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Do we really need HSR for LD?

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me_little_me

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What's so politically tricky? Nearly every new passenger railcar acquired for use in the US today is built by a "foreign company," even if the cars themselves are built in the USA. So Japan Rail sets up "Japanrail USA" or whatever they want to call it and applies their expertise to the task at hand. They'll be hiring American workers to build and run the system, so who cares if some profits go back to Japan. (Even some of those profits could well be invested in the US in any event.)
I'd rather see the jobs here and the profits overseas than the other way around in many cases. The expertise remains here. The income from the workers helps a lot of people. The rules for operating legally and those for worker safety and pay and those for the environment can be enforced here. Lastly, the taxes on the profits that are made here can stay here.

I still remember when, about 15 years ago, we bought some items online from a small company in New Jersey that had advertised their products were American made. Afterwards, I wrote to the CEO thanking him for doing that. He replied they had just moved production to Asia "to save the company". I asked him, in reply, what did he save? One or two sales jobs plus those of the owners. He had no answer. The rest of the employees lost their jobs but he didn't.
 

me_little_me

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Amtrak has already been granted priority status; there's just no practical method for enforcing compliance and US courts have invalidated prior attempts as being unfair to the hosts, which is par for the course in a system this broken. There is another attempt to measure and correct non-compliance already in progress but I'm not holding my breath.

The hosts would respond saying minimum speed thresholds require a new usage contract at much higher prices and the current SCOTUS is virtually guaranteed to support that view.

Most stations probably don't need electronic message updates or full length platforms for only a couple trains per day, but improved conventional signage with marked boarding locations would be helpful and practical IMO.

New engines are an issue that is being addressed but I'm unaware of Superliners being a bigger delay problem than other designs in the rolling stock fleet. The primary failure mode seems to be impact/derailing at a grade crossing in relation to a commercial vehicle use and every car in the fleet is susceptible to that.
I never said it would be easy or inexpensive but those fixes would be, IMHO, more cost effective than new HSR right of way or other speed improvement proposals.

As to enforcing compliance, a clear and specific law passed, and not an FRA rule, would have much more meaning.

Then of course, eminent domain can be used to take certain parts of the RR system and the money paid for it will be reduced by the fees paid by the RRs for the use of the track. It also can be used as bargaining power to gain the right to put HSR and/or other tracks tracks above the right of way in lieu of buying them out.

As to electronic signs, with cell phone service and/or local cable, electronic signs can be updated and changed at will. Even at stations with few people boarding, it takes forever to board a train and picking up a few minutes at even the smallest of stations can have a big overall effect on the service for a small price.

I mentioned Superliners as they badly need refurbishment, replacement and additional cars. Looking forward, Amtrak needs to do something about their condition. They will soon be causing more delays as they continue to age. One bad car in L.A. I rode on caused a 2 hour delay - and that was in a place where a spare was available. I did say "and those [cars] that should come" when referring to the Superliners.
 

west point

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About replacing Amfleets and Superliners. It is not going to happen for at least 10 years. If the plans that politicians and others even get halfway implemented the "replacements" will essentially replace these AMs and SL which will be moved to new or expanded services. Much of the Capital funds proposed will need to fix the many problems with tracks.

The NEC needs $30B+ to get into a state of good repair and eliminating the slow areas. HrSR tracks into CHI from all directions eliminating bottlenecks will need what? $10B? Elimination of slow sections on heavily traveled passenger routes routes will need what ? At least another $10B? Sone of those routes are San Diego - San Francisco, WASH - Richmond - Raleigh, NYP - Buffalo - Erie - Toledo, South of the lake,

Then we get to new service routes, second opposite clock services, expansion of train sets from the 8 - 9 car lengths to 14 - 16 car trains. You eat up any of the "replacements that will just supplement the AMs and SLs so do not expect them to be replaced. Instead all parked cars that can be repaired need immediate funds to start. There will be continuing shrinkage as the next wrecks will take more out of service. Somehow any vehicle cause repairs should go directly to Amtrak not the US treasury..
 

jimdex

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So far they are doing that. When’s the last time you rode the Crescent Star? (An Amtrak train that was announced and advertised but never operated).
If you're talking about the proposed Atlanta-DFW train, that service was proposed, but it was never announced or advertised.
 

crescent-zephyr

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If you're talking about the proposed Atlanta-DFW train, that service was proposed, but it was never announced or advertised.
It was both announced and advertised.

I have the printed Amtrak material in a file somewhere if you think I’m lying.
 

jis

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It was both announced and advertised.
Was this the once talked about Crescent-Star which was to split off at Meridian and one section head off to DFW on KCS IIRC?

I don;t quite remember how far the idea advanced before it was abandoned. All I recall is it did not make it too far. Wasn't it part of Warrington's grand plans to be supported by roadrailer based and other high priority cargo service or some such?
 

jimdex

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1. 79mph - this is probably not as significant a break point as before given that PTC addresses the cab signal/ATC requirement to go above this.
The PTC requirement does not cover many freight-only lines, (only mainlines that handle hazardous materials) so expanding passenger service to some freight-only lines could require the additional expense of installing PTC.
 

jimdex

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It was both announced and advertised.

I have the printed Amtrak material in a file somewhere if you think I’m lying.
I did not accuse you of lying, but if you do have that material and could scan it, I would love to see it!
 

crescent-zephyr

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Was this the once talked about Crescent-Star which was to split off at Meridian and one section head off to DFW on KCS IIRC?

I don;t quite remember how far the idea advanced before it was abandoned. All I recall is it did not make it too far. Wasn't it part of Warrington's grand plans to be supported by roadrailer based and other high priority cargo service or some such?
Yes. My point of course was that brightline is up and running and actively constructing the next phase.

Meanwhile Amtrak has announced services that never ran, and cut other services and routes. So I’m not sure what you want brightline to prove to you.
 

jis

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Yes. My point of course was that brightline is up and running and actively constructing the next phase.
You may wish to inform Brightline that they are up and running, since they seem to be unaware of that fact. :D

Of course they are not currently running and don't plan to be until near the end of this year. They do not have a PTC compliant signal system in operation yet. If they were running they would be paying hefty fines each day.

The COVID thing came to their rescue providing good cover for what unfolded, since they did not ever get their original eATC based PTC certified, and actually withdrew their original PTC application. More recently they filed a new application based on the I-ETMS system that they have Wabtec installing and commissioning for them.

They just started testing the new I-ETMS PTC and associated new signaling system this week (week of 1/25/21).

Brightline announced that they will start running last time about a year before they actually did. Got to hand it to them though that they did actually start running, and as they had expected, lost money hand over fist. They actually failed to meet their originally stated goals for the Miami - West Palm Beach segment.

As I have said before I do like the Brightline guys and they face some difficult situations. I am very hopeful they will eventually succeed. But as I said, until they actually meet their goals all of the activity could simply mean that they build something and then try to palm it off to the state if things get rough. I am not saying that will happen. But many Floridians have long memories of FEC's past shenanigans. So I think the jury is still out, though many railfans who pine for some success, any success, apparently seem to be unwilling to wait for actual victory before declaring victory by decree.
 
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crescent-zephyr

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You may wish to inform Brightline that they are up and running, since they seem to be unaware of that fact.
3 years ago (almost to the day... it just came up in my Facebook timeline) I rode brightline. So they are up and running in my book.

Covid has caused many services to be altered and cancelled including Amtrak services like the Vermonter. You know that information of course.

Again I ask what do you want to see? If you keep moving the goal posts brightline will always be a failure to you.
 

jis

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3 years ago (almost to the day... it just came up in my Facebook timeline) I rode brightline. So they are up and running in my book.
Good for you. But it really stopped running because of lack of PTC. COVID happened to come at a convenient time. We knew that it was going to not run for a while before COVID came.

Frankly feel free to believe whatever you want. I am done with this subthread. 🤷‍♂️

Again I ask what do you want to see? If you keep moving the goal posts brightline will always be a failure to you.
I have already answered that. If that answer is not acceptable you can keep asking until the cows come home and you won't get a different answer from me.
 

20th Century Rider

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One reason I went with 125 MPH )HrSR) is that can avoid the initial cost of electrification. Trains can be operated with multiple Siemens chargers. Now do not get me wrong. I heavily support electrification but believe it needs application first on high density ( passenger ) routes. Of course any rebuilding of routes can be designed for high speed rail (HSR) where possible with future electrification .

One help that going for passenger 125 on freight RRs is that passenger trains can get around freight trains much faster so there are less delays for freight trains as well. On a full double track where freights are authorized 60 and passenger 79 we have a long distance for a following Amtrak train to get around the freight. ( Dispatcher comments ?) Makes oncoming trafficthat is restricting for Amtrak to get around a freight. Again it is eliminating all the slow sections of the tracks.

For good consistent 125 operation grades kept to 1 % where possible. Curves no more than 1-1/2 to 2 degrees of curvature. That allows for super elevation of tracks to stay below tipping angles for high center of gravity cars.

One consequence of HrSR as proposed will mean there will need to be additional trains to make the many stops that our current LD trains make. for instance ATL - CLT - Raleigh - Richmond-WASH only train(s) would need 1 or 2 locals that make the 20 additional intermediate stops now served. 20 additional stops adds at least 100 - 150 minutes to enroute times. S;owing and acceleration takes time. Talk about the need for additional equipment when you add this onto all the present LD routes. That route has real significant possibility of coming soon with the "S" line being acquired and almost ready for construction.

NYP - Albany - Buffalo certainly can be a first for 125 operation if NY State can do a deal much like Virginia did with CSX. Maybe even extend NYS to Erie. Then if beyond to Toledo and onto Detroit and on the Michigan route to CHI. That has a lot of potential and should come in maybe before all the ATL - WASH can be completed.

The next thing is crossing eliminations. If financing could come from the highway trust fund grade crossing eliminations could proceed if not at warp speed but at least max impulse speeds The construction should be a 24/7 operation. Our local town could raise the tracks over all three grade crossing if the route becomes a offshoot of the Crescent.
Yes... big expense for infrastructure revision... 'but if you put it out they will come.' The other big sticking point is the present administration's focus on environment with priority spending and rebuilding yet to come. We are rapidly approaching the day when the choice between more interstates or public transport will shift to the more environmentally friendly transit. 🌲
 

Bob Dylan

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GM has announced that they will cease Manufacturing Fossil Fuel powered Vehicles by 2035 in the US, only Electric Powered Vehicles.

This should help Public Transportation in the future, and slow up the Building of more Highways.

Undoubtably, the Fossil Fuel and Asphalt Industies, and the Politicians they "own", will not be amused!
 

20th Century Rider

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GM has announced that they will cease Manufacturing Fossil Fuel powered Vehicles by 2035 in the US, only Electric Powered Vehicles.

This should help Public Transportation in the future, and slow up the Building of more Highways.

Undoubtably, the Fossil Fuel and Asphalt Industies, and the Politicians they "own", will not be amused!
Regardless they're doing it for the environment, and those of us who care about the environment! 🌲 🌈 😇
 

joelkfla

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GM has announced that they will cease Manufacturing Fossil Fuel powered Vehicles by 2035 in the US, only Electric Powered Vehicles.

This should help Public Transportation in the future, and slow up the Building of more Highways.

Undoubtably, the Fossil Fuel and Asphalt Industies, and the Politicians they "own", will not be amused!
I don't follow your logic.

They don't say they'll be producing less cars, just changing the fuel source. If anything, I think that will increase the attractiveness of owning a car, as operating costs will be lower, and the downside of environmental impact will be reduced.

There surely are other reasons for reducing private car usage, but I don't see switching from fossil fuel to electric as a driver.
 
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west point

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Confusion here . If Brightline cannot run right now how does FEC run? Is FEC using a different PTC or what other problems is there.?
 

PaTrainFan

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GM has announced that they will cease Manufacturing Fossil Fuel powered Vehicles by 2035 in the US, only Electric Powered Vehicles.

This should help Public Transportation in the future, and slow up the Building of more Highways.

Undoubtably, the Fossil Fuel and Asphalt Industies, and the Politicians they "own", will not be amused!
This trend, which may end up being followed by other manufacturers, also means that radical changes will be necessary in funding the Highway Trust Fund and all other transportation given that gas tax receipts will be greatly reduced. This is already the trend given the greater efficiency of gas powered vehicles over the last 30-40 years.
 

Exvalley

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I don't follow your logic.

They don't say they'll be producing less cars, just changing the fuel source. If anything, I think that will increase the attractiveness of owning a car, as operating costs will be lower, and the downside of environmental impact will be reduced.

There surely are other reasons for reducing private car usage, but I don't see switching from fossil fuel to electric as a driver.
It's hard to know what the state of technology will be by 2035. But for urban areas, demand for public transportation will go up unless charging technology improves. Many urban dwellers don't have access to a power source to charge overnight. And if they don't have access, rapid charging times will need to shorten to make owning an electric car attractive.

The biggest hope for widespread adoption of electric vehicles lies with solid state batteries that can be charged in a couple of minutes. Hopefully we get there in a few years - or at least by 2035.
 

jis

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As to enforcing compliance, a clear and specific law passed, and not an FRA rule, would have much more meaning.
Until a bill that is passed by Congress is actually enacted as a set of regulations, often penned by the FRA in case of railroads, it is not clear what the parties are actually supposed to do to comply. So saying that a FRA regulation, which is in the first place created to put the law into effect, is somehow less meaningful than the bill that is passed, seems a little bizarre.

At the end of the day, railroads and other parties act on the CFR. If and when there is disagreement about whether the CFR represents the intent of the law passed by Congress, it goes to a Court and is hashed out there, leading to possible change in the CFR, and sometimes the entire law being struck down. The net effect of the latter is for the corresponding sections of the CFR being retired and removed.

The specificity of the law is something that needs to be discussed. In another thread @Tuck makes a good point that sometimes the laws in connection with passenger train priorities trend into meaningless unimplementable nuts and bolts wishes, and there is some evidence to support that.

Some seem to believe that Congress should be adopting a dispatchers operating manual as law and then try to enforce that. I think that is a fool's errand. Congress should specify metrics that have to be met and penalties for not meeting them, and require transparent publication of the metrics, how the parties are doing month to month, and what corrective actions are being taken together with penalties and results. The technicalities should be left to the technical people. Congress usually creates a disaster and logjam when they try to micro-manage almost anything (e.g. food service on Amtrak trains, specifically instead of leaving it to the operators to meet the higher level "break even" goal as it was, however they saw fit). They should refrain from doing that even in the case of the matter of dispatch priorities.
 

jis

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Confusion here . If Brightline cannot run right now how does FEC run? Is FEC using a different PTC or what other problems is there.?
FEC does not need PTC by keeping its train traffic below the IIRC five trains per day limit. It is that simple for getting an exception, specially for freight trains that do not carry any hazmat.
 

Devil's Advocate

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This is already the trend given the greater efficiency of gas powered vehicles over the last 30-40 years.
The efficiency of petrol engines has increased but the growing number of less efficient vehicles (SUV's, crossovers, luxury pickups, crew cabs, etc.) has wiped out those gains. As we burn the last of the easily extracted light oils and convert to processing heavier fuels each gallon of petrol emits more pollutants before it even reaches the pump.

It's hard to know what the state of technology will be by 2035. But for urban areas, demand for public transportation will go up unless charging technology improves. Many urban dwellers don't have access to a power source to charge overnight. And if they don't have access, rapid charging times will need to shorten to make owning an electric car attractive.
Almost any house can support 240v which provides a full charge overnight without issue. A bank of simple 240v chargers is cheap enough for most apartments and medium or larger employers to handle. Beyond 240v most residential installations will require stationary battery packs to avoid current limit problems but these are dropping in price and don't really need to be lithium batteries at all.

The biggest hope for widespread adoption of electric vehicles lies with solid state batteries that can be charged in a couple of minutes. Hopefully we get there in a few years - or at least by 2035.
Hopefully this will finally put an end to all the bellyaching about charge times. Instead of a $35,000 vehicle that takes an ungodly half hour to finish we'll finally have a more practical model that dual-charges in five minutes for $350,000.
 

Ziv

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Ex, you are assuming that cities regain the luster they have lost over the last 10 months. There is a small but significant chance that between Zoom and other tech that living in a city won't be necessary to get a top notch job. What we have seen happening to suburban shopping malls may happen to larger cities. People will vote with their feet and both malls and cities will more frequently be left tenantless and searching for a new purpose.
Small towns all over the US are seeing a surge in people moving there. It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out.
My gut, though, is that we will return to the status quo prior to the Covid epidemic with a few minor changes in behavior, but that remains to be seen.
Still chuckling over DA’s final paragraph. Fast charging has been one of the last sticks that BEV haters have when they try to whack plug in cars but given how high powered Tesla Superchargers are now and how much total pack capacity Tesla cars can have, the time it takes to to charge enough to add another 3 hours of hwy range has gotten amazingly short. If they can delay charge tapering by a little bit more even the mid-sized packs will be excellent road trip vehicles.

It's hard to know what the state of technology will be by 2035. But for urban areas, demand for public transportation will go up unless charging technology improves. Many urban dwellers don't have access to a power source to charge overnight. And if they don't have access, rapid charging times will need to shorten to make owning an electric car attractive.

The biggest hope for widespread adoption of electric vehicles lies with solid state batteries that can be charged in a couple of minutes. Hopefully we get there in a few years - or at least by 2035.
 
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