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Old 06-17-2009, 04:05 PM
 
2,437 posts, read 7,283,584 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simetime View Post
1. more railroads more routes
Easier said than done. Feasibility estimates generally start at the 10-billion dollar mark just for construction and deployment in any one region, and much higher for widely dispersed metros like those along the CA corridor. Not to mention the operating costs once it's all built.
Quote:
Originally Posted by simetime View Post
2. the cost of a train trip is already cheaper than a plane and little more than a bus.
Hardly. Of course it depends on where you are and where you want to go, but for any distance over a few hundred miles, air travel is almost always significantly cheaper. For example, Emeryville CA to Denver CO, a distance of roughly 1200 miles... I can usually buy a round trip plane ticket for around $250-$300 after tax. If I wanted to to take the train it would currently coast me around $150.00 each way just to get an upright SEAT to sit and sleep in for most of 33 hours straight. If you want even the tiniest of sleeping accommodations, tack on another $300 each way, not to mention the food and beverages you may want to purchase to sustain yourself or just to kill time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by simetime View Post
3. take your time sit back and enjoy america in all of it's beauty
That sounds really nice, for about the first five hours, and then you'll have another 30-60 hours of ahead, or much more, if it's a round trip across the country. Also, anyone who's frequented trains knows that they always seem to find the least scenic route one could possibly take... You'll be seeing the worst part of any towns you pass through and you certainly won't be heading through any national parks or wilderness areas.

I'm not just trying to be a downer here, but there's a reason that the dream of rail travel has fizzled and all but died out here in the US since the advent of the interstate highway system. I'm not saying it could never happen, but gas has to get a lot higher than 3 or 4 $ per gallon before long distance rail travel becomes anything more than a compelling novelty to the average traveler.

Another thing that grates me is when people (like, among others, the prez) say things like, 'just imagine... high speed cross-country travel with no security lines.' Who says they won't end up having the same sort of security checks for bullet trains as they do for air travel today? Just like planes, high speed rail would require packing hundreds of folks into enclosed metal tubes and shooting them off on their own. Granted, it's much easier to stop and eject passengers from a train, it only takes one serious terrorist threat for the reactionary powers that be to freak out and enact all sorts of heightened security measures.
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Old 06-17-2009, 04:19 PM
 
2,437 posts, read 7,283,584 times
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This may be way out in left field, but, I always figured the ultimate solution, barring truly free energy, would be some sort of freeway-propelled vehicular pod system.

In other words, you'd have some sort of pod-car -- bigger than a motorcycle but not nearly as large as a big SUV -- that you could drive around town and then hop on the 'freeway' at your nearest entry port, at which point it would take over, supplying the power and navigation for you to your desired exit point, and then you'd be on your own again. Basically, something akin to: driving your car down to the nearest train depot, driving it up onto it onto a flat car, riding it out until you get to another stop close to your final destination, and then driving yourself on from there.
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Old 06-17-2009, 05:23 PM
 
Location: Prepperland
13,732 posts, read 9,841,195 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treedonkey View Post
Basically, something akin to: driving your car down to the nearest train depot, driving it up onto it onto a flat car, riding it out until you get to another stop close to your final destination, and then driving yourself on from there.
"Containerized" automobile?
:-)

It's true that rail can't do point to point like a truck or automobile. However, as years go by, energy efficiency (and lowest fuel consumption) will trump even the Pod concept.

In terms of passenger miles per unit energy (fuel independent), rail has a 20:1 advantage over fully loaded automobile.

Frankly, I would prefer not to face the dire consequences of an oil poor America. But denial of the facts won't help us.

Consider that when oil prices hit the ceiling, and supplies shrink, we will need a transportation system that is independent of oil.

Hybrid and electric automobiles won't completely resolve the problem, because they are still dependent upon petroleum - for synthetic rubber tires, lubrication, plastics (like the film in windshields), fabrics, and the asphalt pavement. Based on the decaying infrastructure, it doesn't look good for the automobile / highway paradigm.

What we know:
Petroleum supplies are going down, as peak production levels have been reached in many oil exporting nations. Petroleum demand is rising, especially in Asia (China, India), where the market demand of 2.2 billion people will overshadow the 300 million in America. Petroleum will cost more.
Burning petroleum based fuels is not wise - not only are they irreplaceable, their pollution is not trivial (Breathe deep in Los Angeles, Atlanta, or any other "car" city). Since air travel is wholly dependent on oil, we might be forced to ration petroleum to jets, in order to preserve that form of rapid transport.

In consideration of these facts, the only alternative that meets or exceeds our expectations is electric powered rail transport - in all its forms: high speed, medium speed, and so on.
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Old 06-17-2009, 05:52 PM
 
7,848 posts, read 18,267,066 times
Reputation: 2781
Quote:
Originally Posted by treedonkey View Post
This may be way out in left field, but, I always figured the ultimate solution, barring truly free energy, would be some sort of freeway-propelled vehicular pod system.

In other words, you'd have some sort of pod-car -- bigger than a motorcycle but not nearly as large as a big SUV -- that you could drive around town and then hop on the 'freeway' at your nearest entry port, at which point it would take over, supplying the power and navigation for you to your desired exit point, and then you'd be on your own again. Basically, something akin to: driving your car down to the nearest train depot, driving it up onto it onto a flat car, riding it out until you get to another stop close to your final destination, and then driving yourself on from there.
There is something similar coming very soon, called Personal Rapid Transit. The cars are either on steel or concrete guideways, and some are suspended from above...they usually hold 2 to 6 passengers and are fully automated. Only one system is currently in use, and that is at the University of West Virginia. There is one at Heathrow in London that has completed construction and is opening soon. There are two planned systems, one in Masdar City/UAE and one in Daventry/UK...and several proposed systems. Personal rapid transit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Morgantown, WV

PRT - Morgantown, WV on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/nick-m/2861037302/ - broken link)

I like this one...

Personal Rapid Transit on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/techfever/3458869600/ - broken link)

Advertisement at Heathrow

DSC08276 on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/john_pp/2368605008/ - broken link)


Masdar City

Masdar on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/spiraltwist/3142772424/ - broken link)


Prototypes:

Masdar-PRT-car-photo on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/26158685@N04/3268111953/ - broken link)


DSCF1178 on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/knetwork/866673773/ - broken link)


Personal Rapid Transit on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/intr/422822652/ - broken link)
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Old 06-17-2009, 08:49 PM
 
Location: West Cobb County, GA (Atlanta metro)
9,188 posts, read 30,226,890 times
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A youtube video that explains the personal rapid transit option:



These are however, only SHORT RANGE rail pods, not "trans continental". Of course, they could be a good compliment to a whole nationwide system, where a national rail would take folks to the city of their destination, and then use a PRT type system such as above to get around locally. Oh, maybe in 100 years.
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Old 06-17-2009, 09:14 PM
 
3,970 posts, read 11,827,348 times
Reputation: 1576
Quote:
Originally Posted by treedonkey View Post
Easier said than done. Feasibility estimates generally start at the 10-billion dollar mark just for construction and deployment in any one region, and much higher for widely dispersed metros like those along the CA corridor. Not to mention the operating costs once it's all built.

Hardly. Of course it depends on where you are and where you want to go, but for any distance over a few hundred miles, air travel is almost always significantly cheaper. For example, Emeryville CA to Denver CO, a distance of roughly 1200 miles... I can usually buy a round trip plane ticket for around $250-$300 after tax. If I wanted to to take the train it would currently coast me around $150.00 each way just to get an upright SEAT to sit and sleep in for most of 33 hours straight. If you want even the tiniest of sleeping accommodations, tack on another $300 each way, not to mention the food and beverages you may want to purchase to sustain yourself or just to kill time.


That sounds really nice, for about the first five hours, and then you'll have another 30-60 hours of ahead, or much more, if it's a round trip across the country. Also, anyone who's frequented trains knows that they always seem to find the least scenic route one could possibly take... You'll be seeing the worst part of any towns you pass through and you certainly won't be heading through any national parks or wilderness areas.

I'm not just trying to be a downer here, but there's a reason that the dream of rail travel has fizzled and all but died out here in the US since the advent of the interstate highway system. I'm not saying it could never happen, but gas has to get a lot higher than 3 or 4 $ per gallon before long distance rail travel becomes anything more than a compelling novelty to the average traveler.

Another thing that grates me is when people (like, among others, the prez) say things like, 'just imagine... high speed cross-country travel with no security lines.' Who says they won't end up having the same sort of security checks for bullet trains as they do for air travel today? Just like planes, high speed rail would require packing hundreds of folks into enclosed metal tubes and shooting them off on their own. Granted, it's much easier to stop and eject passengers from a train, it only takes one serious terrorist threat for the reactionary powers that be to freak out and enact all sorts of heightened security measures.
This is a really good post, and quite accurate.

If you travel across the entire country, coach just won't do it. Very uncomfortable. So, you must pay extra for a sleeper, and then it does become more expensive than flying.

And I agree about the scenery. There are places that do indeed provide spectacular scenery, (The Empire Builder comes to mind), but most routes meander through the backside of America, and sometimes it simply ain't pretty. (Interesting for awhile, then depressing.)
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Old 06-18-2009, 03:03 PM
 
Location: Prepperland
13,732 posts, read 9,841,195 times
Reputation: 9846
Quote:
Originally Posted by pw72 View Post
If you travel across the entire country, coach just won't do it. Very uncomfortable. So, you must pay extra for a sleeper, and then it does become more expensive than flying.
Before the "Red Eye", businessmen would sleep on the train, and save on hotel accommodations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pw72 View Post
And I agree about the scenery. There are places that do indeed provide spectacular scenery.
Based on the fact that we're past the age of cheap and plentiful oil, any transportation system dependent upon oil will become progressively more expensive.

Only transportation systems not dependent upon oil will be cost effective.

At this time, the law of physics favor steel wheel on steel rail, powered by electricity. Though Mag-lev has lower coefficient of friction, it consumes far more energy to levitate a train. That leaves us ONE alternative for sustainable land transport in the 21st century - electric rail.

It's not a new idea, as a cursory examination of oil-poor USA, in the 1880 - 1920 period shows. But we may have to "go back to the future", and revive rail transportation in all its forms - high speed, low speed, interurban, streetcars, funiculars, and cogwheel.
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Old 06-18-2009, 03:27 PM
 
Location: Washington D.C. By way of Texas
18,633 posts, read 27,047,623 times
Reputation: 9577
Seriously, unless the country gets high speed rail from Los Angeles to Chicago, then I won't bother and most Americans won't either. It takes 3-4 days on Amtrak to travel between those two cities. I can do that in 3-4 hours on a plane.
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Old 06-18-2009, 03:32 PM
 
2,437 posts, read 7,283,584 times
Reputation: 1512
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetgraphics View Post
Before the "Red Eye", businessmen would sleep on the train, and save on hotel accommodations.



Based on the fact that we're past the age of cheap and plentiful oil, any transportation system dependent upon oil will become progressively more expensive.

Only transportation systems not dependent upon oil will be cost effective.

At this time, the law of physics favor steel wheel on steel rail, powered by electricity. Though Mag-lev has lower coefficient of friction, it consumes far more energy to levitate a train. That leaves us ONE alternative for sustainable land transport in the 21st century - electric rail.

It's not a new idea, as a cursory examination of oil-poor USA, in the 1880 - 1920 period shows. But we may have to "go back to the future", and revive rail transportation in all its forms - high speed, low speed, interurban, streetcars, funiculars, and cogwheel.
I'm all in favor of better, more efficient transit, but I'm just not convinced that packing loads of people onto a metal tube and shipping them off to the same general locale with no way to get around on their own is the best plan...

Besides, even an electric train would not necessarily be completely independent from oil or other valuable resources, since the ELECTRICITY to power those trains still needs to be generated somehow, and burning something - like coal, petroleum, or natural gas - is still one of the easiest and most common ways to do that.
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Old 06-18-2009, 03:54 PM
 
Location: SWE
887 posts, read 1,376,441 times
Reputation: 798
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spade View Post
Seriously, unless the country gets high speed rail from Los Angeles to Chicago, then I won't bother and most Americans won't either. It takes 3-4 days on Amtrak to travel between those two cities. I can do that in 3-4 hours on a plane.
There's really no point of making a CHI - LA high-speed route. Very, very expensive to build, and the trip still would be much slower than with a plane. Rail is really good for trips.. say, 200-400 miles.

In the Chicago area they are right now in the process of establishing a route between Chicago and Iowa City (230 miles), and later on to Des Moines (add another 120 miles = 350 miles) over the Iowa Interstate Railroad. It's a lightly used freight railroad, "short line", so there's not much interfering traffic.. but the tracks are still in good condition, so there's not too much trackwork to do to run fast passenger trains. This is really the kind of rail route that makes sense. There would be many possibilities in the CHI area for similar routes like this.
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