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tricia

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I disagree,
why can every modren country the world have fast, efficient, nice trains but the good old USA can’t
we can spent almost a trillion defense every year! But on a fast rail system we are doomed.

I think now is the best time to upgrade out train system infrastructure, with the unemployment high, and and the economy down, we should spent on upgrading the train lines, improve everything and we should aim for 200 MPH trains
Personally, I'd favor a much more extensive, reliable, and frequently run network of 70MPH trains before HSR--but I think we're in agreement that upgrading train infrastructure would be a very effective part of any pandemic-recovery economic plan that seeks both short-term stimulus and long-term benefits.
 

tgstubbs1

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I agree. Speed isn't Amtrak's advantage, reliability, safety, and the potential options for those that can't travel by air. Medical equipment,, etc.
And of course your personal automobile on the AutoTrain.

A consistent and reliable 70 mph isn't that slow, but trains that have to wait on freight trains will probably average more like 30mph.
 

Qapla

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I would imagine more people travel by car than they do by plane ... and cars on the Interstate do not travel anywhere near 200mph (not legally, anyway). So, if trains could travel at an average speed faster than the Interstate average speeds, the fact that they run 24/7 while the passenger can rest/ride/sleep could attract people back to the rail for long trips.
 

MARC Rider

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I would imagine more people travel by car than they do by plane ... and cars on the Interstate do not travel anywhere near 200mph (not legally, anyway). So, if trains could travel at an average speed faster than the Interstate average speeds, the fact that they run 24/7 while the passenger can rest/ride/sleep could attract people back to the rail for long trips.
When I take road trips, even on routes where, traffic permitting, I can drive 70-80 mph, my point to point average speed never seems to exceed 50 mph. It's all those restroom stops, fuel stops, lunch stops, etc. And if it's longer than a day trip, my max is 8-10 hours driving (400-500 miles), and then I need to stop for the night. Thus, if a train can consistently perform at a 50 mph point-to-point average speed, it's speed competitive with driving. If it can do 60 mph point to point average speed, it's actually faster than driving. Of course, in order to account for parts of the route with curves and grades, and intermediate stops, etc., the train's top speed on suitable parts of the route will need to be 80-90 mph.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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When I take road trips, even on routes where, traffic permitting, I can drive 70-80 mph, my point to point average speed never seems to exceed 50 mph. It's all those restroom stops, fuel stops, lunch stops, etc. And if it's longer than a day trip, my max is 8-10 hours driving (400-500 miles), and then I need to stop for the night. Thus, if a train can consistently perform at a 50 mph point-to-point average speed, it's speed competitive with driving. If it can do 60 mph point to point average speed, it's actually faster than driving. Of course, in order to account for parts of the route with curves and grades, and intermediate stops, etc., the train's top speed on suitable parts of the route will need to be 80-90 mph.
If you're going to factor in stops for the car trip, you should also include travel time to and from the stations for the train trip. While train stations tend to be more centrally located than airports, not everyone is going downtown and there will be some additional travel time regardless. There is also some time after arriving at the station but prior to the departure time. However, these factors are less relevant on longer trips. For example, I live in Chicago and it takes me about 45 minutes to get to Union Station; I also tend to get there at least 30 minutes early. That nearly doubles the travel time if I am going to Milwaukee, a route which has a travel time that is theoretically highly competitive with driving. It could take even longer than that depending on where my specific destination is. However, if I were to take the SWC to Los Angeles, the 1-2 hours of travel time on the ends don't make as much of a difference.
 

Abe26

Train Attendant
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When I take road trips, even on routes where, traffic permitting, I can drive 70-80 mph, my point to point average speed never seems to exceed 50 mph. It's all those restroom stops, fuel stops, lunch stops, etc. And if it's longer than a day trip, my max is 8-10 hours driving (400-500 miles), and then I need to stop for the night. Thus, if a train can consistently perform at a 50 mph point-to-point average speed, it's speed competitive with driving. If it can do 60 mph point to point average speed, it's actually faster than driving. Of course, in order to account for parts of the route with curves and grades, and intermediate stops, etc., the train's top speed on suitable parts of the route will need to be 80-90 mph.
NYC to Buffalo with a car takes 7 hours, 375 miles, if you can have a train going 150-200 MPH just 50% of the time and make it in 3 1/2 hours , most people will take it versus flying. This route alone has more then 10 flights a day, and if it can go till Toronto, its a game changer with 30 flights a day.
 

MARC Rider

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NYC to Buffalo with a car takes 7 hours, 375 miles, if you can have a train going 150-200 MPH just 50% of the time and make it in 3 1/2 hours , most people will take it versus flying. This route alone has more then 10 flights a day, and if it can go till Toronto, its a game changer with 30 flights a day.
The 10 New York-Buffalo flights, if they're using 737s with a capacity of 150, have 1500 seats per day.
A regional consist of 6 Amfleet 1 coaches, a cafe car and an Amfleet 1 business class car has a capacity of about 500, or almost 2 widebody jetliners. If the 4 trains now running between New York and Buffalo had that consist or the equivalent, that would be 2000 seats per day. More seats available without adding a single train on the route. But, of course, successful train routes aren't about the end-to-end traffic. Just look at the Northeast Corridor. Nearly everyone gets off or boards at New York, very few people ride all the way from Washington to Boston. It's people riding between all those intermediate city pairs that fill the trains, and most of them would otherwise drive. A 60-70 mph point-to-point average speed makes those trains very time-competitive with driving, especially if any of the driving route has a potential for traffic congestion.
 

west point

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Until all the potential trains can operate in the USA with enough equipment I do not want to see any equipment be assigned to a train going thru Canada. I like Canada but if a 12 car train does a RT thru Canada the you have the equivalent of 3 -4 cars essentially assigned in Canada.
 

railiner

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When I take road trips, even on routes where, traffic permitting, I can drive 70-80 mph, my point to point average speed never seems to exceed 50 mph. It's all those restroom stops, fuel stops, lunch stops, etc. And if it's longer than a day trip, my max is 8-10 hours driving (400-500 miles), and then I need to stop for the night. Thus, if a train can consistently perform at a 50 mph point-to-point average speed, it's speed competitive with driving. If it can do 60 mph point to point average speed, it's actually faster than driving. Of course, in order to account for parts of the route with curves and grades, and intermediate stops, etc., the train's top speed on suitable parts of the route will need to be 80-90 mph.
Not all of us are the same...
I have made three round trips in the past year between my former Queens apartment, and my new homes in Florida, driving. I am a 'marathon' driver, and easily beat the time by several hours, it would have taken me by using the Auto-Train instead. Not to mention the money saved, even though my car only carried one out of five available seats.
 

MARC Rider

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Not all of us are the same...
I have made three round trips in the past year between my former Queens apartment, and my new homes in Florida, driving. I am a 'marathon' driver, and easily beat the time by several hours, it would have taken me by using the Auto-Train instead. Not to mention the money saved, even though my car only carried one out of five available seats.
My grandfather used to do a 24-hour marathon drive from Florida when he came up to visit us. And that was in the early 1960s before I-95 was 100% completed. I guess I didn't inherit the genes for marathon. The best I've done was 600 miles in 14 hours, but the last time we did that my family rebelled and told me never to do that again.

I would think that marathon drivers are a minority of the people who make road trips, anyway.
 

Qapla

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Back in the late 1940's my Mother made several trips from Jacksonville to Philly - the straight through trip took 17-18 hours ... there were no Interstates in those days and she had two young children in the car.

My Dad drove straight through from Gainesville, Fl to Alamosa during the 1960's ... a 33 hour trek on the roads that existed at the time.

I have driven several of these marathon drives myself ...

However, I have also rode both Silvers from Jacksonville to NYC (and back). Could I have driven it? Sure - but, why :confused: Even though I rode coach it was calming, enjoyable, relaxing and, I wasn't tired or stiff from driving when I got there.

I think that, if trains were more frequent, on time and just as fast as driving - more people would be inclined to think, "sure, I can drive there ... but, why should I when I can take the train".
 

Exvalley

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The problem when you compare the train to driving is that you are without a vehicle once you get to your destination. That’s a turn off to a lot of people.
 

Willbridge

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Must be why nobody ever goes anywhere without a car...
In 2018 I made a trip from Denver to Berlin entirely by public transport (walk/roll>bus>train>LH plane>bus>S-Bahn>S-Bahn>walk/roll from my home to our veterans' reunion hotel. However, I lived then in the Capitol Hill area of Denver with all the parking spaces full and the Berlin hotel is a block from an S-Bahn station. "Needing" a car is a common phrase -- I have a German tourist guide to the U.S. that states clearly that renting a car is required -- but it really depends on the journalistic Who, Why, Where, What, When and How to get the best answer.

When I was in training at Fort Ord I went along as tour guide into SF with three New Mexico National Guardsmen and a guy from Joplin, Missouri. They insisted on renting a car, even though I had already found the SP Del Monte to be a fine way to get into the City. I chipped in and went along with it as research. We spent much of the weekend looking for parking spaces. Next time I took the train. I don't think they went back to SF again.
 

Exvalley

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View attachment 19896

Just like when you take a plane :eek:


This is what we planned on doing
You missed what I wrote. Here it is again with the relevant part highlighted:
The problem when you compare the train to driving is that you are without a vehicle once you get to your destination. That’s a turn off to a lot of people.

Yes, you can rent a car when you get to your destination. At many Amtrak stations that is easier said than done. You better hope that Enterprise is open and that they can send someone to pick you up. And of course there is the cost of renting a car that needs to be factored in as well as the liability headaches.

Don't shoot the messenger. I am just saying that a lot of people find that to be a turn off.
 

Exvalley

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In my umpteen bazillion trips to various countries in Europe I have never ever rented a car. Worst case I had to take a cab a couple of times, but mostly it has been public transit. Admittedly most American cities are yet to evolve to such a state of public transit.
I have rented a car a couple of times in Europe, but now that there are traffic cameras all over the place I have stopped renting. I find that it's easier to slip up when you are out of your element - especially in Italy where they have cameras that issue fines if you enter the wrong zone in urban areas.

But, as you say, the state of public transportation in Europe is much better than in the United States.
 

jiml

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The problem when you compare the train to driving is that you are without a vehicle once you get to your destination. That’s a turn off to a lot of people.
It's more than a "turn off", it's downright impractical.

View attachment 19896

Just like when you take a plane :eek:
Once-affordable car rentals are now priced out of most budgets, except for shorter trips. Renting a car for a week is a lot different than renting one for a month or longer - hence the value of the Auto Train. Once the fare and vehicle charge become less than a car rental you have a successful product, without even considering the ancillary benefits such as traffic, stress, etc.
 

jis

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Unfortunately the level of window tint in my car in Florida is illegal in NJ/NY. So no more Auto Train ride to the Northeast for me :( I had no idea that NY/NJ had such requirements, and that people actually get ticketed for it. Oh well....
 

IndyLions

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Brownsburg IN
Some people just want to drive everywhere - that’s their prerogative, but for me “having to drive” is a big turn off.

It’s getting much easier in a lot of cities to get by without driving/renting a car. By and large I stay at a downtown hotel, walk, take subways/light rail, and Uber/Lyft. I find buses huge time wasters - they are important for locals but not great for tourists, in my opinion.

The cities I’ve explored in the last couple of years without a car include NY, CHI, DC, LA, SEA, OAK, SAC, Austin. We rented a car in Vegas one day only because we wanted to see an attraction an hour out of town.
 
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