Comments on: Obama Is On The Right Track http://switchingmodes.com/2009/04/16/obama-is-on-the-right-track/ Putting Transit On The Fast Track™ Mon, 08 Feb 2010 06:42:38 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.com/ By: Jersey Mike http://switchingmodes.com/2009/04/16/obama-is-on-the-right-track/#comment-251 Jersey Mike Thu, 25 Jun 2009 13:49:21 +0000 http://switchingmodes.wordpress.com/?p=163#comment-251 You should be aware that the North American rail system is not worse than Europe's, but simply made different choices in priorities. Europe focused on a large passenger rail system that also functions towards state goals of full employment. The North American rail network focuses on hauling freight and running an efficient, profitable system. Europe has completely neglected its rail freight capacity and thus its highways are clogged with truck traffic. At the same time its rail operations suffer from extreme workforce bloat and massive operating/maintenance costs. Costs increase non-linearly as line speed increases. Adding freight into the mix creates other problems because heavy freight traffic causes lots of damage to high speed tracks with close tolerances. Europe has chosen to puts its freight onto the highways, which has been an absolute disaster for the environment and getting around. North American railroads are hauling twice the volume seen in World War 2 on 1/3 of the line capacity. Freight is JUST AS IMPORTANT as passenger rail if not more so. Truck cause 100 times the wear and tear on a road as a passenger vehicle and also creates more than its fair share of congestion. There is no reason at all for most of the long haul trucking industry to exist when trailers and containers can be loaded onto flatcars. The problem is that trucks are under taxed and regulations are barely enforced. Seeing that the North American level of freight rail traffic is incompatible with high speed passenger operations you might start to advocate for some sort of dedicated high speed system like in Europe. Unfortunately such lines make little economic sense in North America where cities are far apart and the limiting factor for rail travel is geography. Yes you can build new lines with tunnels and high bridges, but think of the opportunity cost compared with funding better commuter rail systems and just having people fly Southwest. You are better off targeting the every day commuter rail markets than the occasional long distance traveler markets if u want to reduce congestion and energy usage. Those places where high speed rail makes sense are those with excess right of way capacity. Most of this is in the Midwest, where there is also a high density of cities to make rail a good competitor to air travel. Honestly, 110mph sustained speeds would be good enough to capture a large segment of the market. The key is low fares and frequent service. Frequent service matters more, much more, than one seat rides or end to end travel time. As people begin to live and work more and more online things like trip time will matter less if there is constant connectivity. Time spent in transit will no longer be considered wasted. I take Amtrak 18 hours to Chicago, but its not an issue because the train leaves at night and arrives the next morning and saves a night in a hotel. Give me constant internet and I would be 100% indifferent. Remember that travel is not just about speed. Cost, convenience and comfort all factor in. You should be aware that the North American rail system is not worse than Europe’s, but simply made different choices in priorities. Europe focused on a large passenger rail system that also functions towards state goals of full employment. The North American rail network focuses on hauling freight and running an efficient, profitable system.

Europe has completely neglected its rail freight capacity and thus its highways are clogged with truck traffic. At the same time its rail operations suffer from extreme workforce bloat and massive operating/maintenance costs. Costs increase non-linearly as line speed increases. Adding freight into the mix creates other problems because heavy freight traffic causes lots of damage to high speed tracks with close tolerances. Europe has chosen to puts its freight onto the highways, which has been an absolute disaster for the environment and getting around. North American railroads are hauling twice the volume seen in World War 2 on 1/3 of the line capacity.

Freight is JUST AS IMPORTANT as passenger rail if not more so. Truck cause 100 times the wear and tear on a road as a passenger vehicle and also creates more than its fair share of congestion. There is no reason at all for most of the long haul trucking industry to exist when trailers and containers can be loaded onto flatcars. The problem is that trucks are under taxed and regulations are barely enforced.

Seeing that the North American level of freight rail traffic is incompatible with high speed passenger operations you might start to advocate for some sort of dedicated high speed system like in Europe. Unfortunately such lines make little economic sense in North America where cities are far apart and the limiting factor for rail travel is geography. Yes you can build new lines with tunnels and high bridges, but think of the opportunity cost compared with funding better commuter rail systems and just having people fly Southwest. You are better off targeting the every day commuter rail markets than the occasional long distance traveler markets if u want to reduce congestion and energy usage.

Those places where high speed rail makes sense are those with excess right of way capacity. Most of this is in the Midwest, where there is also a high density of cities to make rail a good competitor to air travel. Honestly, 110mph sustained speeds would be good enough to capture a large segment of the market. The key is low fares and frequent service. Frequent service matters more, much more, than one seat rides or end to end travel time.

As people begin to live and work more and more online things like trip time will matter less if there is constant connectivity. Time spent in transit will no longer be considered wasted. I take Amtrak 18 hours to Chicago, but its not an issue because the train leaves at night and arrives the next morning and saves a night in a hotel. Give me constant internet and I would be 100% indifferent. Remember that travel is not just about speed. Cost, convenience and comfort all factor in.

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By: Diego Méndez http://switchingmodes.com/2009/04/16/obama-is-on-the-right-track/#comment-228 Diego Méndez Sat, 06 Jun 2009 16:06:06 +0000 http://switchingmodes.wordpress.com/?p=163#comment-228 French or German approach? It all depends on density. High-speed rail works better if you connect cities at least 200 km apart; if you have an important town every 25 km (as Germany has in Westphalia and Rhineland), high-speed is just an impossible task, as trains have no time to accelerate between stations. A high-speed train between Hamburg, Berlin and Munich would have made sense, but it would have been impossible to sell politically, since every small town along the line would have demanded a station. That's the reason why Germany has a fairly good rail network for short trips, but no true high-speed rail. France, on the other hand, has a really big city (Paris) and a small number of big towns, so true high-speed makes sense. Spain is the best example of a geography suited for high-speed rail. There is a big city in the middle of the country (Madrid) and a number of smaller cities all around the coast, every one of them about 500km away from Madrid, with no big towns in between. In fact, you could argue high-speed rail is still too slow for Spanish geography; that's why new tracks are being built for speeds up to 500km/h (312mph) for the time when technology allows it. French or German approach? It all depends on density. High-speed rail works better if you connect cities at least 200 km apart; if you have an important town every 25 km (as Germany has in Westphalia and Rhineland), high-speed is just an impossible task, as trains have no time to accelerate between stations. A high-speed train between Hamburg, Berlin and Munich would have made sense, but it would have been impossible to sell politically, since every small town along the line would have demanded a station. That’s the reason why Germany has a fairly good rail network for short trips, but no true high-speed rail.

France, on the other hand, has a really big city (Paris) and a small number of big towns, so true high-speed makes sense.

Spain is the best example of a geography suited for high-speed rail. There is a big city in the middle of the country (Madrid) and a number of smaller cities all around the coast, every one of them about 500km away from Madrid, with no big towns in between. In fact, you could argue high-speed rail is still too slow for Spanish geography; that’s why new tracks are being built for speeds up to 500km/h (312mph) for the time when technology allows it.

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By: STEVEN ROBINSON http://switchingmodes.com/2009/04/16/obama-is-on-the-right-track/#comment-17 STEVEN ROBINSON Mon, 20 Apr 2009 00:24:03 +0000 http://switchingmodes.wordpress.com/?p=163#comment-17 AWESOME, AWESOME AWESOME !!!! I CANNOT APPLAUD LOUD ENOUGH WHAT OBAMA HAS DONE. WE NEEEED HSR!!!! HE JUST GOT MY VOTE FOR THE 2012 ELECTION!!!! WHAT A GUY !!! BTW; AND I AM A GUY IN A BIZ DEDICATED TO AUTOMOBILES AND TRUCKS!!! GO FIGURE. AWESOME, AWESOME AWESOME !!!! I CANNOT APPLAUD LOUD ENOUGH WHAT OBAMA HAS DONE. WE NEEEED HSR!!!!

HE JUST GOT MY VOTE FOR THE 2012 ELECTION!!!!

WHAT A GUY !!!

BTW; AND I AM A GUY IN A BIZ DEDICATED TO AUTOMOBILES AND TRUCKS!!! GO FIGURE.

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By: Shawn http://switchingmodes.com/2009/04/16/obama-is-on-the-right-track/#comment-15 Shawn Sat, 18 Apr 2009 05:06:21 +0000 http://switchingmodes.wordpress.com/?p=163#comment-15 I really like how this site gets the big picture. The addition at the end, where you compare France and Germany, is truly reflective of the decisions we in America have to make today to move forward with a national high speed rail program. Great site and insights. I really like how this site gets the big picture. The addition at the end, where you compare France and Germany, is truly reflective of the decisions we in America have to make today to move forward with a national high speed rail program. Great site and insights.

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