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A comparison of high speed rail on different countries

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Here is a pointer to a reasonable blurb on how HSR is defined by UIC and Incorporated in a EU directive, for what it is worth:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail#Definitions

 

Now whether any of that would be acceptable to our fine tastes in the US is anyone's guess :P

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Here is a pointer to a reasonable blurb on how HSR is defined by UIC and Incorporated in a EU directive, for what it is worth:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail#Definitions

 

Now whether any of that would be acceptable to our fine tastes in the US is anyone's guess :P

Under those definitions, even the regionals are HSR (category 3). Acela is borderline category 2/3. So I guess we aren't wrong in saying the NEC is HSR. It's just not a fancy HSR.

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Here is a pointer to a reasonable blurb on how HSR is defined by UIC and Incorporated in a EU directive, for what it is worth:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail#Definitions

 

Now whether any of that would be acceptable to our fine tastes in the US is anyone's guess :P

So it's either a minimum of 124 mph or 155 mph, depending on who you ask. Unfortunately that means that with the former, Acela and even the NER would be considering high-speed. Under the latter, there are no high speed rail lines in all of North America. So that's a pretty big discrepancy.

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Here is a pointer to a reasonable blurb on how HSR is defined by UIC and Incorporated in a EU directive, for what it is worth:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail#Definitions

 

Now whether any of that would be acceptable to our fine tastes in the US is anyone's guess :P

So it's either a minimum of 124 mph or 155 mph, depending on who you ask. Unfortunately that means that with the former, Acela and even the NER would be considering high-speed. Under the latter, there are no high speed rail lines in all of North America. So that's a pretty big discrepancy.
I would argue the NEC falls under the "existing tracks" category. Especially since most of the upgrades have been for high speed purposes. So in which case Acela qualifies under all definitions. It's interesting that the regionals and Acela qualify under the UIC definition. I guess the NEC isn't so shabby after all ;)

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For me high speed rail isn't about the country so much as the era. I think you could make an excellent case for Metroliners being high speed rail at the time of their design and introduction back in the 1960's. Here in 2018 Acela's 65MPH average speed flunks any meaningful definition of high speed rail. The fact that it can get up to 150MPH for a tiny little PR-sized section of the total route is not statistically relevant to me. Acela's heavy reliance on arbitrarily faster speed limits and higher priority dispatching combined with Acela's inability to substantially exceed the top design speed of conventional NER trains is the final nail in the coffin for me.

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Given the NEC route and the curves it has, it just seems like there is no way the US will ever have "true HSR" on the NEC. I have no idea what impact a 50% reduction in the cost of tunneling would have on the prospects for the NEC to dig under some of the worst curves. Is it possible that the Boring Company could eventually drive industry improvements in the cost of tunneling and thereby allow some of the slower sections of the NEC to be dug down, straightened and sped up? It just seems like it would take too much tunneling to be feasible, but it is possible that 2 or 3 relatively short tunnels could piece together 3 or 4 medium length straightaways into 1 relatively long straight away. Maybe.

Without tunneling, I just don't see the NEC getting much faster. And tunneling is too expensive at this point to be considered in any but the most drastic situations.

 

 

For me high speed rail isn't about the country so much as the era. I think you could make an excellent case for Metroliners being high speed rail at the time of their design and introduction back in the 1960's. Here in 2018 Acela's 65MPH average speed flunks any meaningful definition of high speed rail. The fact that it can get up to 150MPH for a tiny little PR-sized section of the total route is not statistically relevant to me. Acela's heavy reliance on arbitrarily faster speed limits and higher priority dispatching combined with Acela's inability to substantially exceed the top design speed of conventional NER trains is the final nail in the coffin for me.

Edited by Ziv

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For me high speed rail isn't about the country so much as the era. I think you could make an excellent case for Metroliners being high speed rail at the time of their design and introduction back in the 1960's. Here in 2018 Acela's 65MPH average speed flunks any meaningful definition of high speed rail. The fact that it can get up to 150MPH for a tiny little PR-sized section of the total route is not statistically relevant to me. Acela's heavy reliance on arbitrarily faster speed limits and higher priority dispatching combined with Acela's inability to substantially exceed the top design speed of conventional NER trains is the final nail in the coffin for me.

Yeah, I do share your point of view. It is sad how little time is gained on Acela vs NER. 115mph ain't fantastic, but it sure beats driving. Nothing to sneeze at.

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Given the NEC route and the curves it has, it just seems like there is no way the US will ever have "true HSR" on the NEC. I have no idea what impact a 50% reduction in the cost of tunneling would have on the prospects for the NEC to dig under some of the worst curves. Is it possible that the Boring Company could eventually drive industry improvements in the cost of tunneling and thereby allow some of the slower sections of the NEC to be dug down, straightened and sped up? It just seems like it would take too much tunneling to be feasible, but it is possible that 2 or 3 relatively short tunnels could piece together 3 or 4 medium length straightaways into 1 relatively long straight away. Maybe.

Without tunneling, I just don't see the NEC getting much faster. And tunneling is too expensive at this point to be considered in any but the most drastic situations.

 

 

For me high speed rail isn't about the country so much as the era. I think you could make an excellent case for Metroliners being high speed rail at the time of their design and introduction back in the 1960's. Here in 2018 Acela's 65MPH average speed flunks any meaningful definition of high speed rail. The fact that it can get up to 150MPH for a tiny little PR-sized section of the total route is not statistically relevant to me. Acela's heavy reliance on arbitrarily faster speed limits and higher priority dispatching combined with Acela's inability to substantially exceed the top design speed of conventional NER trains is the final nail in the coffin for me.

 

I don't quite understand why they would have to tunnel to increase speeds? If they fitted constant-tension catenary south of NY and increased the gap between sets of curved track (when they were designing it, they didn't take into account the tilting train sets around curves), they could likely increase speeds significantly. Neither of those would require digging tunnels or anything like that.

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For me high speed rail isn't about the country so much as the era. I think you could make an excellent case for Metroliners being high speed rail at the time of their design and introduction back in the 1960's. Here in 2018 Acela's 65MPH average speed flunks any meaningful definition of high speed rail. The fact that it can get up to 150MPH for a tiny little PR-sized section of the total route is not statistically relevant to me. Acela's heavy reliance on arbitrarily faster speed limits and higher priority dispatching combined with Acela's inability to substantially exceed the top design speed of conventional NER trains is the final nail in the coffin for me.

Given the NEC route and the curves it has, it just seems like there is no way the US will ever have "true HSR" on the NEC. I have no idea what impact a 50% reduction in the cost of tunneling would have on the prospects for the NEC to dig under some of the worst curves. Is it possible that the Boring Company could eventually drive industry improvements in the cost of tunneling and thereby allow some of the slower sections of the NEC to be dug down, straightened and sped up? It just seems like it would take too much tunneling to be feasible, but it is possible that 2 or 3 relatively short tunnels could piece together 3 or 4 medium length straightaways into 1 relatively long straight away. Maybe. Without tunneling, I just don't see the NEC getting much faster. And tunneling is too expensive at this point to be considered in any but the most drastic situations.

 

I don't quite understand why they would have to tunnel to increase speeds? If they fitted constant-tension catenary south of NY and increased the gap between sets of curved track (when they were designing it, they didn't take into account the tilting train sets around curves), they could likely increase speeds significantly. Neither of those would require digging tunnels or anything like that.

 

What you're describing wouldn't do much if anything to increase maximum speeds, but it could do a lot to help increase average speeds, and for regular commuters it would probably be a lot more meaningful.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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If you carefully read the Tier I EIS for the NEC you will see that what cpotisch describes is exactly the focus of one of the levels of enhancement proposed. It still involves tunneling between New Brunswick and Rahway, since there is no way to find the real estate on the surface for any cheaper than digging tunnels to wither increase the track center distances or straighten the curves around Metuchec and Metropark. Those curves separate two significant lengths of track where 125+ speeds are possible and removing the 90mph speed limits through that area will reduce running times significantly..

 

In general, it is quite difficult to find the real estate to increase track center distances in NJ until you get past Princeton Jct, and even that is becoming difficult with the suburban sprawl along the ROW. The second issue is that finding space for increasing track center will also involve basically tearing down most of the electrification gantries and building new ones with wider space underneath them, which essentially amounts to re-eletrifying the entire route, which itself is probably a billion dollar project.

 

Anyway, these issue have been considered in some detail even in the Tier I EIS, and I am sure will be dealt with in detail when Tier II EIS' are developed.

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