads.

 

 

OK. Too true. I should have clarified. By Swiss-style network, I mean one that works and is useful. The fact that the Swiss railroads engage in crazed engineering feats is impressive, but secondary to the purpose. AND much of the modern network, the standard gauge network anyway, are pretty darned level and boring — from an engineering point of view. You have to get to the Rhaetian Railways for honest-to-goodness, I can't believe I'm riding a train, action.

For example of the RhB:

Steve Sweeney
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Posted by Steve Sweeney on Friday, August 9, 2019 10:16 AM

Deggesty: YESSS! And breakfast on the way to Chama!

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, August 9, 2019 8:22 AM

Let me just pop in one more time and say "Thank you!" to Mr. Steve for having enough interest in the Forum to start a topic of his own.

I wish more of the "Trains" staffers would jump into the "Forum" and it's various topics to comment and just "shoot the breeze," it would be a LOT more of an interesting place!   

It would make all of you seem a lot less remote, if that's a proper use of the term.

You're the writers, the editors, and the staffers.  We're the subscibers and the readers.  In a way, we're all on the same team.

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, August 9, 2019 7:58 AM

Colorado? Yes!--and run an overnight train between Denver and Antonito.

Johnny

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, August 9, 2019 1:20 AM

Steve Sweeney
... 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 ... parcel, baggage, 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.

Straight out of the Fifties with a little modern connectivity and different alternatives to the tired old REA express 'last mile' model: it's the GM Truck and Coach description of uses for monocoque angle-drive buses.  Update it as a plug-in hybrid and it beats almost anything equivalent that has to use tracks ... by several orders of magnitude.  Money that can be spent effectively increasing service or amenities.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Thursday, August 8, 2019 10:59 PM

Steve Sweeney

Almost interurban-ish. ;)

The proposal would make sense if the hydrocarbon fuels were extremely scarce, electricity was inexpensive and specific energy (i.e. w-hr/lb) for batteries were stuck at the lead acid level. This would mean that autos and trucks would be for short haul only and long hauls would be by electric railroad.

Roads of any type in Switzerland would involve a lot of tunneling and bridging and for a given width of bridge or tunnel, a railroad will handle more traffic than a plain road. Couple this with the scarcity of petroleum and the abundance of hydroelectric power, it is not surprising that Switzerland has focused on rail transportation.

Nonetheless, an interesting discussion idea.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, August 8, 2019 9:05 PM

Steve Sweeney
2: Grades are mild.

Maybe in Wisconsin, but that is not like Switzerland where there are rack (cog) rail sections or really long tunnels.  The country is mountainous, and rail or road routes are limited.

Colorado would be the obvious place to try to copy Swiss rail.  Their DOT has studied alternatives (including rail) to I-70 thru the mountains, and I-25 along the Front Range.  There are a half dozen mega ski resorts (and some smaller ones) within 100 miles from Denver along the I-70 corridor, and the interstate becomes a parking lot on weekends.  The resorts are also popular in summer.  The I-25 corridor contains all the big cities in the state.  Of course money is the big problem, and most people in the state seem to like cheap gas and open roads.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, August 8, 2019 3:11 PM

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

There's something else Swiss-style that seems to work for them, and works beautifully, but that'd be off-topic, so I won't mention it.  Whistling  Anyone can PM me if they're curious.  Smile, Wink & Grin

 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, August 8, 2019 2:55 PM

Perhaps it belongs on a fantasy forum? 

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Posted by Steve Sweeney on Thursday, August 8, 2019 1:02 PM

Yea, I was tempted to put it there, except for the frequent freights that run on Swiss lines make it general purpose. Almost interurban-ish. ;)

 

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Thursday, August 8, 2019 11:28 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?

 

 

Shouldn't this be in the passenger train forum?

(Sorry man, the Devil made me do it.)

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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Best place in North America to build a Swiss-style train network
Posted by Steve Sweeney on Thursday, August 8, 2019 10:01 AM

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?

 

Steve Sweeney
Digital Editor, Hobby 

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