Article on why the US still has no high speed trains

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 3:31 PM

charlie hebdo
Not to knock Mexico,  but it still is not a very modern nation.  Canada has made some failed efforts in their corridors.

Rode some of the mass transit in Mexico City.   Interesting mix of private and public operators of the city bus system.    The rubber tired subway / elevated system I think could be called a failure.    You can be walking along a Mexico City street in a new office park district and stumble across an old freight railroad line that was never removed as well.    You could see the same in the United States but usually not in a remade over area.    Usually in the United States you see that in industrial areas.    I think it is an issue with Mexico's private property laws and railway line abandonment........gaps somewhere in there.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 2:23 PM

Not to knock Mexico,  but it still is not a very modern nation.  Canada has made some failed efforts in their corridors.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 1:52 PM

Note that neither Canada nor Mexico have high-speed rail.  Mexico does not even have anuything analgous to Amtrak and VIA.  Essentially no intercity psssenger service except some isolated tourist operations.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 1:42 PM

daveklepper

Charlie please do so, and I did discuss workmen on commuter and subway trains.

 

Yes you did.  I'd just like to understand why almost every industialized nation can have at least semi-HSR trains, with frequency and convenient times linking cities up to 400 miles apart.  There are plenty of areas in the US that meet that criterion. Even Russia has good, fast services in the western parts with large metro areas, such as between St. Petersburg and Moscow but links them to Vladivostock across the vast expanses of the steppes mostly by air or with slow trains like the Trans Siberian Express.  Maybe we should use that as a model?

Some say the American public likes the freedom of driving and will reject trains that are competitive with or make better time than their own vehicle.  It will be interesting to see how the TEXpress  or TXpress (a better name, IMO) works out in a few years.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 1:11 PM

Charlie please do so, and I did discuss workmen on commuter and subway trains.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 10:46 AM

Perhaps we could return to discussing HSR or at least railroading?

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 9:57 AM

daveklepper

Misunderstanding:  I meant what kind of my own postings interest you, and which do not, so I can better gauge reader interest and not post stuff that bores people.

Otherwise, in my primarily USA building-acoustics career I often worked with one or two-man organ-building establishments, as well as with large firms with almost 150 people.  Ditto with sound-system contractors-installers.  (You probably have dealt with some of the latter yourself in regard to residence music, TV, intercome, and security systems.)

And agsin, I hope you have one or more friends for whom the Clarity Canopy might be useful.

The before and after photos did not pass through using the server I am using at this moment.  I will try alternative servers now available and see if I can see them.  It's a bandwidth problem, and is not consistant.

 

Sorry I misunderstood. I don't even begin to read everything over here on the TRAINS side, model trains are my primary interest on this site, but whenever I do see you posts, I find most everything you post worth reading.

Not everyone over here is as positive thinking as your are........

Take care,

Sheldon

    

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 3:27 AM

Was able to see them.  Just great!

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 3:25 AM

Misunderstanding:  I meant what kind of my own postings interest you, and which do not, so I can better gauge reader interest and not post stuff that bores people.

Otherwise, in my primarily USA building-acoustics career I often worked with one or two-man organ-building establishments, as well as with large firms with almost 150 people.  Ditto with sound-system contractors-installers.  (You probably have dealt with some of the latter yourself in regard to residence music, TV, intercome, and security systems.)

And agsin, I hope you have one or more friends for whom the Clarity Canopy might be useful.

The before and after photos did not pass through using the server I am using at this moment.  I will try alternative servers now available and see if I can see them.  It's a bandwidth problem, and is not consistant.

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Posted by zugmann on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 12:31 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
I have never spent a dime on advertising, the work finds me by word of mouth in the community/region.

Kalmbach may come around asking soon enough.

 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 ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 11:50 PM

Dave,

I'm not sure I understand your first question? Do you mean how do I choose which projects I do?

For about 20 years now, the projects find me. Without going into too much detail, my business is not licenced or insured for commercial or institutional work, only residential work. And I simply have no interest in commercial work.

I have never spent a dime on advertising, the work finds me by word of mouth in the community/region.

Each project is unique, each is tailored to the customers needs. Sometimes a whole house, sometimes just a kitchen, or bath, or porch.

Sometimes my team and I do the work, sometimes I am just the designer/consultant.

Here is a before and after, this was a whole house restoration, took 17 months:

 

 

After completing this project, we did a porch, cornice, and dormers on a house built in 1863.

Right now we are finishing up a kitchen in a small 1895 house in the town of Bel Air, MD.

In the spring we have more work at the 1863 house, windows to restore/repair.

I know a few people in commercial architecture around here, but can't say I even see/talk with them much. Honestly, I'm not much of a social bug, far too busy with work and family.

I just know the phone keeps ringing, and I seldom travel more than 30 miles to a job.

Here in the Mid Atlantic we have lots of old buildings.........

I did this one for myself 24 years ago:

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 11:24 PM

Electroliner 1935

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Never seen anyone on a train (or a plane) with a miter saw and a power drill........

 

But when I rode the C&NW to Chicago, I used to see men with their window washing equipment, buckets with squeegees, sponges, etc. And I'm sure others were building maintenance people.

 

Sure, in an urban setting lots of blue colar people can ride trains to work. But their heavy tools are already on station, and their location of work is fixed or accessable by train.

I need to take heavy tools to work every day, deliver materials, and I work on one job for months or weeks, then the next job might be 10 miles in the other direction. Most are not in urban settings, even if Baltimore had good mass transit...........

I live in a rural area, some of my work is closer to the city, but much of it is also out here in rural areas.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 10:00 PM

Yes, when I rode the Harlem Div. regularly between GCT and WP-North Station, 1971-1996, I saw an occasional workman riding with a toolkit, ditto of course on New York subways.  Generally, tools were not exposed but in a large metal box wth handle or straps.  Dungaries, not a suits or sports or athletic-gym clothes.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 9:52 PM

Sheldon, I'm interested in which kinds are interesting and which not.  And possibly there is a friend to whom you refer your institutional and commercial requests that might find my clarity canopy diagrams useful?

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 9:38 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Never seen anyone on a train (or a plane) with a miter saw and a power drill........

But when I rode the C&NW to Chicago, I used to see men with their window washing equipment, buckets with squeegees, sponges, etc. And I'm sure others were building maintenance people.

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Posted by Stansbury on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 11:05 AM

The author of the article misses the point. There's no high-speed rail in the U.S. because no one actually needs it. I worked on every one of high-speed rail projects that was awarded ARRA funds. Not one of these projects could present a compelling purpose and need statement. High-speed rail is very expensive. Money is not infinite. There's competition for money. Spend it on HSR, you're going to not spend it on something else. HSR couldn't develop an argument that would convince a majority in nearly every political entity to which it was introduced that it had a more urgent need of money than the competing demands on money. Thus it failed. 

HSR still can't produce a compelling purpose and need in the U.S. I don't forsee any condition under which it will. The cost is staggering compared to the benefits it provides. 

JLD

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 6:20 AM

Dave, Thank you for the kind words.

And thank you for the information. I am familiar with those acoustic principles, one of my hobbies is HiFi speaker design.

In my business I do not do any institutional or commercial buildings, only private residences, for a number of professional and personal reasons.

I'm sure we might find such a trip interesting and enjoyable, other obligations would simply not allow that at this time, maybe one day soon enough.

I am pretty well traveled here in the east, not so much out west. I have to admit I am not attracted to the west based on the limited trips I have already experianced. But who knows?

While I almost never comment, I do find most of your posts very interesting.

Take care,

Sheldon

    

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 5:00 AM

The canopy and its supports has five wood parts, plus the lectern, and each can be carried through a regular door by one person.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 4:51 AM

Atlantic, I think your values, profession, and preferences are just great. I hope you have had chidren who absorbed your values if not your profession.  But I   do think you and your wife would enjoy a day spent riding Amtrak's California Zephyr one way or the other between Denver and Salt Lake City.  If you want privacy, a double bedroom can be had for the additional cost.

If you restore religious buildings that cannot use electronic amplification for certain events and/or landmarked making any fixed changes impossible, the following may be of help:

 

 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, December 30, 2019 9:42 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
It may improve productivity somewhere that may benefit everyone?

The key according to the London School of Economics is that it has to be implemented in such a way that it is both faster and more convienent then other competing modes of transport.   Those two items have to be measureable enough to entice people to make the decision to use high speed rail on their own without other incentives.

If it does not meet that threshold above, it really does not increase productivity or GDP and it is just another mode of transportation to choose from.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, December 30, 2019 9:29 PM

Interesting article. Well, I have thoughts on both sides of this one.

I think it is shameful and unfair to rail that government makes very large infrastructure investments in highways and airports which benefit trucks, buses, and obviously airlines, while leaving AMTRAK out in the cold comparatively.

No wonder the railroads were happy to get out of the passenger business after the post office left the rails.

As a nation, there is and has been a lot of wrong headed policy for a long time that brought us to this point.

All that said, how would high speed rail benefit me? Directly, it would not. 

I don't travel long distances for work, if I did I would need my truck full of tools. I don't wear a suit or work in an office, all my meetings are in my clients homes...... Never seen anyone on a train (or a plane) with a miter saw and a power drill........

I don't travel much for vacation, and if I did, it would not be from one large population center to another. I'm not interested in going to NYC to see a show.......

And as it turns out, if I was, I am 10 minutes from a NEC station right now...... I can catch the train to NYC or DC pretty easy.

Indirectly, better passenger rail might benefit me a lot, but that is more "abstract" and harder to predict or measure.

It might unclog some highways I need to ride on if it served enough other people's needs. (but so would putting more of those pesky trucks on flat cars)

It may improve productivity somewhere that may benefit everyone?

But it may not?

For what it's worth, I'm not an airline user either. When I do travel for pleasure, I drive, because yes, I'm not part of the "collective", I'm not interested in the bus tour or cruise with an itinerary. My wife did not like Disney World because she felt herded like "sheeple".

This is a life style issue. Political and social values/beliefs aside, as a practical matter I don't see this country becoming like Europe any time soon.

I realize there are people who think we should. I don't care either way what others do, if YOU want to move to the city, I'm all in, more room out here in the country for me, less farm land turned into cookie cutter tract houses, less traffic, less strip malls.

But I'm not going........

As someone who loves old buildings, and respects history, I would love to see our cities restored and revitalized - by people who want to be there, not by people who have been compelled or coerced in some way.

Back to airplanes for minute - I don't get it. Well maybe I do, but it is so not part of my life.

We live north of Baltimore, we once had family in the Detroit area, we traveled there about once a year. Portal to portal I can beat the airplane to Detroit in my car, spend less money, and not have to pay for the privledge of driving some car I hate while I am there. Why would I fly? Or take a train?  

OK, if I'm going to LA it might be a different story, but I don't they want me in California.......

I would love to see better passenger rail service in America, but I'm not sure I can afford it..........

Sheldon

PS - For some of you who have gotten to know me a little over here on the Trains side, I want to say a few things about myself. I know I make reference to my construction/restoration work and a few of you might wonder why I still work with my tools at age 62 even though I have this successful historic restoration practice?

The answer is because I like it, and I found that after a point, running a big company to make more money sucks all the fun out of what I do. So I decided to stay small. I get to do the planning, research, design work, and I get to build things with my own hands. I get to say "I restored that house", I saved that 100 year old original front door, I recreated that historic mill work - not just "I was the boss".

I could have turned my business into a much bigger company years ago, but I knew better. I do have a "team", they are all great people and top notch craftsman. But we are a small team, we only do one large project at a time, and I oversee every detail, and personally do much of the most specialized work.

So my name is not on some high profile historic restoration of some downtown landmark. But lots of people live in 100 plus year old houses that I saved from neglect or demolition, and I like that.    

    

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, December 30, 2019 8:32 PM

Overmod
It might be slow indeed if it goes to those cities in that order. Add Quote to your Post

On a serious note, the snail train moniker ignored the long-term plan of the corridor.

I suspect the ultimate goal which we will see on the Chicago to Milwaukee corridor as well as the NEC is that it was to be a mixed train corridor in that you would have trains that stopped at every city as well as express trains that only stopped at the end points.    The Wisconsin and Ohio proposals were mixed trains when complete not a train stopping at every stop.   Pretty sure that Chicago to St. Louis as well as Chicago to Detroit will also evolve that way if they are not currently planned to end up that way.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, December 30, 2019 8:26 PM

diningcar
California would screw up a one car funeral procession.

Among the failures was inability to partner with the private sector which was the initial promise of the California project.    You'll note that Virgin Trains is proceeding with XPRESS WEST funding and construction, independent of California....... really should have been a partnership there and I would like to know why the State and Virgin Trains could not or would not work together on at least a portion of the LA to Las Vegas routing.  

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, December 30, 2019 8:14 PM

Lithonia Operator

I am curious about the cancelled $400M plan for Cincinnati-Cleveland-Columbus passenger rail. What was the actual plan? It mentioned a 39-mph train. Was that the average speed, including a particularly high number of stops, for proposed service on an existing freight route? Why so slow?

Was this to be a state-supported Amtrak route? I'd appreciate it if someone could fill me in on what was proposed.

It was turned down for the same reason Wisconsin turned it down.   The Governor of Ohio whom I think was Republican John Kasich at the time stated he did not want to accept a grant that turned into a loan if the system was not finished on a project timeline.    Because the vast experience of the past was these HSR projects never finish and the starter loan is not enough to either finish the system or to operate it free of additional cash.    Basically, he would have accepted a grant with a commitment from the Feds to cover the risks but he was not willing to accept what amounted to an initial loan with no guarantee of future assistance from the Feds.    A lot of the Republican governors viewed the structure of the program as problematic and causing large future state spending deficits.

Not a surprise the same reason Amtrak has issues.    Initially funded inadequately and never given a stable source of future funding that can be relied on over a period of years where management can plan the future in a cost efficient manner.

BTW, as with Wisconsin.....the project in Ohio was never officially cancelled, it just had it's funding suspended and the project was postponed at some TBD future date as it was a Federal vs State project.

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Posted by PJS1 on Monday, December 30, 2019 4:13 PM
This is a good article.  
 
“The question really is, for us as an industry and as a company (Amtrak), in being pragmatic,” he said. All over the country, there are underserved segments of around 300 miles which are ripe for high-quality rail, he added. “We don’t even need to spend money on necessarily expensive high-speed trains—just getting what we have today working well at a hundred miles an hour, which is very feasible, is really viable.””
 
Texas Central proposes to build an high speed passenger rail line between Dallas and Houston.  Is this really the best outcome for Texas?  Or would upgrading the existing rail line, which would not require taking any private property, to 125 mph be a better option? 
 
How about upgrading the existing rail lines from DFW to San Antonio, arguably one of the most congested corridors in the U.S., with two sizeable markets ideally situated for rail between the end points, be a better outcome than a high-speed rail line?
 
Outside of a few highly congested corridors, Americans don’t want passenger trains.  They have demonstrated a preference for airplanes for medium to long hauls and personal vehicles for most other transportation needs.  That is not likely to change in the near future. 

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by York1 on Monday, December 30, 2019 1:52 PM

Paul Milenkovic
They appear to be failing and flailing.  You dispute me?  California is part of the United States, the US still has not high speed train ergo California does not have one.

 

"California’s bullet train project confronts an array of political and financial challenges, but its biggest problem involves mismanagement of land acquisitions, which has contributed to construction delays, cost increases, litigation and the launch of a federal audit."

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-15/california-bullet-train-land-acquisition

John  --  Saints Fan  

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, December 30, 2019 9:33 AM

Paul Milenkovic

California appears to have had the political will and some measure of financial will.  At least more than any other state contemplating such a project.

They appear to be failing and flailing.  You dispute me?  California is part of the United States, the US still has not high speed train ergo California does not have one.

I gave you a topic.  Talk amongst yourselves.

 

I don't know why California's HSR seems so messed up,  but in my opinion it is a combination of poor planning and very inaccurate cost estimates. 

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Posted by diningcar on Monday, December 30, 2019 8:21 AM

California would screw up a one car funeral procession.

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Sunday, December 29, 2019 11:21 PM

California appears to have had the political will and some measure of financial will.  At least more than any other state contemplating such a project.

They appear to be failing and flailing.  You dispute me?  California is part of the United States, the US still has not high speed train ergo California does not have one.

I gave you a topic.  Talk amongst yourselves.

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?

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