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A monster is born in high speed rail.

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A monster is born in high speed rail.
Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, August 11, 2023 4:00 PM

Nooooo, noooooo, noooooo.    Let it die please!!!!Angry

https://www.ktre.com/2023/08/09/texas-central-amtrak-seek-partnership-high-speed-rail-project-stakeholders-react/?emci=095aff22-6d38-ee11-a3f1-00224832eb73&emdi=b00c9a1a-8838-ee11-a3f1-00224832eb73&ceid=2199905

This will be a bigger financial disaster than the California project.   The Texas Central team is incompetent and has proven it over and over again.    Adding Amtrak to the mix guarantees a bigger fiasco.

They should sell the rights to Brightline, in my view and abandon the Japanese high speed train as a bad idea.

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, August 11, 2023 8:41 PM

CMStPnP
They should sell the rights to Brightline, in my view and abandon the Japanese high speed train as a bad idea.

Yeah, if you want to build an actual high speed train, why would you want the Japanese involved.  

 Bring in Brightline with their 110 mph diesels and pretend it's fast. 

 

  

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

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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, August 11, 2023 10:31 PM

zugmann
Yeah, if you want to build an actual high speed train, why would you want the Japanese involved.  

Japanese trainsets, Spanish management of operations and now Amtrak as a Business Partner.    What could go wrong there?    Oh forgot to say you have another local government agency planning the Fort Worth to Dallas leg, which it sounds like they want to use but not necessarily pay for.

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, August 13, 2023 11:10 AM

zugmann
Yeah, if you want to build an actual high speed train, why would you want the Japanese involved.

Pity the sarcasm is wasted on the naysaying crowd.
Bring in Brightline with their 110 mph diesels and pretend it's fast.
Brightline is PRIIA-compliant and hence its equipment is qualified to 125mph (which I believe they expect to reach regularly on the new Orlando line).  The difference between 100mph and 125mph is simply the use of two locomotives instead of one on the same consist.

It could be argued that 125mph peak with only the one stop near College Station is a good-enough start to operations on the higher-speed graded line.  The PRIIA equipment would also simplify the 'turn' if it has only station dwell in Dallas (something that has been mentioned as a problem for the new Amtrak service across from Meridian), and this might simplify the logistics involved with shuttling some of the trains through to Fort Worth.

To me there would be advantages in using more Avelia Liberty sets, similar or identical to those Amtrak bought for the NEC, to operate this service if it comes to be electrified.  It may be that Amtrak makes some of them available as they realize their speed capacity will likely never be used effectively on the NEC.  Pity there is no equivalent to Rep. Harley from the area who could arrange for a 220mph-capable version of Harley's Hornet!

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, August 13, 2023 8:37 PM

Overmod
Overmod wrote the following post 9 hours ago: zugmann Yeah, if you want to build an actual high speed train, why would you want the Japanese involved. Pity the sarcasm is wasted on the naysaying crowd. Bring in Brightline with their 110 mph diesels and pretend it's fast. Brightline is PRIIA-compliant and hence its equipment is qualified to 125mph (which I believe they expect to reach regularly on the new Orlando line).  The difference between 100mph and 125mph is simply the use of two locomotives instead of one on the same consist.

I thought the difference between 110 mph and above was that nose connected traction motors were only good to about 110 mph, and faster speeds would need shaft drive.

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Posted by PJS1 on Tuesday, August 15, 2023 9:21 PM
The greater need for better passenger rail service in Texas is along the I-35 corridor between DFW and San Antonio.  It is one of the most congested roadways in the United States. 
 
Improved passenger rail service along the I-35 corridor could serve Cleburne, Hillsboro, Waco, Temple, Round Rock, Austin, and San Marcos as well as the end points.  These communities are too close to make flying an attractive alternative to driving; they are just right for improved passenger rail service. 
 
The Texas Central proposal for a high-speed railway between Dallas and Houston is a bad idea.  The only intermediate community that it would serve is College Station. The estimated cost has ballooned to approximately $40 billion before any dirt has been turned.
 
The planned Texas Central route would gobble up acres of productive farm and ranch land.  The DFW to San Antonio corridor could use existing rights-of-way, which could be double tracked and upgraded for top speeds of 125 mph.  Think Brightline!  Upgrading existing rights-of-way probably would cost less than a high-speed line built from scratch.   
 
The original Texas Central plan failed because of the projected costs and unrealistic ridership estimates.  American taxpayers should not be stuck with the cost of reviving a bad idea.  Amtrak should partner with Brightline or a similar company and concentrate on bringing better passenger service to the I-35 corridor. 

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Posted by J. Bishop on Wednesday, August 16, 2023 11:31 PM

You cant' build a railroad through ranch/farm land?  Nonsense!

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, August 17, 2023 12:03 AM

J. Bishop
You cant' build a railroad through ranch/farm land?  Nonsense!

It wouldn't be a large issue if Texas Central was more accomodating vs telling people it has eminent domain so they can't do anything about it.   

The landowners have a legitimate complaint about Texas Central building a grade seperated and electrified right of way through their land.   So to break it down for you grade seperated means elevated or on an embankment which is impassible without a underpass or overpass.    Texas Central is resisting both.   So it is only giving compensation for the right of way itself while destroying the ability of the farm or ranch to be used via reasonable operational costs.    If it was your land you would scream too.    Because the route is planned to be nonstop the ranchers whose ranches are really being destroyed as a going concern see no real benefit to them of this mode of transportation they will be unable to use because the train will not stop anywhere near where they are living.

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Posted by mdw on Monday, September 18, 2023 6:51 PM

With all of the complaining by these landowners, I really need someone to explain how an 80+ft wide ROW will "destroy" someones probably huge ranch.  Farmers and ranchers seemed to have found ways to adapt when highways were built in the past

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, September 18, 2023 8:48 PM

mdw

With all of the complaining by these landowners, I really need someone to explain how an 80+ft wide ROW will "destroy" someones probably huge ranch.  Farmers and ranchers seemed to have found ways to adapt when highways were built in the past

 

It can certainly destroy parts of a farm/ranch.  Old roads were laid out on a grid that conformed to land boundaries.  Modern freeways also tend to severly affect adjacent farm/ranch land, especially if the ROW crosses at an angle.  Efficent till patterns are eliminated.  Access is limited between the two sides.  Center pivot spray irrigation systems are destroyed.  Farming/ranching is a shoestring operation, and small changes in operation difficulty can be the final straw.  Every year there are less farms.  And this is just what I have observed, and I am not a farmer.

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Posted by York1 on Monday, September 18, 2023 8:50 PM

mdw

With all of the complaining by these landowners, I really need someone to explain how an 80+ft wide ROW will "destroy" someones probably huge ranch.  Farmers and ranchers seemed to have found ways to adapt when highways were built in the past

 

 

The plans call for the tracks to be much more difficult to cross than a highway.

If the farm has this track go through it, it is virtually impossible for the farmer to reach some of his land without going miles to reach some kind of crossing.  Because of the elevation of the tracks, these crossings would have to be expensive overpasses or underpasses, with the railroad not contributing anything to building those structures.

The resistance to this railroad is not due to some farmers or ranchers who are anti-trains.

As has been stated, the group planning this railroad tried using a sledgehammer approach, and then the group is amazed that landowners are upset.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, September 18, 2023 10:15 PM

The days of 100 acre family farms are long gone. Corporate farms are often over 10,000 acres.  They can afford an underpass as they are maybe getting aid from the USDA.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, September 18, 2023 10:24 PM

charlie hebdo
The days of 100 acre family farms are long gone. Corporate farms are often over 10,000 acres.  They can afford an underpass as they are maybe getting aid from the USDA.

Even Family Farms are nowhere near 100 acres.  I follow two families on their YouTube channels - one has 2800 acres and the other 10K acres.  Farmed by the families with supplemental labor as necessary - and a lot of high efficiency high tech machienry.

In my local area, today I observed that the nearest corn field has been harvested.  Other fields of corn and soybeans still await harvesting.

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Posted by York1 on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 12:33 PM

charlie hebdo

The days of 100 acre family farms are long gone. Corporate farms are often over 10,000 acres.  They can afford an underpass as they are maybe getting aid from the USDA.

 

 

Corporate farms are not what it sounds like.  In this state, 99% of farms are corporate farms.  97% of those corporations are owned by a singe family.  They are family farms that are incorporated for tax, liability, and inheritance issues.  The entire stock of the farm is owned by the single family.

Farms are large.  Over the years, as one farmer dies or moves to town, a neighbor will buy or rent the farm.  By financial necessity, a farmer could not survive farming only 100 acres.  It's not unusual for a single farmer to farm over 2,000 acres.  One family in my area farms 15,000 acres.

These are not some big, nameless, evil corporations.

They could not afford to build an overpass or underpass without selling most of the land.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 3:54 PM

I don't know where you live, but in rural Illinois, a 10,000 acre farm is big business even owned by one very well-off family.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 4:44 PM

charlie hebdo
I don't know where you live, but in rural Illinois, a 10,000 acre farm is big business even owned by one very well-off family.

Father and two grown sons farming 10K acres in Montana

 

Farms - that making money - anywhere in the country are multi-million dollar undertakings once you add up everything required to do the job.  Tractor(s), plow(s), planter(s), weed sprayer(s), Seed, Combine/harvester(s), On Farm storage, truck(s) to move crop from field to storage/market, computers to keep track of the operation, computer applications to enhance the operation of all the tractor/implement packages.

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Posted by York1 on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 9:24 AM

Back to the point, the Texas railroad planners went about the situation without knowing the people.

These people are living and farming land that has been in their family and is their family's business for usually more than a hundred years.  For this railroad to come in and say they're putting in a track that will go through your land, we'll pay you for it but not pay for any crossings, and if you don't like it, we take your land legally, was completely the wrong way.

If the company had planned better, proposed routes that better avoided conflicts, and stopped talking about eminent domain, they may have had better success.

York1 John       

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 12:58 PM

York1
Back to the point, the Texas railroad planners went about the situation without knowing the people.

These people are living and farming land that has been in their family and is their family's business for usually more than a hundred years.  For this railroad to come in and say they're putting in a track that will go through your land, we'll pay you for it but not pay for any crossings, and if you don't like it, we take your land legally, was completely the wrong way.

If the company had planned better, proposed routes that better avoided conflicts, and stopped talking about eminent domain, they may have had better success.

What is the tag line from the old Purolater oil filter commercials

"You can pay me now, or you can pay me later!"

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, September 21, 2023 1:07 AM

York1

Back to the point, the Texas railroad planners went about the situation without knowing the people.

These people are living and farming land that has been in their family and is their family's business for usually more than a hundred years.  For this railroad to come in and say they're putting in a track that will go through your land, we'll pay you for it but not pay for any crossings, and if you don't like it, we take your land legally, was completely the wrong way.

If the company had planned better, proposed routes that better avoided conflicts, and stopped talking about eminent domain, they may have had better success.

 
Totally agree.   They wrote the book on horrible community relations and horrible PR.    What other company does anyone know of where the entire Executive team bails all in a short period of time and whomever is left doesn't answer the phone or respond to the press.    Never seen that before anytime in my past.
 
Then the whole Amtrak announcement of late, whomever at Texas Central that responded to it..........crummy job with not much meat to it.
 
The whole concept of a Japanese train that apparently the Japanese do not want to take any risks as the primary lead finance.........then lets hire the Spanish to operate it.   No real up front definition of how Amtrak will contribute to the project as far as funds, etc.    It just looks like a fiasco, looking for a future date to happen.
 
I guess it could be a little worse, they could have picked the Talgo.
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Posted by Gramp on Thursday, September 21, 2023 10:18 AM

Have to hope Brightline can prosper and grow. Looks to me that much of the taxpayer largesse available will be eaten up by research consultants. 

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Posted by D.Carleton on Thursday, September 21, 2023 4:21 PM

Many moons ago at a conference in Dallas I stuck my foot in it, believe it or not, when a Texas transportation official asked how to go about establishing a pax train service between Dallas and Houston. I pointed to a rail vehicle vendor who was there and told the politico, "You buy trainsets from him, make a deal with the railroads that own the track to eek out as much speed as possible and grow your passenger base. When you reach a critical mass to build real high-speed then you have the justification to build it." He looked at me incredulously saying the investment in the first generation of equipment and track would be wasted. I attempted to explain that by the time you reached the point building true high-speed the original equipment would be due for replacement anyway. Politicos cannot see past one or two election cycles. And Americans want the reward of HSR without fixing the conventional stuff first. So, deja vu all over again.

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Posted by J. Bishop on Friday, September 22, 2023 11:47 AM

I doubt the market for a highspeed service (186-220 mph) can be judged by the market for conventional service (79-100 mph).  Madrid to Barcelona is: "non-stop trains covering the 621 km (386 mi) between the two cities in just 2 hours 30 minutes, and those calling at all stations in 3 hours 10 minutes." (From Wikipenia.)   Those work out average speeds of 154 and 121 mph, respectively.  A fast conventional train would take say 5 1/2 to 7 hours to make that trip nonstop.   Most people drive. I think a lot more would choose a train to make the trip in just 2 1/2 hours, than if the train takes about the same time as the drive.  

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Posted by J. Bishop on Saturday, September 23, 2023 1:06 PM

There is a need for high speed rail planners to figure out how to best deal with the PR problem. But it remains true that you cannot build a high speed, grade-separated rail line without going through farmland. You have to be able to do it.  But same is true for building an interstate freeway. And that does happen.

Good PR, good-faith dealing with farmers and other landowners is surely the right way to do it. And reasonable accomodations should be made.  But in the end, the railroad has to be able to take the land in order to build the railroad. And you have to factor in that farmers tend to be conservative, and the conservative political position is pro-highway and anti-passenger rail. Plus, no farmer wants a railroad to cut through his land.

But nobody wants to lose their home to a highway project either -- the house their family has had for generations and they grew up in. Emotionally, the impact of that loss on the family may be much greater than a railroad going through a gigantic farm (which is, after all, just a business loss). But people lose their homes that way every day. Entire neighborhoods are wiped out to build freeways, or even to widen roads. But politically-powerless neighborhoods do not have the resources to raise a fuss, unlike a corporate thousands-of-acres sophisticated farming business.

Again, the same problem has not stopped highway projects. Think of the 5 interstate built right down the middle of the San Joquine Valley in California,  cutting through every farm that was in the way. But the farmers somehow survived.  (How do highway projects accomadate farmers? Or do they?)

 I do not think it is reasonable to say you can't build a railroad if it will go through farmland.  But, again, to the extent that the farmers' interests can be accomodated by reasonable measures, that should be done. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, September 23, 2023 1:33 PM

Those acquiring land for highway or rail view the land as a single item purchasable product.  Pay one time and done.

Farmers view land as a sustainable element of industrial production, that given their sweat equity will provide them sustaining income, year after year after year.

The parties talk past each other as neither can understand the others point of view.

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Posted by D.Carleton on Sunday, September 24, 2023 3:29 PM

J. Bishop

I doubt the market for a highspeed service (186-220 mph) can be judged by the market for conventional service (79-100 mph).  Madrid to Barcelona is: "non-stop trains covering the 621 km (386 mi) between the two cities in just 2 hours 30 minutes, and those calling at all stations in 3 hours 10 minutes." (From Wikipenia.)   Those work out average speeds of 154 and 121 mph, respectively.  A fast conventional train would take say 5 1/2 to 7 hours to make that trip nonstop.   Most people drive. I think a lot more would choose a train to make the trip in just 2 1/2 hours, than if the train takes about the same time as the drive.  

Frankly, neither market exists in the US. What little conventional service exists is too infrequent to be noticed by the masses and true high-speed is nonexistent. Hence, we take notice of the strategy of Brightline: start off with a glorified commuter train in South Florida with full knowledge that you'll be running empty trains as the masses acclimate to the idea of an alternative to the status quo. Meanwhile you're building your expansion into Central Florida. Now that it's running look for the majority of passengers to be from SoFlo making the trip. Over time the Central Florida crowd will acclimate to the idea. Even without the Covid shutdown the process will take a decade. This is how one creates a passenger service in the modern age.

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, September 25, 2023 8:49 AM

For those comparing trains with highways---the majority of the population sees a need for highways, since they use them every day.  They view railroads as being used for freight or for passengers just passing through with no local benefit. Does a farmer in the Central Valley really care that the rail line makes it easier for someone from LA to go to Vegas to waste money?

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, September 25, 2023 12:58 PM

Backshop
Does a farmer in the Central Valley really care that the rail line makes it easier for someone from LA to go to Vegas to waste money?

Oh boy.   I think if I were a Farmer I might just be interested in attending the "Holy Cow" show going on now in Las Vegas.    Possibly future conventions dealing with farm equipment, seeds or financing........maybe insurance.

They might consider the train to visit relatives or have relatives use it to visit them as has been going on for over a Century.   BTW, riding LD Amtrak I have come into contact with Farmers.

Last a definitive majority of the population wants to see expanded rail passenger service and more investments made in rail passenger service (you can Google). 

 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, September 25, 2023 1:03 PM

D.Carleton
Meanwhile you're building your expansion into Central Florida. Now that it's running look for the majority of passengers to be from SoFlo making the trip.

A chunk of South Florida property owners are actually from overseas now.   Not sure on the full percentage but they fly in for the winter and other breaks during the year.    I think you might want to gander over and look at what the percentage of foriegn ownership of residential property is in Florida.    You might be surprised.   When my Parents lived in Naples their next door neighbor lived in the UK.   I would guess some of the Europeans and folks from other countries use rail passenger service in their home country and kind of want to see it here as well.   Just a hunch I have.

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, September 25, 2023 4:28 PM

CMStPnP

Nooooo, noooooo, noooooo.    Let it die please!!!!Angry

https://www.ktre.com/2023/08/09/texas-central-amtrak-seek-partnership-high-speed-rail-project-stakeholders-react/?emci=095aff22-6d38-ee11-a3f1-00224832eb73&emdi=b00c9a1a-8838-ee11-a3f1-00224832eb73&ceid=2199905

This will be a bigger financial disaster than the California project.   The Texas Central team is incompetent and has proven it over and over again.    Adding Amtrak to the mix guarantees a bigger fiasco.

They should sell the rights to Brightline, in my view and abandon the Japanese high speed train as a bad idea.

 

Brightline pays for the capital cost with RE development. How would this work in Texas?

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, September 25, 2023 4:32 PM

CMStPnP

Nooooo, noooooo, noooooo.    Let it die please!!!!Angry

https://www.ktre.com/2023/08/09/texas-central-amtrak-seek-partnership-high-speed-rail-project-stakeholders-react/?emci=095aff22-6d38-ee11-a3f1-00224832eb73&emdi=b00c9a1a-8838-ee11-a3f1-00224832eb73&ceid=2199905

This will be a bigger financial disaster than the California project.   The Texas Central team is incompetent and has proven it over and over again.    Adding Amtrak to the mix guarantees a bigger fiasco.

They should sell the rights to Brightline, in my view and abandon the Japanese high speed train as a bad idea.

 

Amtrak gets you capital.  No capital.  No build.  

Brightline in FL cost $4B to build.  GROSS revenue a year is likely to be $70x250x30x365x0.50=$100M.  At 50% OR, that's 50M/yr.  

80 year simple payback.

Farebox ain't the secret sauce.

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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