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SVOboy 10-11-2010 12:20 PM

High Speed Rail in the US: Why are we so bad at this?
 
It was just the other day when I was regaling a few friends with an account of the time that California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, almost walked right over me while I was taking a photo. I was alerted that Gov. Schwarzenegger had just visited Japan to check out the shinkansen (high speed rail) system we [...]Related posts:
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More...

brucey 10-11-2010 02:17 PM

I'd personally love a high speed rail train. I enjoy flying (but not airports) Yet there is something that's always appealing to me with a train. What I don't get is why a plane ticket for 1000 miles is 30 bucks and a train ticket for 1000 miles is 300 bucks.

Have you read the history of Amtrak?

It's the first thing that came to mine to answer your question.
I think it also answers mine of the price difference between flying/train riding long distances.

I think the real question should be how economically viable a venture like this would be. Remember Concorde?

cfg83 10-11-2010 02:57 PM

SVOboy -

I think it has been US public policy to favor aviation over railroads since the end of WWII, partly for defense reasons. A healthy aviation industry can make world-class fighter jets. The Boeing 747 came from a military cargo plane design. It was redesigned as a passenger jet, and the rest is history.

Here's one (biased?) opinion on the manner :

U.S. Transportation Subsidies
Quote:

Much is made of the $30 billion spent on Amtrak over the last 30 years, but in that same period the federal government spent $1.89 TRILLION on air and highway modes, according to the New York Times and Washington Post.

Since 1946, the federal government has poured billions of dollars into airport development. In 1992, Prof. Stephen Paul Dempsey of the University of Denver estimated that the current replacement value of the U.S. commercial airport system-virtually all of it developed with federal grants and tax-free municipal bonds-at $1 trillion.
...
U.S. has a Third-World rail transportation system
According to a study by the International Railway Journal, the United States ranks between Bolivia and Turkey in mainline railroad spending per capita at $1.64. The average is $21.85, with a high of $228.29 for Switzerland and a low of $.29 for the Philippines.

Between 1971 and 1994, capital spending for Amtrak has never exceeded $220 million in any year...about the cost of a mile or two of urban freeway. On that, Amtrak is supposed to make the investments to become profitable. -Source: The Amtrak Story, by Frank Wilner

Years ago, transit and intercity railroads were privately operated for-profit enterprises. This changed when all levels of government began subsidizing highway and airport construction, which ultimately led to the demise of all privately run service. The irony is that the government has had to step in to preserve what was left of these services.

CarloSW2

SoobieOut 10-11-2010 03:04 PM

Here's the REAL high speed train that would make the airlines nervous:

620 MPH Train: China developing vacuum maglev train : Product Reviews Net

Shame the Chinese are doing this first. Maybe the USA could get into a train speed race with China?

user removed 10-11-2010 03:23 PM

Sounds like Evacuated Tube Transportation Technology.

http://www.et3.com/

regards
Mech

euromodder 10-11-2010 05:54 PM

These high speed trains cost a fortune to build and run, and can only stop at relatively few places if you want to make good use of their speed.
Hence they are only really useful to transport people between large communities, where a huge need exists to travel between these.

Here in Belgium, they're a very deep, government subsidized money pit.

Aviation is largely exempt from taxes (well, at least they are here) so the competition just ain't fair.

Weather Spotter 10-11-2010 07:15 PM

Aviation is way more flexible than rail. In small countries that are very developed (think Japan) rail is a fine means to move lots of people from one point to another. But in a large country like the USA planes are better because they can change routes as needed based on the number of travelers.

Fixed options like trains (or even buses) can not handle the diverse needs of most Americans.

cfg83 10-11-2010 07:18 PM

euromodder -

Quote:

Originally Posted by euromodder (Post 198422)
These high speed trains cost a fortune to build and run, and can only stop at relatively few places if you want to make good use of their speed.
Hence they are only really useful to transport people between large communities, where a huge need exists to travel between these.

Here in Belgium, they're a very deep, government subsidized money pit.

Aviation is largely exempt from taxes (well, at least they are here) so the competition just ain't fair.

Yeah, when we were in Brussels, we took the TGV (or Thalys?!?!) to Paris :

The high speed train in Belgium

It was a wonderful trip because it was so much less stressful than a plane or a car.

Ha ha, I guess you have to pick your money pit.

CarloSW2

Clev 10-11-2010 07:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by euromodder (Post 198422)
These high speed trains cost a fortune to build and run, and can only stop at relatively few places if you want to make good use of their speed.
Hence they are only really useful to transport people between large communities, where a huge need exists to travel between these.

Which is why it's a shame that California keeps dragging their feet on it. It's a long state with a few very highly populated areas separated by many miles of not-so-populated areas. These areas are connected by freeways that see a continuous stream of cars in both directions 24x7. Even a limited train (say, San Diego-Riverside-Pasadena-Visalia-Bakersfield-Fresno, with a split to Sacramento and a BART linkup in Fremont, would serve a massive number of people with as few as eight stops (none closer than 20 miles, and most 80 miles apart), and reduce the amount of repaving that must be done almost continuously on I-5 and Highway 99.

cfg83 10-11-2010 08:02 PM

Clev -

Quote:

Originally Posted by Clev (Post 198440)
Which is why it's a shame that California keeps dragging their feet on it. It's a long state with a few very highly populated areas separated by many miles of not-so-populated areas. These areas are connected by freeways that see a continuous stream of cars in both directions 24x7. Even a limited train (say, San Diego-Riverside-Pasadena-Visalia-Bakersfield-Fresno, with a split to Sacramento and a BART linkup in Fremont, would serve a massive number of people with as few as eight stops (none closer than 20 miles, and most 80 miles apart), and reduce the amount of repaving that must be done almost continuously on I-5 and Highway 99.

Yeah, that's what this table would imply :

U.S. Transportation Subsidies
Code:

U.S. Department of Transportation Funding, 2002:

$ 32,300,000,000    54%    Highways
$ 14,000,000,000    23%    Aviation/ airports
$  5,000,000,000            Mass transit
$  4,000,000,000            Maritime
$    521,000,000    -1%    Amtrak
$60,000,000,000            TOTAL USDOT BUDGET

CarloSW2


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