U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Georgia
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 1.5 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
Jump to a detailed profile or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Business Search - 14 Million verified businesses
Search for:  near: 
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 08-05-2010, 01:38 AM
 
Location: Georgia native in McKinney, TX
4,852 posts, read 5,287,769 times
Reputation: 2984

Advertisements

I would add this point: Outside of older northeastern cities, what kind of reliable public transport system do you have once you would travel to one of these cities? Are people really going to abandon their car to go from one auto dependent city to another auto dependent city via train and then have no reliable means of transport once they arrive at their destination? In the vast majority of the major cities on your map (and I'm not even getting to the Augustas and Macons of the world), you would need to rent a car once you got there to be able to get around. Why would someone go by train?

Trains work in densely populated corridors like the northeast that then have a network of public transit in place once you get there. The sunbelt cities and much of the midwest as well are not built to support this. Wish they were, but they aren't and don't see much hope for much change in the future, the current economic state withstanding.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 08-07-2010, 11:12 AM
 
Location: Georgia
2,331 posts, read 1,320,534 times
Reputation: 892
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saintmarks View Post
I lived in England for two years and love the ability to get around by train, you don't have to convince me that a train network would be fantastic.

However, a train network is exponentially more expensive to build and upkeep than a highway system. Have you seen the economy lately? Have you seen the huge deficits that the government is racking up on the national level? Have you seen the empty state coffers and cutbacks in schools and services all over the country? Who is going to pay for this?
It's a safe bet that any major transportation expansion, whether Interstate or rail, is a long-range project. So any funding issues should be be weighed against an economy that has hopefully recovered from that time. And you guys are right, I do seem to be underestimating the capital costs of passenger rail.

However, when judging the economics, we can't just discuss costs: We also have to consider the benefits as well. And that brings me to my original point: What exactly is the benefit of putting an interstate highway between two cities whose *combined* populations of their entire metro areas--not just the city limits, but the whole areas--is less than one million people? We might as well start connecting Columbus to Macon, Valdosta to Savannah, Augusta to Macon...Heck let's just turn Georgia into a giant parking lot while we're at it.

Quote:
If a highspeed rail network was established to some of the major population points on this map and it first proved economically viable, then yes, let's expand this to the fall line route instead of I-14.

But until that day happens (and sad to say, as much as I would like it, it is pie in the sky) I-14 and I-3 (and other interstate expansions) are much more viable.
Don't start the high-speed rail on that line. Heck maybe a Savannah-Augusta passenger rail line shouldn't even be high-speed; just use whatever tracks already exist. Then, the only capital costs are the trains and the station platforms. That would cut the expenses dramatically.

However, if a nationwide high-speed rail system were to ever be built, it might be good to incorporate the two cities. Incidentally, because of its location near Florida and on the Atlantic coast, I can't see Savannah *not* receiving high-speed rail.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saintmarks View Post
I would add this point: Outside of older northeastern cities, what kind of reliable public transport system do you have once you would travel to one of these cities? Are people really going to abandon their car to go from one auto dependent city to another auto dependent city via train and then have no reliable means of transport once they arrive at their destination? In the vast majority of the major cities on your map (and I'm not even getting to the Augustas and Macons of the world), you would need to rent a car once you got there to be able to get around. Why would someone go by train?

Trains work in densely populated corridors like the northeast that then have a network of public transit in place once you get there. The sunbelt cities and much of the midwest as well are not built to support this. Wish they were, but they aren't and don't see much hope for much change in the future, the current economic state withstanding.
For now, yeah. But watch what happens when gas hits $4, $5, $6 a gallon.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-07-2010, 11:24 PM
 
Location: Georgia
2,331 posts, read 1,320,534 times
Reputation: 892
OK, so there is a US highway--hwy 25--that runs from Augusta to about an hour west of Savannah. That would be perfect--the only highways with more maintenance are interstates. If it isn't four lanes all the way from Augusta to I-16, it ought to be. (There is an alternate route: Once you get to Statesboro, run the four-lane down GA 67, which hits I-16 about 10 miles east of US 25--10 miles closer to Savannah.)
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-09-2010, 10:13 AM
 
2,829 posts, read 2,442,846 times
Reputation: 1243
The idea of converting heavily-used freight corridors to passenger corridors is pernicious and could be environmentally devastating. It also represents a lack of understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of railways as a means of transportation.

Railroads are good at handling things that do the following:

1) Very long distances over long time periods
2) Time insensitive (ie can withstand 24 hour delays without a problem)
3) Very bulky and heavy goods
4) High volume
5) Low degree of service customization (ie a flow of 100 tons of a good from city a to b once a week, rather than 20 tons to cities b, c, d, e, and f).

Handling costs are substantial for most types of goods (you typically need 1 additional handling of a good to use trains, more than 1 if you aren't using a high-volume origin point), and the above are some of benefits that can begin to overcome this substantial hurdle.

Private transportation (cars, trucks, etc) tends to work out better in the following instances:

1) Light goods
2) High degree of time sensitivity (ie delays unacceptable)
3) High degree of service customization
4) Low/variable volume

So if you think about it, in North America, frieght has a lot of advantages going for it and few disadvantages. Passengers, however, are light, finicky, low volume, and are often better served by automobiles.

If you start to crunch some numbers it becomes clearer. Let's compare a typical intermodal container train with a passenger train.

Let's say the intermodal train has 8,000' of revenue length. This is shorter than is common and allowed but a decent example. This 8,000' consists of about 120 53' container cars, each double stacked. So we've got 240 containers on the train, or 240 truckloads. A truck gets about 4 miles to the gallon, so to move the total freight that train is moving 1 mile by truck it would take 60 gallons of fuel.

Now let's say we change the freight train to a passenger use and the intermodal train gets bumped from the congested corridor.


How many cars does the passenger train have to remove from the road to make this balance out?

If we assume vehicles get 20 miles per gallon (US fleet average is higher, but work with me) you'll end up with 1,200 automobile trips that must be taken off the road for those 240 extra truck trips to pan out. If we assume double occupancy vehicles, that means this passenger train must hold a whopping 2,400 people in order to justify bumping the freight train off the tracks!

This doesn't take into account extra gasoline used by a frieght train compared to a passenger train, but the marginal amount of fuel to move more weight is relatively low (off the top of my head I would guess 10 gallons per mile for the freight train to operate, so even if you don't take into account fuel for the pasenger train it still has to remove 1,000 car trips from the road to be an environmental benefit).

And sure, there might be some tracks you can cobble together for transit use that aren't heavily used freight corridors or are abandoned. But with the former, you're neglecting the projected increase in freight traffic the country will experience, and with the latter, good luck with the permitting to get an abandoned line restored again; many brave people have tried and failed. And they aren't as plentiful as you'd think, as the existing railways tend to make pretty good use of the crucial bits of existing infrastructure anyways; in other words, most abandoned freight lines are abandoned for a reason.


So how has passenger rail worked so well in Europe, you ask?

Well setting aside that the railways still need subsidizing (and are hugely expensive to ride, to boot), Europe has a lot going for it in terms of concentrated cities and shorter distances. But a neglected fact is how anemic the freight volume is in Europe.

If you stand in a countryside European train station for a while you'll notice lots of frieght trains driving around. Lots of unnecessary ones, in fact. Europe has a litany of regulations of freight railways that are needed to make was for passenger trains. Remember the 8,000' train we were talking about earlier? In Europe, trains max out at 2,500'. Remember the double stacked containers? In Europe, single stack only. No high-clearance bulk cars. No tri-level automobile cars. The passenger trains need overhead electrification, after all. All in all, Europe's passenger-oriented regulatory environment means that it takes half a dozen trains there to do the work of one American train. And as a sidenote, Europe's antiquated freight infrastructure is also the reason we are still using 40' shipping containers for international shipping, at untold environmental impact.

And freight rail in Europe just doesn't make as much sense to begin with: the distances are shorter and everywhere is relatively close to a port (and shipping is more fuel-efficient yet), making it a lot harder to overcome the initial handling and time hurdles.


So long story short I'm supportive of high speed rail on non-existing rail lines, but that's insanely expensive and not really where the US is right now. We're still talking about buying freight lines and converting them to passenger use or having the train operate side by side, which has dubious benefits at best.

If this is all somewhat shocking there is an Economist special that goes into a bit of detial on some of these same issues and has the same overall point:

American railways: High-speed railroading | The Economist

Sorry to get so off topic. Perhaps this is deserving of a new thread, but there has been some discussion here of HSR as a panacea and it's frankly not that. It might not even be good, at all.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-10-2010, 07:30 PM
 
Location: Georgia
2,331 posts, read 1,320,534 times
Reputation: 892
Testa,

Though I don't agree with a lot of the conclusions, thanks for taking the time to put together that post. You clearly had to have some kind of insight or do some real research, assuming that the basic facts are right.

I'll have to explore that issue of freight rail volume in Europe, as I was not aware of it. Are their high-speed rail lines passenger-only, or does freight ever use them as well?

1. There is a great deal of disparity of traffic levels on different rail lines. The CSX line that runs roughly parallel to US 41 in Cobb County, for example, is one of the busiest rail lines in the nation, running something like almost one train an hour. Others only run a couple of trains a week, and some even less than that. The goal is to find some of those corridors that have less traffic and use them for commuter rail. High-speed rail, I think, is going to require its own separate right-of-way.

2. I think there's a misnomer about that people want to build high-speed rail anywhere it can physically go, all over the country, even in remote and desolate area. Maybe, but not until like the year 2150. In the meantime, start with the busiest corridors and work your way down. The Northeast already has somewhat of a high-speed line stretching from Boston to Washington, through New York and Philly. So I'm guessing that the second busiest corridor would be the Midwest: Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indy, and finally Chicago. This line could hook up with the Northeast line, possibly in Philly. Then do some slow expansion of these lines, such as hooking up Milwaukee and Richmond. And just go from there. That way, as you add more and more carefully placed high-speed rail, you gain the likelihood of building economies of scale.

3. Don't forget about externalities: Cars burn gasoline, produce pollution, cause far more fatalities mile-for-mile than trains do, contribute to urban sprawl, are generally more stressful to drive than passenger trains are to ride (this has been documented in multiple studies), and probably aren't as cheap by comparison in the long run. Their only real advantages over rail are autonomy and range.

4. IMO, the planned speeds of our high-speed rail network is just sad. Consider that China has the world's fastest high-speed rail network, including their top line that can average up to 194 miles per hour. That's average speed, folks, including stops. And what does our lonely little high-speed rail line get? About 75 miles per hour overall. We could drive faster than that! So when it's time to put in high-speed rail, we need to make it REAL high-speed rail, not just a-little-faster rail. We need a rail system that does what China's and Spain's did, and that is to give serious competition to the airline industry for medium-range airplane flights. That's really a driving motivation for me, to give Americans more options to get around the country.

In conclusion, back to the I-3 proposal, I'm going to stick with my earlier compromise: No interstate running from Savannah to Augusta, but make a 4-lane highway all the way from Augusta to about an hour west of Savannah, primarily via US 25. In addition, only build a high-speed rail line between the two cities as part of a larger network, once we get that far. Perhaps consider running a twice-a-day commuter rail between the two cities on existing freight lines, but only if demand calls for it.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-11-2010, 02:48 PM
 
2,829 posts, read 2,442,846 times
Reputation: 1243
Quote:
Originally Posted by toll_booth View Post
Testa,

Though I don't agree with a lot of the conclusions, thanks for taking the time to put together that post. You clearly had to have some kind of insight or do some real research, assuming that the basic facts are right.
No problem. I'm always glad to have a real discussion on transportation, which is something neither side of the debate seems very eager to do I've found.

Quote:
I'll have to explore that issue of freight rail volume in Europe, as I was not aware of it. Are their high-speed rail lines passenger-only, or does freight ever use them as well?
They are usually dual use. Most of the reasons for restrictions on European freight trains arise from this fact: their freight trains have to move fast (ours don't) and accommodate electrification (ours don't). So there's a big price to pay there. We have some successful dual use lines that don't generally bug the freight railroads to death (Portland to Seattle is a good example), and we have some unsuccessful ones too (remember the head on train crash in LA a couple years back?).

Quote:
1. There is a great deal of disparity of traffic levels on different rail lines. The CSX line that runs roughly parallel to US 41 in Cobb County, for example, is one of the busiest rail lines in the nation, running something like almost one train an hour. Others only run a couple of trains a week, and some even less than that. The goal is to find some of those corridors that have less traffic and use them for commuter rail. High-speed rail, I think, is going to require its own separate right-of-way.
Hmm, I'd be surprised if that CSX line is in fact one of the busiest. There are only a few rail lines that cross the country, and those tend to be many times busier than any lines you'd find on the east coast. They typically have over 100 trains a day. The idea that passenger traffic needs to be expanded on these lines is particularly damaging; not only is it uneconomic and inconvenient, but they are using an extremely valuable and congested piece of infrastructure.


But regarding your central point--that commuter rail ought to run on existing infrastructure and high-speed on new corridors--I tend to agree. The rub is that it works a lot better in theory than practice. As I said earlier, disused freight corridors are usually disused for a reason: they don't connect crucial points, and they are frequently "cut off" by intensively used rail lines. It's sometimes not too difficult to identify a corridor across the countryside that you could rehabilitate for passenger purposes, but as soon as they reach an urbanized area it becomes clear that a freight-corridor nearly always runs along that ever-important "last mile".

This is evidenced by the fact that most communter rail projects not only fail to make good use of underutilized infrastructure, they tend to do the opposite: they just throw a whole bunch of money at the railroads and buy an existing line. The proposed projects in Orlando and Boston are doing this very thing--buying up expensive mainlines that go directly into the cities and relocating all the destination freight traffic to the suburbs. Southern California has decimated its freight rail access by doing this, and as a result traffic has been steadily diverting away from the Port of San Diego (most recently Honda Motor).

Also, the "use existing infrastructure" argument neglects the future use. CSX sold the line from Indianapolis to Cincy to a shortline because it had almost no traffic. Now, the line was selected as the location for an auto factory, and is the origin for a few billion dollars worth of goods a year. There may have been other locations, but then again maybe not: the KIA factory in Georgia was built on kind of a crazy site due to the lack of suitable alternatives.

But I think if you were very choosy with projects you could come up with a number in America that make some sense. In Atlanta's case I would prefer just having MARTA extensions, but there are various (mostly ridiculous) political hurdles to that.

Quote:
2. I think there's a misnomer about that people want to build high-speed rail anywhere it can physically go, all over the country, even in remote and desolate area. Maybe, but not until like the year 2150. In the meantime, start with the busiest corridors and work your way down. The Northeast already has somewhat of a high-speed line stretching from Boston to Washington, through New York and Philly. So I'm guessing that the second busiest corridor would be the Midwest: Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indy, and finally Chicago. This line could hook up with the Northeast line, possibly in Philly. Then do some slow expansion of these lines, such as hooking up Milwaukee and Richmond. And just go from there. That way, as you add more and more carefully placed high-speed rail, you gain the likelihood of building economies of scale.
That's all true enough, but very much in contrast with the frankly pathetic plans for HSR that have been made.

Quote:
3. Don't forget about externalities: Cars burn gasoline, produce pollution, cause far more fatalities mile-for-mile than trains do, contribute to urban sprawl, are generally more stressful to drive than passenger trains are to ride (this has been documented in multiple studies), and probably aren't as cheap by comparison in the long run. Their only real advantages over rail are autonomy and range.
I agree with all of this, although I'd note trucks have many of the same problems, so we've gotta focus on perseving freight traffic just as much.

Quote:
4. IMO, the planned speeds of our high-speed rail network is just sad. Consider that China has the world's fastest high-speed rail network, including their top line that can average up to 194 miles per hour. That's average speed, folks, including stops. And what does our lonely little high-speed rail line get? About 75 miles per hour overall. We could drive faster than that! So when it's time to put in high-speed rail, we need to make it REAL high-speed rail, not just a-little-faster rail. We need a rail system that does what China's and Spain's did, and that is to give serious competition to the airline industry for medium-range airplane flights. That's really a driving motivation for me, to give Americans more options to get around the country.
I agree. 110mph doesn't really cut it when you're competing with driving @70mph and flying @500mph.

But I'm not sure I can jump behind a $100+ billion idea just yet. After all, if we want to make HSR or really any widespread public transit system work we need to encourage first and foremost urban density--that's just as important as the quality of the underlying system and the real reason for Europe and Japan's success.

And that means overhauling our land use and environmental regulations, which help push growth out into the suburbs. Dramatically. And the particularly bothersome thing is that lots of the same people who want to use taxpayer money to build a HSR system also can't fathom the idea of a 20 story skyscraper being built alongside Piedmont Park. If they aren't willing to swallow their NIMBYism and allow density to come to town, they deserve nothing but asphalt and an endless traffic jam. The fact that you actually have to buy height easements in midtown is just the stupidest policy I can think of. An opposite policy that dictates the minimum number of finished square feet per SF of land would make more sense. As an aside anti-development rules hurt poor people the most by jacking up the economic rent of finished construction, but that's a bit outside the scope of this discussion.


So, yeah...Interstate 14, huh?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-23-2010, 11:27 AM
 
Location: Augusta, GA ''The fastest rising city in the southeast''
6,233 posts, read 7,282,854 times
Reputation: 584
Talks resume on new interstate linking Augusta-Knoxville | The Augusta Chronicle
The Federal Highway Administration is studying a possible new interstate that would connect Savannah and Augusta to Knoxville, Tenn., despite opposition from groups that say the project could destroy pristine lands. Government spokesman Doug Hecox told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the study of the project, which would be called Interstate 3, started in June, but there's no timeline for the completion.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-23-2010, 01:12 PM
 
Location: Columbus, GA
2,870 posts, read 2,858,065 times
Reputation: 511
Don't see I-3 ever happening.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-27-2010, 12:49 AM
 
Location: Athens, GA
218 posts, read 367,642 times
Reputation: 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by nortonguy View Post
Talks resume on new interstate linking Augusta-Knoxville | The Augusta Chronicle
The Federal Highway Administration is studying a possible new interstate that would connect Savannah and Augusta to Knoxville, Tenn., despite opposition from groups that say the project could destroy pristine lands. Government spokesman Doug Hecox told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the study of the project, which would be called Interstate 3, started in June, but there's no timeline for the completion.
If they build it, they should just make it an extended I-81 and call it a day. 3 just doesn't fit... just like I-99, but worse.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-27-2010, 06:29 AM
 
Location: Appalachian Mountains
457 posts, read 459,924 times
Reputation: 303
Quote:
Originally Posted by Columbus1984 View Post
Don't see I-3 ever happening.
I sure hope not! What the asphalt and concrete cover up, we never get back.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Options
X
Data:
Loading data...
Based on 2000-2011 data
Loading data...

123
Hide US histogram

Over $84,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Georgia
Similar Threads

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:34 AM.

2005-2014, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 - Top