In Germany, many small upgrades together are transformative

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In Germany, many small upgrades together are transformative
Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, December 21, 2017 12:03 PM

[from Midwest HSR Association Newsletter]

Passengers in Germany can now ride between Munich and Berlin in just under four hours.

Originally, this trip took nearly nine hours by train. (It’s about the same distance as Chicago to Cleveland, except with a lot of tricky terrain in the way.) Unsurprisingly, many chose to drive or fly instead.

The faster rides are made possible by a 10 billion Euro mega-project that began shortly after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Rather than building a whole new line from scratch, Deutsche Bahn decided to combine limited segments of new track with upgrades to existing track.

It’s a perfect example of the Phased Network Approach. Much like the United States, Germany has a federal system where individual states have a lot of power. This distributed political structure, combined with Germany’s lack of a central hub like Paris or Madrid, has prevented it from building long “showpiece” high-speed lines as France and Spain have. Instead, Deutsche Bahn worked within the constraints of local demands and budget limitations to identify investments that would benefit both regional and long-distance service.

Because the various upgrades took advantage of the existing network, travel times have been steadily decreasing as individual segments were finished. This last piece was a big one, though: half of its 66-mile length is made up of bridges and tunnels, and it cuts more than two hours from travel times.

With the web-like design of Germany’s rail network, this new piece of track will improve much more than just Munich-Berlin service. In fact, it will benefit a third of all long-distance trains in the country. Deutsche Bahn calls it the single biggest improvement in its history. This route is also part of a trans-European corridor stretching all the way from Scandinavia to Sicily.

Germany’s approach to tackling political and geographic challenges offers important lessons for high-speed rail in the Midwest and across the U.S. It also offers a great example of how the Phased Network Approach can incrementally bring faster, more frequent and more reliable trains.

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, December 24, 2017 9:35 AM

I rode the train from Berlin to Munich in 2010 and the new line was being built in sections. There would be new track for several miles and then nothing, then new track or a bridge would appear. Fascinating to say the least. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, December 24, 2017 10:14 AM

Today's society can't comprehend that large scale civil engineering projects take time - they don't have the contract signed today and they are completed tomorrow.

When I first moved to Jacksonville in 1990 - I-95 through Georgia was mostly two lane Interstate in each direction over the ensuing 25 years Georgia was a state of construction when it came to I-95 - somewhere in the 115 miles was a major construction zone a part of adding lanes.  Today I-95 through Georgia is 3 lanes in each direction.

Florida has been adding lanes to I-95 as long as well and there are still counties that still have 2 lanes in each direction.

While it would be nice to build a 'totally new' HSR line - it ain't gonnna happen!  If the US is to ever get a legitimate high speed line, it will be through countless improvement projects on existing rights of ways to eliminat choke points and speed restrictions.  Any single project won't reduce the end to end transportaion time more than a few minutes - but over time and the number of projects those minutes add up - 5 minutes here, 8 minutes there, 7 minutes over there and the next thing you know 20 minutes have been saved.  There are a multitude of existing and potential projects on the NEC that can be pursued to transform it into a real high speed rail route - but it won't happen in a short period of time - 30 years maybe, 50 years most likely.

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by rdamon on Sunday, December 24, 2017 11:14 AM

In GA on I75 they delayed adding the third lane in some south GA counties worried that it would cause traffic problems with the 1996 Olympics. Took almost 20 years to get the funding again to resume construction.

 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, December 24, 2017 1:17 PM

Its all about the fast food generation.   Several McDonalds in our area were rebuilt.  From closing to demo to new building to reopening took an average of 60 - 70 days.  Biggest complaint from public.  " Why is it taking so long ?"

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Posted by matthewsaggie on Sunday, December 24, 2017 5:11 PM

5 minutes here, 3 minutes saved over there, that is how NC has been improving for the last 20 years. A successful method.

 

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, December 24, 2017 5:52 PM

Bluestreak, I think you've pointed out the difference between a commerical enterprise building something and the government building something. 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, December 24, 2017 8:13 PM

The 60 to 70 days to rebuild a McDonald's does not tell of the year(s) of planning, financing, design, obtaining permits, coordination with contractors, utilities, etc, etc.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, December 25, 2017 10:59 AM

54light15

I rode the train from Berlin to Munich in 2010 and the new line was being built in sections. There would be new track for several miles and then nothing, then new track or a bridge would appear. Fascinating to say the least. 

 

26 years and 10 billion Euros later, Munich to Berlin clocked in at just about four hours, two hours shorter than the previous connection. Over 300 rail and 170 road bridges had to be built along the 623-kilometer (387-mile) route, on which trains can travel at a maxium speed of 300 kilometers per hour (186 mph). 

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