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Old 07-15-2008, 09:29 PM
 
Location: Spots Wyoming
18,696 posts, read 36,505,685 times
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The major minds would figure to run it from Major city to Major city. The stops along the way would be a byproduct. For instance, Twin Cities to Denver. But have stops at Sioux Falls, Mitchell, Chaimberland, Wall, Rapid City, Cheyenne, Fort Collins, then Denver.

It could be done, but like you say, at a great cost. But again, it would need the people to support it. Amtrack is going broke. So is Greyhound. No riders.
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:43 PM
 
2,398 posts, read 4,887,420 times
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Hmm... Interesting idea. I'd love to see this happen... Although, it probably wouldn't happen in my lifetime. The SD DOT would need to warm up to this idea, then do numerous studies (the cost of this will amount to an arm and a leg ), and coordinate with towns/cities along the route... The DOT has trouble with planning ahead the way it is, in earlier times anyway. Look at I-29 south of 41st Street...
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:49 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
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I would certainly support it if the option was there. I actually find riding on trains fun. I have been on the light rail in MPLS and find it rather handy. I have done this before. I park at Mall of America and take the train up to downtown MPLS. I will do this next month when I plan to meet up with a friend and watch the Twins vs. Mariners game.

Getting people to support the project would mean educating the people about the benefits of light rail. This will take time.

Of course with long distance light rail, the stops will have to be limited and staggered every 50-60 miles or so, depending on the population and lay of the land.

Another idea would be to integrate passenger rail with the current rail (hauling materials and goods), but soundproofing the passenger cars and have them go at higher speeds. Some tweeking will be needed with intersections and developing engines are efficient. I have heard of ideas of having train engines that are electric or partially electric.

Elk Hunter, I have heard that Amtrak has been going broke in recent years, but it is becoming more popular recently with the airlines tacking on fee after fee and cramming their planes (due to highway robbery on crude prices-I can go on and on about this topic but is better that I do not at this time). Air travel in general has become a major hassle and car travel is still feasible but is becoming a little tougher. Amtrak may have a new lease on life with people using this as an alternative. If gas prices get high and stay high, more people may utilize buses and trains (which are more efficient than having an extra 50-60 vehicles with one person driving in each on the road). For rural areas, the mass transit may be challenging but may work with making trips cross country and to a regional city such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Omaha, or Denver and getting on board in a city such as Chamberlain, Sisseton, Mitchell, Spearfish, etc. A good network of light rail would work and give people options and is workable if marketed well.

I think that Amtrak and Greyhound could do better and need to do better with marketing themselves and find ways to be relevant to Americans of various incomes.

Considering the life expectancy being around 80, I have about another 55 years and would like to see progress on the energy and transporation front. Heavens sakes, if we can put a man on the moon, we can find a way to improve transporation and energy in our country and benefit greatly as a society as a result.
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:54 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjgustafson View Post
Hmm... Interesting idea. I'd love to see this happen... Although, it probably wouldn't happen in my lifetime. The SD DOT would need to warm up to this idea, then do numerous studies (the cost of this will amount to an arm and a leg ), and coordinate with towns/cities along the route... The DOT has trouble with planning ahead the way it is, in earlier times anyway. Look at I-29 south of 41st Street...
I know what you mean about the I-29 area. The interstate is too narrow and is in terrible shape. Too many bumps, potholes, etc. With the rough roads in the areas, I had to have my car (which is three years old) reallinged as a result. I honestly think that I-29 should be formatted similar to the stretch near Russell and Madison Sts. with four lanes on each side or like I-229 at least with the traffic that is on the road. There are too many accidents and close calls on I-29 between 41st St. and the Tea exit. The road needs to be widened and I-29/I-229 interchange needs to be reconfigured as well.

gustafson, I agree with you on having on having SDDOT warm up to the idea of light rail. It seems like South Dakota is backwards compared to other areas in ideas such as light rail.
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Old 07-16-2008, 08:25 AM
 
Location: South Dakota
733 posts, read 4,201,596 times
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New light rail is unbelievably expensive and - at least in Denver - highly taxpayer subsidized. I understand the collected fares only cover a minimal portion of operating expense and debt retirement. I suspect the same is true in the Twin Cities. It's being built on the expectation of increasing utilization, I presume, and future increasing revenue.

Given the huge cost of new rail construction, why not use the infrastructure we already have? Granted, SD and many states have lost miles and miles of abandoned and now torn out rail lines [Another real farsighted move, eh?]. But we have old "heavy rail" [In need of substantial repair in many places I realize.] still connecting lots of large and small communities.

Hence my suggestion to resurrect the Budd car or some other equivalent. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to run a railroad...
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Old 07-16-2008, 04:40 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
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Quote:
Originally Posted by windtimber View Post
New light rail is unbelievably expensive and - at least in Denver - highly taxpayer subsidized. I understand the collected fares only cover a minimal portion of operating expense and debt retirement. I suspect the same is true in the Twin Cities. It's being built on the expectation of increasing utilization, I presume, and future increasing revenue.

Given the huge cost of new rail construction, why not use the infrastructure we already have? Granted, SD and many states have lost miles and miles of abandoned and now torn out rail lines [Another real farsighted move, eh?]. But we have old "heavy rail" [In need of substantial repair in many places I realize.] still connecting lots of large and small communities.

Hence my suggestion to resurrect the Budd car or some other equivalent. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to run a railroad...
I like the idea of utilizing our existing rail lines and maybe expand ones that dead end realllign some stretches. There may be new stretches to be built to improve connectivity. The utilization of existing rail will cut down costs of resurrecting passenger train travel.

The rail built for passenger train traffic should be configured to be used for commercial train traffic.
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Old 07-17-2008, 06:22 AM
 
Location: Prepperland
13,759 posts, read 9,875,742 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by windtimber View Post
New light rail is unbelievably expensive and - at least in Denver - highly taxpayer subsidized. ...

Given the huge cost of new rail construction, why not use the infrastructure we already have?
JG: FRA regulations are geared toward slow, heavy freight. The rules invariably clash with fast, lightweight passenger / freight. A good insight into the issues can be found here:

Passenger Rail for the Shasta Route: Table of Contents

An interesting essay on the need for electrification of existing rail:
Multiple Birds – One Silver BB: A synergistic set of solutions to multiple issues focused on Electrified Railroads
Transportation Electrification, electric transit, electric railways 10% Reduction in America's Oil Use - Light Rail Now
===========
From a cursory examination of the issues, it can be summed up as:
[] Subsidy to public roads, and indirect subsidy to automobiles, buses and trucks.
[] Tax penalty on railroads (ex: property taxes on rail rights of way)
[] Inertia from years of petroleum based transit policy
[] Conflict with FRA regulations
[] Lack of consistent policy (ex: AMTRAK funding and mismanagement)

The saddest thing I learned was that many of the advanced technologies used in Europe and Asia were first developed (and abandoned) in the USA.

And to compound matters, when subways, urban and interurban rail companies were private, innovation, expansion, and constant improvement was the rule.
After transfer to public authorities and monopolies, they became static, gradually decayed, and were abandoned.
Lesson?
Public ownership of rails is one thing. Public ownership of rolling stock and operation is another thing.
To encourage private rail investment, don't give public funds - just don't burden them with taxes.
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Old 07-18-2008, 04:42 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
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It would be a good idea for the Federal regulators to update the railroad regulations to cover light rail and allow it to take hold easier. Our rail infrastructure could easily be improved and better connected to better handle frieght and passenger traffic, but will require an investment by the rail companies and the public. In the end, it would make freight shipping, liesure travel, and business travel better with another viable option to long-distance driving and flying.
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Old 07-18-2008, 05:12 PM
 
Location: Spots Wyoming
18,696 posts, read 36,505,685 times
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Safety dictates that we can not use existing rail lines. Right now, a loaded freight train, traveling at speed can plug the train (hit emergency stop) and that train will slide a mile and a half. Now, kick that train up to 100 mph and see how long it takes to stop?

With current traffic crossing the tracks, high speed is not going to happen. The current tracks won't even handle high speed, and current rail lines go through every small town they can.

Light rail, I think, would require it's own track, very few crossings and very few stops. If we elevated it down the median of the interstate, but just elevated going through towns, we could fix the problem of crossings.
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Old 07-18-2008, 06:32 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
1,961 posts, read 6,182,423 times
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I agree with your point, but using the same tracks would save on construction costs. Cost and functionality is a big part, so is safety. I see what you mean on the slowing down and the cross traffic at rail crossings.

Another idea would be with high speed passenger traffic would be to have high speed freight along with it to have additional business and revenue streams for the light rail. It would make it work while. Sometimes one has to throw out ideas, even though there are flaws and one of these crazy ideas may be a winner. There are inventors of common items that were considered crazy in their times.

Having the light rail follow interstates is the most logical route or lesser travelled roads with minimal intersections as short cuts. Accommodations would be made if a theoretical Minneapoilis to Denver route would come to fruition, althoug it would be logical to either route it to Sioux Falls or down to Sioux City.
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