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747400sp
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Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 6:34 am

Hello

Before I start, I love the way are American passengers trains sound, but they are very slow when you put them next to trains in France, Japan and China.
An Amtrak locomotive, is pretty much a cowl freight locomotive which rides on faster b type truck, instead of the slower heavy duty c trucks you see a freight loco's.

So why it has taken so long to build an ultra high train in the United States?
 
Gemuser
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:04 am

Because the powers that be in the USA [rightly or wrongly] sees no benefit in investing in it

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flyingturtle
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:16 am

Gemuser wrote:
Because the powers that be in the USA [rightly or wrongly] sees no benefit in investing in it


That explains it all.

747400sp wrote:
So why it has taken so long to build an ultra high train in the United States?


Which one? And please don't come with the "Acela". The Wisest of all Oracles Which is Revered Here, Google, says: "And the train's average speed is considerably lower: On the 319-mile trip between Philadelphia and Boston, Acela averages about 64 miles per hour." 64 mph average speed on 319 miles. Top speed 150 mph.

In September, I traveled twice on the BSL - Paris route. Average speed 118 mph on a 360 miles distance, the top speed being 199 mph.

The high speeds are achieved on custom-built tracks, which require a LOT of construction and engineering work. Even the TGV comes to a crawl when it enters the Paris suburbs - you can't build a high-speed track in certain settings, it would be too costly. And you must attract enough high-speed traffic to be cost-efficient, because you cannot clog these tracks with freight or even commuter trains.

The Acela is only an exercise of "We want a TGV too!" instead of finding a suitable route for such a train. The Acela can be flawlessly replaced by a what is called an Intercity train here.


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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 1:11 pm

Priorities, population density and distance.

Only a few parts of the country where high-speed rail makes economic sense; predominantly, the eastern seaboard (basically, Boston down to DC) and the California coast. For most of the country, air travel just makes better sense. "Priorities" means that the tax dollars for transportation development have been allocated to air travel infrastructure, not passenger rail. Good, bad or indifferent decision, the die is cast.

There is an active plan now to develop a high-speed rail link between Houston and Dallas, but until I see it, I don't believe it. Dallas- Austin - San Antonio could work.

In the "old days," American passenger rail was excellent, and some of it bordered on "high-speed," but since then, the trackage has become too poor for anything close to high speed, and it is shared with the freight, which (as the commodity service that actually pays for itself) will always take priority. The cost of building out new tracks and rights of way, properly secured from outside interference, would be - is - breathtaking.
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 1:45 pm

Fast Trains alone are useless unless the track itself is designed for it.

In Germany, the ICE 3 for example has a Speed of 300 km/h (in fact the Train can go 330, but it is not used in Germany). However, the trains go from Munich to Cologne and only on a few Stretches like Frankfurt-Cologne the top Speed can be used.

High Speed rail only makes sense if large cities are relatively close to each other, AND there is a useful Feeder Network. Since Germany is very polycentric, higher Speeds do not make so much sense anyway, it is often more efficient just to keep certain timeslots between to stations. Sometimes, longer travel times between two stations are better than shorter times, because the timetables of connecting Trains can be harmonised better (called Integraler Taktfahrplan in German).

In the US, I see a market at the East Coast and in California. However, a californian HSR Network would need useful local Trains/subways at both stops so that you actually can get where you want to go.



Fast Trains are VERY expensive. So in fact this high costs only pay off
 
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 2:12 pm

Based on my simulations I've performed on my computer, using state-of-the-art models like Railroad Tycoon, I predict profitable high-speed rail in the Great Lakes area, and possibly in the desert-y places of the southwest, where it would be cheaper to lay tracks. :mrgreen:

The main difficulty will be purchasing the land needed for tracks, finding a suitable area which allows for low construction costs, and finding the sweet spot between car traffic and air traffic. Anything with 3 to 6 hours of travel time, provided people can easily get to the railway station by either the car or public transport, would be great.


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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 2:46 pm

The Track is the main reason passenger trains are so 'slow' in the US.

The passenger rail service in the developed across most of the country as a supplement to freight rail. In the 20th century as personal vehicles and roadways capable of long distance travel developed - passenger service income declined. Freight rates and utilization climbed. Then after WWII - aircraft made long distance travel in the US possible.

The private rail companies did not have the money/ income to upgrade their tracks to support higher speed rail. They invested in the money necessary to keep their freight trains moving.

Today - the vast majority of passenger rail service runs over tracks designed for freight trains.

------------------------------------

Countries with real high speed rail have tracks solely dedicated to those trains. Those tracks do not have grade crossings. Any road crossing the track is either over and under the train tracks. Not driving directly across the rails.

Those high speed rail lines are expensive. Japan was only able to afford high speed rail when the government built the special tracks/ right of ways under the auspices of JNR. That was the first high speed rail system in the world.

Japan has an extremely competitive passenger rail system. But only in recent decades has privatization of high speed rail been possible.

Other high speed rail systems have all followed the Japanese model.

The US does have some high speed rail, and there are proposals to build a few other systems.

Due to geography - the US will only have high speed rail between certain high population density area. Remote areas like the western deserts will never have real high speed rail. The cost per mile for building and maintaining the track is the same no matter where the tracks are built - the revenue per mile isn't available on real long runs. You can't build track to lower standards, and without barriers to prevent access to the tracks in desert areas.

The 300 mile/ 500 km Tokaido Shinkansen is about the distance limit for trains being able to competed well with airlines for passengers.

Dallas to Houston to San Antonio to Dallas would work. Dallas to El Paso or Atlanta would not work. Too far, too few passengers.

Minneapolis to Chicago to Cleveland to New York might work. Chicago to St Louis to Little Rock to Dallas would not work.
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 3:14 pm

rfields5421 wrote:
The Track is the main reason passenger trains are so 'slow' in the US.

Japan has an extremely competitive passenger rail system. But only in recent decades has privatization of high speed rail been possible.
Minneapolis to Chicago to Cleveland to New York might work. Chicago to St Louis to Little Rock to Dallas would not work.


Overall a very good analysis. Of course, it has and should be discussed whether Trains actually have to be profitable. Public infrastructure IMHO does not necessarily need to be profitable, as Long as the benefit to Society is much greater than the costs.

Japans Shinkansen network is special in the regard that Japan is

a) very densely populated
b) all big cities concentrated on the coastline, in a row.

This makes high Speed rail extremely efficient. You only need one single line to connect almost all big cities together, and have lots of passengers on the System. This makes it easy to stay on time and have a profitable System.

France is very Paris-centric. So most lines go from Paris to other cities. This means more tracks, but topography is rather easy.

Germany is polycentric. This makes HSR more difficult as you need more lines which have a lower utilisation, and distances usually do not justify too high Speeds. Unfortunately, this also means that Hamburg-Munich is still unacceptably slow with 5 1/2 hours - a totally useless time.
 
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 3:24 pm

Because in the USA, there is too much red tape, corruption and politics involved behind any such project. Just looking at all the hoops my local airport (Chicago ORD) had to jump through to make improvements I can only imagine what a high speed train network would be like. All the parties involved in such a project would be constantly bickering with each other. What needs to be done is what China is doing, they just BUILD first and ask questions later, no bullshit. Massive and convenient high speed train network built in just a few years, huge new modern airports, etc and most importantly they don't care about NIMBYs. What is needed is someone like Eisenhower to make it happen like with the highway system.
 
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 3:33 pm

Germany has some HSR tracks which are also used by freight trains, but in order to cut costs, they have higher gradients than the French ones, requiring less engineering.

Another issue is that in Europe, railway lines were built before cities expanded. In many cases, in the US, cities expanded before railway got there. So you have to purchase the right of way in a quite costly manner.

Only with utilization high enough and lots of government subsidies you can afford Swiss-style HSR tracks (we have 200 kph top speed). So we built the Lötschberg tunnel across a mountain range, so people can live in Brig and Visp but yet work in Bern, in spite of some 10'000 ft mountains in between. Then, the Gotthard tunnel. And earlier, a partly subterrenean line between Olten and Bern.

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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:10 pm

747400sp wrote:
Hello

Before I start, I love the way are American passengers trains sound, but they are very slow when you put them next to trains in France, Japan and China.
An Amtrak locomotive, is pretty much a cowl freight locomotive which rides on faster b type truck, instead of the slower heavy duty c trucks you see a freight loco's.

So why it has taken so long to build an ultra high train in the United States?


I think it's just as valid to ask why it is that France (and Germany and in some parts the UK), Japan and China are able to have such fast trains and highly engineered tracks that cost so much to develop and require so many individuals to surrender property to the state for the right-of-ways? It's a tremendous accomplishment, but it comes with a lot of sacrifices and tremendous costs (both initial investment as well as on-going).

TheSonntag wrote:
Germany is polycentric. This makes HSR more difficult as you need more lines which have a lower utilisation, and distances usually do not justify too high Speeds. Unfortunately, this also means that Hamburg-Munich is still unacceptably slow with 5 1/2 hours - a totally useless time.


Germany would make an interesting case study. From what I know they started development of high speed highways (i.e. the Autobahn) before most other nations, and also invested heavily in high speed rail and air travel too, yet we see the issues you raise. It seemed they try to do all approaches at the same time, with mixed results.

In the US we invested very heavily in highways with mixed results. From my travels, no where do you find the kind of limited access highway infrastructure that you have here in the US. I'm not talking about the inner city highways, I'm talking about how some very modest towns have major access to the highway system. I don't think we suffer that much from a lack of high speed intercity rail. I think we suffer more from lack of investment in urban and commuter rail, and poor interconnection of airports with the rail networks. If we had good rail-air connections then constructing "air busses" (ahem) would be a very natural next step, and would almost totally erase the need for high speed rail.
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:32 pm

High speed rail outside of the northeast and southern California areas is not needed. Who wants to take a train from New York to Chicago or Atlanta to DC when you can catch a flight for less money and time? I would like to take a train from Downtown to my local suburb, however.

Commuter rail is something we really need more of and a lot of cities are building them or looking into doing so.
 
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:15 pm

ContentCreator wrote:
Who wants to take a train from New York to Chicago or Atlanta to DC when you can catch a flight for less money and time?


This mentality is the problem. The distance between NY and Chicago is about 1150km. This is the same distance as between Nanjing and Beijing - a route which I have traveled several times with the Chinese high speed rail going at 300km/h. With a few stops on the way, that is about a 4 hour trip between Chicago and New York. What exactly do you save in time? You need to be at the airport 1.5 hours before departure, combined with a flight time of 2 hours and 10 minutes that is basically ~4 hours right? Assuming no delays, long taxiing, weather, etc. So worst case the train will be about 30 minutes longer than the flight or it will be faster if the flight gets delayed for countless reasons. Additionally, the train will almost always be cheaper because it is a fixed price, while airfare fluctuates wildly depending on date and time of day. Say I want to go from Chicago to NY this weekend, looking right now tickets are around $230 round trip. I seriously doubt a train would cost that much. And this is on a regular weekend. So no, the train would be cheaper and take about the same time. Add the fact that I won't have to deal with the TSA or cram into a crappy United Airbus with no legroom and crabby FAs and I really don't see how the plane is a better option. Of course, a NY to LA flight would be better than a train though.
 
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:26 pm

sovietjet wrote:
ContentCreator wrote:
Who wants to take a train from New York to Chicago or Atlanta to DC when you can catch a flight for less money and time?


This mentality is the problem. The distance between NY and Chicago is about 1150km. This is the same distance as between Nanjing and Beijing - a route which I have traveled several times with the Chinese high speed rail going at 300km/h. With a few stops on the way, that is about a 4 hour trip between Chicago and New York. What exactly do you save in time? You need to be at the airport 1.5 hours before departure, combined with a flight time of 2 hours and 10 minutes that is basically ~4 hours right? Assuming no delays, long taxiing, weather, etc. So worst case the train will be about 30 minutes longer than the flight or it will be faster if the flight gets delayed for countless reasons. Additionally, the train will almost always be cheaper because it is a fixed price, while airfare fluctuates wildly depending on date and time of day. Say I want to go from Chicago to NY this weekend, looking right now tickets are around $230 round trip. I seriously doubt a train would cost that much. And this is on a regular weekend. So no, the train would be cheaper and take about the same time. Add the fact that I won't have to deal with the TSA or cram into a crappy United Airbus with no legroom and crabby FAs and I really don't see how the plane is a better option. Of course, a NY to LA flight would be better than a train though.


Ok, so that's one city pair linked by high speed trains. At how many billions upon billions of costs for just one city pair? I doubt the amount of travellers just between NYC and Chicago can justify something like that. Comparing Chinese trains to American trains is not really fair as the Chinese doesn't have to deal with pesky laws or the rights of citizens when they build these routes. I've taken a few high speed trains in China myself and they were deserted and obviously heavily subsidized.
 
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:56 pm

ContentCreator wrote:
Ok, so that's one city pair linked by high speed trains. At how many billions upon billions of costs for just one city pair? I doubt the amount of travellers just between NYC and Chicago can justify something like that. Comparing Chinese trains to American trains is not really fair as the Chinese doesn't have to deal with pesky laws or the rights of citizens when they build these routes. I've taken a few high speed trains in China myself and they were deserted and obviously heavily subsidized.


Well it will pay off in the long run and make life easier for everyone. Not everything should be about profit, especially public conveniences and infrastructure. I'm sure someone was saying the same thing when the interstate system was being built. However, you are right, the pesky laws and people complaining about their "rights" is the biggest problem. They can't even build a damn pipeline because everyone is always complaining and wants to have the cake and eat it too. That's why the Chinese are doing it right. They show up with the bulldozers and a bag of cash and tell them either take it or we will build over you. And that's how it should be done. It's a small fraction of people that would be inconvenienced for the greater good.
 
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:29 pm

Wellll....if EVERYBODY paid their taxes to keep the transportation infrastructure in America healthy......
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:37 pm

TheSonntag wrote:
Germany is polycentric. This makes HSR more difficult as you need more lines which have a lower utilisation, and distances usually do not justify too high Speeds. Unfortunately, this also means that Hamburg-Munich is still unacceptably slow with 5 1/2 hours - a totally useless time.


Actually I took the ICE between Munich and Hamburg and it was a very nice experience despite the long travel time. Even though flying is cheaper and (in theory) faster, on the train I actually have legroom, I can walk around, and I don't need to worry about security.

If there were a high speed rail line between New York and Chicago I would definitely consider taking it. Of course, its not just getting travelers between those two cities, but also cities in between (Pittsburgh and Cleveland perhaps). The same can be said for the Chinese high speed rail; not everyone on the train between Beijing and Shanghai is going between just those two cities.

However while we should be developing high speed rail on certain corridors, we also need to modernize the transit systems in our cities. Buses, bus rapid transit, streetcar, light rail, regional/commuter rail, etc. Another reason why I took the train for most of my travel through Europe was because the train station was in the center of the city and there were plenty of options for public transit. Most airports are far outside the city center and its more difficult if public transit options are limited.

As for NIMBYism, we unfortunately have to listen to their complaints, but when they throw a lawsuit because they were proven wrong (example-a study of a proposed rail line proved it would not significantly increase noise in their area) then its time to ignore them. If a person bought a house next to train tracks and expected that there would only be one freight train for as long as they live there then they are fooling themselves. If there is a proposal to build a rail line where there isn't currently one then I can understand the concern, but people have to be open to compromise instead of saying no automatically.
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:09 pm

sovietjet wrote:
Well it will pay off in the long run and make life easier for everyone. Not everything should be about profit, especially public conveniences and infrastructure. I'm sure someone was saying the same thing when the interstate system was being built. However, you are right, the pesky laws and people complaining about their "rights" is the biggest problem. They can't even build a damn pipeline because everyone is always complaining and wants to have the cake and eat it too. That's why the Chinese are doing it right. They show up with the bulldozers and a bag of cash and tell them either take it or we will build over you. And that's how it should be done. It's a small fraction of people that would be inconvenienced for the greater good.

I want to treat this post as a joke, but I am getting the sense that I shouldn't.
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:15 pm

TheSonntag wrote:
In the US, I see a market at the East Coast and in California. However, a californian HSR Network would need useful local Trains/subways at both stops so that you actually can get where you want to go.


DC-NYC-BOS is a market. LAX-SFO is a market. There might be a viable DTW-CHI-MSP market, although only CHI has local rail service of any reasonable utility. Texas might make sense, but again there is little to no local rail service.

For the LAX-SFO market, the SFO terminus would end at the TransBay Terminal, which would offer connectivity to BART and CalTrain. At the LAX terminus, there wouldn't be much yet, but LAX is rapidly expanding its urban rail network.

However, I am not so sure that local rail connectivity is so important. In the U.S. we don't hold airports to that standard, so why should we hold HSR stations to that standard?
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:42 pm

The U.S. focused on their highway network instead of public transport after WWII, unlike Germany and Japan. Nowadays, passenger trains use tracks that were used on old railroads. Some places such as the Portal Bridge in NJ require trains to go slow, and is a major choke point on the line. Some tracks are begin used, but are in horrendous condition, such as the CSX Northern Branch. Trains must go slow on that line. NJ Transit is considering extending the HBLR along the Northern Branch, but that would require installation of overhead wires and major track repairs. That's how bad some of the used rail lines are in the U.S. today.
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:44 pm

You want slow trains? Try Auckland. The trains go like stunned rats, but you sit at the platform for 100 years each stop.
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:17 pm

sovietjet wrote:
ContentCreator wrote:
Who wants to take a train from New York to Chicago or Atlanta to DC when you can catch a flight for less money and time?


This mentality is the problem. The distance between NY and Chicago is about 1150km. This is the same distance as between Nanjing and Beijing - a route which I have traveled several times with the Chinese high speed rail going at 300km/h. With a few stops on the way, that is about a 4 hour trip between Chicago and New York. What exactly do you save in time? You need to be at the airport 1.5 hours before departure, combined with a flight time of 2 hours and 10 minutes that is basically ~4 hours right? Assuming no delays, long taxiing, weather, etc. So worst case the train will be about 30 minutes longer than the flight or it will be faster if the flight gets delayed for countless reasons. Additionally, the train will almost always be cheaper because it is a fixed price, while airfare fluctuates wildly depending on date and time of day. Say I want to go from Chicago to NY this weekend, looking right now tickets are around $230 round trip. I seriously doubt a train would cost that much. And this is on a regular weekend. So no, the train would be cheaper and take about the same time. Add the fact that I won't have to deal with the TSA or cram into a crappy United Airbus with no legroom and crabby FAs and I really don't see how the plane is a better option. Of course, a NY to LA flight would be better than a train though.


Hahahha no, not true. It will not be cheaper to ride the train. An airfare NYC-ORD is about $200 each way. A train ticket would take longer and cost around $5,000 each way. Unless you introduce a process of government subsidies. You would need to collect taxes to reduce it.

It might even be necessary to pay people a high salary just to act as passengers. It's not going to work.

High speed rail in the USA is fixing a non-problem with the most extravagant, ludicrous solution imaginable. I'm not saying we can't do it, just saying it is financially a bad idea. It would cost $800 billion or so to do NY-CHI (I just made that up). The value of it would be tiny, or perhaps negative. It would require ongoing operating subsidies in the billions per year.

If we have such a problem with the airline experience, we should (definitely!) pursue rail improvement to LGA, JFK and EWR. Additionally, the security theater experience should be improved for the patrons, moving them along faster.

If approached fairly, a HSR bombing would be an equal threat to an airplane bombing, so there's no security difference there.

With the onset of autonomous cars, it seems likely that Manhattan-LGA and JFK may improve greatly. In 30 years, you could likely make those trips in 10-20 minutes (riding in a pod). No joke, it will come and soon.
 
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:23 pm

flyingturtle wrote:
The high speeds are achieved on custom-built tracks, which require a LOT of construction and engineering work. Even the TGV comes to a crawl when it enters the Paris suburbs - you can't build a high-speed track in certain settings, it would be too costly. And you must attract enough high-speed traffic to be cost-efficient, because you cannot clog these tracks with freight or even commuter trains


If I'm not mistaken, they do run freight on those high speed lines, late at night - going at 200km/h.
rfields5421 wrote:
The US does have some high speed rail, and there are proposals to build a few other systems.


I don't think it is really high speed though. I mean, go on Youtube and have a look at some of the videos of TGV from in the drivers cab with the multiple cameras and GPS information. The things are going up quite decent and long gradients at 270+km/h and sitting on 290km/h+ for large amounts of time, even 320km/h in sections. And they accelerate fast too. But the clever bit is the way the TGV integrates into the standard rail network, so it can go to the normal stations. And it seems to go fairly fast on the classic lines anyway.
 
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:37 pm

[quote="Flighty"

Hahahha no, not true. It will not be cheaper to ride the train. An airfare NYC-ORD is about $200 each way. A train ticket would take longer and cost around $5,000 each way. [/quote]

How do you arrive at that figure?
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:10 pm

sovietjet wrote:
This mentality is the problem.


Yes, in particular the mentality that says that which happened in FR, DE, UK, Japan and/or China must be the right approach for the US as well.

It ignores every aspect of geography and history.

sovietjet wrote:
That's why the Chinese are doing it right. They show up with the bulldozers and a bag of cash and tell them either take it or we will build over you. And that's how it should be done. It's a small fraction of people that would be inconvenienced for the greater good.


Unless of course if the victim of such an approach is you, then you raise hell.

If you haven't noticed by the fact that we have an empty chair at the Supreme Court, the US has gotten obstructionism down to an art form....
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:17 pm

Long distance HSR is not possible in the United States, partly because cities are so far apart, and partly because citizens of this country have been conditioned to believe that rail travel is bad. It is either drive or fly. There is no other option, people believe.

When I lived in Portland, I used to take Cascades to Seattle all the time. It saved wear on my car and I didn't have to worry about parking and getting caught in traffic jams. Corridor rail can only work in a few places, but HSR would not work coast to coast.
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:21 am

seb146 wrote:
Long distance HSR is not possible in the United States, partly because cities are so far apart, and partly because citizens of this country have been conditioned to believe that rail travel is bad. It is either drive or fly. There is no other option, people believe.

When I lived in Portland, I used to take Cascades to Seattle all the time. It saved wear on my car and I didn't have to worry about parking and getting caught in traffic jams. Corridor rail can only work in a few places, but HSR would not work coast to coast.


There definitely is a cultural element at play, but if there was a HSR that replicated some of the major airline flows (like the BOS-NYC-WAS shuttle flights do/did) then it would get a following, IMHO. People would adapt to HSR just as readily as they adapt to airline travel, and in many cases better, presuming the trains went right to the city centers. However, of course, all that presumes there would be enough public support (either via taxes or via support for commercial development) for such HSRs to exist, and then we go back to the fact that there are cultural elements at play. The ones you mentioned, plus the ideological impediments regarding public funding of rail, or even of granting right-of-ways.

Here where I live in New Hampshire, the State Legislature refused to even take federal funds to study whether or not passenger rail was feasible along the Merrimack River corridor (Nashua to Manchester and perhaps on to Concord). The legislature was afraid that the outcome might be that it was feasible, and they were convinced that would mean there would be unsustainable subsidies to such an operation so they decided to refuse to accept the money needed for the study.
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blacksoviet
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Wed Oct 19, 2016 5:38 pm

Why did Amtrak pull out of Grand Central Terminal?
 
Gemuser
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:28 am

blacksoviet wrote:
Why did Amtrak pull out of Grand Central Terminal?

Cost! Why have two terminals when with a fairly short connecting track which was already there and an extra curve you could consolidate your services and make some connections much easier between former NY Central & Pennsey routes.

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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 8:21 pm

You are missing one European country which was expanding like crazy its railways network up until recently. Spain. Malaga - Madrid as an example takes you around 2,5 hours. The distance is around 600km. Tickets could be more expensive than flying but only the convenience of catching the train from city centre to city centre is well worth the money.

I was reading a study that anything up to 1,5h flying will eventually be substituted by trains as it is faster (and better for the environment). Also worth mentioning that ICE, AVE, and TGV are running on normal tracks compared to the Japanese bullet trains. The only difference is that those tracks have to have strict specifications but are cheaper to build and maintain.

I do love flying obviously but I guess I am not the only forum member who was living in London and had to go for meetings to Paris. Eurostar is a life saver, as an example, and I have cases of friends who were living in one city on the weekends and working in the other one weekdays. Same goes with the Barcelona - Madrid line which killed the plane shuttle service they used to have. I can think of numerous similar examples around Europe.

As for the USA a lot of people have replied. It's about money but it is really a pity for a country that expanded back in the 1800s partly due to the railways.
Not an expert but I find it hard to believe that a fast service would not pay off on the Washington to NY corridor as an example (having also 2 major cities in the way) compared to the 2,5-3h that exists now. The distance is around 200miles so 1 to 1,5h should be the max. Boston - NY is the same case.
 
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:31 am

Draken21fx wrote:
Same goes with the Barcelona - Madrid line which killed the plane shuttle service they used to have. I can think of numerous similar examples around Europe.


That is one important reason why the U.S. doesn't have any true high speed rail. The airlines lobby to make sure it never happens and to protect their business (WN and the proposed Texas Triangle is one example).
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Re: Why are US passenger trains so slow?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 4:39 am

Mainly, because they're running on freight tracks. Next time you see a train on the tracks, look and see how wobbly they look (without getting run over, of course).
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