$8,000,000,000 for high speed trains

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colobok

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Ok, so stimulus plan passed. It included $8 bln for high speed trains.

Any idea where exactly will they go?
 

Sam31452

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Ok, so stimulus plan passed. It included $8 bln for high speed trains.
:)

Okay now tell me where we can lay those 70 miles of high speed tracks you can buy with that money.

Small European Countries like Switzerland and Austria spend more money on building new high speed railway lines.
 
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WICT106

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PetalumaLoco

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Here are places I would like to see the money spent (and *actually built !* ) :
See link: U. S. Federal Railroad Administration designated "High Speed" passenger rail corridors

To wit: Midwest High Speed Rail project, Florida High Speed Rail, Southeast High Speed Rail, 3-C Rail project in OH, Pacific Northwest HSR, CA HSR, TX, and rail service between Saint Paul and Milwaukee through Madison, WI.
Makes sense to me. Need already looked at, maybe even some planning. Would cut out any delay for studies. And no LA-Vegas mag-lev.

"Republicans regard the provision as a barely disguised earmark for a proposed magnetic-levitation rail line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, in California, championed by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). But Democrats said 11 proposed high-rail corridors throughout the country would all have to compete for the money. "

Quote from Washington Post.
 
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Walt

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"Republicans regard the provision as a barely disguised earmark for a proposed magnetic-levitation rail line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, in California, championed by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.)."
That's what I just heard reported on CNN this evening. A high-tech "mag-lev" train running been Las Vegas and Anaheim. Its development and installation will use up the entire passenger rail allocation (if not even more).

I guess this is Sen Reid's "pork" added to the Stimulus Package. :rolleyes:

Wouldn't it be cheaper to just extend Disney's existing monorail all the way to Vegas? Its going to turn out to be a Mickey Mouse railroad anyway. :D
 
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WICT106

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I hope that is not true. I think it would be a much wiser use of resources and funding to build out the corridors and projects listed above, as this might feel like more money is being "spread around." We will know in a month or two, when the proposals emerge from the Office of the Secretary of Transportation. One would receive more public support in building these rail corridors around the country, instead of just one route between two large cities, that can be criticized as "Dirty Harry's" "dream," or "Reid's toy railroad."

I would like to think that Our Elected Representatives would not tolerate one individual getting some $ 8 billion rail line while the rest of the nation has to make do. I mean, Reid will have to get their votes in the future, and he would be smart to spread the spending around.
 

Walt

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I would like to think that Our Elected Representatives would not tolerate one individual getting some $ 8 billion rail line while the rest of the nation has to make do. I mean, Reid will have to get their votes in the future, and he would be smart to spread the spending around.
Well, as noted, Reid is the Senate Majority Leader. That means he automatically gets the biggest piece of the pie, ah, piece of pork. And the expenditure has already been passed. No additional approval or voting is needed, unless the Mag-Lev project has to come back for even more money.

Don't worry, there is lots of other "pork" in the Stimulus bill to make the other major Democratic Senators happy.
 

Joel N. Weber II

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Here are places I would like to see the money spent (and *actually built !* ) :
See link: U. S. Federal Railroad Administration designated "High Speed" passenger rail corridors

To wit: Midwest High Speed Rail project, Florida High Speed Rail, Southeast High Speed Rail, 3-C Rail project in OH, Pacific Northwest HSR, CA HSR, TX, and rail service between Saint Paul and Milwaukee through Madison, WI.
The particular Boston to Montreal alignment they've choosen is one I kind of hope never gets built. Instead, I'd like to see them simply build 220 MPH or faster track from Boston to New York City, and from New York City to Montreal via Albany, and then run trains that go directly from Boston to Albany without the detour through Manhattan itself. (For customs reasons, it may be easiest for the New York City to Albany to Montreal trains to be the ones that actually cross the border, and let people from other cities change trains in Albany.)

The Pittsburgh to Cleveland gap should also be filled in, and I believe that New York City to Chicago is a major city pair that ought to be served by track nearly along the route the crow would fly, with 300-350 MPH track for most of the length of the route to try to get that time down to three hours. And not connecting Houston to the other major Texas cities is something I don't understand at all, nor do I understand why Jacksonville wouldn't be connected to Orlando.
 

PetalumaLoco

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I would like to think that Our Elected Representatives would not tolerate one individual getting some $ 8 billion rail line while the rest of the nation has to make do. I mean, Reid will have to get their votes in the future, and he would be smart to spread the spending around.
Well, as noted, Reid is the Senate Majority Leader. That means he automatically gets the biggest piece of the pie, ah, piece of pork. And the expenditure has already been passed. No additional approval or voting is needed, unless the Mag-Lev project has to come back for even more money.

Don't worry, there is lots of other "pork" in the Stimulus bill to make the other major Democratic Senators happy.
Really? Then he must have gotten most of any budget outlays over the last 2 years.
 

Joel N. Weber II

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That page includes the comment:

Designation allows a corridor to receive specially targeted funding for highway-rail grade crossing safety improvements,
That seems to imply that they think at-grade crossings are a viable concept. That limits speed to 110 MPH under current US regulations, half the speed of some real high speed rail systems in other parts of the world.

(And remember, Interstate Highways are fully grade separated, and we have far more miles of them than designated potential 110 MPH rail corridors.)
 

sportbiker

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"Republicans regard the provision as a barely disguised earmark for a proposed magnetic-levitation rail line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, in California, championed by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). But Democrats said 11 proposed high-rail corridors throughout the country would all have to compete for the money. "Quote from Washington Post.
This a a phony non-story dreamed up by Republicans. There is not ONE WORD in the stimulus bill about any train going to or from Las Vegas. Further, it's the DOT that has authority to award the grants on a competitive basis. And, last time I checked, the Secretary of Transportation was a Republican.

Folks, this is how the echo chamber works: some pol invents a circumstance out of whole cloth, our ever-vigilant press reports it as gospel without even pretending to determine its truth, then it's repeated endlessly on talk-radio, then it becomes conventional wisdom, then it turns up on AU.

So, no, there is about a 0% of any money going to a Las Vegas train, no matter what the commentariat says.
 

Joel N. Weber II

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Oh, and the Downeaster route is also designated. There's simply not enough population to justify major investment in high speed rail there in the next 15-20 years.
 

WICT106

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Let me articulate more:

I think the funding would be best spent upon upgrading track to a higher standard, upgrading equipment to see if it is possible to operate at a higher standard. Part of the reasons why the trains do not serve places like Phoenix, AZ, Des Moines IA, and Madison, WI, are that several segments of the tracks around those areas are not up to FRA Class 3 standards (59 mph pass. speed limit). They must be fixed up and then maintained to a standard which allows for FRA Class 5 (90 mph speed limits), if not better. This should also be done in such a fashion so as to create a network, with multiple frequencies per day in each direction.

While upgrading the lines, money should be spent in straightening out curves on the rail lines. In several locations, this will involve use of Eminent Domain powers, as land may have to be condemned in order to build a straighter route alignment.

Upgrade the signals systems, to meet the FRA standards that allow for speeds in excess of 80 mph. That means installing and then maintaining ATC, ATS, Cab Signals, or PTC.

Improve and maintain equipment so as to allow for a higher standard of operation or performance.

Split the Florida bound trains at Jacksonville, like what was done in the past, except that the Miami bound trains would travel via the FEC (which I would also upgrade and maintain at FRA Class 6 standards, allowing for 110 mph speed limits). Maintain the Jacksonville - Tampa track via the A-line and Orlando to FRA Class 6 standards as well.
 
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transit54

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Here are places I would like to see the money spent (and *actually built !* ) :
See link: U. S. Federal Railroad Administration designated "High Speed" passenger rail corridors

To wit: Midwest High Speed Rail project, Florida High Speed Rail, Southeast High Speed Rail, 3-C Rail project in OH, Pacific Northwest HSR, CA HSR, TX, and rail service between Saint Paul and Milwaukee through Madison, WI.
The particular Boston to Montreal alignment they've choosen is one I kind of hope never gets built. Instead, I'd like to see them simply build 220 MPH or faster track from Boston to New York City, and from New York City to Montreal via Albany, and then run trains that go directly from Boston to Albany without the detour through Manhattan itself. (For customs reasons, it may be easiest for the New York City to Albany to Montreal trains to be the ones that actually cross the border, and let people from other cities change trains in Albany.)
Alright...we can do that...except I insist north of Albany the tracks cut over to VT and come up the eastern edge of Lake Champlain with a stop in Burlington ;) ! It would serve many more than it would stopping in Plattsburgh, which is about a quarter the size of the greater Burlington area. Plus I'd get to watch high speed trains zip past my office a few times a day (assuming they used the current VRS right of way)!

Of course Boston to Montreal HSR would never get built, but I can dream about having HSR in Burlington, can't I?
 

D.P. Roberts

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What would make the most sense to me would be one or two complete high speed corridors in high-traffic areas. Rather than "spreading the wealth" around the country - which would in one sense be more fair to everyone - perhaps Amtrak should build one or two "flagship" high-speed lines. For example, NY-Chicago: a dedicated, 150+ MPH passenger line, free of freight delays, problems with old equipment, and the other problems that currently plague Amtrak. If they could get that right, it would show the whole country what high speed rail could look like - a new vision of "Amtrak 2.0" for a new millennium.
 

wrjensen

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That page includes the comment:

Designation allows a corridor to receive specially targeted funding for highway-rail grade crossing safety improvements,
That seems to imply that they think at-grade crossings are a viable concept. That limits speed to 110 MPH under current US regulations, half the speed of some real high speed rail systems in other parts of the world.

(And remember, Interstate Highways are fully grade separated, and we have far more miles of them than designated potential 110 MPH rail corridors.)
I can name 5 grade crossings that will go. (4 on the NEC in CT) and 1 on the RFP line to Richmond. I think getting rid of grade crossing is a good thing.

What would make the most sense to me would be one or two complete high speed corridors in high-traffic areas. Rather than "spreading the wealth" around the country - which would in one sense be more fair to everyone - perhaps Amtrak should build one or two "flagship" high-speed lines. For example, NY-Chicago: a dedicated, 150+ MPH passenger line, free of freight delays, problems with old equipment, and the other problems that currently plague Amtrak. If they could get that right, it would show the whole country what high speed rail could look like - a new vision of "Amtrak 2.0" for a new millennium.
It will never happen because the they become pet projects. Even If you build a line from NY-CHI everyone will want a stop if they are between. The US political process never works on this type of project.
 

Joel N. Weber II

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Alright...we can do that...except I insist north of Albany the tracks cut over to VT and come up the eastern edge of Lake Champlain with a stop in Burlington ;) ! It would serve many more than it would stopping in Plattsburgh, which is about a quarter the size of the greater Burlington area. Plus I'd get to watch high speed trains zip past my office a few times a day (assuming they used the current VRS right of way)!
What I'd like to see there is: build HSR from Albany to Montreal, and don't worry about where Burlington is when building that alignment. Take the existing track that runs south of Burlington within a few miles of Lake Champlain, follow it south to where Lake Champlain is relatively narrow, and build a new track heading west to connect to the Albany to Montreal alignment. Upgrade the existing Burlington track to the same extent that the NEC has seen upgrades for pretend high speed.

Then there could be several Burlington to Albany round trips a day, and if on the HSR portion we're talking 220 MPH, the travel time could easily be under 90 minutes, I think.
 

Joel N. Weber II

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What would make the most sense to me would be one or two complete high speed corridors in high-traffic areas. Rather than "spreading the wealth" around the country - which would in one sense be more fair to everyone - perhaps Amtrak should build one or two "flagship" high-speed lines. For example, NY-Chicago: a dedicated, 150+ MPH passenger line, free of freight delays, problems with old equipment, and the other problems that currently plague Amtrak. If they could get that right, it would show the whole country what high speed rail could look like - a new vision of "Amtrak 2.0" for a new millennium.
It will never happen because the they become pet projects. Even If you build a line from NY-CHI everyone will want a stop if they are between. The US political process never works on this type of project.
The way to make the NYP to CHI line work is to build spurs off of it to places like Toledo / Detroit, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Cleveland, etc. Run only one NYP to CHI train an hour, and use the other 19 or so slots each hour on that track to run trains between other city pairs. (And of course, also run a CHI to NYP train on the track right next to it.)

I also think the tracks in Chicago should be configured so that every intercity train approaching CHI from the south can continue to a stop at O'Hare, and some trains can continue from there to Milwaukee, Madison, or Minneapolis / St Paul.

And why stop at 150 MPH when California is planning for 220 MPH?
 
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Joel N. Weber II

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Let me articulate more:I think the funding would be best spent upon upgrading track to a higher standard, upgrading equipment to see if it is possible to operate at a higher standard. Part of the reasons why the trains do not serve places like Phoenix, AZ, Des Moines IA, and Madison, WI, are that several segments of the tracks around those areas are not up to FRA Class 3 standards (59 mph pass. speed limit). They must be fixed up and then maintained to a standard which allows for FRA Class 5 (90 mph speed limits), if not better. This should also be done in such a fashion so as to create a network, with multiple frequencies per day in each direction.
If you want lots of frequencies per day, those frequencies are going to be easier to justify if the tracks support 220 MPH than if the tracks support 59 MPH, since the key is attracting lots of passengers, and the typical American doesn't think of 59 MPH as competive with the airplane.
 

Larry H.

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I admit ignorance of this whole bill. But I have read quite plainly in newspapers that amtrak was to get like one eight of the total money for regular rail service and the rest was to go to this high speed train from california to nevada? Maybe there wrong. This is the first place I have heard that it may be for more expanded service all over, which by the way is where I would want it to go. That money could go a long way to connecting many cities that are currently off the grid into it. I think the NRPA project has many good features about it. But it would not surprise me if the powers that be thumb their noses at the rest of us and do as they please. That is the way this whole mess is going it seems. It would be a huge disappointment to see it all dumped on one line that sends trains back an forth between the two heads of congress.
 

DaveKCMO

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i've not seen it specified anywhere, but i assume that commuter rail lines would not directly benefit from HSR stimulus money? obviously it would indirectly benefit if it shared tracks in a designated HSR corridor.

the reason i ask is that someone tried to tell me that the HSR funding was not for amtrak. while technically true, i can't think of any other HSR operator that would benefit from the funding in the period the stimulus money is required to be spent (between now and 2012).
 

wrjensen

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Let me articulate more:I think the funding would be best spent upon upgrading track to a higher standard, upgrading equipment to see if it is possible to operate at a higher standard. Part of the reasons why the trains do not serve places like Phoenix, AZ, Des Moines IA, and Madison, WI, are that several segments of the tracks around those areas are not up to FRA Class 3 standards (59 mph pass. speed limit). They must be fixed up and then maintained to a standard which allows for FRA Class 5 (90 mph speed limits), if not better. This should also be done in such a fashion so as to create a network, with multiple frequencies per day in each direction.

While upgrading the lines, money should be spent in straightening out curves on the rail lines. In several locations, this will involve use of Eminent Domain powers, as land may have to be condemned in order to build a straighter route alignment.

Upgrade the signals systems, to meet the FRA standards that allow for speeds in excess of 80 mph. That means installing and then maintaining ATC, ATS, Cab Signals, or PTC.

Improve and maintain equipment so as to allow for a higher standard of operation or performance.

Split the Florida bound trains at Jacksonville, like what was done in the past, except that the Miami bound trains would travel via the FEC (which I would also upgrade and maintain at FRA Class 6 standards, allowing for 110 mph speed limits). Maintain the Jacksonville - Tampa track via the A-line and Orlando to FRA Class 6 standards as well.
The two lines where the money would be well spent is to upgrading are:

The BNSF line toward Galesburg. Currently have 2 LD trains and 2 trains to Quincy currently. If the add trains to Iowa from Chicago the you would have up to 6 trains on first 111 miles of track. Upgrading with ATC, ATS, Cab Signals, or PTC would get good bang for the buck. There are issues with traffic on this line lots of freight but BNSF does have a 2nd line to CHI from Galesburg. (ATSF)

The line from CHI to Milwaukee the line currently has 14 daily and the 1 LD train. Currently the trains average around 60 mph on the line with Upgrading the line might even get the line up to under a hour (this would be tough would have to average 90 MPH over the whole line look at the NEC) The Hiawatha were doing it in 1:17 in 1939 with steam.
 

Joel N. Weber II

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i've not seen it specified anywhere, but i assume that commuter rail lines would not directly benefit from HSR stimulus money? obviously it would indirectly benefit if it shared tracks in a designated HSR corridor.
the reason i ask is that someone tried to tell me that the HSR funding was not for amtrak. while technically true, i can't think of any other HSR operator that would benefit from the funding in the period the stimulus money is required to be spent (between now and 2012).
It is not at all clear whether Amtrak will be the operator of the California HSR system. There does not seem to be any clear argument at this point that they wouldn't choose, say, the fine folks who run Metrolink.

And while there's a lot of thinking about HSR as intercity rail service for occasional trips, consider that for example ALB is 141 track miles from NYP. At 186 or 220 MPH as the top speed, if that were achieved for most of the length of the line, ALB to NYP would be about an hour. And any route that can be covered in an hour and is roughly competitive with driving or faster is likely a viable commuter route. Allentown to NYP might be a viable HSR commuter route. Springfield, MA and Hartford CT to NYP might be viable HSR commuter routes. Springfield, MA and Hartford, CT to Boston might be viable HSR commuter routes.

(Worcester to BOS and Fitchburg to BON are technically MBTA Commuter Rail routes that I believe take over an hour, but there are plans to try to get Fitchburg to BON down to an hour, and it wouldn't surprise me if there's someday some effort put into improving the speed to Worcester too.)
 
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