Why trains instead of planes for long distance?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by dande, Oct 13, 2019.

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  1. Oct 20, 2019 #101

    SarahZ

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    The biggest problem (for me) is that it's an overnight trip. Plus, there's the hassle of either backtracking or boarding in the middle of the night.

    If I could leave in the morning and arrive in the evening, then yes, no contest. I would take the train almost every time, depending on the price difference. I would LOVE to be able to hop a train to NYC for a long weekend if the price were low enough.

    Given the terrible schedule, it makes much more sense (for me) to either drive 10-11 hours to the east coast or hop a plane in Kzoo or Detroit. If they can figure out a way to run an early-morning train from Chicago to points east, I am ALL FOR IT. :)
     
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  2. Oct 20, 2019 #102

    tricia

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    As folks have noted umpteen times here: Most or all of Amtrak's LD trains need a second frequency with departures/arrivals around 12 hours offset from the current schedules. I generally prefer overnight trains--wake up in the AM and be where I'm going, but sometimes for me (and perhaps more often for other travellers), daytime scheduling works better.
     
  3. Oct 20, 2019 #103

    Cho Cho Charlie

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    That is exactly the point.

    Wasn't it that the TWA flight continued to fly, for what, 20 more minutes after the gas tank explosion blew the cockpit off the front of the plane? The loss of the cockpit changed the center of gravity, causing the paint to tilt up, and actually gain altitude for a while.

    Then there was those flights (Asia? Japan?) where they lost their tail fin due to decompression fatigue? The plane just continued to fly until it ran out of fuel or hit the side of a mountain.

    In these types of cases, the doomed plane was fatally damaged, but the passengers had a very long prolonged death, allowing them to send, record, or write "good bye" messages to love ones.

    Don't even get me into software errors, which may annoy Windows, Android, and iOS users, but kill those on planes like the 737MAX.
     
  4. Oct 20, 2019 #104

    Devil's Advocate

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    It's rather doubtful that "ALL" suitcases in two states have been subjected to measurable contamination. That's not to say there are no issues with canine drug detection, but they generally involve insufficient training, improper usage or interpretation, and subtle communication of predisposition. Some studies have indicated that canine detection schemes may average a success rate as low as 30% due to these and other factors.

    A large passenger aircraft with a giant gaping hole where the nose should be and no active control systems would be incapable of sustaining flight for 20+ minutes. Such an aircraft could climb and bob briefly but lack of aerodynamic integrity would result in a rapidly deteriorating flight path. Even if sustained flight was somehow possible, human passengers would be unable to maintain prolonged consciousness under such conditions.

    It's true that JL123 was a pretty bad way to go. Passengers who survived the harrowing flight and eventual crash on the mountain ended up dying anyway due to lack of a timely rescue effort. We're talking shockingly bad luck combined with incredibly poor decision making. Several rules and regulations were eventually changed as a result. Unfortunately, as we've seen with the 737 Max and other incidents, just because you identify and resolve a problem doesn't mean your solutions won't be removed or ignored in the future.

    The vast majority of plane crashes occur suddenly during takeoff and landing. These events generally happen very quickly and without advance warning to passengers. It's true that sometimes passengers will know or have reason to believe they are going to die for several minutes or even hours, but this remains statistically rare despite recent events.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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  5. Oct 21, 2019 #105

    adamj023

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    i am not a conspiracy theorist but am well versed in physics, mathematics and transportation technologies and the government and the state of knowledge we are at today. There was no design failure specific to the 737 Max contrary to what we have been told. And TWA 800 was a missile strike as we saw on MSNBC and the video was confiscated by the FBI. Only someone who recorded what they saw on MSNBC during that time would have the actual footage. The physics of TWA 800 was manipulated by the CIA. If you create the modeling yourself, understand physics and also run a simulator of a 747, you find the government story to be impossible.

    We have not seen much innovation on rail in modern times in the USA, but we did see a lot of innovations under an economic derived model back during the days of the private railroads. The USA used to be at the forefront of rail technology during the private railroads but later on other nations spend a lot more capital on it while the Automobile became more commonplace inside the USA. Governmental airplane designs are way ahead of what commercial airlines provide in the existing petroleum based economy.

    Private sector rail growth is coming gradually from Virgin Trains and hopefully government will spin off the Northeast Corridor and privatize it. If Americans want higher speed rail, it will come but people still love the automobile and personal transportation on the overall basis as well as commercial air travel for longer haul routes.

    If the petroleum market wasn’t controlling the economy, we could do super quick speeds that far exceed what we have now for air and ground based transportation. NYC to London in less than an hour of travel time is not a pipe dream for instance based on technology levels we have achieved but powerful interests keep this away from making this available.
     
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  6. Oct 21, 2019 #106

    crescent-zephyr

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    Umm... that’s all that’s available for the majority of Americans. To say that’s what people prefer implies they have a choice.
     
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  7. Oct 21, 2019 #107

    Devil's Advocate

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    Whenever someone feels the need to start a discussion with "I am not an X, but..." You can reasonably predict that person does indeed possess traits typically associated with X. Unurprisingly you immediately contradicted your initial claim with two examples of conspiracy logic. So you already know the final outcome of the ongoing 73M investigation despite providing zero evidence or details? And you say the FBI "stole" a post-broadcast video from MSNBC, presumably along with numerous content aggregators like LexisNexis, and yet nobody felt compelled to report on that story? The only thing that draws more eyeballs than a horribly tragic event is a government coverup of said event. Unless you're a rabid conspiracy theorist, in which case details and evidence don't really matter unless they support your preconceived narrative.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
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  8. Oct 21, 2019 #108

    Ryan

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    You're going to have to pick one and stick with it.
     
  9. Oct 21, 2019 #109

    Bob Dylan

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    It's the Deep State! The Black Helicopters are coming to get us, and then the Government will take away all of our Guns as the Socialists take over the Country!!!
     
  10. Oct 22, 2019 #110

    Lissa

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    I agree with this, plus I'll add that when flying to my destination, I feel a lot of stress and hassle at both ends of my trip. I find far less stress and hassle with a train ride at the beginning and end of my trip. :)

    I don't hate actually being in the air. I hate the hassle with airlines, airports, TSA, measuring and weighing and fussing over my luggage, etc., plus I feel more cramped than ever on planes these days. And I don't want to be away somewhere and have it in the back of my mind that I have to go deal with all of that again. I want to be away somewhere and know that at the end I'm going to board a train, with pretty much any luggage I personally feel the need to bring along, I'm going to settle into a private roomette, rest all day if I want, watch lovely scenery if I want. I can go sit out with other folks if I feel like it, or I can hide away the whole trip if that's my current mood. :) So much nicer thing to look forward to on my way back home. :)
     
  11. Oct 22, 2019 #111

    ehbowen

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    Actually, I don't find it at all impossible to believe that deteriorated wiring in a 25-year-old aircraft short-circuited and caused a spark which ignited vapors in an un-inerted fuel tank. I find that story easier to believe than the possibility that, whether deliberately or accidentally, a US Navy warship fired a missile which downed a civilian airliner and that none of the sailors aboard that ship ever spilled the beans for 23 years and counting now. I've been a sailor. Sailors talk. Compare the USS Vincennes and Iran Air flight 655.
     
  12. Oct 22, 2019 #112

    Bluejet

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    So
    I don’t see TWA 800 as a missile, it’s been debunked too many times. I can positively say that McAS and double redundancy of the aoa vanes was a design flaw, and boring lied about it.
     
  13. Oct 22, 2019 #113

    jiml

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    Sounds like our election yesterday.
     
  14. Oct 22, 2019 #114

    adamj023

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    This is an Amtrak forum and not an aviation forum, and we went offtopic. As far as Amtrak long distance is concerned, speed needs to be improved as well as capital investment and I believe in private sector. Amtrak is more competitive than bus but needs locomotive and train car upgrades. If we wanted an ideal transit system, Amtrak would be privatized and we would see new concepts for ground or near ground technologies. The old system is antiquated of passenger rail as is. Right now we have vehicles based on rubber tires or rail based technologies and both concepts are decades old. Vehicles have seen design changes and technological improvements but still retain the same basic principles. The freight railroads and Amtrak own valuable right of way assets and in the freight railroads themselves, due to lack of competition, real innovation has not happened. Jay Walder, former chairman of the MTA is at Hyperloop right now who understands the existing rail assets so we are seeing some migration on that front for the future.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
  15. Oct 22, 2019 #115

    Anderson

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    So, I ran into this issue this week. At the present moment I'm holding a Delta ticket to Florida and an Amtrak ticket to Florida for this weekend. Here's the rough calculation:
    -At $390-400 for a roomette, I prefer the Meteor. It departs at about 2145, gets in a bit after noon.
    -Delta, by contrast, offered the following options in First:
    --DCA-MCO: $276
    --RIC-MCO: $311
    --PHF-MCO: $366
    --ORF-MCO: $348 (then suddenly $611).

    Each option has pros and cons:
    --PHF forces a direct routing via ATL (so no en route meal nor ability to use facilities at JFK).
    --RIC would effectively require parking at RIC or a particularly clumsy train trip, Uber from RVR/RVM, etc. I've done that before and it is a PITA.
    --DCA requires taking Amtrak up to ALX, but is otherwise probably the best of the flight options as-is.
    --ORF...well, at $348 it might have won out on routing flexibility, but at $611 for basically everyone I'll drive elsewhere.

    If I had been stuck at the price that had showed up for a bit (about $475 for the roomette), Delta would have won. That extra $80-90 is my "pain point" since at that stage a walk-up Business Class ticket NPN/NFK-ALX plus an Uber is still cheaper, and since with my tangle of status and credit cards, I get some nice lounge access (particularly at JFK, sort-of also at ATL).

    Last month, I'd probably have still done Amtrak (since I could look forward to decent meals). I may be packing a breakfast MRE instead and cook it on the platform at JAX (if I wanted a sausage McMuffin with Egg, I'd go to McDonald's; this year's Menus 17 and 20 look doable instead). I'll probably sample the lunch/dinner food option; whether I finish it is another story.

    (Point of complaint: Since all they have to do is throw the entree in the frakking microwave, would it have killed them to make the dinner available as long as the cafe was open? Being able to pull dinner at 2200 would actually have been a reasonable offset to the rest of this mess for that particular reservation.)

    Anyhow...this is a sense of my calculus on a frequent trip for me. In the past, taking 97 to NYC has generally been a slam dunk (being able to get a nice omelette and bacon en route to NYP was always nice). Now...the roomette has the edge if the price is right, but not otherwise given the timing, etc.
     
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  16. Oct 22, 2019 #116

    Ryan

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    Given that the topic is a comparison of trains and planes and way people choose them, the aviation portion is in bounds.

    (not that I'm surprised you would want to steer the conversation away from your clearly debunked conspiracy theories)

    ((self appointed moderator of what's on/off topic after only 17 posts here may be a record, though. congrats))

    Another real world example. My presence is "required" in San Diego for meetings next Monday-Wednesday. I have plans with the family on the preceding Saturday, and would like to be home on Thursday for Halloween festivities with the children. Only way that happens is by climbing on the big silver bird for a few hours.
     
  17. Oct 22, 2019 #117

    crescent-zephyr

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    Here’s a recent example.... I needed to travel from Orlando to Lancaster PA.

    I could.... spend another night in Orlando (hotel) and take a morning flight to Newark NJ and take a train from Newark to Lancaster. (By far the easiest transfer to get a train to Lancaster but obviously some others would work).

    Or....

    Hop the meteor in Orlando, sleep on the train, wake up and transfer in Philly and arrive in Lancaster around the same time or perhaps a bit earlier.

    First class plane vs. Meteor Roomette was about the same price so that saved me money vs. getting an extra hotel room in Orlando.

    Returning home I would be taking the Crescent and a roomette was double the price of first class delta so I flew. Plus Delta flys into my actual town, Amtrak would have required a bus ride from Atlanta.
     
  18. Oct 23, 2019 #118

    MARC Rider

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    The problem with private-sector railroad infrastructure is that railroads require a lot of overhead whether business is good or not. When business drops, as what happened after World War 2 when cars, trucks, and planes cut into railroad market share, the railroads financed by private capital responded by cutting back their infrastructure so severely that they have been having all sorts of problems with capacity and antiquated equipment, issues with deferred maintenance, etc. now that business has rebounded.

    Clearly, it would make more sense to have railroad infrastructure, like all other transportation infrastructure in this country, publicly owned and financed, with perhaps some of the operating companies being private enterprises.

    Why would a privatized Amtrak spend big bucks on expensive cutting edge technologies when they can barely afford to buy desperately need new passenger cars and locomotives based on the readily available existing technology? Heck, they can't even afford to serve edible food to sleeping car passengers. And that's with a government subsidy.

    So what? The basic concept of flanged steel wheels on steel rails is simple, efficient and time tested. Rubber pneumatic tires on paved roads is also a very stable well-understood technology. Cost and performance are very predictable. Why the need to innovate for innovation's sake?

    "Lack of competition" for railroads? What do you call cars, buses, trucks, planes, and barges?

    What "migration?" The last talk I heard from someone working on a Hyperloop project indicated that all anyone has in operation is a short-distance small-scale model. Most of the real barriers to a practical passenger Hyperloop have not been overcome and may never be. Anyway, what's the point? If you want to travel at airline speeds, take an airliner. Again, airplanes are a very reliable technology, and they're widely available right now. Why re-invent the wheel? The same goes for maglev, even though there are working systems. They're more complicated and expensive to build and operate than a traditional railroad. Why bother? Innovation for innovation's sake? I'll admit I'm a bit of curmudgeon about this issue. In my view, most of the technological innovation that I've seen during my lifetime has made life more stressful and environmentally unsustainable than the technology available in my younger days.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
  19. Oct 23, 2019 #119

    crescent-zephyr

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    In general I agree with your point. But Maglev is proven technology. Expensive... but proven. Hyperloop is not. So we are talking about 2 different things.

    Maglev can make a lot of sense... it's just super expensive.

    Taking an airlplane from Atlanta to Los Angeles is always going to make sense as building a maglev train that distance is crazy impractical.

    But taking an airplane from Atlanta to Nashville is pretty silly, you spend more time boarding the plane than in the air. An Atlanta to Nashville Maglev would make alot of sense. Now would high speed rail? yes.... as would conventional rail... but right now we have.. nothing. Your options are fly... or drive 4 hours. A maglev could do it in 1 hour.
     
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  20. Oct 23, 2019 #120

    Qapla

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    "Super expensive and impractical" - The same thing could have been said when the Interstate Highway System was proposed and the early stages were started. The same could have been said about efficient airports with equipment in the air traffic control facilities.

    If the Gov't officials had taken the same view and direction with the Interstate System and airports that they have taken with passenger rail (or all rail,for that matter) we would still be driving on dirt roads and using grass runways at small private airports.

    The rail system is really no more expensive or impractical then most of the other infrastructure in the US ... just not as popular amongst those who control the purse strings.
     
  21. Oct 23, 2019 #121

    crescent-zephyr

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    Totally agree. I think it's not that rail is unpopular as much as to an extent we have given up. Our infrustructure is literally falling apart. We SHOULD be investing in our future and building new systems but anytime we try to it becomes a big political mess (Orlando to Tampa HSR, California HSR, The NJ Tunnel projects, etc.)
     
  22. Oct 23, 2019 #122

    Devil's Advocate

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    Maybe you missed this detail, but magnetic levitation really is very expensive, extremely inefficient, and highly impractical compared to conventional high speed passenger rail.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
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  23. Oct 23, 2019 #123

    Qapla

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    Nope - didn't miss that part at all ... I guess it all depends on how you view "expensive"
    And since there have been very few deaths with maglev - that is also a cost to consider

    I agree, it would be expensive to build ... but then, so were the space shuttles
     
  24. Oct 23, 2019 #124

    adamj023

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    False. I stand my my statements and multiple people who have actually looked into it know my statement is correct. Some have been on the record and can be found on an internet search. Others are senior government officials including current and retired off the record and others off the record as well.

    As far as high speed trains go, rails themselves add friction and reduce the maximum speed of trains. Propulsion technologies that we have available that government has already achieved are far beyond what exists as of now in the commercial sector. Costs of building infrastructure are negligible in right to work states but are significantly more in other states and the technologies can be mass produced cheaply. Change is hard because it means a lot of job losses for what is no longer needed and is especially harder in the unionized states.
     
  25. Oct 23, 2019 #125

    Bob Dylan

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    I'll have some of what you're Smoking!!!

    Seriously????
     
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