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High Speed Rail In America?


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#1 CSXfoamer1997

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 11:45 AM

There are plenty of high speed trains worldwide such as in China, Japan, and Europe, but America doesn't even have one, except on the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington.

 

Does anyone know how long it's going to possibly take to bring High Speed Rail to North America, including Canada, whether for regional service or long-distance service, as well as freight service? It would also be nice to have high speed freight service, because they could move freight faster and more efficiently.

 

And if they ever bring high speed rail, why is it preferred to use electricity instead of diesel? I personally think diesel is better than overhead wires. And also, the locomotive manufacturers are making diesel locomotives that are a whole lot cleaner for the environment.


Edited by CSXfoamer1997, 19 February 2016 - 11:50 AM.


#2 CCC1007

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 11:50 AM

The biggest difference that causes high speed rail to be a nonstarter in North America is the massive distances between cities and the lack of critical population density.

Electric trains are typically lighter and have better acceleration than diesel trains, which are really just electric locomotives that carry their own electrical generating station.

Edited by CCC1007, 19 February 2016 - 11:53 AM.


#3 CSXfoamer1997

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 01:17 PM

The biggest difference that causes high speed rail to be a nonstarter in North America is the massive distances between cities and the lack of critical population density.

Electric trains are typically lighter and have better acceleration than diesel trains, which are really just electric locomotives that carry their own electrical generating station.

I see.

 

And speaking of lighter, I forgot. They are also making diesel locomotives that are lighter, designed specifically for high speed. For example, the EMD F125's and Siemens Chargers. These locos are expecting to reach a top speed of 125 MPH.


Edited by CSXfoamer1997, 19 February 2016 - 01:18 PM.


#4 Eric S

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 01:22 PM

I would disagree with the distance and density issue - there are plenty of regions in North America with major cities located near each other and with population densities comparable to Europe.



#5 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 01:32 PM

There are plenty of high speed trains worldwide such as in China, Japan, and Europe, but America doesn't even have one, except on the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington.


Some portions of the Acela Express service corridor could have claimed a legitimate high speed designation if they had existed back in the mid 1960's when Acela level speeds were still considered cutting edge. A half century later in 2016 there is no reason to call Acela high speed anything.

 

Does anyone know how long it's going to possibly take to bring High Speed Rail to North America, including Canada, whether for regional service or long-distance service, as well as freight service? It would also be nice to have high speed freight service, because they could move freight faster and more efficiently.

 

At this point the only remaining proposals are in California (government funded) and Texas (privately funded) and both are likely to suffer continued delays and setbacks by anti-rail and anti-public-service groups and politicians. At the moment I'd put the best case scenario for a single Tokyo to Osaka equivalent distance trip somewhere in the ballpark of 2030.

 

And if they ever bring high speed rail, why is it preferred to use electricity instead of diesel? I personally think diesel is better than overhead wires. And also, the locomotive manufacturers are making diesel locomotives that are a whole lot cleaner for the environment.


In simple terms electricity is what turns the wheels regardless of the original power source. Using a conventional diesel engine to create the electricity adds more weight, more moving parts, reduces general efficiency, limits the maximum horsepower, and releases greater volumes of more destructive pollution than most forms of large scale energy generation.

 

The biggest difference that causes high speed rail to be a nonstarter in North America is the massive distances between cities and the lack of critical population density.

 

Although a nationwide system of high speed rail that crisscrossed the entire country is likely to remain impractical there are several large cities in the US that have all the traits necessary to benefit greatly from regional high speed rail links. What makes the US transportation landscape unique isn't our size or our density but rather our willingness to meekly accept permanent defeat before we even bother to try.  What the US has that no other industrial country seems to share is a rather large contingent of anti-rail partisans who cannot be reasoned with and will simply make up excuses to avoiding funding passenger rail under any circumstances.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 19 February 2016 - 10:23 PM.

I'd rather be a glass half empty than a glass half fool.


#6 CCC1007

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 09:23 PM

Check your PM's CSX

#7 Seaboard92

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 07:13 PM

I think there is also a political issue in this country that undermines it as well. That we are unable to invest in things that the conservatives see as a money loss investment. While in places like Germany it's a good investment to build more HSL lines. Even today they are working on one to cut the travel time from Berlin to München in half and add a large city in the route (Erfurt) as well.
What we fail to see in this country is the economic impact of high speed rail in this country. Yes it costs money and requires a subsidy to keep running. But at the same time the local economy around it benefits to a level that repays the investment. If you want high speed rail right now your best bet is to move somewhere else.

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#8 me_little_me

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 09:05 PM

The biggest difference that causes high speed rail to be a nonstarter in North America is the massive distances between cities and the lack of critical population density.

Electric trains are typically lighter and have better acceleration than diesel trains, which are really just electric locomotives that carry their own electrical generating station.

 

Add to that the fact that the rails and rail right of way are mostly owned by freight railroads who do not need high speed tracks

 

Add to that America's love of the car.

 

Add to that is WWII when much of Europe was devastated so in the process of rebuilding, they had the opportunity to pioneer faster rail during a time when few could afford cars or gasoline and the road infrastructure was in shambles.

 

Add to that, NIMBY in the U.S. which didn't exist to a high extent when U.S. railroads were built or when Europe's were rebuilt.

 

Add to that U.S. railroads who made passenger travel worse and worse in an effort to get out of passenger business which likely spawned a generation of people not used to taking rail.

 

Add to that the fact that people are reluctant to spend big money on something that is all promises when they can't see the benefits but they see the costs and disruption and the poor quality of existing rail.


Edited by me_little_me, 02 March 2016 - 09:08 PM.


#9 DSS&A

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 06:59 PM

Hi,
Here's an article about the lobbying against high speed rail and the current status. We may have to wait for China or Japan to fund HSR in the our country, or at least the first route.

http://www.manufactu...network-america

#10 trainviews

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 07:49 AM

I would disagree with the distance and density issue - there are plenty of regions in North America with major cities located near each other and with population densities comparable to Europe.

 

Yes. The distance is a bogus myth put forward by the anti train lobby. Is it feasible everywhere in the US? No, but both seabords and much of the whole eastern half of the US is having plenty of city pairs where High Speed Rail is feasible. Countries like Spain or Sweden has vast areas with low population density, but both have very successful HSR systems where feasible. 

 

If there is any important difference between the US and Europe it is more the hollowed out city centres in the US and the lack of efficient transit and regional rail to connect with a HSR terminal. But even that differs vastly from one metro area to the next...

 

As for electrification - when you look at train systems around the world 125 mph seems to be pretty much the top speed for diesel. From there catenary rules surpreme and for good reasons. 



#11 CSXfoamer1997

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 08:06 AM

 

I would disagree with the distance and density issue - there are plenty of regions in North America with major cities located near each other and with population densities comparable to Europe.

 

Yes. The distance is a bogus myth put forward by the anti train lobby. Is it feasible everywhere in the US? No, but both seabords and much of the whole eastern half of the US is having plenty of city pairs where High Speed Rail is feasible. Countries like Spain or Sweden has vast areas with low population density, but both have very successful HSR systems where feasible. 

 

If there is any important difference between the US and Europe it is more the hollowed out city centres in the US and the lack of efficient transit and regional rail to connect with a HSR terminal. But even that differs vastly from one metro area to the next...

 

As for electrification - when you look at train systems around the world 125 mph seems to be pretty much the top speed for diesel. From there catenary rules surpreme and for good reasons. 

 

Well, there is one diesel locomotive I know of that reached a top speed of 140 mph. It was from British Rail.



#12 CCC1007

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 09:38 AM

 

I would disagree with the distance and density issue - there are plenty of regions in North America with major cities located near each other and with population densities comparable to Europe.

 
Yes. The distance is a bogus myth put forward by the anti train lobby. Is it feasible everywhere in the US? No, but both seabords and much of the whole eastern half of the US is having plenty of city pairs where High Speed Rail is feasible. Countries like Spain or Sweden has vast areas with low population density, but both have very successful HSR systems where feasible. 
 
If there is any important difference between the US and Europe it is more the hollowed out city centres in the US and the lack of efficient transit and regional rail to connect with a HSR terminal. But even that differs vastly from one metro area to the next...
 
As for electrification - when you look at train systems around the world 125 mph seems to be pretty much the top speed for diesel. From there catenary rules surpreme and for good reasons. 
 
Well, there is one diesel locomotive I know of that reached a top speed of 140 mph. It was from British Rail.
Is it still in service, if not, why, if so, which model?

#13 jis

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 10:04 AM

British Rail Class 43 (Intercity 125) sets are capable of 140mph+, and have allegedly been tested at upto 148mph in their original Paxman Valenta powered configuration. But they have never been operated commercially above 125mph.

 

The Russians have claimed that a  TEP90 set achieved 168mph but it is not reliably documented. The Spaniards have claimed 158mph for a Talgo XXI but apparently that has not been reliably documented either. In any case none of those experiments led to any commercial diesel operation above 125mph.

 

The Class 43's are going to be replaces by British Class 800 and 801 manufactured by Hitachi, both capable of 140mph when running under electric power. The Class 800 is capable of operating under diesel power at 100mph. The Brits have chosen to just electrify all routes where speed higher than 125mph is envisaged.



#14 CSXfoamer1997

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 01:05 PM

 

 

 

I would disagree with the distance and density issue - there are plenty of regions in North America with major cities located near each other and with population densities comparable to Europe.

 
Yes. The distance is a bogus myth put forward by the anti train lobby. Is it feasible everywhere in the US? No, but both seabords and much of the whole eastern half of the US is having plenty of city pairs where High Speed Rail is feasible. Countries like Spain or Sweden has vast areas with low population density, but both have very successful HSR systems where feasible. 
 
If there is any important difference between the US and Europe it is more the hollowed out city centres in the US and the lack of efficient transit and regional rail to connect with a HSR terminal. But even that differs vastly from one metro area to the next...
 
As for electrification - when you look at train systems around the world 125 mph seems to be pretty much the top speed for diesel. From there catenary rules surpreme and for good reasons. 
 
Well, there is one diesel locomotive I know of that reached a top speed of 140 mph. It was from British Rail.
Is it still in service, if not, why, if so, which model?

 

The British Rail HST Class 43. It runs at 125 MPH in service, but ran a record of 148 MPH.



#15 jis

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 02:48 PM

In addition to the HST 125s there are the Alstom Class 180 DMUs Voith/Hydraulic transmission and Bombardier Class 220, 221 and 222 all DMUs with electric transmission, that run regular service at 125mph. The Brits are consistently moving away from loco hauled trains to DMUs, EMUs or DEMUs.



#16 leemell

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 05:22 PM

California HSR now has really nothing it is way to implement the first operational segment from Bakersfield to San Jose.  The last current major law suit was ruled against by the trial judge after the Court of Appeals sent it back to him telling him he was wrong to affirm it the first time.  The new business plan has in it enough money to complete the first link for revenue service without new financing..  The IOS is currently scheduled to start in 2025.  For status of current construction go here.


Edited by leemell, 25 March 2016 - 05:25 PM.


#17 trainviews

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 02:46 PM

 

 

I would disagree with the distance and density issue - there are plenty of regions in North America with major cities located near each other and with population densities comparable to Europe.

 

Yes. The distance is a bogus myth put forward by the anti train lobby. Is it feasible everywhere in the US? No, but both seabords and much of the whole eastern half of the US is having plenty of city pairs where High Speed Rail is feasible. Countries like Spain or Sweden has vast areas with low population density, but both have very successful HSR systems where feasible. 

 

If there is any important difference between the US and Europe it is more the hollowed out city centres in the US and the lack of efficient transit and regional rail to connect with a HSR terminal. But even that differs vastly from one metro area to the next...

 

As for electrification - when you look at train systems around the world 125 mph seems to be pretty much the top speed for diesel. From there catenary rules surpreme and for good reasons. 

 

Well, there is one diesel locomotive I know of that reached a top speed of 140 mph. It was from British Rail.

 

 

Oh I didn't mean to say Diesel trains couldn't be faster. In theory I don't think there's anything making it impossible to make diesel trains that can run at even higher speeds. So far it just haven't proven feasible to use them in any regular service. 

 

It's a question of them being economically and operationally inferior to electrics when you get up to HSR. Diesels get too heavy with a corresponding worse fuel economy and lower acceleration, enabling them to reach the top speed at shorter stretches before they have to slow down again. Add the push in many countries to get rid of as much fossil fuel as possible is also a factor.

 

So diesel is relegated to slower and more lightly trafficed lines where the investment in new straighter track and/or catenary doesn't pay. 


Edited by trainviews, 26 March 2016 - 02:49 PM.


#18 Carolina Special

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 07:02 PM

It seems to me the whole hyperloop concept brought forward by Elon Musk is effectively high speed rail.  There are evidently a couple of companies aiming to build test tracks to see if it works.  If hyperloop works and turns out to be cost effective-two big caveats-it seems to me it would eventually change passenger and freight transportation forever.  An average 600 MPH would beat any existing HSR and prove quite competitive with airlines.

 

Or perhaps I just remember the subshuttles of Gene Rodenberry's 1970s "Genesis II" much too fondly.  :unsure:



#19 RSG

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 10:25 PM

 

The biggest difference that causes high speed rail to be a nonstarter in North America is the massive distances between cities and the lack of critical population density.

Electric trains are typically lighter and have better acceleration than diesel trains, which are really just electric locomotives that carry their own electrical generating station.

 

Add to that the fact that the rails and rail right of way are mostly owned by freight railroads who do not need high speed tracks

 

Add to that America's love of the car.

 

Add to that is WWII when much of Europe was devastated so in the process of rebuilding, they had the opportunity to pioneer faster rail during a time when few could afford cars or gasoline and the road infrastructure was in shambles.

 

Add to that, NIMBY in the U.S. which didn't exist to a high extent when U.S. railroads were built or when Europe's were rebuilt.

 

Add to that U.S. railroads who made passenger travel worse and worse in an effort to get out of passenger business which likely spawned a generation of people not used to taking rail.

 

Add to that the fact that people are reluctant to spend big money on something that is all promises when they can't see the benefits but they see the costs and disruption and the poor quality of existing rail.

 

All very good points. I would add to those the fact that there is still this romanticism with airline travel, among those who set policy (gub'mint-types and their benefactors/patrons), and, still, among the general public. Oh sure, they [the traveling public] say they hate it and are ready to take to social media anytime they get more than a wedgie from a cramped airline seat, but they are perfectly willing to hop on a plane the next time they have to go somewhere, even if they could just as easily drive. As pointed out on other threads, that aspect of travel is only going to get worse, particularly as the system starts to implode and the carriers meld together in order to maintain some semblance of profitability. Perhaps when air travel more closely resembles prisoner transport, that attitude will start to change.

 

Another factor I'm surprised no one has mentioned yet is that the entirety of railroad crossings would need to be retrofitted anywhere a high-speed rail line was put into operation. A factor prevalent here which is generally absent in many other parts of the world is the necessity to remake crossings virtually idiot-proof (and I would define 'idiot' quite broadly). In other countries citizenry generally have enough sense to keep their distance from moving trains and the tracks they run on, yet residents of the United States seem to take it as a challenge and/or assume that locomotives are like really big trucks and can just slam on the brakes if they don't happen to move off the tracks in time. Making the crossings generally reflective of that necessity would be an undertaking in itself.

 

Add to the above is the general tendency for the blame for any train-interloper collision to be assigned to the operators of the train and owners of the rail line, instead of the presumed victim. Even actions which are clearly the fault of the intruder upon the rail system will result in some amount of going-away money from someone, and both bean-counters and legal advisors generally advise the members of the rail industry to make a sympathy offer and move on. This adds both to the cost of operation and the reluctance to build any sort of system that would increase current liability.

 

As for the power debate, the days of new catenary wire being strung where it has never existed before are over. Telecommunications providers have buried their lines once they converted to fiber optic transmission sources and many communities are pressuring electric service providers to bury their lines ASAP, or at least whenever they do rebuilds of existing infrastructure. That trend will only accelerate as NIMBYism becomes more prevalent.

 

My two cents: high-speed rail service in the US will largely be restricted to corridor service between intermediate points. It would likely be the most efficient method of implementing that type of a system and offer the most potential for cost-recovery since most of the corridor service serves larger population centers where rail travel offers a distinct advantage as well as an existing familiarity.



#20 jis

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 07:28 AM

No real high speed rail track anywhere in the world has any grade crossing. They are all grade separated. And also they are all electrified with overhead catenary, unless they happen to be Maglev


Edited by jis, 28 March 2016 - 09:20 AM.





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