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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:
  1. High Speed Trains Finally Coming to California (and not a Moment Too Soon)
  2. Honda Uses F1 Engineers to Race Towards High Fuel Economy
  3. Japan’s Shinkansen to Get Even Faster

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

Wonderboy 10-11-2010 08:11 PM

I think geography and population density has a lot to do with why we don't have any successful or widely used nationwide rail. As Weather Spotter mentioned, Americans do have diverse "needs" and places to travel. Aside from the coasts, the major cities in America are pretty spread out with not a lot of people in between them. In europe there are people everywhere. Here's some quick numbers from wikipedia:

United states
3.79 million sq miles
83 people/ sq mi

Europe
3.93 million sq miles
181 people/ sq mi

Our federal government would be responsible for spreading the tax money (in this hypothetical case for subsidizing high speed rail) over one country roughly the size of europe. Europe has 50 countries each with federal governments held at various levels of accountability for subsidizing high speed rail among and out of their countries for twice the population density we have here in the US.

I therefore doubt much will happen with this on a federal level, which is probably why schwartzenegger is looking into high speed rail for his own state (which in my opinion is often on the vanguard of most progressive initiatives in the country). California seeks efficient transportation for its 234 people per square mile population density and long slender sliver of populated land. I definitely think it could work on a state level at least for a state like california, and splash over into oregon/washington. I can see the same happening on the east coast, but once we start zigzagging about the heartland, things start to get expensive for the number of people served. Not that I don't believe everyone should be entitled to have high speed rail within x miles of her home, but realistically a nationwide system just doesn't seem like it would work anytime soon (my guess is for at least 50 years) and is a very difficult pill to swallow given how much money we've invested in automobile infrastructure.

BTW I have a sneaking suspicion that high speed rail works and is as well received in Japan because their population density is 873 people /sq mi, over TEN TIMES the population density of America. It's probably a lot easier to get a bunch of sardine packed taxpayers to be willing to subsidize a railway from Sapporo to Kyoto than for ten times less hotdog eating taxpayers willing to subsidize a high speed railway from Boston to Phoenix.

euromodder 10-11-2010 08:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cfg83 (Post 198438)
Ha ha, I guess you have to pick your money pit.

At least you enjoyed the trip ;)

One of the Eurostars trains (38 million euro apiece) stood parked for over 5 years due to lack of passengers - only to be vandalized.
It was sold, then leased-back, the lease costing another 24 million euro.

It was supposed to be refurbished and taken in use this year, dunno what became of it though.

miket 10-12-2010 01:43 AM

Why would you want to take a train from boston to pheonix, it would be faster to fly. Trains are good for intermediate distances. We have the population density to build them on the coasts but we're not.

user removed 10-12-2010 07:33 AM

The Chinese can look at the long term effects of technological advances without the worry of cost or political shennanigans.

E3T has the potential to take you from DC to LA in 45 minutes, faster than any plane. It also has the potential to be very energy effective, only needing an initial burst of energy to accelerate it to 4000 MPH then that inertia is mostly recovered in deceleration.

Energy cost per mile that is a very small fraction of the fuel used in air transport.

regards
Mech

320touring 10-12-2010 08:27 AM

High speed rail should be ideally suited to the US- you have large wide spaces you can fit long straight tracks into..

It's definately be economically advantagious if you could couple high speed rail to goods transport..

Have a search for Eddie Stobbart haulage in the UK- they have a Land port they use to ship goods.

Something like that'd work a treat over with you

Wonderboy 10-12-2010 09:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by miket
Why would you want to take a train from boston to pheonix, it would be faster to fly. Trains are good for intermediate distances. We have the population density to build them on the coasts but we're not.

I don't think you got the point I was trying to make. Of course no one would or could take a train directly from Boston to Phoenix (who would want to leave Boston especially to go to Phoenix? Who would want to go to Phoenix in the first place?) I was just picking arbitrary major US cities that are geographically spread out, just as I arbitrarily chose Sapporo and Kyoto.

mechman600 10-12-2010 09:59 AM

Double the price of gas, like in Europe, and high speed trains might start popping up here.. Face it: it's not much more expensive to drive your car than to take public transit, and taking a plane across the county is cheaper than driving when you consider the less time off you'll need to take. I'm all for trains. I use our Skytrain here in Vancouver whenever I can because the traffic is so horrible.

tjts1 10-12-2010 10:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Old Mechanic (Post 198499)
The Chinese can look at the long term effects of technological advances without the worry of cost or political shennanigans.

The chinese don't play political shins? Really? Are you advocating the Chinese political model?

nmgolfer 10-12-2010 01:08 PM

When ever talk of high speed rail crops up, Southwest Airlines (and the other regional carriers) enlist Boeing and and all the other stake holders to lobby against it. That is the American way. Yes once built rail is the most efficient form of transportation but it requires enormous investment in tax payer subsidized infrastructure and is nowhere near as convenient as our personal passenger vehicles once completed.

How do you get to the train station? How do you get where you're going once the train reaches its nearest station? What a pain figuring all that out... Easier to just drive or Fly, walk over and rent bing bang done!

In our state the Governor decided we needed rail (Politicians love things they can point to and call their own) even though the transportation corridor it serves is not overcrowded and bus service could have better fulfilled the exact same (imaginary) need for a tiny fraction of the cost. But back then, the state was running a surplus the feds were handing out money for these sorts of boondoggles and so he extended his hand. But its still ancient technology... the train is slow and makes numerous stops along the way... Nice for tourist brochures but thats about it. Thinking persons quickly conclude its easier and less costly to drive.

So now times have changed, the state is broke (like all others accept North Dakota which has a state run bank), teachers salaries are on the chopping block and as could have been predicted and with the cost of gasoline no longer stratospheric, commuters don't ride the train... Its not covering its expenses and taxpayers are being asked to pony up for the governor's white elephant.

High speed rail is a pipe-dream of central planning focused socialists who believe they, not individuals should decide how and when people get from point A to point B. American ingenuity should be focused on reducing cost, improving efficiency and safety of PERSONAL transportation, not a move backwards towards stifling collectivist cookie cutter mass transportation. Southwest Airlines does an admirable job of meeting the needs of regional commuters and buses on existing infrastructure can fill any gap.

miket 10-12-2010 01:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Old Mechanic (Post 198499)
The Chinese can look at the long term effects of technological advances without the worry of cost or political shennanigans.

E3T has the potential to take you from DC to LA in 45 minutes, faster than any plane. It also has the potential to be very energy effective, only needing an initial burst of energy to accelerate it to 4000 MPH then that inertia is mostly recovered in deceleration.

Energy cost per mile that is a very small fraction of the fuel used in air transport.

regards
Mech

Do you have a link for e3t? How much would it cost to build and maintain per mile? Heck if i could afford it i could fly the space shuttle to where i wanted to go at 17,000 mph.

miket 10-12-2010 01:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderboy (Post 198507)
I don't think you got the point I was trying to make. Of course no one would or could take a train directly from Boston to Phoenix (who would want to leave Boston especially to go to Phoenix? Who would want to go to Phoenix in the first place?) I was just picking arbitrary major US cities that are geographically spread out, just as I arbitrarily chose Sapporo and Kyoto.

Even with the drive to the airport and the 2 hour check in a plane would get you to phoenix 3 hours before that fastest train in the world would. I doubt it would be cheaper by train either. Planes go 3 times faster than high speed trains. Trains are awesome for regional travel because they go right into the city and you dont have to wait hours for check in but over long distances their slower speed catches up.

user removed 10-12-2010 03:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by miket (Post 198550)
Do you have a link for e3t? How much would it cost to build and maintain per mile? Heck if i could afford it i could fly the space shuttle to where i wanted to go at 17,000 mph.

5th post on this thread has the link.

regards
Mech

Clev 10-12-2010 04:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderboy (Post 198449)
Here's some quick numbers from wikipedia:

United states
3.79 million sq miles
83 people/ sq mi

Europe
3.93 million sq miles
181 people/ sq mi

Our federal government would be responsible for spreading the tax money (in this hypothetical case for subsidizing high speed rail) over one country roughly the size of europe.

15 states have population densities higher than Europe, and many of those badly need good mass transportation (Southern California, for instance) and can't get it.

Besides, the federal government is spreading my tax dollars to build and maintain highways in flyover states like Wyoming, which has a population density of 5 persons/sq mi. What's the difference?

Quote:

Originally Posted by nmgolfer (Post 198544)
How do you get to the train station? How do you get where you're going once the train reaches its nearest station? What a pain figuring all that out... Easier to just drive or Fly, walk over and rent bing bang done!

How to you get to the airport? How do you get where you're going once the plane reaches its nearest station? What a pain figuring that all out... at least trains can stop in the middle of a city and not 10 miles outside of town.

Quote:

High speed rail is a pipe-dream of central planning focused socialists who believe they, not individuals should decide how and when people get from point A to point B.
Ah, another selfish teabagger.

nmgolfer 10-12-2010 04:57 PM

See comments in red

Quote:

Originally Posted by Clev (Post 198594)
15 states have population densities higher than Europe, and many of those badly need good mass transportation (Southern California, for instance) and can't get it.

Southern California has a commuter train... some people use it too. Nothern California has BART which will never pay for itself... another white elephant

Besides, the federal government is spreading my tax dollars to build and maintain highways in flyover states like Wyoming, which has a population density of 5 persons/sq mi. What's the difference?

Highways are paid for with gas taxes by the people that use them



How to you get to the airport? How do you get where you're going once the plane reaches its nearest station? What a pain figuring that all out... at least trains can stop in the middle of a city and not 10 miles outside of town.


I use a car, then I rent a car. Its inexpensive and easy especally with today's GPS nav systems



Ah, another selfish teabagger

That is completely uncalled for. If I were a moderator I would ban you.

.


Clev 10-12-2010 05:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nmgolfer (Post 198600)
Southern California has a commuter train... some people use it too. Nothern California has BART which will never pay for itself... another white elephant

Southern California has the worst "commuter train" service imagineable... and this is coming from somebody who tolerated it for five years.

BART doesn't "pay for itself", but neither do highways. Gas taxes and other user fees only pay for 51% of the cost of the highways. And let's see you dismantle BART and put those 327,000 daily riders into cars. Traffic is bad enough in the Bay Area.

Quote:

Highways are paid for with gas taxes by the people that use them
Not even close--see above.

Quote:

I use a car, then I rent a car. Its inexpensive and easy especally with today's GPS nav systems
And how does this suddenly change with high-speed trains?

Quote:

That is completely uncalled for. If I were a moderator I would ban you.
Actually, that's the appropriate response to "ZOMG communists!"

nmgolfer 10-12-2010 05:53 PM

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.

So Fly SOUTHWEST AIRLINES

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.

Absurd... most wear and tear on highways is due 18 wheel tucks (shipping). That would not change and the required repaving would not change

California is flat broke (unless they (you) tap into their 82 billion in CAFR funds that is) and they should not ask a flat broke federal government to finance their white elephants on the backs of future generations. Here's and idea for you... If you Californians think a wiz bang train ill fix your budget woes (Califorina and their "green economy" are losing 100 companies for every three that decide locate there)... then raise your gas taxes some more and pay for it!

miket 10-12-2010 06:04 PM

I wouldnt be suprised if China finances builds and operates high speed rail in california.

nmgolfer 10-12-2010 06:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by miket (Post 198616)
I wouldnt be suprised if China finances builds and operates high speed rail in california.

Highly unlikely... (There is no money in it). They're good capitalists!

Clev 10-12-2010 06:15 PM

Quote:

So Fly SOUTHWEST AIRLINES
Cool, thanks. So, I'm going to Sacramento from Ontario tomorrow and that's... $151 each way? Plus fees and taxes? You mean I have to wait three weeks if I want a decent price? And then it's still $79 one way. But I was told that Southwest was going to solve all of my regional travel problems!

Quote:

Absurd... most wear and tear on highways is due 18 wheel tucks (shipping). That would not change and the required repaving would not change
There are 6-9 times as many cars as trucks on I-5.

Quote:

Originally Posted by nmgolfer (Post 198614)
California is flat broke (unless they (you) tap into their 82 billion in CAFR funds that is) and they should not ask a flat broke federal government to finance their white elephants on the backs of future generations. Here's and idea for you... If you Californians think a wiz bang train ill fix your budget woes (Califorina and their "green economy" are losing 100 companies for every three that decide locate there)... then raise your gas taxes some more and pay for it!

That's funny, coming from somebody in a state that gets $2.05 in federal money for every $1 in federal taxes they pay. Maybe if we weren't bankrolling the welfare states we'd have more money to spend around here.

nmgolfer 10-13-2010 11:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Clev (Post 198619)
Cool, thanks. So, I'm going to Sacramento from Ontario tomorrow and that's... $151 each way? Plus fees and taxes? You mean I have to wait three weeks if I want a decent price? And then it's still $79 one way. But I was told that Southwest was going to solve all of my regional travel problems!

Plan ahead or DRIVE... 151 each way is CHEEP compared to hundreds of billions in rail infrastructure. Not good enough? Take the bus then if you're afraid of flying..

There are 6-9 times as many cars as trucks on I-5.

Cars, being MUCH lighter don't wear out the highways the way trucks do

That's funny, coming from somebody in a state that gets $2.05 in federal money for every $1 in federal taxes they pay. Maybe if we weren't bankrolling the welfare states we'd have more money to spend around here.

Those are liars statistics. New Mexico, happens to be the location of two National Laboratories and numerous military installations. Those are the major employers. Is that welfare? Only in the sense the the Military Industrial Congressional Complex is corporate welfare and franky I would not mind a bit if the whole darn war machine were moth-balled permanently.

Fact is California once was the golden state. I've lived a good chunk of my life there but its full of self centered people who passed things like Prop 13 that led directly to its current state of decline. A high speed train between LA and Sacramento won't change that.

tjts1 10-13-2010 01:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nmgolfer (Post 198706)
Fact is California once was the golden state. I've lived a good chunk of my life there but its full of self centered people who passed things like Prop 13 that led directly to its current state of decline.

Thats a very creative rewrite of history. I'll give you credit for that. The only thing that lead to fiscal issues in California was a political system that allowed spending the issuance of debt to go unchecked. Blaming it on prop 13 because our poor, thrifty politicians couldn't jack up property taxes to finance their hopes and dreams is foolish to say the least.

Clev 10-13-2010 02:36 PM

I have to agree with nmgolfer on Prop 13. When it passed, it rolled back house values to 1975 levels and taxed them at 1%, and allowed assessed values to increase no more than 2% per year. That means that a house in, say, Manteca, which was sold in 1976 for $13,000 is now assessed at no more than $25,000, even though the market value is over $200,000 (and was over $450,000 at the peak of the bubble.) Meanwhile, my modest $113,000 house is assessed at full value because I bought in 2003. I pay $1,130 in taxes on a house that is worth less than half of a house that pays less than $250 in taxes because it's grandfathered in. Had Prop 13 not passed, California would be in much better fiscal shape.

Corporations have it even better. If a corporation is sold and the new owner retains the same "shell corporation" to hold the real estate, they keep their taxes at Prop 13 levels, something private citizens don't get to do.

user removed 10-13-2010 06:54 PM

This has what to do with high speed rail?

regards
Mech

Thymeclock 10-13-2010 10:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Old Mechanic (Post 198785)
This has what to do with high speed rail?

regards
Mech

In a one-word answer: politics. This is an election year in America with three weeks to go. People are getting edgy and contentious.

To SVOBoy, who proposed the topic of discussion: Your bias is showing in the way the proposition is phrased, and it is a loaded question. "We" in the U.S. are not "bad" at this. And just because we don't have it here, that does not make us "bad" as a people or a nation. We (the majority of taxpayers who ultimately would foot the bill for it) simply don't WANT it. If we had wanted it, we would have built it!

This is a cultural and economic issue, as well as a political one. Assuming that a select few countries wanted a high speed rail system, they built it in that which is their relatively small country; may they enjoy it and their way of life there.

For you socialists out there who think America should be forced to emulate France or other similar countries in imposing a national rail system of mass transit, I suggest that you go live in France for a while, or better yet, permanently. If you think that any European society is Utopian or ideologically superior to America please stay and enjoy living there (including the high rate of taxation and relatively more limited freedom) without trying to impose what might be appropriate for one culture on another.

BTW, when the SNCF (French National Railroad) goes on strike, virtually the whole nation grinds to a halt, as they are highly dependent upon that one mode of transportation. France has a long history and tradition of strikes and social protests. I'm sure the socialists and unionists in France don't mind wielding the power implicit in that situation, but the cultural heritage of America is not one of socialism. (Perhaps our Belgian participant won't mind my pointing out that Belgium might hope to avoid the social and political policies and problems of neighboring France, as well.) France might be a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

user removed 10-13-2010 11:13 PM

Wrong.

You might read the E3T link.

Transportation without fuel carrying vehicles, without any aero drag, that no present method of transportation can compete with.

Simple, effective, cost effective.

Want to make it political?

Make it profitable and let those who are smothered with their political agendas move to France.

Giffard proposed vacuum tube transportation before the US Civil War, so we use it to shoot our deposits to the bank teller, or a lizard in a TV ad.

The Chinese have no problems with long term thinking and no political quagmire to destroy innovation. They will hand us our collective arses in the next century, while we endless debate our political rubbish.

regards
Mech

Thymeclock 10-13-2010 11:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Old Mechanic (Post 198828)

The Chinese have no problems with long term thinking and no political quagmire to destroy innovation. They will hand us our collective arses in the next century, while we endless debate our political rubbish.

regards
Mech

And the Chinese will be buying gasoline and enjoy driving cars while we in the Western world will be cajoled to ride bicycles or walk - all in the name of 'global equality', 'sharing resources', or some such other saccharin phrase to entice support from guilt ridden do-gooders and useful idiots. :rolleyes:

Piwoslaw 10-14-2010 08:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thymeclock (Post 198827)
BTW, when the SNCF (French National Railroad) goes on strike, virtually the whole nation grinds to a halt, as they are highly dependent upon that one mode of transportation. France has a long history and tradition of strikes and social protests.

But this is because of unions, not because of the fact that France has a high-speed train network. But yes, you are right about the French being addicted to high speed trains, mostly because they are the best choice for distances of a few thousand kilometers. Same for the Swiss and Germans. But are Americans not addicted to flying? Wouldn't a sudden halt in air traffic partially paralize America? Having both high speed rail and air transport would always leave an alternative in case one of them should suddenly stop operating.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thymeclock (Post 198834)
And the Chinese will be buying gasoline and enjoy driving cars while we in the Western world will be cajoled to ride bicycles or walk - all in the name of 'global equality', 'sharing resources', or some such other saccharin phrase to entice support from guilt ridden do-gooders and useful idiots. :rolleyes:

The way things are going, the Chinese will be buying gasoline because they will be able to afford it.
Yes, China has the funds to build a super fast railroad. But whose money are they spending on it? Which country has the largest debt to China? Who is paying China 40 bucks for a pair of pants that cost $3 to make and $1 to ship?
The answer is: we are. Mainly the North America and Europe, but other countries are following. Democratic, socialist, capitalist, whatever. We are all in the same boat. China could make us all go bankrupt just by sneezing. The reason they haven't done so already is because they want us to keep paying.
We gave China its money, now all we can do watch how it gets invested. And it gets invested by buying up the economy of the countries that sponsored it.

BTW: The evacuated tube idea reminds me of a mid-20th century plan the Soviet Union had to connect Moscow with each larger city by underground tubes. They wound not curve just under the surface of the Earth, but instead would go straight as an arrow deep through the crust, like the chord of a circle. This would (other than shortening the distance to the minimum) allow the use of gravity to accerate, then decelerate, between both ends. Of course, even today this would be technologically almost impossible.

euromodder 10-14-2010 09:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thymeclock (Post 198827)
BTW, when the SNCF (French National Railroad) goes on strike, virtually the whole nation grinds to a halt, as they are highly dependent upon that one mode of transportation.

If only public transport services are going on strike, it causes serious inconvenience and more traffic jams, but France or Belgium are not really grinding to a halt.

Personally I avoid public transport like the plague as it's utterly unreliable.
At work we change over to road transport when the railroad unions go on strike again. Trouble is, 2 railroad cars are replaced by 5 trucks.


Quote:

(Perhaps our Belgian participant won't mind my pointing out that Belgium might hope to avoid the social and political policies and problems of neighboring France, as well.)
Oh, it's almost as bad here as it is in France.
We have very similar social and political issues.
Some 40% of the Belgian population actually speak French.
Much of our legislation is still based on Napoleonic origins.
Our railroad company is called SNCB (in French) - not a lot of difference there ;)


Before anyone on your side of the Atlantic thinks Europe is Utopia, 15% of the Belgian population lives in poverty.
Well, at least officially.
There's also a lot of social profiteering going on.
The national debt is 28000 EUR (39400 USD) per capita.

Toby 10-15-2010 09:46 AM

Has anyone else noticed that discussions about rail transport almost always raise a surprising amount of passion? What is with this phenomenon?

Imagine trying to build hundreds of miles of near air-tight chamber. Imagine maintaining vacuum over that distance. Yikes.

I think it is more likely that humanity will migrate to immersive reality than that we will build very many evacuated-chamber-mag-lev-train class super structures.

That said, I would feel substantially more pride in an American firm or government action that produced an effective, sustainable, profitable, pleasant form of mass transit than I would feel if we won the race to mars.

miket 10-15-2010 02:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Toby (Post 199040)
Has anyone else noticed that discussions about rail transport almost always raise a surprising amount of passion? What is with this phenomenon?

Surprising?? If a new airport or highway was being built in your town there would be passion.


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