Service type terminology and speed definitions discussion

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jis

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People connecting to light rail will be much more significant and meaningful, and so I assume that it is this that the authors were implying.
There is no Light Rail anywhere near Miami Central, or in Miami for that matter, if one is using the standard definitions used by the FTA and FRA. There is a People Mover known as Metromover, and there is Heavy Rail known as Metrorail. Both connect to Bridghtline at their respective stations with their own names with Brightline at Miami Central Brightline Station.
 

cirdan

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There is no Light Rail anywhere near Miami Central, or in Miami for that matter, if one is using the standard definitions used by the FTA and FRA. There is a People Mover known as Metromover, and there is Heavy Rail known as Metrorail. Both connect to Bridghtline at their respective stations with their own names with Brightline at Miami Central Brightline Station.
I was biting my tongue when typing that as I knew it was incorrect but couldn't immediately come up with a non convoluted term to collectively describe the connecting rail systems. Maybe urban rail or rapid transit might have been a more appropriate choice of words. I expect the journalists authoring the above piece similarly struggled to find a term everybody would understand and hence incorrectly and misleadingly came up with commuter rail, which obviously railfans incorrectly assumed to imply the future Tri Rail service(?)
 

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There is no Light Rail anywhere near Miami Central, or in Miami for that matter, if one is using the standard definitions used by the FTA and FRA. There is a People Mover known as Metromover, and there is Heavy Rail known as Metrorail. Both connect to Bridghtline at their respective stations with their own names with Brightline at Miami Central Brightline Station.
Metro Rail is considered heavy? Maybe by physical definition, but in operation they are more like a subway and certainly not a commuter like TriRail as the article implied.

Too many categories and usages.
 

jis

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Metro Rail is considered heavy? Maybe by physical definition, but in operation they are more like a subway and certainly not a commuter like TriRail as the article implied.

Too many categories and usages.
It is how FRA defines them and it is standard terminology in the US rail industry. Subway is Heavy Rail according to FRA/FTA. I have no specific opinon about their terminology. I just use it. Commuter Rail is a different category from Heavy Rail. Generally Heavy Rail is governed by the FTA and Commuter Rail by FRA.
 

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Metro Rail is considered heavy? Maybe by physical definition, but in operation they are more like a subway and certainly not a commuter like TriRail as the article implied.

Too many categories and usages.
Subways are generally considered to be "heavy rail" (vs "light rail" aka streetcar/interurban-ish operations, and "commuter rail").
 

crescent-zephyr

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Metro Rail is considered heavy? Maybe by physical definition, but in operation they are more like a subway and certainly not a commuter like TriRail as the article implied.

Too many categories and usages.
Agreed. Kinda like the argument “the sky is not blue” - technically correct but the general public says it’s a blue sky.

To the general public, Brightline is high speed rail and they have advertised themselves as such a few places.

Likewise, metro rail and the peoplemover in Miami are going to be considered as light rail to the general public.
 
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Agreed. Kinda like the argument “the sky is not blue” - technically correct but the general public says it’s a blue sky.

To the general public, Brightline is high speed rail and they have advertised themselves as such a few places.

Likewise, metro rail and the peoplemover in Miami are going to be considered as light rail to the general public.
Agreed. The general public receives advertisement material and information about rail that is quasi-correct; at the end of the day, this is bad.

It leads to blanket mistrust of rail, Amtrak, brightline, etc. as people feel they’ve been lied to when they gain more knowledge about these matters and figure out that thing such as Brightline really not being anything close to HSR let alone NEC level service (despite being a generally wonderful service for FL and the area).

There are many people who compare the Acela and Brightline as if one can compare apples and oranges.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Brightline really not being anything close to HSR
It’s high speed for the USA though. I consider anything over 90 to be high speed for the USA - it’s pretty rare here.

I don’t think anyone in the general public will consider 110 to be false advertising as HSR.
 
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It’s high speed for the USA though. I consider anything over 90 to be high speed for the USA - it’s pretty rare here.

I don’t think anyone in the general public will consider 110 to be false advertising as HSR.
I did say quasi-correct.

Just because its high for the USA doesn't change the fact that Brightline really isn't HSR under most definitions.
Given the FRA can't even make up its mind about what constitutes HSR, however, its tough.

There are many regular old LD trains that get quite close to 110 to begin with. On my last Lake Shore Limited run, my speedometer topped us out at 104mph in the area north of Albany, which is very close to what Brightline is currently testing near Cocoa.
Given that BL won't even hold those "high" speeds for very long (the very complaint people slate against the Acela), I'm unconvinced about so-called superior speeds of BL that I hear about so often.

Again, this doesn't take away from Brightline's other qualities of superior service.
 

GDRRiley

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It’s high speed for the USA though. I consider anything over 90 to be high speed for the USA - it’s pretty rare here.
There are like 6 different federal definitions and that doesn't get into the 50 state ones in the US but nearly all agree 90-125mph is not high speed, 90-125mph is nearly always higher speed

And internationally 100mph is the standard speed you'll see (160kmh) even on legacy lines
 

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I'd also point out that if one looks at an Acela/Brightline comparison, NYP-WAS in 2:47 (the fastest current timetable) translates to about 80 MPH. The 3:00 timetables (there are a few of them) correspond to 75 MPH. If Brightline can beat a 75 MPH average speed (3:12 Orlando-Miami), I think contesting the HSR label would be a very heavy lift.
 

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I'd also point out that if one looks at an Acela/Brightline comparison, NYP-WAS in 2:47 (the fastest current timetable) translates to about 80 MPH. The 3:00 timetables (there are a few of them) correspond to 75 MPH. If Brightline can beat a 75 MPH average speed (3:12 Orlando-Miami), I think contesting the HSR label would be a very heavy lift.
ACELA is weird, its legacy HSR and has a lot of legacy infrastructure that slows it down, there are multiple mile or longer sections where the speed limit is 25 or 30mph which won't be fixed for another 8-10 years
 

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ACELA is weird, its legacy HSR and has a lot of legacy infrastructure that slows it down, there are multiple mile or longer sections where the speed limit is 25 or 30mph which won't be fixed for another 8-10 years
Are these mostly on NEC-North or NEC-South? On NEC-South, the main case of this seems to be the Baltimore tunnels. NEC-North has a spate of issues in CT if I'm not mistaken.
 

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Are these mostly on NEC-North or NEC-South? On NEC-South, the main case of this seems to be the Baltimore tunnels. NEC-North has a spate of issues in CT if I'm not mistaken.
Baltimore is a major issue but that is finally getting fixed
Wilmington is another very slow section
Elizabeth is not quite as bad but still slows down trains
there is also the gateway bridges but those are being replaced as well

Really any section that drops the speed below the line speed around it really hurts the average. going from 135mph to 110 for a curve isn't great

or for brightline a 60mph bridge vs 110mph running around it
 

cirdan

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And internationally 100mph is the standard speed you'll see (160kmh) even on legacy lines
In Britain, Germany and France maybe. In Switzerland the legacy speed is 140kmh (about 85mph) and only a handful of lines (mostly new build and the base tunnels) allow higher speeds. In the Netherlands the speed (outside of the high speed corridor) is even lower at 125kmh, which is about equivalent to what you can drive on the freeway there. Despite these lower speeds, the rail system of these two latter countries are considered among the best and most succesful on the continent, showing success is not dependent on speed alone.

In many of the former communist countries of eastern Europe, speed are lower still. In Romania for example even many main arteries of the system are limited to 60 or 80kmh, due to track condition. In many other countries there is often a mix with select high-value routes allowing speeds of 160kmh or even 200kmh on classic legacy lines (typically electrified) with much of the secondary network running at significantly lower speeds.
 

jis

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In Britain, Germany and France maybe. In Switzerland the legacy speed is 140kmh (about 85mph) and only a handful of lines (mostly new build and the base tunnels) allow higher speeds. In the Netherlands the speed (outside of the high speed corridor) is even lower at 125kmh, which is about equivalent to what you can drive on the freeway there. Despite these lower speeds, the rail system of these two latter countries are considered among the best and most succesful on the continent, showing success is not dependent on speed alone.

In many of the former communist countries of eastern Europe, speed are lower still. In Romania for example even many main arteries of the system are limited to 60 or 80kmh, due to track condition. In many other countries there is often a mix with select high-value routes allowing speeds of 160kmh or even 200kmh on classic legacy lines (typically electrified) with much of the secondary network running at significantly lower speeds.
I agree with you. I don't think "internationally" 100mph is the standard anything. There is a very broad spread found across the globe with some countries standardized at 100mph for trunk lines. But other than China most of those countries are relatively small to medium size countries size-wise.

In spite of the the large bulk of passenger traffic is found in countries with general speeds below 100mph. And even in China, bulk of the traffic is on non-high speed main lines.
 
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Commuter rail is always the most confusing one for me to follow regulatory wise given it straddles both agencies the FRA and FTA. It's governed by the FRA as far as train operations and safety but the FTA is also involved in commuter rail in that it is responsible for federal funding for rail projects that fall under the umbrella of "transit" and as a result regulates some of the service standards that commuter rail operators must follow.
 

jis

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Commuter rail is always the most confusing one for me to follow regulatory wise given it straddles both agencies the FRA and FTA. It's governed by the FRA as far as train operations and safety but the FTA is also involved in commuter rail in that it is responsible for federal funding for rail projects that fall under the umbrella of "transit" and as a result regulates some of the service standards that commuter rail operators must follow.
Fact of the matter is that the second pair of tunnels across the Hudson are primarily needed to fulfill the needs of Commuter Rail (NJTransit). As far as Amtrak by itself goes they do not really need any more tunnels under the Hudson. So in that sense the new tunnels are really a Commuter Rail project. I know this blows the mind of many in the rail advocacy community who are very Amtrak-centric on many occasions.

Another oddity people seem to unaware of is that the traffic management in Penn Station as handled by the Penn Station Control Center, is carried out jointly by Amtrak and LIRR, so even though Amtrak owns the station, its operation is not exclusively Amtrak's! LIRR (NYState) actually purchased the right with real money before Amtrak was formed!

So yes, Commuter Rail and Main Line Rail intermingle in many odd ways as is to be expected. Afterall it is to some extent a separation of convenience in accounts management and such, but they share a lot of facilities.

OTOH, generally Commuter Rail and Heavy Rail do not share facilities specially after PATH was disconnected from main line operationally. Oddly, Light Rail and main line (freight) do share facilities usually using temporal separation, but it is uncommon for Light Rail and Heavy Rail to share facilities.

In Europe, there are the so called Tram-Trains that run both as Light Rail and Commuter Rail. I rode one in Mulhous, the line that runs on streets in the city center and then hops onto the SNCF main suburban line to proceed to Kruth and Thann. On the streets it runs on DC power, and on the suburban line it runs using 25kV AC. Quite an interesting operation.
 

cirdan

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Fact of the matter is that the second pair of tunnels across the Hudson are primarily needed to fulfill the needs of Commuter Rail (NJTransit). As far as Amtrak by itself goes they do not really need any more tunnels under the Hudson. So in that sense the new tunnels are really a Commuter Rail project. I know this blows the mind of many in the rail advocacy community who are very Amtrak-centric on many occasions.
Add to this that commuter rail and intercity rail do functionally overlap, for example a good many of the passengers using NEC are actually commuters, and many a commuter line extends further than many shorter Amtrak trips. The terminology tends to get attached to the operating entity rather than the actual functionality or purpose of the service.

Translating this into a European context, Amtrak and most commuter rail agencies would actually be the same organization.
 
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In Europe, there are the so called Tram-Trains that run both as Light Rail and Commuter Rail. I rode one in Mulhous, the line that runs on streets in the city center and then hops onto the SNCF main suburban line to proceed to Kruth and Thann. On the streets it runs on DC power, and on the suburban line it runs using 25kV AC. Quite an interesting operation.
There's a person in The Hague who posts many driver's view YouTubes of trams there. Some of the trams travel on the commuter line for a short distance. I don't know about power, but the stations on that stretch have high level and low level platforms stacked end-to-end.

It's an interesting tram system. The trams travel on an elevated section with elaborately decorative shrouding, into the central railway station on upper level platforms, through the library, and down into a tunnel.
 

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The closest thing to a Tram-Train that we have in the UUS are the likes of the NJT RiverLINE which runs on street in Camden and on freight railroad north of Camden
there is talk of 2 tram train lines in California both in Monterrey county as connectors
Santa Cruz to Watsonville
Monterrey to Casterville

but I'm sure the FRA would have fun with them as even if they meet Eruo crash standards for mainline like a Stadler citylink.
 

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National definitions would help. IMO the previous definitions of speed were best. Over 90 MPH is HrSR. That puts MARC Penn line service into Commuter HrSR, but not NJT or MNRR hudson line? Amtrak Illinois and Michigan may count if the PTC ever works to get HrSR.

True HSR over 150 MPH also sounds reasonable.
What all the RRs IMO need to do is announce that they are constructing sections of a line for either of these 2 speeds and when a section is truly in these 2 classes and operating at these speeds.

Public rcognition of acquiring these speeds wpuld be something they might understand. Announcing of getting HSR Newark - Trenton - maybe even North PHL. As well NC DOT announcing HrSR on parts of CLT - RGH as well. Even to reducing schedule by a few minutes at a time.
 

Anderson

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Fact of the matter is that the second pair of tunnels across the Hudson are primarily needed to fulfill the needs of Commuter Rail (NJTransit). As far as Amtrak by itself goes they do not really need any more tunnels under the Hudson. So in that sense the new tunnels are really a Commuter Rail project. I know this blows the mind of many in the rail advocacy community who are very Amtrak-centric on many occasions.

Another oddity people seem to unaware of is that the traffic management in Penn Station as handled by the Penn Station Control Center, is carried out jointly by Amtrak and LIRR, so even though Amtrak owns the station, its operation is not exclusively Amtrak's! LIRR (NYState) actually purchased the right with real money before Amtrak was formed!
So, I've understood that the tunnels are needed for two reasons:
(1) There's a net need to add some commuter trains, and added capacity will give Amtrak a bit more flexibility in peak hours.
(2) More crucially, you effectively need a tunnel out of service for rebuilding work for quite some time because the 110-ish year old tunnels effectively need to be redone.
 

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So, I've understood that the tunnels are needed for two reasons:
(1) There's a net need to add some commuter trains, and added capacity will give Amtrak a bit more flexibility in peak hours.
(2) More crucially, you effectively need a tunnel out of service for rebuilding work for quite some time because the 110-ish year old tunnels effectively need to be redone.
Purely from a capacity perspective Amtrak does not need any added flexibility provided by the new tunnels for a long time to come. The entire capacity of the new tunnels is for NJT service growth use. The way the trackage is designed is to make NJT flow smoothly through the new tunnels to a terminal station. There is only a single ladder track that connects the new tunnel to the Amtrak side of the station in A interlocking, not something that will carry scads of traffic, and it entails creating lots of conflicts on each move on it. The two new "slow" lines - tracks 1 and 4 will connect straight into the new tunnels while the fast tracks 2 and 3 will continue through the old tunnels.

Even as far a as taking tunnels out of service for rehab is concerned, if it was only Amtrak traffic that was to be maintained, they could have been rehabbed without building any new tunnels by just taking one tunnel out of service at a time. It is to accommodate NJT traffic during rehab that you need the new tunnels too.

Hence it is fair to say that the new tunnels are needed for commuter traffic, not for trunk traffic of the NEC.

But this probably belongs in the discussion about the new tunnels and not here.
 
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