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Possible future expansion of Amtrak electrifications system wide

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Possible future expansion of Amtrak electrifications system wide
Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, December 7, 2020 12:27 AM

One route has been talk of electrificing New Haven - Springfield if commuter  traffic ever becomes high demand along with electrifying Springfield - BOS.

Howeve have found a problem of NHV - SPG due to clearances.

A Pan Am clearance map shows only plate "F" clearances  Springfield to New Haven.  Thought Amtrak talk was a future electrification of that route ?  That clearance would certainly not allow for 25 Kv CAT with that overhead.   Any one know where the clearance problems are on the route ?  Suspect that any truss bridges may be one problem ?

Clearances.jpg (1728×1728) (squarespace.com)

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 7, 2020 7:59 AM

Interestingly enough, at the start of the very extensive Springfield rebuilding, a careful analysis of the construction needs for the project (including the possible rebuilding to 110mph peak standards) was conducted.

https://www.nhhsrail.com/info_center/ea/3_0.aspx

This contains some of the bridge information you were asking about.

Note that while this carefully discusses gantlet track in stations to permit freight-equipment clearance of all the 'new' high-level platforms except at Hartford, contains estimates of 2030 traffic involving many trains a day (30-minute headways peak, hourly off-peak), and mentions "one seat or cross-platform transfers to New York and Washington, D.C." it is completely silent on the issue of potential electrification, and only diesel-hauled equipment is illustrated.  See the Concept Design Drawings" made for the project.

I have not been able to find the record of the public hearings, at which I'm reasonably sure the issue of potential electrification would have at least been brought up.  I'd be pretty sure, in a project this 'politicized,' that this information is available, somewhere.

I've seen a couple of discussions of electrifying the B&A west to Springfield.  Personally I wouldn't think true need for that would be present for many years, and in fact the "Hartford alternative" for a second-spine routing makes it less necessary.  Of course I'd say different if the funding and political will for it were present...

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, December 7, 2020 9:19 AM

I recall a thread several years ago looking at linking Bradley Field to the rail line.  I suppose nothing ever happened, as is usual in US. 

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 7, 2020 9:26 AM

charlie hebdo
I suppose nothing ever happened, as is usual in US. 

The only real reason to connect Bradley Field to the Springfield line would be to optimize elitist passenger transfer from airplanes to trains.  No benefit for airport workers; very little for most presumed riders of the 'rest' of the Springfield trains.  So don't go looking for the widespread public support needed to provide and then operate such a thing.

Dedicated bus shuttles from the Hartford station to Bradley, with the BRT-like ability to run in prioritized lanes and retime the traffic-signal system?  You'd run them at 6-minute headways in perpetuity, going right where desired in the various areas of the terminal context, for the cost of a fixed rail line.

If I remember correctly, the Hartford area was 'big' into a good version of regional BRT.  But there was some sort of problem associated with it.  I don't think there is the necessary demand even for light regional rail outside of Hartford, but I could easily be convinced otherwise.

And Bradley's not going to work as a fifth area airport, after Stewart: it's not close enough to Boston destinations, or to New York either.  For the rail extension to pay the number of flights would have to increase, and from what I know of the situation that's expensive capex even if they have the room and the control infrastructure -- someone who knows that specific airport and TCA situation could better comment.

Yeah, I'd build it ... but I'd have built the Memphis airport line and extensions the same way.  And there was no political support to speak of for that.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, December 7, 2020 9:35 AM

1. It seems to me a lot of people live in between Boston and NYC who prefer flights from somewhere in between. 

2. Elitist? Goodness!  Airports in many other countries have raiil lines at the airport.  Lots of people actually use them. 

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 7, 2020 12:59 PM

charlie hebdo
1. It seems to me a lot of people live in between Boston and NYC who prefer flights from somewhere in between.

Of course they do.  But Bradley Field might not be the place that flights from many other in-between places of comparable size go, compared to the nearby larger airports.  If I remember correctly much of the traffic at Bradley is private or contract traffic, not scheduled airline flights.

Now, in a world of distributed regional flights, it might make very good sense to route a large number of them into Bradley, and a connection to heavy rail via dedicated shuttle link or even periodic one-seat trains, and then coordinate this effectively.  But that is not yet.

2. Elitist? Goodness!  Airports in many other countries have rail lines at the airport.  Lots of people actually use them.

As do they here ... once built.  The question is where all that money comes from, and what the opposition finds as opportunity use for that money.  Europeans have a much larger 'tax base' applicable to passenger railroads, and a larger incentive to extend that network to airport connections as such a wide cross-section of people ride the trains.  Here the airport line must essentially often stand alone -- see the early history of the services either to JFK or Pearson, and how they could be paid for...

The 'natural' set of routes from a couple of common points in Memphis to the international airport was pretty clear, as was the way to operate it as airport access.  One very promising potential extension, in fact, was to Tunica which, aside from the promise of casino-related traffic, had the room and the money to extend runways out past 10,000' and to appeal to Southwest as a potential hub for operation.  This was a natural additional service for 'casino trains' taking the same general route; for a number of years we supported a small bus/van service (the Bette Bus) that went between Memphis and a couple of other pickup points to the terminals at Little Rock airport (where fares were lower 'enough' for a variety of interesting reasons to support it).  

The problem when it came to actually setting up the airport line was the perception of elitism, that public funds shouldn't be used to help rich people fly.  So the 'natural' route, which largely went through blighted ex-industrial property or poorly-developed areas, was rejected and a solution more suitable to poor airport workers who didn't own cars was chosen instead.  This in turn involved some very expensive routing down high-volume streets with hard-to-construct and hard-to-access station locations, and in the end the alternative was for about a 40-minute ride, in vehicles with little luggage storage or handling facilitation, in very uncertain traffic condition, with a great many stops.  For over $4 billion total price.  Not counting actually going around to the actual airport arrival and departure terminals, either -- that was to be done with a transfer to shuttle vans.

There was little this accomplished that buses couldn't do far better, at least two orders of magnitude cheaper, and do nearly immediately if desired.  And there the matter sits, a decade later, and I suspect will sit for much longer.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, December 7, 2020 2:46 PM

1. Bradley is the 2nd busiest airport in New England,  with 3.7 million emplaned in 2019. (Logan #1)

2. Generalizing from one example is fraught with hazards.

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Posted by rdamon on Monday, December 7, 2020 2:50 PM

BDL is served by American, Delta, Frontier, Jet Blue, Southwest and United.

Prior to Covid they had a Aer Lingus non-stop to Dublin.

If you arrive late you will wait for a Uber to come from the city. 

I would say just as much if not more traffic than Providence.

A non multi-modal transit plan is doomed to fail.

 

 

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 7, 2020 3:07 PM

Now that you mention it, most of my knowledge of Bradley Field is more than 30 years old ... I shouldn't be surprised to find that things have changed! Dunce

With those numbers I'd think that a 'satellite' train approach, even if nothing more complicated than the NJT service we got set up for the Meadowlands, would be practical.  The question then is how you provide it in the half-hourly/hourly projection for 2030.  It might be interesting to see if something like a Stadler railcar set would provide adequate cross-platform service (along the lines of a glorified Princeton Dinky) vs. having some of the trains divert to the airport as an additional stop (which would involve some operating complications but not terribly severe ones).  The 'catch' is that trip times would increase out of proportion to 'other passenger' utility for the likely "branch" or "loop" operation out there.  Does anyone have the 24-hour schedule of gate arrivals/departures to see if certain 'dayparts' merit longer or quicker trains?

As at Stewart I still think multiple bus loops to one or more established stations would represent a better overall access solution to 'timely making flights' or train connections upon arrival than building a 'hard' rail link and operating it.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, December 7, 2020 3:36 PM

Stewart isn't even a regional hub with only 321,000 passengers, less than one tenth of Bradley, with large airports not far. 

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, December 7, 2020 4:00 PM

rdamon

BDL is served by American, Delta, Frontier, Jet Blue, Southwest and United.

Prior to Covid they had a Aer Lingus non-stop to Dublin.

If you arrive late you will wait for a Uber to come from the city. 

I would say just as much if not more traffic than Providence.

A non multi-modal transit plan is doomed to fail.

 

 

 

Northwest/Delta had a flight to Amsterdam for awhile, too.  Hartford is a big insurance headquarters market, so has a lot of traffic. It's much bigger than Stewart.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 7, 2020 4:25 PM

Backshop
It's much bigger than Stewart.

The whole point of Stewart as the 'fourth airport' lies well in the future, and in fact has if anything gone backward from what was being planned before the Tappan Zee was rebuilt.  What I understood was that it had the land and the expansion capability to become an airport on the operational scale of the three existing New York-area airports; up to the '90s I don't think Bradley enjoyed that, and may still not.

Naturally considerable enhancements to Stewart's connectivity would need to occur, not least of which is figuring out how to deal with the bottleneck posed by Moodna Viaduct.  The planning for a direct railroad link via the Tappan Zee was intimately involved with the long-range planning in this respect -- it does not really surprise me that the general-capacity promise of needed capex has not 'evolved' for Stewart as the insurance-driven (and expanding regional) market in the Hartford area has for Bradley.

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, December 7, 2020 7:32 PM

Overmod

 

 
Backshop
It's much bigger than Stewart.

 

The whole point of Stewart as the 'fourth airport' lies well in the future, and in fact has if anything gone backward from what was being planned before the Tappan Zee was rebuilt.  What I understood was that it had the land and the expansion capability to become an airport on the operational scale of the three existing New York-area airports; up to the '90s I don't think Bradley enjoyed that, and may still not.

 

Naturally considerable enhancements to Stewart's connectivity would need to occur, not least of which is figuring out how to deal with the bottleneck posed by Moodna Viaduct.  The planning for a direct railroad link via the Tappan Zee was intimately involved with the long-range planning in this respect -- it does not really surprise me that the general-capacity promise of needed capex has not 'evolved' for Stewart as the insurance-driven (and expanding regional) market in the Hartford area has for Bradley.

 

Two points--Stewart has 8% of the traffic of Bradley.  It won't be a major airport in our lifetimes, if ever.

Airport Rankings 2019 | Bureau of Transportation Statistics (bts.gov)

Hartford has nothing to do with the metro NYC airports.  It has its own catchment area.  You don't need to answer every thread posted, especially if it's not an area of your expertise.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 7, 2020 11:06 PM

Backshop
You don't need to answer every thread posted, especially if it's not an area of your expertise.

Yeah, you're right, particularly since this thread isn't actually about airport traffic at all.  So I'll stick to an area of actual expertise and give you the actual 2017 planning document with their alternatives.

(Note that all these involve the Windsor Locks station, which is only about 3 miles from Bradley.  The Suffield 'spur' (alternative 1) is the one of interest if using CTDOT-compliant equipment, but their numbers for DMUs running this are frankly terrifying, and of course any LRT is utterly incompatible to run anywhere over the Springfield Line.  Meanwhile the longstanding Hartford-regional interest in BRT is a firm alternative for this almost ridiculously short loop, and it would be interesting to see how far the Bradley Flyer has improved its daily numbers in the last 5 years.

Once you've read through it you'll understand why there won't be periodic 'report updates' on the rail alternatives beyond this although folks will keep talking in vague generalities about 'rail at some point'.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, December 8, 2020 8:16 PM

Backshop
Hartford has nothing to do with the metro NYC airports.  It has its own catchment area.

People I know who are fans of Southwest AL seem to prefer Hartford (over LaGuardia) for northern NY suburbs (inc. Fairfield).

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Posted by Backshop on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 6:09 AM

MidlandMike

 

 
Backshop
Hartford has nothing to do with the metro NYC airports.  It has its own catchment area.

 

People I know who are fans of Southwest AL seem to prefer Hartford (over LaGuardia) for northern NY suburbs (inc. Fairfield).

 

Southwest fans are just weird.Smile  My point was that the Hartford/Springfield area is big and prosperous enough to support their own decent size airport.  The European flights it supported pre-Covid were because of the local community.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 7:21 AM

Folks from New Haven often use Bradley.  Tweed does not serve nearly as well. 

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Posted by rdamon on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 9:07 AM
Southwest made a great market serving smaller cities. The cities welcomed them with open arms and the major carriers paid little attention.  Look at T.F. Green, Bradley, Islip and others.
 
Clark Howard told many people the benefits of driving from Atlanta, GA to Birmingham, AL to catch a flight on Southwest.
 
The ability to use rail to get to these airports would increase their use and potentially reduce the need for expansions at any of the ‘NFL’ airports.
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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 9:38 AM

rdamon
Clark Howard told many people the benefits of driving from Atlanta, GA to Birmingham, AL to catch a flight on Southwest.   The ability to use rail to get to these airports would increase their use and potentially reduce the need for expansions at any of the ‘NFL’ airports.

I know I'd use it.

We had a regular shuttle-bus service from Memphis to the airport at Little Rock, which featured lower rates not just on budget carriers but more 'major' ones, too.

Likewise we had the promise of airport expansion at Tupelo (and Southwest expressed interest in gate slots there) which would likewise have represented a rail opportunity, albeit combined with 'casino' traffic.

These are anecdotal and not worth much in themselves -- but the Bette Bus usually ran full, and there was plenty of excitement here concerning the prospective long runways in Tunica.

This could be extended to other, perhaps smaller, regional airports, probably with some last-mile regional bus or 'paratransit' where there is inadequate volume to build out rail.

One of the interesting details of the original zunum prospectus was their choice of regional airports to serve -- this would be a guide for long-term transit planning for service involving the kind of small aircraft I was proposing as feeders to HSR.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 10:31 AM

There is a consideration that is being lost in the sauce in some of the recent discussion.  If we accept that Bradley has a 'natural service area' of the extent implied, we also note that all the 'rail' transit traffic that serves it has to be funnelled, in some way, to Windsor Locks from all directions and all origins or destinations.  That has serious implications for prospective electrification of the Springfield Line (which was an original point of this post) but the feeders from disparate areas to service on the Springfield Line itself, or to Windsor Locks itself, haven't been described or discussed.

 

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Posted by Gramp on Thursday, December 10, 2020 9:39 AM

My recollection of that region is that it is "thickly settled".  Not very conducive to mass transit and very slow going even though the distances aren't great. 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, December 12, 2020 4:37 AM

I'll address airports.  MEM had several good runways however around Christmas it can become very hectic due to FED EX running extra flights during the daytime.  And you aint seen nothing until you fly there during the night time rush.  

Bradley subject to weather  . the east - West runway has high landing miniums and a high mountain to the west.  the NE - /SW runway much better until the snow and ice gets on runways causing gate hold to airport and delayed departures when E - W runway cannot be used.  Do not know if postal sorting facility on east side of airport is still there but air cargo often delayed from there due to late night weather.

Westchester airport just one E-W runway.  Landing lengths reduced last time there due to hill to south too close to runway.  Hill was supposed to be removed but several million cubic yards to  be moved.

New Haven Tweed ?  Last time ther too short N -_S runway for regular jets.  However that could have changed.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, May 1, 2021 1:33 AM

An indication from the Amtrak annual report of possible electrification.  This is from page 38. 

"All-Electric NEC — Transition all regularly-scheduled intercity and commuter passenger rail service on the NEC main line to electric or other technologically advanced propulsion equipment by the start of FY 2030, with reasonable exceptions. Develop plans, including timelines and funding requirements, to achieve “carbon-free” operations within Amtrak’s NEC territory (making it the first carbonless intercity corridor in the U.S. operated by any mode of transportation) and across the whole of Amtrak’s network."

Here is a link to the whole report-------

Amtrak General and Legislative Annual Report & FY2022 Grant Request

I find that the paragraph can be considered several ways. 

1.  All regularly scheduled LD statement------------

a.  A LD train on the NEC that is not electric would be the Lake Shore Limited NYP to Albany ?

b.  The Pennsylvanian from PHL to Harrisburg is another as it usually is a P-42.  What do you do have an elctric pull it in front of a P-42 ?

2.  Does the paragraph mean Electrification of New Haven -  Springfield line ?

3.  MBTA possible using electrification of the Providence / Green airport line ?

4.  SLE already planned for EMUs.

5.  NJ Transit on way witth dual mode locos.

6.  SEPTA does not seem to have enough electric equipment yet ?

7.  MARC would be required to operate all Penn line trains with HHPs  That seems very difficult ?

8.  On some Amtrak sites the WASH - Richmond route is considered an extension of the NEC. Could Amtrak even be thinking of electrification of  the tracks of that route the state of Va now owns ?   Find that highly unlikely   But ?????????

Other technologically advanced equipment is really unknown.

   

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, May 1, 2021 7:36 AM

Electricity along the NEC is not totally carbon free.  Yes, coal is on the way out, however Natural Gas is still a carbon based fuel.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, May 1, 2021 8:37 AM

blue streak 1
"All-Electric NEC — Transition all-scheduled intercity and commuter passenger rail service on the NEC main line to electric or other technologically advanced propulsion equipment by the start of FY 2030, with reasonable exceptions. Develop plans, including timelines and funding requirements, to achieve “carbon-free” operations within Amtrak’s NEC territory (making it the first carbonless intercity corridor in the U.S. operated by any mode of transportation) and across the whole of Amtrak’s network."

I find that the paragraph can be considered several ways.

I think the principal effect is political, and "as usual" with Amtrak there is probably much in the fine print that makes it more rhetoric than substantial carbon reduction.

Certainly the corridor will be far from 'carbonless' except in the trivial sense of little actual atmospheric carbon emission at the trains.  Of course to much of the 'intended demographic', who are firm believers in electricity fairies, this in itself is meaningful for "addressing climate change" as it would be for "reducing regional pollution".  It takes a little understanding to recognize the difference.

a.  A LD train on the NEC that is not electric would be the Lake Shore Limited NYP to Albany?

The actual time this train spends on the NEC is trivial, a few hundred yards from the platforms in Penn Station to the access to the Empire Corridor.  Technically much of the service here is with dual-mode (DC third rail and diesel) so electric in the tiny part necessary to satisfy a Time-Life sweepstakes-style legal department...

b.  The Pennsylvanian from PHL to Harrisburg is another as it usually is a P-42.  What do you do have an elctric pull it in front of a P-42?

Again, only incidentally (from just outside 30th St. to North Philadelphia) does this involve the "Northeast Corridor" -- the ex-PRR toward Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Chicago is not part of it.  Theoretically this is only 'access' to a service; the same could be said of Atlantic City trains run through over Delair.  

2.  Does the paragraph mean Electrification of New Haven -  Springfield line?

Again, only incidentally on the NEC at the New Haven end... if at all, after the rebuilding.  While I support electrification on the line in principle, it would be secondary to the goal in the paragraph as stated.  Electrification over the B&A to Boston facilitated by an electrified Springfield line is a pipe dream in the near future, even as a distant approximation to a 'second spine' for the north end of the NEC.

3.  MBTA possible using electrification of the Providence/Green airport line?

Again, what is MBTA service off the Corridor supposed to have to do with Amtrak trains?  Likewise...

5.  NJ Transit on way with dual-mode locos.

By definition anything Midtown Direct has to be 'electric' either in the North River Tunnels or prospectively in Gateway, so the issue for any diesel NJT train east of Allied or Lautenberg or whatever it is called now, on the actual NEC, is pretty obvious.  Again, do you count the few hundred feet that the diesel trains use to get up the ramps and to the Allied Junction platforms to be "Amtrak operation" over the Northeast Corridor?  I would not.

6.  SEPTA does not seem to have enough electric equipment yet ?

7.  MARC would be required to operate all Penn line trains with HHPs  That seems very difficult ?

8.  On some Amtrak sites the WASH-Richmond route is considered an extension of the NEC.

Provide links to these sites.  It would be highly interesting to see what their responses to this provision will be.

Could Amtrak even be thinking of electrification of  the tracks of that route the state of Va now owns?

It's only money.  Does the Richmond traffic currently justify the investment? I doubt it.  But this is politically driven, and any technological improvements for "national priorities" would logically require full "national" subsidy if I were a Virginia legislator...

Other technologically advanced equipment is really unknown.

It occurs to me that one of the RPS battery-hybrid "add-in modules" for commuter train service could easily start and operate any of the above trains for the short nominal distances involved -- or be reasonably promoted as being "capable" of doing so and hence as actually regularly doing so, a lie widespread in the plug-in-hybrid automobile world.  Since there are so many prospective advantages for incorporating hybrid capability into diesel commuter operations,  this might be a lovely opportunity to leverage their acquisition and testing on trains that technically 'use the Northeast Corridor' in any part... Big Smile

   

 

 

[/quote]

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Posted by LANDON ROWELL on Saturday, May 1, 2021 10:29 AM

I would like to see some sort of transfer service from Windsor Locks to Bradely, even if it is just a shuttle bus that operates until after the last train has arrived. If I arrive in Winsdor in the evening, the local car rental facility is closed. Bradley has lot of car rentals available late into the night, if not all night.

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Posted by Gramp on Monday, May 3, 2021 6:30 AM

In his State of the Union address, Biden said US produces 15% of the world's carbon emissions, that even if the US did it perfectly, the reduction by the US wouldn't matter. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, May 3, 2021 10:11 AM

Gramp
In his State of the Union address, Biden said US produces 15% of the world's carbon emissions, that even if the US did it perfectly, the reduction by the US wouldn't matter. 

Everything MATTERS - the longest journey begins with the first step and doesn't end until you 'get there'.  Just because you can't see the end point from the start line is no reason not to undertake the journey.

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Posted by JPS1 on Monday, May 3, 2021 10:19 AM

Gramp
 In his State of the Union address, Biden said US produces 15% of the world's carbon emissions, that even if the US did it perfectly, the reduction by the US wouldn't matter. 

It appears that Biden was drawing on EPA data for 2014, which is the latest world-wide data available.  As one might imagine, gathering this information is a large and timely undertaking. 
 
According to the data, the U.S. was responsible for 15 percent of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and some industrial processes.  China topped the list at 30 percent, followed by the U.S. at 15 percent, European Union – 28 at 9 percent, and India at 7 percent.  All the other countries contributed approximately 39 percent. 
 
The U.S. has approximately 4.2 percent of the world’s population compared to 18.1 percent for China.  The U.S. emits an average of approximately 15.4 tons of co2 per person compared to an average of approximately 7.5 tons per person for China.   Reducing our footprint per person would make a difference.
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Posted by Erik_Mag on Monday, May 3, 2021 11:33 AM

The 2014 data does not reflect the replacement of coal fired power plants with natural gas fired power plants that have taken place since then along with a minor reduction in CO2 production due to the increase of wind and solar generated electricity. Also note that cement production is a significant source of CO2.

For trips over 200 miles, i.e. where 200+ MPH speeds have a benefit, I would think electric airliners would be more energy efficient than very high speed rail as the air drag at 25,000' at a given speed is a bit more than a third (1/e) of the drag at sea level.

The real joker in the deck with respect to electrification is where to get a source of dependable electric power.

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