"The US isn't ready for High Speed Rail:"

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MARC Rider

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#1 What's the rush? #2 Do you think it will actually increase ridership? Having been retired for the past 25 years, I'm not the person to answer these.
The current ~80 mph Acela NYP-WAS and the 70 mph NYP-WAS Northeast Regional are well patronized and have the highest intercity market share of any intercity rail route in the country. Even the slower NYP-BOS trains have good business. They definitely compete with driving. They almost (but not quite) compete with flying in terms of travel time, but they divert a lot of business from the airlines despite the slightly longer travel times. I'm not sure how much extra business they could divert if they were upgraded to 100+ mph average running times.
 

MARC Rider

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The U.S. will, eventually, have true HSR, probably before 2030. What is unclear is which line will be first. It will probably be Brightline West, with CAHSR following. It looked for a while that it would be Texas Central. Hopefully, they will get it together again now that Texas Supreme Court ruled that they ARE a railroad, against the odds!
While I wish both Brightline West and CAHSR to succeed, I doubt that either will be true high speed rail. Brightline West as currently planned is an incomplete system anyway, with a planned termination point at Rancho Cucamonga in the middle of nowhere and will rely on CASHR to be connected to anywhere useful. CAHSR is going to have to make a lot of compromises for political and budget reasons, and I expect that even if there are a few stretches where the trains go 180 mph, the point to point averages will be much more modest.
 

MARC Rider

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And Brightline and Texas Central will be, at least largely, privately-funded. All will operate very profitably when finished.
"Profitability," as I have stated before, is a very slippery term. And owning and operating a rail line is an exceedingly difficult thing to do "profitably," especially in the long term and to the standards of conventional capitalist investors. I see Brightline East as being the equivalent of a condo developer including a pool or health club in the original development. Brightline has admitted that their main focus is using the railroad as an amenity to attract business to their real estate developments along the route. Once all the real estate deals are done and the profits made, will the company still have the stomach to continue to operate the high-overhead railroad, or will they fob off the money-devouring infrastructure and operations to the state or Amtrak? Or will they keep running the railroad, but try to keep it "profitable" by reducing costs, which means deferred maintenance, low reliability, and terrible onboard serve, just like lots of other passenger railroad operators in the mid twentieth century did?
 

TheCrescent

OBS Chief
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Jun 24, 2020
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The current ~80 mph Acela NYP-WAS and the 70 mph NYP-WAS Northeast Regional are well patronized and have the highest intercity market share of any intercity rail route in the country. Even the slower NYP-BOS trains have good business. They definitely compete with driving. They almost (but not quite) compete with flying in terms of travel time, but they divert a lot of business from the airlines despite the slightly longer travel times. I'm not sure how much extra business they could divert if they were upgraded to 100+ mph average running times.
A pretty good percentage of flights from NYC airports is to other cities along the Northeast Corridor. If the Acelas had 100+ mph average running times, many of those flights could be eliminated.

With additional capacity in the Northeast Corridor, perhaps Amtrak could add a low-cost service as well, to build ridership on the low end, like some European railroads do.

The Northeast’s airports and highways are way too congested and there are slews of additional potential rail customers.
 

TheCrescent

OBS Chief
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Jun 24, 2020
Messages
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The US is particularly bad about ballooning costs for rail infrastructure projects. The US just needs to use more cost-effective construction, and the issue doesn’t negate the desirability of HSR.
 
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