Brightline takes over XPress West!

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cirdan

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Mar 30, 2011
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At least until the FRA gets up to speed (oops!), why can't they test the trains on the actual tracks they will run on?
I guess the track and the trains will all be completed around about the same time so the system can go live as soon as possible after completion. By which time it would be quite costly to make any changes should any problem be detected. So it would be better to have either a prototype or a pre-series train delivered ahead of the others to catch any such problems, as this would mean only one train needs to be modified rather than the entire fleet.

Doing that would mean the tracks would have to be ready before the first train arrives, which would impyl well ahead of the rest of the trains arriving. Maybe doing that would create timing problems, with building the route already being the difficult built. NIMBYs can't really stop you making a train in a factory, but they can do lots of things, both reasonable and unreasonable, to slow down or stop construction in the field. So the route construction is the critical bit.

So it might actually make sense to do the testing elsewhere if a suitable location can be found.
 
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John Santos

Train Attendant
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Jun 24, 2018
Messages
79
I guess the track and the trains will all be completed around about the same time so the system can go live as soon as possible after completion. By which time it would be quite costly to make any changes should any problem be detected. So it would be better to have either a prototype or a pre-series train delivered ahead of the others to catch any such problems, as this would mean only one train needs to be modified rather than the entire fleet.

Doing that would mean the tracks would have to be ready before the first train arrives, which would impyl well ahead of the rest of the trains arriving. Maybe doing that would create timing problems, with building the route already being the difficult built. NIMBYs can't really stop you making a train in a factory, but they can do lots of things, both reasonable and unreasonable, to slow down or stop construction in the field. So the route construction is the critical bit.

So it might actually make sense to do the testing elsewhere if a suitable location can be found.
Most of the routes would be 2-300 miles long. I'm sure 20 to 30 miles would be plenty long for a test track. Building a test track SOMEWHERE is a required step in building any such railroad. Why not build it as the first 25 miles of the new route? While the rest of the line is completed, the already done part is used to test the prototypes of the trains. It will probably take several years for all the trainsets to be delivered, and many years to build the complete route, but some of it will be usable for testing (so what if the station platforms or waiting rooms aren't ready, or a bridge or tunnel in the most difficult part of the route isn't done - they aren't needed for testing the trains.)

How were they planning to test the trains for the California High Speed Rail project? Was that only going to be Acela-speed (slow by world standards) or faster?
 

Mailliw

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Jun 14, 2020
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44
Legally it has to be much faster than Acela. LA to San Francisco is supposed to take less than 3 hours. The train needs to go over 200mph, at least in the Central Valley.
 

leemell

Conductor
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Oct 5, 2009
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The initial 119 miles of the CAHSR is the will be the test track. Speeds must be at least 220mph as it is supposed to run at this speed. It will likely be tested a higher speeds.
 

west point

Conductor
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Jun 9, 2015
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Unless FRA regulations are ever changed the tests now are required to be 10% above the max authorized operational speed. So 220 MPH max speed will be tested at 242 MPH. Just as Acela-2s 160 will need tested to 176 MPH.
Testing protocols seem to test in 5 MPH increments with some low starting mark. Maybe something like this. 50 - 55 - 60 - ………. - 150 - 155- 160 - 165 ……..210 - 215 - 220 - 225 - 230 - 235 - 240 - 245 - 250 - 255 - 260, etc. I would imagine tests will continue to highest speed possible.
Limits would be undesirable train dynamics, FRA saying no faster, train will not achieve any faster, CAT dynamics, etc. That way if authorized speed of track is raised then carrier does not have to go back and test train set again.
 

me_little_me

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Jul 16, 2010
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The initial 119 miles of the CAHSR is the will be the test track. Speeds must be at least 220mph as it is supposed to run at this speed. It will likely be tested a higher speeds.
So John Santos' suggestion would be feasible? The first built section of ExpressWest would make a good test track. Especially if the first built section is in the desert where there is no reason to try and run revenue trains until more track is completed because there is no station to get on and no station to get off.
 

Palmetto

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May 12, 2014
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A little off topic, but have not the environmentalists objected to this project in some way?
 

leemell

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That mostly all occurred when the then DesertExpress got the NEPA environmental, CalTrans, BLM FRA and Nevada clearances and certification. That was about 2012-2014.
 

Devil's Advocate

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May 24, 2010
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A little off topic, but have not the environmentalists objected to this project in some way?
Using an environmental law to attack a project does not make someone an environmentalist. The vast majority of environmentalists are supportive of mass transit in general and passenger rail in particular. Even those who are unenthusiastic about a new train to Vegas would still prefer that over more cars and planes. It's not uncommon for wealthy rural landowners to claim loyalty to any cause that might give them an edge over an adversary. That's how we end up with "environmentalists" who spend their time and money attacking renewable energy projects.
 
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John Santos

Train Attendant
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Jun 24, 2018
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79
Thanks everyone for the positive feedback. Clearly my idea isn't original if that's what CHSR was planning to do, but if no one is looking to closely, I'll claim credit ;)

As I understand it, part of the CHSR track has already been built and more is still under construction and they are planning to use it for San Joaquin valley service (but not build the most expensive and most useful part over the mountains and into the LA basin.) Could this track, before it actually goes into revenue service, be used as a test track for other HSR trains? Or is it a series of disjoint short sections interconnected with regular speed tracks already in use by the San Joaquin service? Or are they planning to put it into service with conventional corridor trains as soon as it's available?
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
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Apr 5, 2011
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How much of the actual route will be run at 220 mph? For examples, although the Acelas can go 150 mph, they only do that for a short stretch of track in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. (Actually, my gps usually clocks them at ~148 mph there.) The average speed (~80 mph) between New York and Washington is, in fact, higher than the average speed between New York and Boston (~70 mph), even though the maximum speed on that section is only 135 mph, and only for a short stretch in New Jersey. To speed them up, they really don't need a faster maximum speed, they need to eliminate the bottlenecks that force them to run more slowly for the vast majority of the route. (Hi, Metro-North! Hi Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel! Hi Susquehanna River Bridge! :) )

I wonder if California HSR (or the Brightline Las Vegas service) really needs trains that can go 220 mph when they start up. Maybe they should first get the system built, and then worry about the bells and whistles once there's something that's actually a practical form of transportation with wide public support. It would certainly be easier and cheaper to obtain rolling stick certified for a lesser maximum speed.
 

Palmetto

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May 12, 2014
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Using an environmental law to attack a project does not make someone an environmentalist. The vast majority of environmentalists are supportive of mass transit in general and passenger rail in particular. Even those who are unenthusiastic about a new train to Vegas would still prefer that over more cars and planes. It's not uncommon for wealthy rural landowners to claim loyalty to any cause that might give them an edge over an adversary. That's how we end up with "environmentalists" who spend their time and money attacking renewable energy projects.
Fine. Anyone have an answer to the question, which I will re-state: Has there been any opposition to this project from any group?
 

leemell

Conductor
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Oct 5, 2009
Messages
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About a decade ago.
How much of the actual route will be run at 220 mph? For examples, although the Acelas can go 150 mph, they only do that for a short stretch of track in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. (Actually, my gps usually clocks them at ~148 mph there.) The average speed (~80 mph) between New York and Washington is, in fact, higher than the average speed between New York and Boston (~70 mph), even though the maximum speed on that section is only 135 mph, and only for a short stretch in New Jersey. To speed them up, they really don't need a faster maximum speed, they need to eliminate the bottlenecks that force them to run more slowly for the vast majority of the route. (Hi, Metro-North! Hi Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel! Hi Susquehanna River Bridge! :) )

I wonder if California HSR (or the Brightline Las Vegas service) really needs trains that can go 220 mph when they start up. Maybe they should first get the system built, and then worry about the bells and whistles once there's something that's actually a practical form of transportation with wide public support. It would certainly be easier and cheaper to obtain rolling stick certified for a lesser maximum speed.
The average speed for the CHSR will be about 186mph with all of the stops. All the tunnels will be built for 200+mph.
 

leemell

Conductor
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Oct 5, 2009
Messages
1,536
Thanks everyone for the positive feedback. Clearly my idea isn't original if that's what CHSR was planning to do, but if no one is looking to closely, I'll claim credit ;)

As I understand it, part of the CHSR track has already been built and more is still under construction and they are planning to use it for San Joaquin valley service (but not build the most expensive and most useful part over the mountains and into the LA basin.) Could this track, before it actually goes into revenue service, be used as a test track for other HSR trains? Or is it a series of disjoint short sections interconnected with regular speed tracks already in use by the San Joaquin service? Or are they planning to put it into service with conventional corridor trains as soon as it's available?
About 40% of the Central Valley portion is complete. 77 miles of guideway complete. No track or system yet, RFP that went out about 4 months ago. Deadline was October. Track is near the end construction period.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
1,990
About a decade ago.


The average speed for the CHSR will be about 186mph with all of the stops. All the tunnels will be built for 200+mph.
Would the service be competitive if it started up at a slower average speed (like 100 mph)? They could build the alignment to be eventually upgraded for the higher speed, but might be able to save money on tracks, signaling, and, apparently, rolling stock.

It seems to me that going straight from essentially a third-world passenger railway service in an area that's not used to riding trains to world-class sate of the art might be a jump too far. Better to get a system built in the first place and get people riding it.

What are the average speeds of high-speed rail services in other countries?
 

west point

Conductor
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Jun 9, 2015
Messages
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At one time believe there was a study that if the Elizabeth "S" curve and the track from north PHL past Frankford was straightened that at least 5 -7 minutes could be knocked off the schedule from Newark to North PHL ? Believe that was figured on just 150 MPH on that section not the 160 planned for Acela-2s. Think of how many traveling passenger minutes that would save per day. Also that would place PHL <> NYP under 1 hour which is a magic time for attracting many more passengers. That is an example of getting rid of the slow sections.
 

joelkfla

Service Attendant
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Oct 16, 2018
Messages
130
Would the service be competitive if it started up at a slower average speed (like 100 mph)? They could build the alignment to be eventually upgraded for the higher speed, but might be able to save money on tracks, signaling, and, apparently, rolling stock.

It seems to me that going straight from essentially a third-world passenger railway service in an area that's not used to riding trains to world-class sate of the art might be a jump too far. Better to get a system built in the first place and get people riding it.

What are the average speeds of high-speed rail services in other countries?
I feel just the opposite: the shorter the travel time, the greater the acceptance.

If you start out offering a product that doesn't impress, customers may not give you a second chance.
 

west point

Conductor
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Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,144
It is not a good time now but I've wondered when Amtrak is going to cut running time on the NEC. The non stop NYP <> WASH certainly had a good o time record with an average of arriving 10 minutes early. But the good on time certainly has helped the last couple years.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2016
Messages
1,357
Would the service be competitive if it started up at a slower average speed (like 100 mph)? They could build the alignment to be eventually upgraded for the higher speed, but might be able to save money on tracks, signaling, and, apparently, rolling stock.

It seems to me that going straight from essentially a third-world passenger railway service in an area that's not used to riding trains to world-class sate of the art might be a jump too far. Better to get a system built in the first place and get people riding it.

What are the average speeds of high-speed rail services in other countries?
The alignment and structure is most of what makes the project so expensive, so lowering the speed on the same alignment wouldn't save much money relative to the overall cost but could significantly lower the passenger appeal.
 
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