How much would it cost for Amtrak to build their own tracks nationwide?

Discussion in 'Amtrak’s Future: Member Ideas and Discussion' started by MIRAILFAN, Jan 18, 2020.

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  1. Jan 18, 2020 #1

    MIRAILFAN

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    I say $50 billion.
     
  2. Jan 18, 2020 #2

    John Bobinyec

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    Since we're having a fun guessing game, I'd say you're low by two orders of magnitude.

    jb
     
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  3. Jan 18, 2020 #3

    jiml

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    Too many variables. The number for doing so while preserving the existing route map would be quite different from that of a properly planned new network.
     
  4. Jan 18, 2020 #4

    Skyline

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    In some places, it might be possible for Amtrak to co-exist with other freight tracks and simply “lease” one track for its own use from the host railroad. And then lease back operating rights for freight on schedules that won’t interfere with passenger train operations. Amtrak dispatchers would decide.


    This might mean upgrading track, if it already exists beside other tracks, for faster speeds that make the train a better option than private autos. It would not need to be “high-speed” tho.


    Other places it would involve brand new tracks.
     
  5. Jan 18, 2020 #5

    crescent-zephyr

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    Umm.... even the low estimate for Los Angeles to San Francisco was over that and currently it’s over double. That’s not even the entire state of California. So yeah... at least 100 billion per state if you are starting from scratch.
     
  6. Jan 18, 2020 #6

    MIRAILFAN

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    That was high speed rail. But I'll up my estimate to $500 bi llion.
     
  7. Jan 19, 2020 #7

    crescent-zephyr

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    so you want amtrak to build low-speed rail?
     
  8. Jan 19, 2020 #8

    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    At the very least, 110-125 mph rail on corridor routes, and around 90 mph on non-corridor routes for a start
     
  9. Jan 19, 2020 #9

    Qapla

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    The cost would be the only part of the problems. By the time they got done with the law suits that would try to stop the construction of new tracks, the cost of the litigation would supersede the cost of construction - not to mention the years such litigation would set back the construction process - and then the increased cost to the original price due to inflation and cost of living increases during all those years of delay.

    This could potentially push the cost into the trillion dollar range
     
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  10. Jan 19, 2020 #10

    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    Then you wonder why American infrastructure has been decaying and any actual necessary solutions to solve it ends up getting shot down and craven half-measures to appease the NIMBYs that ultimately don't do jack are passed.
    It seems people like to call out high speed rail as being pharaonic yet they don't bat an eye when the country's wasting away more than a trillion dollars on unneeded wars that ultimately benefit no one but the arms companies and defense contractors (as if they didn't have enough money as is already)
     
  11. Jan 19, 2020 #11

    MIRAILFAN

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    High speed rail is 150+ mph. regular rail is 55-90.
     
  12. Jan 19, 2020 #12

    MIRAILFAN

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    Litigation happy society and redundant overreaching environmental regulations.
     
  13. Jan 19, 2020 #13

    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    It seems the only way out is for America to fundamentally change its politics, which is going to be borderline impossible unless a collapse to society, like something akin to the Great Depression hits America (it's not out of the possibility though).
     
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  14. Jan 19, 2020 #14

    crescent-zephyr

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    So you think Amtrak should build their own track so they can travel the exact same speeds??? I’m totally lost.
     
  15. Jan 19, 2020 #15

    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    In numerous places, Amtrak is going to have to build their own tracks, especially in places that have heavy freight traffic. Case in point, the Cajon and Tejon pases.
     
  16. Jan 19, 2020 #16

    MIRAILFAN

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    with their own track average speed would go Up because no freight traffic.
     
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  17. Jan 19, 2020 #17

    Philly Amtrak Fan

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    Forget the average speed, how about reduction of delays and not being lower priority to freight?
     
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  18. Jan 19, 2020 #18

    Hepcat66

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    I'd be happy with 80-90mph if they were usually on time, and operated in a more safe manner (i.e, not going into a 35mph curve, at 70mph).
     
  19. Jan 19, 2020 #19

    zephyr17

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    That will generally be up to the states and the practice has generally been that states fund rail improvements in exchange for greater frequency or improved schedules. Washington paid for a third track through Kelso, Oregon paid for a new siding in Oregon City are two examples, but they aren't new lines and are not owned by the states or Amtrak but remain under the control of the RRs. With the Point Defiance Bypass, Washington did take ownership rehab a low speed industrial lead lead, but that is only like 20 miles (and engaged BNSF for dispatching services).

    PS. The freight traffic over Tejon Pass consists solely of trucks. There is no rail line over Tejon Pass and there never has been. Even California's High Speed Rail isn't being planned to use Tejon. Santa Fe studied it in the 20s and did some preliminary engineering, but the Depression stopped it.
     
  20. Jan 19, 2020 #20

    VAtrainfan

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  21. Jan 19, 2020 #21

    Dutchrailnut

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    and that is just top of iceberg , build new tracks means bridges, over or underpasses the 50 Billion would probably not be enough.
     
  22. Jan 19, 2020 #22

    ehbowen

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    Keep in mind, also, that the present rail routes were chosen specifically because they were the "best" (read: shortest, lowest grades, and least curves) feasible routes between the chosen end points. And, for the most part, they were built during a time when right-of-way was essentially free...existing towns regularly offered bonuses to ensure that they wouldn't be bypassed. Contrast that to today!

    There is one caveat to the above; essentially all lines were built with (and for) 19th century technology. Today we have more efficient and capable options for construction and the motive power we employ is more powerful and no longer tethered to the availability of a plentiful water source. Nevertheless, our options for new construction are very limited...unless you have limitless amounts of taxpayer money to throw at the problem, as when the Interstates were conceived....
     
  23. Jan 20, 2020 #23

    philabos

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    Not to mention the capital requirements of maintaining such a system would be enormous.
    The NEC costs expanded across the entire network.
    As to construction, just look at the brickbats Amtrak endured for just studying the New London bypass.
    Never going to happen in the US.
     
  24. Jan 20, 2020 #24

    west point

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    Forgetting real estate acquision costs. $6.0M per mille on land. $1B / mile bridges, $ 6 - 8B / mile for tunnels.
     
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  25. Jan 20, 2020 #25

    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    The only reason CAHSR went for Tehachapi over Tejon was bias in favor of the Antelope valley and that they deliberately made the Tejon route an inferior choice to make Tehachapi more desirable. Clem did a study debunking these claims and pointed out the many benefits with using Tejon over Tehachapi.
    I would also like to point out that the Tejon rail line is primarily a passenger rail line and it designed to ease traffic on I-5, especially during the winters when extreme weather closes it several times
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020

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