Article from retired NH engineer

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 11:01 AM

243129
 
BaltACD
 
243129
The NY.NH.& H.R.R  Merchants Limited in the year 1949 left South Station Boston @ 5:00PM and arrived Grand Central Station  @ 9:00PM

Amtrak Acela Express #2175 in the year 2018 leaves South Station Boston @5:20PM and arrives @ Penn Station N.Y. @ 8:52PM

69 years, billions in taxpayer dollars for a 'savings' of 28 minutes. 

In 1949 there were not government imposed maximum speeds.  ICC regulation of speed was decreed in 1947 to be effective in 1952.

http://streamlinermemories.info/?p=358 

Do you know what the MAS was between Boston and GCT in 1949?

Do you think it was higher than 125/150 MPH?

Don't know and don't care - what I do know is that there was a entirely different view by society on speed compliance than there is in today's world.  

I suspect, but don't know, there may have been more superelevation designed into curves back in the day - more superelevation would allow higer safe curve speeds.

         

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 11:22 AM

charlie hebdo
I think it is a real shame that Volker Landwehr was either banished permanently from these increasingly otherwise vacuous forum discussions or else he decided he had had enough of being sentenced to these arbitrary "moderation" limbos as several others have experienced.

I do have to note that if someone is "banned" here, their past posts if retained will still appear under the former forum handle used.  "Anonymous" is when the system can't find the poster's account information -- most likely because they've quit in disgust.  To my knowledge Kalmbach has not (yet) sunk to deleting a forum participant's account as ex post facto "discipline."

Having said that, we will all be the poorer if we cannot have H. Landwehr's thoughts on a wide variety of subjects.  Hopefully this is both a transient and resolvable situation.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 11:28 AM

BaltACD
In 1949 there were not government imposed maximum speeds. ICC regulation of speed was decreed in 1947 to be effective in 1952.

With respect... this is a big ol' crock.  The 'government imposed maximum speeds' are in the Esch Act (the legislation that ended Federal Control during the WW1 era) and were in part intended as a spur to effective private development of automatic train control.  The ICC Order of 1947 (as will rapidly become clear to anyone who actually reads the thing or the contemporary discussions in the trade press) strictly re-enforced the 80mph-and-above provision (and, less importantly for fans, the other speed provisions) which had been 'honored more in the breach than the observance' since the ICC retasked its enforcement priority from progressive ATC to grade-crossing elimination in 1928. 

Of course, the subsequent observation that many people in the industry didn't care about the ATC provisions prior to the Order is quite correct, and I think it forms part of the reason why 'strict enforcement' was imposed with such stringency after 1950-51 (together with why so many railroads asked for waivers and so few appeared to receive them...)

 

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 11:44 AM

BaltACD
I suspect, but don't know, there may have been more superelevation designed into curves back in the day - more superelevation would allow higer safe curve speeds.

There was plenty more superelevation 'back in the day' -- although to be specific, this would have been limited on the 'contemporary' NH Shore Line as that railroad had a sort of organizational antipathy to practical high speed for many years after all the wrecks in the Mellen years.  A useful example was the portion of the New York Central line along the Hudson south of Harmon, where I observed firsthand superelevation actually producing discomfort when a train was stopped on it.  This was relaxed in later years, as for example it produces much greater load and wear on the 'down' rail when speed-related forces don't balance things better.  And there are very clear limits on how much superelevation can be put on conventionally lined and surfaced track when equipment isn't specifically designed to balance safely -- certainly well below what would be needed for operation on much of the Shore Line at "125 to 150 max allowed speed" in enough places for that speed to make a practical difference in trip time.

Some one should mention explicitly what the aggregate stop time and braking/acceleration delay for the 1949 train was, as opposed to its nominally slower replacement (or the contemporary Acela service).  I think we have discussed this in some detail years ago. 

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Posted by zugmann on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 1:18 PM

Overmod
Having said that, we will all be the poorer if we cannot have H. Landwehr's thoughts on a wide variety of subjects. Hopefully this is both a transient and resolvable situation.

One of the few level-headed people here.  Acutally uses numbers, and not just anecdotes.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by 243129 on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 3:02 PM

BaltACD
Don't know and don't care - what I do know is that there was a entirely different view by society on speed compliance than there is in today's world.

Yes we went through that before with your pronouncement of superintendents 'ordering' that timetable speeds be exceeded.

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Posted by 243129 on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 3:39 PM

"The present roadbed, with minor deviations, dates back to the 1800s, taking a circuitous route to service large population centers and various industries. To attain a true high-speed system on the Northeast Corridor, there must be a dedicated and exclusive infrastructure built as straight as the geography will allow. The cost and environmental impact of such an undertaking would be astronomical given the real estate values in that portion of the country."

'True' High-Speed Rail (HSR) meaning sustained speeds of 150 mph+ is not going to happen on the NEC for the above and previously stated reasons. Dependable, frequent and timely service with new conventional equipment replete with the bells and whistles that Acela offers can be had for a fraction of the cost of this wasteful HSR program.

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 10:09 PM

Volker would have to have quit his membership in order to become Anonymous. Suspect he was on moderation due to someone complaining and didn't like it and just quit and withdrew. 

He can come back under a new name. 

Also does anyone know if Agent Kid is ok.. maybe the Dude might know but it's a longshot. 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, November 08, 2018 7:38 AM

Posts like this are what we have lost through Volker's departure, whatever the cause:

"Why not take published numbers from Amtrak’s  Monthly Performance Report September 2017: https://www.alstom.com/press-releases-news/2016/8/alstom-to-provide-amtrak-with-its-new-generation-of-high-speed-train

Acela Express ridership was 3.442 million, Regional was 8.570 million.

According to Amtrak’s Five Year Plan 39% of all Acela Express riders are not on business travel or commuting. On Regional trains 68% account for for the same group. That means 1.3416 million Acela riders and 5.8276 million Regional riders are not business travelers or commuters.

The share of this group is 18.7% on the Acela Express if all commuters are travelling on an expense account. If not all do the percentage rises.

Of all NEC Amtrak travelers, 29% use the Acela Express. They produce 48% of NEC’s total operational revenue.

Amtrak needs the Acela Express and the travelers apparently too.
Regards, Volker"

Or this long one:

"Perhaps a few numbers make Amtrak’s decision for an Acela Express replacement better understandable.
I’ll use the Amtrak Monthly Performance Report September 2017 that contains separate numbers for Acela Express and Regional trains for fiscal year 2017. 2018 is not out yet.
Acela Express: Ticket Revenue $597.2 million; Ridership 3.442 million;Passenger miles 651.1 million; average Miles/person 190, average Fare/person $174.6
Regional: Ticket Revenue $638.7 million; Ridership 8.570 million; Passenger miles 1,330.3 million; average Miles/person 156, average Fare/person $74.6
If one eliminates the Acela Express service completely one loses $597.2 million in revenue. If all passengers switch to Regionals you regain 3.442 x 74.6 = $256.8 million. Adjusted for the longer Acela rides you get 256.8 x 190/156 = $312.8 million.
That results in a worst case revenue loss of $284.4 million per year.
How large the loss of revenue really would get depends on the replacement. Rebuilt Amfleet cars lead to the worst case, new locomotive drawn trains to less. In both cases Amtrak can't ask for Acela fares.
All 28 Avelia Liberty trainsets cost $2.0 billion according to an Alstom press release, $71,53 million per set. https://www.alstom.com/press-releases-news/2016/8/alstom-to-provide-amtrak-with-its-new-generation-of-high-speed-train
Alstom will provide long-term technical support and supply spare components and parts for the maintenance of the new trainsets for this price.
What does a comparable 125 mph locomotive drawn train with locomotive and 6 cars cost?
Septa paid $8.7 million for ACS-64, Amtrak paid 2.3 million per car from CAF and Caltrans $2.7 million per PRIIA car from Siemens. So this train will cost about $25 million.
The difference between the two trainsets is $46.53 million.
In case of locomotive drawn trains Amtrak has to pay about $700 million with substantially less revenue. The Avelia Liberty cost $2 billion but in this case without loss of revenue.
Unscientifically expressed, the Avelia Libertys are paid by the avoided revenue losses within the useful life of the trainsets.
The above numbers help me to understand why Amtrak might have chosen a Acela Express replacement and not a conventional train.
I think the 20 minutes less are worth the cost of the Avelia Liberty as it not just the shorter travel time that draws passengers to the Acela Express, it is the different travel experience too. Do you remember the discussions here about LD trains and food service? A lot was about the worse travel experience without traditional dining cars. 

 

Additionally I can’t imagine your Congress giving money for any NEC track improvements when there is no high-speed train on the property.
Regards, Volker"
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Posted by 243129 on Thursday, November 08, 2018 8:57 AM

BaltACD

 

 
243129
 
BaltACD
 
243129
The NY.NH.& H.R.R  Merchants Limited in the year 1949 left South Station Boston @ 5:00PM and arrived Grand Central Station  @ 9:00PM

Amtrak Acela Express #2175 in the year 2018 leaves South Station Boston @5:20PM and arrives @ Penn Station N.Y. @ 8:52PM

69 years, billions in taxpayer dollars for a 'savings' of 28 minutes. 

In 1949 there were not government imposed maximum speeds.  ICC regulation of speed was decreed in 1947 to be effective in 1952.

http://streamlinermemories.info/?p=358 

Do you know what the MAS was between Boston and GCT in 1949?

Do you think it was higher than 125/150 MPH?

 

Don't know and don't care - what I do know is that there was a entirely different view by society on speed compliance than there is in today's world.  

I suspect, but don't know, there may have been more superelevation designed into curves back in the day - more superelevation would allow higer safe curve speeds.

 

 

There were however  company mandated (timetable) speeds. See below.

More proof that little has been accomplished in the way of HSR in the last 69 years.

1949 Merchants Limited Boston to New York 4 hours 00minutes

2018 Acela Express Boston to New York 3 hours 32 minutes

This from the New Haven Railroad Facebook page.

Timetable No. 171, effective April 30, 1950, states maximum passenger train speed with locomotive running forward was 75 m.p.h. between Branford and Old Saybrook, CT, and between Stonington, CT, and Readville, MA. Eastward from Readville to S.S. 185 was 75 m.p.h. on tracks 1 & 2, and 50 on track 4. Woodlawn, NY - Branford was listed at 70, as was Old Saybrook - Stonington.

Again, 69 years have passed with billions in taxpayer subsidies and the end result is a 28 minute improvement in running time?

All of the below can be provided with new conventional equipment and approximately 10- 15 minutes more running time than the Acela Express. Is America in that much of a hurry?

In addition to the amenities you'll enjoy in the Business Class or First Class, your distinctive Acela Express experience features:

  • A faster trip with fewer stops
  • Newly upgraded WiFi that's 6X faster and more reliable
  • Handy electrical outlets and conference tables
  • Adjustable lighting and large tray tables
  • Café Acela

Even more enhanced accommodations and superior service await in Acela Express First Class:

In addition to the amenities you'll enjoy in the Business Class or First Class, your distinctive Acela Express experience features:

  • A faster trip with fewer stops
  • Newly upgraded WiFi that's 6X faster and more reliable
  • Handy electrical outlets and conference tables
  • Adjustable lighting and large tray tables
  • Café Acela

Even more enhanced accommodations and superior service await in Acela Express First Class:

 

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Posted by 243129 on Thursday, November 08, 2018 9:29 AM

charlie hebdo
Additionally I can’t imagine your Congress giving money for any NEC track improvements when there is no high-speed train on the property. Regards, Volker"

Why would you want a high-speed train on the property when you cannot attain high speed with it?

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, November 08, 2018 9:38 AM

Please compare your experiences as an engineer on an Acela, NE Regional locomotive-hauled train, GG-1's, etc. please.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, November 08, 2018 9:40 AM

243129

 

 
charlie hebdo
Additionally I can’t imagine your Congress giving money for any NEC track improvements when there is no high-speed train on the property. Regards, Volker"

 

Why would you want a high-speed train on the property when you cannot attain high speed with it?

 

The answers to that question are clearly stated in Volker's detailed economic explanation which I reposted. 

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Posted by zugmann on Thursday, November 08, 2018 11:32 AM

243129
Why would you want a high-speed train on the property when you cannot attain high speed with it?

 

Why would you improve track speeds if you didn't have a high speed train on the property that can achieve them?

 

Besides - this is America.  We like fast & cool things (even if we can't ever max them out).  Don't believe me?  Go check out a car dealer. 

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by 243129 on Thursday, November 08, 2018 6:48 PM

zugmann
Why would you improve track speeds if you didn't have a high speed train on the property that can achieve them?

The track speeds on the NEC have been improved but still cannot and never will support HSR on the existing ROW.

zugmann
Besides - this is America. We like fast & cool things (even if we can't ever max them out). Don't believe me? Go check out a car dealer.

Good! Go by yourself a car with all the bells and whistles, overpay for it and enjoy it.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, November 08, 2018 8:11 PM

243129
Good! Go by yourself a car with all the bells and whistles, overpay for it and enjoy it.

Having driven I-95 from Homestead, FL to North of NYC - Its not fun, not enjoyable, not cheap and not fast.  The further North the worse it gets.

         

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Posted by 243129 on Thursday, November 08, 2018 8:29 PM

BaltACD
Having driven I-95 from Homestead, FL to North of NYC - Its not fun, not enjoyable, not cheap and not fast. The further North the worse it gets.

All the more reason for frequent, timely, dependable train service. Why not run the auto train from Newburgh NY, the confluence of Interstates 84 and 87 instead of a 6 hour drive to Lorton from New England/NY?

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, November 08, 2018 8:54 PM

243129
 
BaltACD
Having driven I-95 from Homestead, FL to North of NYC - Its not fun, not enjoyable, not cheap and not fast. The further North the worse it gets. 

All the more reason for frequent, timely, dependable train service. Why not run the auto train from Newburgh NY, the confluence of Interstates 84 and 87 instead of a 6 hour drive to Lorton from New England/NY?

If you think making a truly high speed right of way as being impossible, that will be an simple accomplishment compared to creating a line from Newburgh to South of DC able to handle Auto Train equipment.

         

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Posted by 243129 on Thursday, November 08, 2018 8:57 PM

BaltACD
If you think making a truly high speed right of way as being impossible, that will be an simple accomplishment compared to creating a line from Newburgh to South of DC able to handle Auto Train equipment.

Who said anything about "creating a line"? There is an existing line.

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, November 08, 2018 9:00 PM

243129

 

 
BaltACD
Having driven I-95 from Homestead, FL to North of NYC - Its not fun, not enjoyable, not cheap and not fast. The further North the worse it gets.

 

All the more reason for frequent, timely, dependable train service. Why not run the auto train from Newburgh NY, the confluence of Interstates 84 and 87 instead of a 6 hour drive to Lorton from New England/NY?

 

What route that has the necessary clearances do you propose?

Johnny

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Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, November 08, 2018 9:14 PM

Johnny hit the nail on the head.  The Auto-Train couldn't come north of Lorton because the clearances wouldn't allow it.

Instead of Lorton VA the ideal location for an Auto-Train terminal would have been in the Northern New Jersey area, say the Hackensack Meadows.  Imagine being able to tap the New York metro area for a direct Florida run.  You'd have to fight customers off with baseball bats!

Just wasn't possible.  Too bad.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, November 08, 2018 10:34 PM

With the completion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project, Auto Train could move their terminal from Lorton to beautiful West Balimore or Mt. Clare - IF CSX would agree.

         

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, November 09, 2018 1:40 AM

243129
Good! Go by yourself a car with all the bells and whistles, overpay for it and enjoy it.

I got myslef a nice truck with a big engine and tires, thank you very much.  And I enjoy it immensely.  I was never a Toyota Camry sort of guy.  Just so...boring...

And I'm not alone. Many people like nice things.  Cars, clothes, computers, hotels, and yes, choice of trains.   So yeah, I'm sure the Acela attracted people because it is the Acela. 

But you seem to have went from knocking the entire Acela brand to just the high speed trainsets in this thread.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, November 09, 2018 1:41 AM

243129
The track speeds on the NEC have been improved but still cannot and never will support HSR on the existing ROW.

Never is a very long time. 

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, November 09, 2018 7:41 AM

Another reason why folks are willing to pay a premium to ride the Acela Express:

[from SCL yardmaster on another thread]

Posted by SCLyardmaster on Thursday, November 08, 2018 2:36 PM   "Amtrak #20 to Philly and a bus beyond to catch up with friends for a railfan vacation. While I've enjoyed riding NC's near-luxury Piedmont trains, I anticipated a sleep-manageable trip. Wrong! Amfleet cars were never designed for overnight travel with LED aisle lights, no window armrests, constant rattling and a lightweight design that leaps over grade crossings and slams through every turnout frog. Surely the Corridor will be better and I can get at least a little sleep.

The ride was the roughest I'd ever experienced! The car slammed from left to right, vertical disturbances felt like speeding over a picket fence of speed bumps at 90+MPH, the luggage rack bounced up and down while seats shook from side to side. One passenger said it was so rough he couldn't text and other was unable to work on his laptop. If this were an airliner, I thought, people would be screaming and praying!"

 

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, November 09, 2018 10:15 AM

zugmann
But you seem to have went from knocking the entire Acela brand to just the high speed trainsets in this thread.

His original point was only about aspects of the high-speed trainsets, specifically that they cost significantly more for the true HSR capacity that can't be used meaningfully in their prospective lifetime (IIRC something like 40% premium; Volker could have given us appropriate numbers).  He said nothing about the Acela 'brand' aside from noting that there is very little Acela offers, at present or prospectively, that could not be achieved by a train that is less expensive to construct than the Avelia Liberty.  Both those points essentially remain unrefuted, and any discussion of the actual Acela brand will reveal little that actually requires substantially high speed instead of the marketed perception of it.

The point of his comment about 'bells and whistles' was a bit different.  Suppose that you went to a dealership to buy your new truck and found (as was common in the bad old days of Japanese makes) the only one you could buy had a bunch of options you won't use and don't want, like (let's say) full-active off-road suspension that sounds like shotguns going off as you drive, $5000 high-speed Pirelli tires that wear out on pavement in a few thousand miles only to have to be replaced by speciali$t shops on your three-piece beadlock rims, a diesel engine fraught with maintenance problems, and 'designer' aftermarket brush guards and winch bumpers.  Would you still be claiming you're happier paying for the add-ons than getting what matters to you?

I am reasonably certain that in the Anderson epoch, marketing "Acela" to at least 100% of its current popularity could easily be done with any 160mph train containing the relevant amenities.  I am also reasonably sure that any marketing push to sell 220mph rocket-train cost will start foundering, just as the Metroliner marketing did, when the actual 'where's my big savings' in overall time fails to materialize as touted.

Let me repeat that all this discussion is relatively pointless: the trains are ordered and much already substantially built; we're going to have them whether it makes 'economic' sense or not -- and I for one think it's a good thing.  Even if the only thing it accomplishes is shaming the politicians into making the substantial investments in Corridor improvement early (and I wish I had more Christian-Scientist-with-appendicitis faith that would be so...)

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Posted by 243129 on Friday, November 09, 2018 11:04 AM

Overmod
Let me repeat that all this discussion is relatively pointless: the trains are ordered and much already substantially built; we're going to have them whether it makes 'economic' sense or not -- and I for one think it's a good thing. Even if the only thing it accomplishes is shaming the politicians into making the substantial investments in Corridor improvement early (and I wish I had more Christian-Scientist-with-appendicitis faith that would be so...)

I consider them, the high-speed trainsets an unnecessary, egregious waste of taxpayer dollars which are being foisted upon an uninformed public.

Oh and kudos for your Christain-Scientist analogy.Yes

I intend to plagiarize it.Devil

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, November 09, 2018 11:56 AM

Overmod
Overmod wrote the following post 1 hours ago: zugmann But you seem to have went from knocking the entire Acela brand to just the high speed trainsets in this thread. His original point was only about aspects of the high-speed trainsets, specifically that they cost significantly more for the true HSR capacity that can't be used meaningfully in their prospective lifetime (IIRC something like 40% premium; Volker could have given us appropriate numbers).  He said nothing about the Acela 'brand' aside from noting that there is very little Acela offers, at present or prospectively, that could not be achieved by a train that is less expensive to construct than the Avelia Liberty.  Both those points essentially remain unrefuted, and any discussion of the actual Acela brand will reveal little that actually requires substantially high speed instead of the marketed perception of it.

Perception is obviously very important when one is discussing mass appeal in marketing.  The public voted with their dollars to ride Acela.  And the effective cost difference for either Acela or the new Avelia Liberty sets is in line with that, as anyone can clearly see from the last analysis post by Volker (which I reposted).

NE Regionals likely have to operate at a discounted fare (compared to Acela Express) because their antiquated Amfleet equipment is so inferior, as the post by SCL Yardmaster vividly reveals (also reposted on here).  Although he blames the rough ride on corridor trackage as well as the Amfleet coaches, the difference in ride comfort on the track is so significantly better with Acela equipment that their passengers are willing to pay more.  

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, November 09, 2018 12:12 PM

243129
Oh and kudos for your Christian-Scientist analogy. Yes I intend to plagiarize it.

It's not mine, of course; it's a literary reference to the delightful 'MLF Lullaby' by someone every literate North American should know, Tom Lehrer, his piano, and his so-called voice.

(The original context, by the way, is to the idea that the German government should be given authority to deploy thermonuclear warheads... perhaps not quite as dim-witted as Tom made it seem; see this PDF for a reasonable account.)

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, November 09, 2018 12:35 PM

243129
I consider them, the high-speed trainsets an unnecessary, egregious waste of taxpayer dollars which are being foisted upon an uninformed public.

Still think it beats refurbishing amfleets for the umpteenth time.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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