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Old 06-18-2009, 04:06 PM
 
Location: SWE
887 posts, read 1,379,873 times
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Also, gotta remember that if you really want to make the passenger rail work, it's just not about making a route between city A and city B and then putting 2 platforms on the each end. It's not enough to just have train stations, they need to be "transit stations" where you can jump from a train to light rail, subway, transit buses, greyhounds, taxis, rent a car, a parking lot to leave your car.. and whatever, all in the same place within a short walking distance. Also, the volume of service.. should be at least 4-6 trains a day each way. If there's only 1 or 2, chances are the time it will leave/arrive will be inconvenient for most people, so they'll just drive.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vic_Vega View Post
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.
I totally agree. Similarly, the CA corridor, if they can ever iron out those land usage problems, would also be a great candidate for HSR.

The flight takes under an hour and costs arounf $150 RT. Add on security and other waiting time and you're looking at upwards of of three hours end to end. With a well planned route, it would not be all that hard to beat that in time, hassle and maybe even expense.
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Old 06-18-2009, 07:53 PM
 
Location: NJ
12,284 posts, read 31,819,703 times
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I took a train across Canada (Montreal -> Vancouver) when I was younger. VERY cool. Not sure it's even an option anymore. Would love to experience the same thing along with my kids across the US, but I'm sure it's more hassle than it's worth.
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:30 PM
 
3,970 posts, read 11,859,386 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tahiti View Post
I took a train across Canada (Montreal -> Vancouver) when I was younger. VERY cool. Not sure it's even an option anymore. Would love to experience the same thing along with my kids across the US, but I'm sure it's more hassle than it's worth.
Yes, there is still cross-country service in Canada on "Via Rail", using the old CN tracks (Canadian National). I, too, took this trip as a kid, (back when it was CN), and it is truely magnificent.

You CAN still cross the US by train, and your kids would probably love it. I would suggest "The Empire Builder" between Seattle and Chicago, or the "California Zephyr" between Chicago and San Francisco. But, as pointed out earlier in the thread, the only comfortable way to go is with a sleeping compartment, and that costs more.
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:17 PM
 
Location: The Land of Reason
13,300 posts, read 10,525,107 times
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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.
Great idea, but that was considered some time ago and the insurance companies killed it.
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Old 06-19-2009, 12:54 AM
 
Location: Prepperland
13,771 posts, read 9,884,925 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treedonkey View Post
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...
You are correct. In addition to HSR, we need to rebuild urban electric rail, like g'g'grandad used in the 1890-1915 period.

Quote:
Originally Posted by treedonkey View Post
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.
Good point. By some estimates, electrifying mainline (heavy) rail would add 2.5 to 3% load to the grid. For local urban rail, add an additional 1%. That added load may be covered by the introduction of "green power" or conservation.

File:Sources of electricity in the USA 2006.png - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

At this time, coal is the major fuel (48%), followed by natural gas (20%), nuclear (19%), and hydro (7%). Petroleum is only used for 1.9%.
As time goes on, we may see a larger contribution by sustainable sources (solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, hydro).

Unlike petroleum, which is in short supply, coal reserves are estimated at 150 years - - - though I'd rather we encourage weaning ourselves from coal, too.

I'm not an advocate of nuclear fission reactors, but if fusion reactors come on line, that would be fine.
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Old 06-19-2009, 08:15 AM
 
Location: Metro Detroit Area, Michigan
1,107 posts, read 2,712,332 times
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I just booked my Vacation. $132 on the train and would have cost over $200 on a airplane. Sure I would have gotten there in 1 hour via plane, but then some of the extra Vacation spending money would have been gone since it went towards the plane instead of perhaps some beer's at the bar or something else.
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Old 06-19-2009, 11:12 AM
 
2,437 posts, read 7,297,476 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jwo85 View Post
I just booked my Vacation. $132 on the train and would have cost over $200 on a airplane. Sure I would have gotten there in 1 hour via plane, but then some of the extra Vacation spending money would have been gone since it went towards the plane instead of perhaps some beer's at the bar or something else.
Indeed. It's these sort of short-medium haul trips that are often more sensible via rail, even with our current infrastructure. Now imagine if the rail was just an extra $50, but traveled at high speed, getting you there in about 90 minutes and saving you the airport commute and security hassle... then it would pretty much be a no-brainer for most people. However, once you get over about 300 miles in total distance, the picture changes greatly, even with HSR, especially if your travel plans aren't limited to going from one metro to another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jetgraphics View Post
You are correct. In addition to HSR, we need to rebuild urban electric rail, like g'g'grandad used in the 1890-1915 period.
Interestingly, I interviewed my grandmother a few years ago and she told me that her father was a streetcar driver in Pueblo, CO in the early 1900's. When I expressed surprise that even a small town had it's own public rail line. she said, "Oh, of course, that's how you got around town". Cars just weren't a viable option for common folk until the 1920's or so, which is when the old streetcars started going defunct.

That just serves as further assurance to me that nothing will really change about our transit system until independent auto traffic becomes prohibitively expensive for most people.
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Old 06-19-2009, 11:54 AM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,309,407 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treedonkey View Post
Indeed. It's these sort of short-medium haul trips that are often more sensible via rail, even with our current infrastructure. Now imagine if the rail was just an extra $50, but traveled at high speed, getting you there in about 90 minutes and saving you the airport commute and security hassle... then it would pretty much be a no-brainer for most people. However, once you get over about 300 miles in total distance, the picture changes greatly, even with HSR, especially if your travel plans aren't limited to going from one metro to another.
Around the Chicago area, due to freight congestion, poor track conditions, etc, AMTRAK trains often have to travel at low speed (10 mph) for extended distances. If we could spend a little bit of money (<1 billion) to clear up these bottlenecks, we'd see huge improvements in travel times even without investing in HSR. As the president of AMTRAK said, "The easiest way to go fast is to not go slow."
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Old 06-19-2009, 02:12 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,309,407 times
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BTW, here is a relevant article about the advantages of rail transportation, both for freight and for passengers.
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