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Thread: Animated map of high-speed train system in the US

  1. #1

    Default Animated map of high-speed train system in the US

    I'd be all over the SLC routes in phases 3 & 4:

    The US's railroad network is made up of around 140,000 miles of track, but many of our trains are slow and outdated. Over the last couple of decades, countries like China, Japan, the UK, and France have made large investments in high-speed rail, and some groups in the US are urging that we do the same.

    Here's what a high-speed rail network could look like in the US.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/anima...-states-2016-8

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    Soul Plumber wuapinmon's Avatar
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    I'd take high-speed rail for short trips of less than 1,000 miles, but coast-to-coast, no thanks.
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  3. #3

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    As an engineer who specializes in the rail industry I would have much to gain from such a project and would hardly complain if it happened, but I don't think it's necessarily the way of the future. A couple of points:

    1. It's true the US rail network does not support fast movement of passengers. But that's because it's not the "US" rail network. It's owned by private freight railroads who operate and maintain their right of way and have to make a profit. The geometry of the lines were laid out over 100 years ago in most cases and therefore support only slower moving freight traffic. Almost everywhere in the United States outside of major metro areas, passenger rail runs on freight tracks and therefore do not have priority. While Europe and China are the envy of the world for passenger rail service, the United States is the envy of the world for freight rail. No one moves stuff better than us and we wouldn't want to change that.

    2. Given #1, to achieve 200+ mph as stated in the video, we are talking about building a rail network from scratch, without the benefit of huge government surpluses and slave wage labor that exist in China. A conservative estimate would be about $50M per track mile for such a system. Even if you assume only 10,000 miles of track, that is 500 billion dollars. But I'm not buying that. In many places the cost of ROW acquisition and utility relocations in dense urban areas will be massive. Rebuilding the Northeast Corridor alone so it has the geometry to support true high speed rail would cost 500 billion. So I think A national network like the video would be in the trillions of dollars. Maybe there would be political will to find that kind of money, but I seriously doubt it.

    3. Autonomous automobiles may be the future. It is aging, but we have the premier highway network in the world. Yes it caused pollution, urban sprawl, and other undesirable side effects, but it could be turned to a huge net benefit again when autonomous vehicles are fully deployed and they triple or quadruple current highway capacities without a significant public investment. Rail will always be around, but in the world of autonomous vehicles it may be limited to very dense urban areas and a few highly traveled corridors only (DC to Boston, LA, to Las Vegas, etc).

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    Semper infra dignitatem PaloAltoCougar's Avatar
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    Thanks for that, O680, very interesting.

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    I agree with Omaha (of course he has the credentials) That high speed rail that covers the US is not a good idea. Something will supplement automobiles at some point and updating the rail system would take decades. We'd get it done then never get the use out of it.

    High speed rail makes sense for shorter, frequently travelled routes. They are currently constructing a route between Dallas and Houston, which will probably have a bigger effect on highways than airports as most people make that trip by driving. However, it's a long enough trip that I know many that would take rail. They don't currently take a plane because the time to fly (including security and everything) is about the same time required to drive.

    The rail system in France is awesome, but td also complimented by the public transportation systems in each city. France is also small, so you don't have places where you have hundreds of miles between major cities like you have in the US.


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  6. #6

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    first class on the acela is a great way to travel, but anything farther than say boston to dc doesn't make a lot of sense by rail.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omaha 680 View Post
    As an engineer who specializes in the rail industry I would have much to gain from such a project and would hardly complain if it happened, but I don't think it's necessarily the way of the future. A couple of points:

    1. It's true the US rail network does not support fast movement of passengers. But that's because it's not the "US" rail network. It's owned by private freight railroads who operate and maintain their right of way and have to make a profit. The geometry of the lines were laid out over 100 years ago in most cases and therefore support only slower moving freight traffic. Almost everywhere in the United States outside of major metro areas, passenger rail runs on freight tracks and therefore do not have priority. While Europe and China are the envy of the world for passenger rail service, the United States is the envy of the world for freight rail. No one moves stuff better than us and we wouldn't want to change that.

    2. Given #1, to achieve 200+ mph as stated in the video, we are talking about building a rail network from scratch, without the benefit of huge government surpluses and slave wage labor that exist in China. A conservative estimate would be about $50M per track mile for such a system. Even if you assume only 10,000 miles of track, that is 500 billion dollars. But I'm not buying that. In many places the cost of ROW acquisition and utility relocations in dense urban areas will be massive. Rebuilding the Northeast Corridor alone so it has the geometry to support true high speed rail would cost 500 billion. So I think A national network like the video would be in the trillions of dollars. Maybe there would be political will to find that kind of money, but I seriously doubt it.

    3. Autonomous automobiles may be the future. It is aging, but we have the premier highway network in the world. Yes it caused pollution, urban sprawl, and other undesirable side effects, but it could be turned to a huge net benefit again when autonomous vehicles are fully deployed and they triple or quadruple current highway capacities without a significant public investment. Rail will always be around, but in the world of autonomous vehicles it may be limited to very dense urban areas and a few highly traveled corridors only (DC to Boston, LA, to Las Vegas, etc).
    Yes, interesting. What do you mean by the bolded?

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    So O680, have you looked into the hyperloop? Would that be worth building? I'm guessing its cost would be astronomical compared to high speed rail infrastructure. Would that be more economical and at least as quick as air travel? I'm guessing not.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by jay santos View Post
    Yes, interesting. What do you mean by the bolded?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platoon_(automobile)

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    They are building a HS rail system in California that is just plain dumb. Too expensive, poor locations.

    They aren't smart enough to invest that money in dams for water management.

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    I would hop on a 4 hour rail from phoenix to slc every weekend all winter long!
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    Quote Originally Posted by beefytee View Post
    So O680, have you looked into the hyperloop? Would that be worth building? I'm guessing its cost would be astronomical compared to high speed rail infrastructure. Would that be more economical and at least as quick as air travel? I'm guessing not.
    Hyperloop is actually relatively cheap, I understand. I think Musk estimated the raw cost of building between L.A. and SF about 7.5 billion. Experts have pooh-poohed this estimate, pointing out that it would require purchase of about 1,100 different parcels of land upon which to build it, taking the total to about 100 billion, but I think Elon Musk just said uh- you build it along the I-5.
    Last edited by Commando; 08-11-2016 at 02:42 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commando View Post
    Hyperloop is actually relatively cheap, I understand. I think Musk estimated the raw cost of building between L.A. and SF about 7.5 billion. Experts have pooh-poohed this estimate, pointing out that it would require purchase of about 1,100 different parcels of land upon which to build it, taking the total to about 100 billion, but I think Elon Musk just said uh- you build it along the I-5.
    So I looked it up. Musk suggested "under 6 Billion". With LA to SF being about 600 miles apart on I-5 (where he says the tubes would go), that comes down to $10 million per mile. Seems crazy to think that laying rails would cost 5 times as much as building a huge vacuum tube. Looking at their site, they say they would be electric trains, so they would need the electric infrastructure which I guess is where the cost would come from as I'm guessing it would be traditional track though and not maglev.


    http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/12/tech/i...ins/index.html
    https://www.freemaptools.com/how-far...ornia_-usa.htm
    http://www.ushsr.com/ushsrmap.html
    http://www.ushsr.com/hsr/infrastructure.html

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    Senior Member myboynoah's Avatar
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    This is all just fantasy.
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    Yeah but when you think about it, trains themselves are kind of a feat of engineering to keep all that steel going and those tracks have to be extremely well anchored. They truly did need the Chinese slaves to make the transcontinental railroad happen- what a grind that build had to be! The hyperloop track I imagine will need to be sturdy, but I picture like the kind of anchoring required to keep a jungle gym in place during a storm-- not the same kind of track for a 55-car heavy duty locomotive.
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    Examining that map, I'd totally be in favor of those routes between Phoenix and Tucson/Vegas/San Diego/Albuquerque. All of those drives suck. Particularly the one to Tucson-- that route is such a shitshow I avoid Tucson even though it's actually a pretty cool place.
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    There is no way in my mind that hyperloop infrastructure can be 5 times cheaper than building high speed rail, even when you consider power distribution for the HSR. And I think Musk's number is a complete fantasy. There is a tendency to extremely underestimate the cost of transportation mega-projects to get the public hooked, then when the costs start to balloon we are too far down the road to stop. The Big Dig is the classic example of this, but another good one is East Side Access here in NYC (bringing LIRR into Grand Central on the East Side of Manhattan). Conceptual estimates were about 4 Billion dollars to be completed in 2012 (I think). Now it has ballooned to nearly $20B with a completion date of 2023 (maybe).

    My thoughts on some specific challenges of hyperloop are in a few posts in another thread starting here:

    http://www.cougarstadium.com/showthr...=1#post1258894

    As far as anchoring of the tube, an elevated structure will always be more expensive than an at grade right of way, even when comparing railroad tracks to a lightweight tube. Rails are typically secured by cross ties buried in ballast. Very primitive but very effective. The support structure of the tube would have to be robust enough to take the live load forces of the vehicles, but also wind loads and seismic loads. And then you have the problem of how much to harden the tubes due to vandals and terrorism.

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    it's all a blur mtnbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commando View Post
    I would hop on a 4 hour rail from phoenix to slc every weekend all winter long!
    It would be interesting, but that video didn't have such a line for any of the stages.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker View Post
    It would be interesting, but that video didn't have such a line for any of the stages.
    That's because there's not an economically feasible rail route from Phoenix to the Wasatch Front. You'll notice on the map of the national rail network at the beginning of the video there is a sizable hole there. All those mountains and canyons are not really able to be traversed at the grades and curves that trains can handle and we aren't going to build endless tunnels through the mountains or a bridge over the Grand Canyon like the Chinese would.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omaha 680 View Post
    3. Autonomous automobiles may be the future. It is aging, but we have the premier highway network in the world. Yes it caused pollution, urban sprawl, and other undesirable side effects, but it could be turned to a huge net benefit again when autonomous vehicles are fully deployed and they triple or quadruple current highway capacities without a significant public investment. Rail will always be around, but in the world of autonomous vehicles it may be limited to very dense urban areas and a few highly traveled corridors only (DC to Boston, LA, to Las Vegas, etc).
    Yeah, I think autonomous automobiles will be the thing. I would love to jump in the backseat of my car and taking a nice nap while traveling to Austin in the autonomous car fast lane. Of course, car makers need to get their crap together when it comes cyber security before I will be taking any naps. I don't want "Mr. Robot" driving.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker View Post
    It would be interesting, but that video didn't have such a line for any of the stages.
    No it didn't. I'll settle for a 90 minute weekend commute to San Diego.
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    вот так штука CardiacCoug's Avatar
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    The high speed trains in China were awesome -- so much better than being crammed into a plane.

    I would choose high speed train over plane for anything on the west coast from SLC for sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CardiacCoug View Post
    The high speed trains in China were awesome -- so much better than being crammed into a plane.

    I would choose high speed train over plane for anything on the west coast from SLC for sure.
    I don't disagree, but I don't see people being willing to pay what it really costs to build out and maintain the infrastructure . It won't happen because air travel is so cheap and will continue to be so.

    On comfort, I have no experience with high speed rail in China, but do in Japan and France. Seemed pretty cramped, especially with full trains (which was the case most of the time). The convenience was the big plus.
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  25. #25

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    MBN speaks truth. Comparing what we can/should do with transportation to what China is doing is silly. Every passenger rail system will require some level of public subsidy to exist, but the level of subsidy in China has to be astronomical. I read early on that the revenues from the new China HSR expansion couldn't even pay the debt on the construction loans, which means operating costs would be 100% funded by the government. This makes sense as the ticket prices I have seen for HSR in china are absurdly low. But even at those low ticket prices, ridership is not what you would think it would be. So it's great for foreign businessmen and tourists and they all go back to their countries and say "why can't we do what the Chinese are doing?" But when there is such a massive public capital investment and an ongoing operating cost covered by the government, but trains still don't fill up like they do in Japan and Europe, you have to wonder if the China HSR project is a serious misallocation of resources. It is a great showpiece on the world stage, but could more reasonable projects have been pursued that would have provided greater economic benefit on average for all Chinese?

    In the US we have to operate under political and fiscal realities. HSR is most efficient at taking stress off of other travel modes at medium range routes (500 miles or so) in highly traveled corridors. Building a nation-wide network in the US would be nuts in my opinion, but if we want to do it at least my job would be secure.

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    But a bullet train to vegas would be pretty sweet, you have to admit.
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  27. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Commando View Post
    But a bullet train to vegas would be pretty sweet, you have to admit.
    LA to Vegas? That should absolutely exist and private entities have been trying to do it for years. The problem has always been finding an economically feasible way through the Cajon Pass so you can bring the trains into LA itself...because if you have to drive to Victorville to catch the train to Vegas what is the point?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omaha 680 View Post
    There is no way in my mind that hyperloop infrastructure can be 5 times cheaper than building high speed rail, even when you consider power distribution for the HSR. And I think Musk's number is a complete fantasy. There is a tendency to extremely underestimate the cost of transportation mega-projects to get the public hooked, then when the costs start to balloon we are too far down the road to stop. The Big Dig is the classic example of this, but another good one is East Side Access here in NYC (bringing LIRR into Grand Central on the East Side of Manhattan). Conceptual estimates were about 4 Billion dollars to be completed in 2012 (I think). Now it has ballooned to nearly $20B with a completion date of 2023 (maybe).
    So I wrote the above about the hyperloop, but I believe I'm on record as saying it about all HSR projects (especially California's current adventure). So I'll take an early SU-wish!

    California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by The Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.

    The federal document outlines far-reaching management problems: significant delays in environmental planning, lags in processing invoices for federal grants and continuing failures to acquire needed property.

    The California High-Speed Rail Authority originally anticipated completing the Central Valley track by this year, but the federal risk analysis estimates that that won’t happen until 2024, placing the project seven years behind schedule.
    I always feel foolish talking down ambitious passenger rail expansion plans being I stand to greatly benefit (at least in job security). But the fiscal conservative and capitalist in me won't let me just shut up an line up at the trough...at least on an anonymous message board I am principled!

    http://www.latimes.com/local/califor...106-story.html

  29. #29
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    The high speed train between Dallas and H-town may be put on high speed... Thanks to Drumpf:

    Texas Bullet Train, Cotton Belt Line listed as Trump priorities

    The Trump administration listed the Texas bullet train and DART’s Cotton Belt Line as two of its top 50 priorities, according to a report Tuesday afternoon.


    “President Trump’s increased attention on the nation’s infrastructure rightly signals that more can be done, in both the public and private investment sectors. The Texas project is pleased to be considered among the nation’s infrastructure priorities,” said Texas Central, the company building the bullet train, in a statement Tuesday evening.


    The bullet train is listed thirteenth in a number of nationwide projects totaling at least $137.5 billion which the Trump administration is prioritizing, according to a story in the Star-Telegram.


    The priority list which was “circulated within the congressional and business communities offer a first glimpse at which projects around the country might get funding if Trump follows through on his campaign promise to renew America’s crumbling highways, airports, dams and bridges,” the Star-Telegram reported.


    The Texas bullet train is a privately funded $12-billion-dollar project that is said to create 40,000 direct jobs.


    The actual high speed trains, similar to Japan’s Shinkansen, will connect Dallas to Houston on their own tracks; making the 240-mile trip in less than 90-minutes.


    Real estate acquisition is underway right now.
    [...]
    http://www.wfaa.com/news/texas-bulle...ties/392307097


    Trumpf priority list of projects: https://www.documentcloud.org/docume...1-Reduced.html
    "If there is one thing I am, it's always right." -Ted Nugent.
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  30. #30
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    No high speed train for Cali...

    Trump Just Killed California’s High-Speed Electric Railway Project

    On the campaign trail, Donald Trump promised to expand the nation’s infrastructure and create jobs. Now at only a month into his presidency, he is breaking that promise.


    The Trump administration’s newly appointed Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao – wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has halted a critical $647 million in infrastructure payments to California’s Bay Area, killing the expansion of a high-speed rail and infrastructure project managed by Caltrain, a rail service that runs between San Jose and San Francisco.


    The project, which was set to begin on March 1, would have modernized the rail system with electric trains, creating faster and cleaner transportation for commuters. Contracts are already in place to begin the work, but without the approval from Chao, the state will not be able to honor those contracts and will have to cancel the project.


    He “pretty much killed hopes for high-speed rail coming to San Francisco anytime soon” mourned SFGate.
    [...]
    http://www.greenism.com/trump-just-k...ilway-project/

    Maybe they can use the money they would have spent on fixing up that dam, instead.
    "If there is one thing I am, it's always right." -Ted Nugent.
    "I honestly believe saying someone is a smart lawyer is damning with faint praise. The smartest people become engineers and scientists." -SU.
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