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High Speed Rail In America?


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#21 CCC1007

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 09:26 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

However, high speed trains in France also operate on conventional trackage to get to the stations in downtown, sometimes including grade crossings on these conventional lines which are shared traffic.

#22 jis

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 09:55 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

However, high speed trains in France also operate on conventional trackage to get to the stations in downtown, sometimes including grade crossings on these conventional lines which are shared traffic.

 

But they do not operate at high speed on those tracks. They operate as conventional trains. That is the case almost everywhere. High speed trains operate at regular speeds on non high seed tracks. Happens even in Japan on the Akita Shinkansen.



#23 CCC1007

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 10:12 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

However, high speed trains in France also operate on conventional trackage to get to the stations in downtown, sometimes including grade crossings on these conventional lines which are shared traffic.
 
But they do not operate at high speed on those tracks. They operate as conventional trains. That is the case almost everywhere. High speed trains operate at regular speeds on non high seed tracks. Happens even in Japan on the Akita Shinkansen.
I was more hoping to start people thinking about building dedicated high speed trackage outside the major urban areas and using the existing infrastructure to achieve downtown to downtown service, though the conventional trackage will probably need to be upgraded to allow for more trains to use it in town.

#24 leemell

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 12:49 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.

 


 

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.

 

M

 

Not really.  Caltrain on the San Francisco (home of mega-NIMBYism) peninsula is in the preparation process of electrifying all for its tracks right now.  No cantenary before as they are all diesel.


Edited by leemell, 28 March 2016 - 12:56 PM.


#25 jis

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 12:55 PM

As for the power debate, the days of new catenary wire being strung where it has never existed before are over.


Looking around the world, based on what I am seeing, I cannot help but come to the inevitable conclusion that you are living in your own fantasyland ;)



#26 RSG

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 08:43 PM

 

As for the power debate, the days of new catenary wire being strung where it has never existed before are over.


Looking around the world, based on what I am seeing, I cannot help but come to the inevitable conclusion that you are living in your own fantasyland ;)

 

"Around the world" is not the United States (aside from pockets like the SF Bay Area). Among tree-huggers, the biggest complaint about wind turbines is bird kills and other wildlife impact. Among neighbors of wind farms, it's new transmission lines that are needed to transmit the power from the site of production to the nearest electrical grid. It's now almost impossible to build new cellular telephone antenna towers without a plan to hide or disguise them, even in smaller communities.
 
In other countries with strong central planning, it's probably relatively easy to string new wires or infrastructure; that is not the case in the United States, particularly the interior West. A regional rail line (sans catenary power) was eventually derailed after a number of years due to mounting opposition to the proposal, from a broad number of interests across several states. That is only one reason why coast-to-coast HSR in the US will not come to pass.



#27 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 09:09 PM

As for the power debate, the days of new catenary wire being strung where it has never existed before are over.


Looking around the world, based on what I am seeing, I cannot help but come to the inevitable conclusion that you are living in your own fantasyland ;)


"Around the world" is not the United States (aside from pockets like the SF Bay Area). Among tree-huggers, the biggest complaint about wind turbines is bird kills and other wildlife impact. Among neighbors of wind farms, it's new transmission lines that are needed to transmit the power from the site of production to the nearest electrical grid. It's now almost impossible to build new cellular telephone antenna towers without a plan to hide or disguise them, even in smaller communities.

In other countries with strong central planning, it's probably relatively easy to string new wires or infrastructure; that is not the case in the United States, particularly the interior West. A regional rail line (sans catenary power) was eventually derailed after a number of years due to mounting opposition to the proposal, from a broad number of interests across several states. That is only one reason why coast-to-coast HSR in the US will not come to pass.


The idea that you equate the rest of the world with the Bay Area betrays a stupendous level of ignorance. How much traveling outside of the US have you actually experienced? Your 1980's era "tree-hugger" labeling is both naive and outdated. The vast majority of environmentalists strongly prefer electric trains leveraging renewable energy (wind, hydro, wave, tidal, geothermal, photovoltaic, solar thermal, biofuel etc.) over fossil fuel aircraft and private vehicles. Your attempt to equate cellular towers with renewable grid infrastructure is both silly and erroneous. It's kind of amazing to me how confident you seem to be with a topic in which you appear to have little if any firsthand knowledge.

Edited by Devil's Advocate, 28 March 2016 - 11:58 PM.

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#28 leemell

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 11:40 PM

 

 

As for the power debate, the days of new catenary wire being strung where it has never existed before are over.


Looking around the world, based on what I am seeing, I cannot help but come to the inevitable conclusion that you are living in your own fantasyland ;)

 

"Around the world" is not the United States (aside from pockets like the SF Bay Area). Among tree-huggers, the biggest complaint about wind turbines is bird kills and other wildlife impact. Among neighbors of wind farms, it's new transmission lines that are needed to transmit the power from the site of production to the nearest electrical grid. It's now almost impossible to build new cellular telephone antenna towers without a plan to hide or disguise them, even in smaller communities.
 
In other countries with strong central planning, it's probably relatively easy to string new wires or infrastructure; that is not the case in the United States, particularly the interior West. A regional rail line (sans catenary power) was eventually derailed after a number of years due to mounting opposition to the proposal, from a broad number of interests across several states. That is only one reason why coast-to-coast HSR in the US will not come to pass.

 

 

You know that the SF area is densely populated by one of the most liberal populations in the US?  In LA, a brand new  11  mile catenary just opened in the San Gaberial valley.In about 60 days. 7 miles of brand new catenary opens in West LA and Santa Monica, the original home of NIMBYs.  I think you are just wrong about this.  BTW, in the central valley the first 100 miles of new cantenary of more than 500 is under construction.



#29 RSG

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 04:41 AM

The idea that you equate the rest of the world with the Bay Area betrays a stupendous level of ignorance. How much traveling outside of the US have you actually experienced? Your 1980's era "tree-hugger" labeling is both naive and outdated. The vast majority of environmentalists strongly prefer electric trains leveraging renewable energy (wind, hydro, wave, tidal, geothermal, photovoltaic, solar thermal, biofuel etc.) over fossil fuel aircraft and private vehicles. Your attempt to equate cellular towers with renewable grid infrastructure is both silly and erroneous. It's kind of amazing to me how confident you seem to be with a topic in which you appear to have little if any firsthand knowledge.

I wasn't equating the "rest of the world" with the Bay Area in general, only in reference to the comment about Caltrans constructing new catenary lines in the Bay Area.

I seem to have hit a nerve. Trust me, it's okay to be a "tree hugger". Even some of my best friends would probably identify with some part of that labeling or at least the environmental concern behind it.

As for "renewable grid infrastructure", I do have a certain amount of experience with it. Either way, a wind turbine, caternary wire, and cellular towers all have the same net effect for some people. If this wasn't the case, then the Kennedy family wouldn't have opposed the Cape Wind project.



#30 RSG

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 04:51 AM

You know that the SF area is densely populated by one of the most liberal populations in the US?


I do know that; I was there last summer. Perhaps the locals are not concerned about new catenary installations because there other issues they are concerned with?
 

In LA, a brand new  11  mile catenary just opened in the San Gaberial valley.In about 60 days. 7 miles of brand new catenary opens in West LA and Santa Monica, the original home of NIMBYs.  I think you are just wrong about this.  BTW, in the central valley the first 100 miles of new cantenary of more than 500 is under construction.


I'm assuming that the new construction is around rail installations which themselves are sheltered somewhat from public view and that no instalations are blocking anyone's view of the San Gabriel Mountains.



#31 Eric S

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 07:31 AM

This whole discussion seems bizarre. There have been any number of electric rail lines constructed in the US in recent years (mostly transit, typically light rail/streetcar) including in the Denver area. Caltrain is actively planning electrification. And the United States is hardly a unique snowflake, unlike anywhere else in the world - what works elsewhere can and does work here.



#32 jis

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 07:55 AM

It should also be noted that railway electrification is typically mostly on railway property or on easements granted for such. They do not clutter up anything else. And today's modern catenary infrastructure can be made quite unobtrusive with thoughtful design and engineering. I do not think that the New Haven - Boston electrification should be taken as a shining example of good modern design. The South Amboy to Long Branch electrification of NJ Transit which predates the NHV - BOS electrification is a better example. The Denver A line is also quite good.

 

According to one rough estimate there is 5,000+ main line route km undergoing new 25kV OHE electrification in the world this year. In addition there are numerous LRT and such lower voltage electrification using catenary infrastructure that looks similar to the mainline one. Admittedly the US share of this is disproportionately small. But then in general advanced passenger train development share is disproportionately small for the US too.

 

This is the reason that I believe anyone who claims that the days of railway electrification using OHE are over is disconnected from reality.

 

It should be added that there are segments of LRT lines through downtown that are now getting inductive transfer electrification involving no overhead equipment. The power transfer equipment is all buried in the middle of the track and is activated only when a train is covering the portion of the track. This of course is more expensive than OHE, but makes sense for reducing clutter over streets and parks in the densely populated areas. But it is unlikely that this technology would be broadly deployed in high speed main line rail operations anytime soon.



#33 afigg

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 10:52 AM

I wasn't equating the "rest of the world" with the Bay Area in general, only in reference to the comment about Caltrans constructing new catenary lines in the Bay Area.

I seem to have hit a nerve. Trust me, it's okay to be a "tree hugger". Even some of my best friends would probably identify with some part of that labeling or at least the environmental concern behind it.

As for "renewable grid infrastructure", I do have a certain amount of experience with it. Either way, a wind turbine, caternary wire, and cellular towers all have the same net effect for some people. If this wasn't the case, then the Kennedy family wouldn't have opposed the Cape Wind project.

You did not hit a "nerve". You posted a broad statement about the use and deployment of catenary that is in the whaaattt? category. As jis stated, even in the US there is overhead catenary going up on light rail lines, streetcar lines, 40 plus miles of heavy rail regional lines in Denver, and so on.

#34 leemell

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 11:10 AM

 

You know that the SF area is densely populated by one of the most liberal populations in the US?


I do know that; I was there last summer. Perhaps the locals are not concerned about new catenary installations because there other issues they are concerned with?
 

In LA, a brand new  11  mile catenary just opened in the San Gaberial valley.In about 60 days. 7 miles of brand new catenary opens in West LA and Santa Monica, the original home of NIMBYs.  I think you are just wrong about this.  BTW, in the central valley the first 100 miles of new cantenary of more than 500 is under construction.


I'm assuming that the new construction is around rail installations which themselves are sheltered somewhat from public view and that no instalations are blocking anyone's view of the San Gabriel Mountains.

 

 

This railway is about as far from shelter as you can get.  It is brand new tracks in the center of partly elevated freeway where all of the local residents can see it and on the south side it is in the view of the mountains.



#35 jis

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 11:22 AM

The OHE electrification of the Peninsula Line between San Francisco and San Jose is advancing and it will be visible from all sorts of extremely expensive properties owned by extremely influential people, some of whom will try to block it, and will fail, just like they failed in preventing the trackage from getting elevated to grade separate it from cross streets in many areas. Vanity of the rich can only go so far.



#36 cirdan

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Posted 01 April 2016 - 07:47 AM

 

 

It should be added that there are segments of LRT lines through downtown that are now getting inductive transfer electrification involving no overhead equipment. The power transfer equipment is all buried in the middle of the track and is activated only when a train is covering the portion of the track. This of course is more expensive than OHE, but makes sense for reducing clutter over streets and parks in the densely populated areas. But it is unlikely that this technology would be broadly deployed in high speed main line rail operations anytime soon.

 

Not least because battery technology isn't anywhere near there yet.

 

The energy you need to store for a light rail train to maybe amble along for a mile or less at 20mph is quite different to that required to push a high speed train at 220mph over hundreds of miles. Those batteries occupy space and weight and thus make the entire system less efficient and economical.

 

Even the light rail lines that use batteries, normally only use them on relatively short sections where architectural concerns or particularly well-connected nimbyism have enforced it. They typically do run off catenary on other sections. I expect that as technology involves that costs will come down and range will increase making more and longer sections possible. But we're still multiple generations from running high speed trains off batteries, if indeed that will ever happen.






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