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metsfan

President Obama puts high-speed trains on fast track

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President Obama launched Thursday an aggressive new effort to build high-speed rail lines nationwide, reducing travel times and advancing mobility for travelers increasingly frustrated with choked highways and congested airports.

 

"Building a new system of high-speed rail in America will be faster, cheaper and easier than building more freeways or adding to an already over-burdened aviation system, and everybody stands to benefit," Obama said before departing for his first trip to Mexico.

 

The plan identifies 10 areas around the country primed for high-speed rail, including the "Empire corridor" of New York City, Albany and Buffalo. But the administration has not made any decision about where to funnel funds, Obama insisted.

 

"Any region can step up, present a plan and be considered," he said.

While plans to improve the nation's rail system have long been discussed in Washington, the President and Vice President Biden, whom Obama called "America's No. 1 rail fan," vowed progress would finally come.

 

"This is not some fanciful pie-in-the-sky vision of the future," Obama said. "It is happening right now. It's been happening for decades. The problem is, it's been happening elsewhere, not here."

 

Obama said countries in Europe and Asia -- specifically France, Spain, China and Japan -- have far outpaced America when it comes to transforming their nations' rail lines to meet the demands of the 21st Century.

 

"There's no reason why we can't do this -- this is America," Obama said. "There's no reason why the future of travel should lie somewhere else, beyond our borders."

 

The president unveiled yesterday a strategic plan outlining his vision for high speed rail in America.

The plan identifies $8 billion provided in the recently approved stimulus package and $1 billion a year for five years requested in the federal budget as a down payment to jump-start the nation's high-speed rail lines.

By late summer, the administration expects to begin awarding the first round of grants.

 

The plan identifies two types of projects for funding. One would create new corridors for high-speed rail, and the other would make train service along existing rail lines incrementally faster.

 

Obama insisted the "money will be distributed based on merit -- not on politics, not as favors, not for any other consideration; purely on merit."

The U.S. Federal Railroad Administration says the term high-speed rail applies to trains traveling more than 90 mph. The European Union standard is above 125 mph.

 

In Japan, which launched high-speed rail in the 1960s, trains zoom through the country at an average of about 180 mph.

Biden, a daily rail commuter for more than 35 years, lauded the plan.

"Everyone knows railways are the best way to connect communities to each other," he said.

 

BY Michael Saul

DAILY NEWS POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT

April 16th 2009

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Railroad work is what is known as a "genesis" industry. If you build a road, you need steel rails, ties, wire, glass, sheet metal, concrete, wood, electrical equipment.... The rolling stock is another whole set of industries which all mean tens of thousands of jobs. Then, you need people to run the trains, repair them, the ROW, to monitor the movements. The railroads at one time employed 60% of every person in the world though this mechanism of interconnectivity. Don't even get me started on diesel and coal and the numbers they involve.

 

This is SMART.

 

- A

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Hmm, looks like Acela has some competition! :eek:

 

Not really. Those run on different lines.

 

- A

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I'm still on the fence with this. I think it would honestly be smarter to upgrade existing corridors or make new corridors operating at a 110mph, then work it up from there. Investing in a straight HSR right of way while looking good might not have the ridership expected. Lets take it one step at a time.

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I'm still on the fence with this. I think it would honestly be smarter to upgrade existing corridors or make new corridors operating at a 110mph, then work it up from there. Investing in a straight HSR right of way while looking good might not have the ridership expected. Lets take it one step at a time.

 

I watched the video, and Obama said that in addition to new corridors, they will invest in making existing corridors capable of higher speeds

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Hmm, looks like Acela has some competition! :eek:

Why would Acela, or more properly to say Amtrak, have competition?

 

Amtrak is the nation's national rail system. More than likely, Amtrak will be the operator of the HSR lines.

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Why would Acela, or more properly to say Amtrak, have competition?

 

Amtrak is the nation's national rail system. More than likely, Amtrak will be the operator of the HSR lines.

 

Amtrak has the know-how & experience and even the state funded stuff is still operated by amtrak, such as cascades & surfliner etc.

 

- A

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Cool and rail travel is so muchbetter since I won't have to smell airplane food when going to California, ;)!

I'm sorry but, I don't think a transcontinental high speed line would work that well. I would prefer a plane trip. The price of that line would probably be around the same price or more as a plane ticket, and I believe it won't be faster than any jet flight.

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I'm sorry but, I don't think a transcontinental high speed line would work that well. I would prefer a plane trip. The price of that line would probably be around the same price or more as a plane ticket, and I believe it won't be faster than any jet flight.

 

I would take a 150 mph train to CA anyday vs airplane! Yes, it would take a while but no waiting, just good people, good scenery, and smooth ride! ;)

 

- A

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I would take a 150 mph train to CA anyday vs airplane! Yes, it would take a while but no waiting, just good people, good scenery, and smooth ride! ;)

 

- A

If I'm not rushing, sure!

150 mph is a bit too low, we could go up to 200 if there are straight tracks and level ground!

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If I'm not rushing, sure!

150 mph is a bit too low, we could go up to 200 if there are straight tracks and level ground!

 

We could do 300 if we had the investment. Take 10 hours.

 

- A

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We could do 300 if we had the investment. Take 10 hours.

 

- A

Much faster if we have maglev technology running. Expensive though. But the journey time would be cut to around 6-7 hours.

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How and why won't a Trans-Continental high-speed train work in the USA? If it is, then the USA infra-structure is already getting a F-Grade!

 

No, as much as it may sound possible, it can never be cost efficient. Who will ride it? Do you think businessmen would ride a high speed train from Penn Station into Oakland for 12 hours or more when they have to rush? I guess not. It's all about being practical. And that line will be just as costly or maybe even more pricier than a plane ticket.

A transcontinental high speed line is not practical in any measure, it is for the folks who find it as leisure. And companies can't really profit from that.

 

The reason why Europe could be better off with HSR is because of the very short distances people have to travel. Europeans are railbound since the 19th Century, due to a comprehensive railway network. Look at the size of most European countries, they are the size of American states. A national railway system would connect all major towns. While there are domestic flights and intra-Europe flights, it is more cost efficient for the Europeans to ride the rails than to take a plane. Plus the Europeans get big bonuses from the railway companies, there are even travel passes encouraging travellers to ride through several countries at once. A trip from London to Paris and a trip from Paris to Marseilles is no way compared to a line from Detroit, Michigan to Houston, Texas. The cities in America and Mainland China are much more spread out than in Europe. The distances are much more spaced out than in Europe. That's why HSR would work better in Europe than in the United States.

 

Take a look at Japan with its JR system. The reason why many people travel by rail is due to the extremely comprehensive and convenient rail system there. The Shinkansen is profitable there because it's fast and people enjoy the speed. But what makes it profitable? Look at the distance. From Sapporo to Fukuoka is nowhere compared to Seattle and San Diego. It's relatively a short distance. It can compete with the local airline industry.

 

I mean, really, HSR is still bound to a specific region. In America, I don't expect ridiculously long routes. I'm not saying that it will never work in America, but the rail company (Amtrak) needs to find competitive and profitable markets. Now say, a line from Toronto, ON to New York City will really help. It could transport tourists in both directions for most of the time. It also helps in improving tourism in both cities, as both cities rely on tourism for its GDP. The distance is fair and it might work out well. A line from San Diego to San Francisco via Los Angeles would also help. The distance is again fair and many flights and coaches ply the route every day. Large states like Texas, New York and California should have intrastate high speed service offered.

 

High speed rail should be offered for a distance that will be profitable. Extremely long distances will not be profitable as passengers will refuse to ride a long ride to get to a certain destination. The real point for transportation is to bring people from A to B in the shortest time possible with the lowest cost possible, transportation is not leisure, there are people who find it that way, but it is not built for that purpose. As a result, there is no socio-economic incentive to construct a high speed rail line that links from coast to coast.

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I disagree. At airports its security and lines and ugh. On a train, they can't lose your luggage unless they toss it off the train. Way less waiting, the ability to operate in poor weather, even if the power goes out, you can still bring in diesels to move people. In an emergency they put people on trains for a reason, they are safe protected and if an issue comes up all you have to do is slow to a stop vs land.

 

If you can leave your car at home thats even more freedom. Plus, people with really urgent needs can fly their own plane.

 

AGV technology could be implemented and make jobs for people right here, along the corridors and elsewhere. If we don't do this, stuff doesn't look good for this country.

 

- A

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I disagree. At airports its security and lines and ugh. On a train, they can't lose your luggage unless they toss it off the train. Way less waiting, the ability to operate in poor weather, even if the power goes out, you can still bring in diesels to move people. In an emergency they put people on trains for a reason, they are safe protected and if an issue comes up all you have to do is slow to a stop vs land.

 

If you can leave your car at home thats even more freedom. Plus, people with really urgent needs can fly their own plane.

 

AGV technology could be implemented and make jobs for people right here, along the corridors and elsewhere. If we don't do this, stuff doesn't look good for this country.

 

- A

It's also about cost effectiveness. Do you thinking a line from SF to New York would really work out?

Talk about the time necessary for construction. It won't take a year, or two. Not even five. Ten? Not even. It requires a lot of engineering. Remember, Rome was not built in a night.

 

HSR only works for smaller lines. Say from New York to Chicago. It is cost effective if it could compete well in a market with growing demand. While demand for transcontinental travel has increased for the past few decades, a SF-NY HSR line will never work out well. There's a lot to go through.

 

You think people could afford their plane? Bill Gates can. But is every American here a Bill Gates or a Donald Trump? No. Even with the airport hassles and the security needed, it would be cheaper to fly to San Francisco than to ride HSR there.

 

We should not invest into this kind of infrastructure, there are other places in the nation that need rail or road links. There are other places where HSR will be more profitable. A transcontinental HSR will not work out.

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It's also about cost effectiveness. Do you thinking a line from SF to New York would really work out?

Talk about the time necessary for construction. It won't take a year, or two. Not even five. Ten? Not even. It requires a lot of engineering. Remember, Rome was not built in a night.

 

HSR only works for smaller lines. Say from New York to Chicago. It is cost effective if it could compete well in a market with growing demand. While demand for transcontinental travel has increased for the past few decades, a SF-NY HSR line will never work out well. There's a lot to go through.

 

You think people could afford their plane? Bill Gates can. But is every American here a Bill Gates or a Donald Trump? No. Even with the airport hassles and the security needed, it would be cheaper to fly to San Francisco than to ride HSR there.

 

We should not invest into this kind of infrastructure, there are other places in the nation that need rail or road links. There are other places where HSR will be more profitable. A transcontinental HSR will not work out.

 

Go back 100 years. Train is how you went out west then. Over the years you had the Great Northern railroad, the Milwaukee Road, Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, Illinois central tied several of these roads together from its main line from chicago to new orleans. It should be that way again, and the key to that is the AGV technology. I was reading something about double rail technology, where instead of 2 wheels on 2 rails, you have it set up sort of like a semi trailer or bus where you have 4 wheels on the axle, and each wheel rides its own rail, this would massively increase stability, acceleration and braking capability.

 

If you had double rail and AGV technology and dedicated ROW you could do it. Profitability will only come when the offerings are on par with what can be done. Currently i see the acela lumbering along when it could be doing 180.

 

- A

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i personally love the idea, there was a time when the most travel in our country was by rail, even the ball players traveled to play their road games by train in the old days, but service in recent decades declined. i tell u what i see Acelas which are the only american bullet trains on the Northeast Corridor on NJ transit every day and theyre quite impressive as i get to see them gliding past my home station of Rahway at like 90 MPH effortlessly. Id so love the idea of traveling to the west coast on a train doing like a buck-25 and im in my sleeper or a lounge cafe car or something.

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Go back 100 years. Train is how you went out west then. Over the years you had the Great Northern railroad, the Milwaukee Road, Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, Illinois central tied several of these roads together from its main line from chicago to new orleans. It should be that way again, and the key to that is the AGV technology. I was reading something about double rail technology, where instead of 2 wheels on 2 rails, you have it set up sort of like a semi trailer or bus where you have 4 wheels on the axle, and each wheel rides its own rail, this would massively increase stability, acceleration and braking capability.

 

If you had double rail and AGV technology and dedicated ROW you could do it. Profitability will only come when the offerings are on par with what can be done. Currently i see the acela lumbering along when it could be doing 180.

 

- A

Back in the day (the early 20th Century), train was the only viable option for domestic long distance travel as commercial flights were not that popular then. The 20th Century the highway system was inferior compared to today. Transcontinental travel depended on railways then, but not now.

 

Why did suddenly we decided to switch to road and air? During the mid-20th Century, the car became popular and transportation via car was more flexible. Commercial flights became popular because of a journey that provided a rather "inexpensive" fast journey. Railways could not compete. They need fixed infrastructure and were inflexible. They could not get to certain destinations fast, like airplanes.

 

High speed rail will work where it is viable. Even though I personally love railway expansion, I highly disapprove of a transcontinental high speed railway line. AGV trains operate at 220 mph currently. Even if time progresses, they will not operate at 300-400 miles per hour. A journey of a thousand something miles will take 8-9 hours. Why would somebody bother doing that? They could just board a plane, that could take them to their destinations in about 3 hours. ROWs would require a lot of planning and building. In those thousand miles, there are different kinds of terrain that can prove challenging to railway construction. Through large cities, tunnels may have to be constructed. Through rivers, new bridges would have to be built. Through the mountain ranges, tunnels would have been mined. The cost is just too much. And are you going to cross the San Francisco Bay? Are you going to put a tunnel, or build another bridge? Or enter the city from San Jose? There are many things to consider while building a transcontinental high speed railway. Will the operating cost be high as well? How about the maintenance of thousands of miles of track? Who is going to pay? How much will the fares be? Is there guarantee that it would be profitable?

 

Construction of such a line would take many years. During that time, it would be much more efficient to procure for better planes. High speed rail is only suitable for shorter distances. Where the corridors are in high demand. Where there is an open market, and that the service will be competent with the air industry. Shorter high speed lines are much more practical. They connect the distances where planes would not be needed, or would be impractical. They connect the distances where they could compete with the bus industry. Look at Europe and Japan. The reason why they have high speed rail is because the distances between the routes relatively short. They could compete with the bus industry no matter what. People respect that. However, think about a high speed rail line in Mainland China connecting Shanghai with Tibet or a line from Moscow to Siberia. Will these reach fruition? Look at our situation, people are fine with airlines connecting San Diego with Florida, Los Angeles with Atlanta, SFO with Reagan, SeaTac with LGA. Portland with Logan. It is fast, flexible, convienent and relatively inexpensive. We don't need a transcontinental high speed line.

 

I love how people make grandiose dreams. But when they are put to face with reality, these dreams evaporate.

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