Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [carfree_cities] "Biden rolls out $1.3 billion for Amtrak"

Expand Messages
  • Richard Risemberg
    You need dedicated track for 100+mph operation. And to maintain the kind of service that was normal in the old days-- You can set your watch by the
    Message 1 of 15 , Mar 13 9:14 PM
    • 0 Attachment
      You need dedicated track for 100+mph operation. And to maintain the
      kind of service that was normal in the old days--"You can set your
      watch by the express"--you need separate tracks for passenger and
      freight service, except for some local passenger service possibly.

      With the slower speed of freight service these days (in the days of
      steam there were a couple of 100mph passenger expresses) the
      railroad cos. can allow trackage to deteriorate somewhat without
      commercial penalty.If a container shows up a few hours late it's not
      a big deal. If 800 passengers show up a few hours late you have 800
      complaints. (The Coast Starlight is routinely two hours late into
      LA. In fact, Gina and I were so shocked that we arrived in San Jose
      on time that we broke out in hysterical laughter.)

      Passenger routes should be double tracked whenever possible, and
      freight should run on separate tracks. A freight train can pull onto
      a siding and wait for another freight to pass. A box of dog food
      headed to a warehouse doesn't have the same temporal necessity as,
      say, the bride's parents en route to the wedding.

      RR

      On Mar 13, 2009, at 8:40 PM, Matt Hohmeister wrote:

      > http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/13/biden.amtrak/index.html
      >
      > *snip*
      > "That doesn't mean we shouldn't have a train service, but we
      > [shouldn't] give additional money and reward incompetency and
      > inefficiency. If that's what the stimulus is about, we're in a
      > whole lot worse trouble."
      > */snip*
      >
      > Note 1: $1.3B is a hair less than the cost of the new international
      > terminal at the Atlanta airport [$1.4B]. Hurricane Katrina
      > permanently shut down the Sunset Limited from New Orleans on east;
      > let's say I'm not exactly holding my breath on our Amtrak station
      > seeing a passenger train.
      >
      > Note 2: Rewarding incompetency and inefficiency? Isn't that what
      > Congress is doing by giving Detroit one handout after another?
      >
      > This got me thinking about rail improvements here. The Sunset
      > Limited, especially if sped up to 125 mph, has the potential to
      > handle a lot of the I-10 corridor traffic between Los Angeles and
      > Jacksonville. Per FRA, exceeding 125 mph would require eliminating
      > every single level crossing.
      >
      > Of course, the ROW here that carried the Sunset Limited is single
      > track, so 10-hour delays and outright bustitutions were pretty much
      > SOP. I guess that's what happens when a single track has mile-long
      > freight trains going in both directions.
      >
      > A recent _Carfree Times_ proposed restoring double track. The ROW
      > around here looks wide enough to double-track with a bit of brush
      > cutting, and I have a feeling it _was_ double-track at one point.
      > However, there's a rail overpass inscribed "SEABOARD 1929"--and
      > only wide enough for single track. Was it common back then to have
      > single-track bridges to save money?
      >
      > Ultimately, I'm wondering if it's possible to have ALL of the
      > following in the space of only two tracks:
      >
      > - Freight trains, up to a mile long, up to hourly each direction,
      > accelerating up to 60 mph. There's a CSX yard here with a bypass
      > track, so they wouldn't tie up the main line while stopped.
      >
      > - Passenger trains up to hourly each direction, stopping at a two-
      > platform station, accelerating up to 125 mph. Alternately, the
      > station platforms could be sidings to keep the main line
      > unobstructed, but this is likely unnecessary if the train has a
      > short dwell time.
      >
      > With proper signaling, passenger trains should be able to go around
      > the slower-running and -accelerating freight trains.
      >
      > Is this all feasible? Or would we need additional tracks?
      >
      >
      >

      --
      Richard Risemberg
      http://www.bicyclefixation.com
      http://www.newcolonist.com
      http://www.rickrise.com







      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • chbuckeye
      ... Can someone confirm whether that is in fact the case in Europe and Japan? I had previously heard that passenger and freight traffic share at least some of
      Message 2 of 15 , Mar 15 8:01 AM
      • 0 Attachment
        --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Richard Risemberg <rickrise@...> wrote:
        >
        > You need dedicated track for 100+mph operation.


        Can someone confirm whether that is in fact the case in Europe and Japan? I had previously heard that passenger and freight traffic share at least some of those tracks.
      • Richard Risemberg
        In Japan, the Shinkansen tracks and ROW are only for bullet trains; not even other passenger trains use them. They are very specifically desinged to very high
        Message 3 of 15 , Mar 15 8:13 AM
        • 0 Attachment
          In Japan, the Shinkansen tracks and ROW are only for bullet trains;
          not even other passenger trains use them. They are very specifically
          desinged to very high tolerances and much more expensive than other
          tracks.

          Local trains, as far as I know, may share trackage with freights.
          Passenger service is highly profitable in Japan, and a network of
          government and private trains runs everywhere. Bullet trains are
          government enterprises; the investment is too high for private
          companies. So policies may vary from railroad to railroad.

          Not familiar with the situation in Europe. However, it's unlikely
          that 200mph passenger trains share tracks with freights whaich also
          damage track much more than passenger trains do) anywhere on earth.

          Rick

          On Mar 15, 2009, at 8:01 AM, chbuckeye wrote:

          > Can someone confirm whether that is in fact the case in Europe and
          > Japan? I had previously heard that passenger and freight traffic
          > share at least some of those tracks.

          --
          Richard Risemberg
          http://www.bicyclefixation.com
          http://www.newcolonist.com
          http://www.rickrise.com







          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Karen Sandness
          I can confirm that the Shinkansen uses dedicated tracks. Their distinguishing characteristics are being welded together, to avoid the bumpiness caused by
          Message 4 of 15 , Mar 15 1:23 PM
          • 0 Attachment
            I can confirm that the Shinkansen uses dedicated tracks. Their
            distinguishing characteristics are being welded together, to avoid the
            bumpiness caused by joints and ties, and being laid so as to avoid
            significant changes in elevation. The designers make extensive use of
            tunnels and elevated tracks to avoid steep grades or switchbacks.

            In Tokyo, the Shinkansen uses existing stations (Tokyo and Ueno), but
            in other cities, if the conventional main station is somehow
            inconvenient, there's a station exclusively for the Shinkansen,
            indicated by the prefix "Shin." That's why the Shinkansen stops at
            Shin-Yokohama, Shin-Osaka, and Shin-Kobe, among others, but at plain
            old Kyoto and Nagoya. This being Japan, the "Shin" stations are
            connected to the conventional rail stations by frequent subways or
            surface trains.

            There are three grades of Shinkansen trains. On the oldest line, the
            Nozomi runs the entire length from Tokyo to Hakata/Fukuoka with few
            stops, the Hikari adds a couple of extra stops and rarely runs the
            entire length, and the Kodama never runs more than half the length of
            the route and stops at every possible station. The other lines have
            comparable trains with different names.

            Anybody who's still thinking "U.S.A. Number One!" is sadly out of date.

            In transit,
            Karen Sandness
          • chbuckeye
            ... OK. There are several issues that concern me still that merit further discussion. First, you initially implied that all 100+ mph passenger service should
            Message 5 of 15 , Mar 16 9:33 AM
            • 0 Attachment
              --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Richard Risemberg <rickrise@...> wrote:
              >
              > In Japan, the Shinkansen tracks and ROW are only for bullet trains;
              > not even other passenger trains use them. They are very specifically
              > desinged to very high tolerances and much more expensive than other
              > tracks.
              >
              > Local trains, as far as I know, may share trackage with freights.
              > Passenger service is highly profitable in Japan, and a network of
              > government and private trains runs everywhere. Bullet trains are
              > government enterprises; the investment is too high for private
              > companies. So policies may vary from railroad to railroad.
              >
              > Not familiar with the situation in Europe. However, it's unlikely
              > that 200mph passenger trains share tracks with freights whaich also
              > damage track much more than passenger trains do) anywhere on earth.
              >
              > Rick

              OK. There are several issues that concern me still that merit further discussion.

              First, you initially implied that all 100+ mph passenger service should have its own track. In an ideal world, I agree. Here in the US, however, we are in a far-from-ideal world when it comes to passenger rail.

              For now, "high speed rail" in the US is likely to mean anything over the current but seldom-realized Amtrak goal of 79mph (mostly on shared track). The next step is likely to be in the 100-125mph range, rather than jumping straight to 200+mph.

              This is important because that intermediate step probably will have to happen on existing track (perhaps with welded rails, but that's another issue.) Here in the midwest we first need service, any service, to educate the public about rail travel, of which most people have no experience. Once a network is in place, it may be easier to get people to see that travel by train can be wonderful and we may have the political will to push for faster travel and ultimately new track for faster trains.

              Implementing passenger rail in the midwest is important for carfree development because right now the only means of travel for most of the region is by car. A passenger rail network would make it easier to push for carfree transit-oriented developments around the stations.

              That is why I am hoping someone can shed light on whether passenger trains can be operated safely on track shared with freight. Not for 200+ mph service, but in the 79-125 mph service range that should be the next step after basic service is introduced.

              And yes, I lived (carfree) in the Kansai region of Japan around Osaka and the network of trains and subways was unbelievably wonderful. I wish more of our public servants would spend some time living there to see for themselves how wonderful it can be.
            • J.H. Crawford
              Hi All, ... It s possible that it WAS only single track, but until about 1960, most main lines were at least double tracked. The PRR and NY Central had
              Message 6 of 15 , Mar 16 1:35 PM
              • 0 Attachment
                Hi All,

                Matt Hohmeister said:

                >A recent _Carfree Times_ proposed restoring double track. The ROW around here looks wide enough to double-track with a bit of brush cutting, and I have a feeling it _was_ double-track at one point. However, there's a rail overpass inscribed "SEABOARD 1929"--and only wide enough for single track. Was it common back then to have single-track bridges to save money?

                It's possible that it WAS only single track, but until about 1960,
                most main lines were at least double tracked. The PRR and NY Central
                had FOUR-track main lines, and the PRR goes to SIX well outside
                New York. The "inside track" was where the fast trains ran. Everything
                else used the outside tracks. They could bridge a local around a
                slow freight by waiting for the inside track to clear for a few
                minutes.

                >Ultimately, I'm wondering if it's possible to have ALL of the following in the space of only two tracks:
                >
                >- Freight trains, up to a mile long, up to hourly each direction, accelerating up to 60 mph. There's a CSX yard here with a bypass track, so they wouldn't tie up the main line while stopped.

                easy

                >- Passenger trains up to hourly each direction, stopping at a two-platform station, accelerating up to 125 mph. Alternately, the station platforms could be sidings to keep the main line unobstructed, but this is likely unnecessary if the train has a short dwell time.

                probably not advisable. Mixing low-speed and high-speed traffic
                (let's say anything above 100 MPH) is probably not a good idea;
                the speed differentials make it awfully difficult. What's wrong
                with Interstate Rail (not to beat a dead horse):

                http://www.carfree.com/papers/interstaterail.html

                True, that proposal is only for 100 MPH, but in most circumstances,
                speeds above 100 MPH are only going to be achieved over short
                distances, and that has only a small effect on total travel times.
                The California HSR project is supposed to go up to 220 MPH, but
                only for short distances. It's a waste of money. In France and
                Japan, the really do run above 160 MPH for long distances, and
                that DOES save time.

                >With proper signaling, passenger trains should be able to go around the slower-running and -accelerating freight trains.

                Well, sorta maybe. If you plan it all out with string diagrams
                and it works on paper, then it can work in practice as long
                as you can keep your traffic on schedule. Nobody except Japan
                can do that these days. Dunno why.

                >Is this all feasible? Or would we need additional tracks?

                New York State is talking about restoring a third track to
                the NY Central main line in upstate New York in order to
                get passenger service on schedule and up to speed. If the
                third (presumably central) track is available only to
                passenger trains, and they only run every two hours or so,
                then you ought to be able to improve speeds and reliability,
                although you have to schedule the meets carefully to make
                sure that passenger trains don't end up waiting for each other.
                Of course, if the outer tracks are free and signalling is good,
                then your meets can make use of any two of the three tracks,
                assuming reverse signalling is installed.

                Best,

                Joel





                ----- ### -----
                J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
              • J.H. Crawford
                Hi, ... IIRC the TGV system has a 17-ton axle weight limit. That s not terribly useful for freight. And, yes, you probably don t want your freights beating up
                Message 7 of 15 , Mar 16 1:43 PM
                • 0 Attachment
                  Hi,

                  Rick said:

                  >Not familiar with the situation in Europe. However, it's unlikely
                  >that 200mph passenger trains share tracks with freights whaich also
                  >damage track much more than passenger trains do) anywhere on earth.

                  IIRC the TGV system has a 17-ton axle weight limit.
                  That's not terribly useful for freight. And, yes, you
                  probably don't want your freights beating up your
                  high-speed track.

                  One of the many frauds in Amtrak was that Amtrak has to pay
                  for track speed upgrades, which the host railroads then enjoy
                  for their very heavy freight traffic, which beats up the
                  improvements Amtrak paid for.

                  Amtrak was a gravy train for everybody except taxpayers
                  and users of the NEC's Acela service, which is absurdly
                  expensive for riders. I mean everybody, including the
                  operating crews, equipment vendors, and so on.

                  Best,

                  Joel




                  ----- ### -----
                  J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                  mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
                • Matt Hohmeister
                  When HSR started coming out in Europe [AVE and TGV come to mind], were the dedicated HSR tracks built on existing ROW, or was completely new ROW acquired for
                  Message 8 of 15 , Mar 17 4:44 PM
                  • 0 Attachment
                    When HSR started coming out in Europe [AVE and TGV come to mind], were the dedicated HSR tracks built on existing ROW, or was completely new ROW acquired for the projects? Or a mixture?

                    I think it's time for the USA to undertake real HSR--100% dedicated ROW, use existing rail or Interstate ROW where feasible, and where not, acquire the appropriate ROW. Efforts should be made to use existing stations, since they tend to be in good locations. The TGV goes up to 200 mph--there's our speed goal.

                    Oh--and let's not replicate mistakes like the Cross-Bronx Expressway. BTW, how much eminent domain had to be used to build TGV/AVE systems?

                    Any new HSR ROW could be justified quite simply: the Tallahassee airport is on 2743 acres, which is the same amount of space taken by 226 miles of 100' ROW--does HSR even need that much?

                    Don't get me wrong: Interstate Rail is an excellent idea, even if it'll be "only" 100 MPH. We already have pseudo-examples of this in parts of BART and the Chicago 'L'.

                    > probably not advisable. Mixing low-speed and high-speed traffic
                    > (let's say anything above 100 MPH) is probably not a good idea;
                    > the speed differentials make it awfully difficult. What's wrong
                    > with Interstate Rail (not to beat a dead horse):
                    >
                    > http://www.carfree.com/papers/interstaterail.html
                    >
                    > True, that proposal is only for 100 MPH, but in most circumstances,
                    > speeds above 100 MPH are only going to be achieved over short
                    > distances, and that has only a small effect on total travel times.
                    > The California HSR project is supposed to go up to 220 MPH, but
                    > only for short distances. It's a waste of money. In France and
                    > Japan, the really do run above 160 MPH for long distances, and
                    > that DOES save time.
                  • howars.geo
                    ... I ve recently (yesterday) just posted on what I d like to see for passenger rail, high speed and otherwise, on my blog:
                    Message 9 of 15 , Mar 18 11:41 AM
                    • 0 Attachment
                      --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "Matt Hohmeister" <matt@...> wrote:

                      > I think it's time for the USA to undertake real HSR--100% dedicated ROW, use existing rail or Interstate ROW where feasible, and where not, acquire the appropriate ROW. Efforts should be made to use existing stations, since they tend to be in good locations. The TGV goes up to 200 mph--there's our speed goal.
                      >

                      I've recently (yesterday) just posted on what I'd like to see for passenger rail, high speed and otherwise, on my blog:

                      http://stephen.myrenao.com/blog/passenger_rail_for_georgia

                      I looked at population counts, densities, and occupation statistics from the state and federal government to try to figure out some suggestions for the most effective rail routes down here.
                    • bruun@seas.upenn.edu
                      The beauty of the TGV/AVE solution is that it can come into cities on existing paths and also go down branch lines not up to high speed standards. Thus, the
                      Message 10 of 15 , Mar 24 12:47 PM
                      • 0 Attachment
                        The beauty of the TGV/AVE solution is that it can come into cities on
                        existing paths and also go down branch lines not up to
                        high speed standards. Thus, the huge investments are only in the
                        countryside, not in the cities. But I should point out that
                        they can be a nuisance in the country -- they make noise at high
                        speeds and disrupt migration patterns. So they end up being put in
                        trenches a lot, in which case you can't see much as a passenger.

                        MagLev will never catch on if for no other reason that it must have
                        100 percent new RoW every mm of the line.

                        Eric Bruun

                        Quoting Matt Hohmeister <matt@...>:

                        > When HSR started coming out in Europe [AVE and TGV come to mind],
                        > were the dedicated HSR tracks built on existing ROW, or was
                        > completely new ROW acquired for the projects? Or a mixture?
                        >
                        > I think it's time for the USA to undertake real HSR--100% dedicated
                        > ROW, use existing rail or Interstate ROW where feasible, and where
                        > not, acquire the appropriate ROW. Efforts should be made to use
                        > existing stations, since they tend to be in good locations. The TGV
                        > goes up to 200 mph--there's our speed goal.
                        >
                        > Oh--and let's not replicate mistakes like the Cross-Bronx
                        > Expressway. BTW, how much eminent domain had to be used to build
                        > TGV/AVE systems?
                        >
                        > Any new HSR ROW could be justified quite simply: the Tallahassee
                        > airport is on 2743 acres, which is the same amount of space taken by
                        > 226 miles of 100' ROW--does HSR even need that much?
                        >
                        > Don't get me wrong: Interstate Rail is an excellent idea, even if
                        > it'll be "only" 100 MPH. We already have pseudo-examples of this in
                        > parts of BART and the Chicago 'L'.
                        >
                        >> probably not advisable. Mixing low-speed and high-speed traffic
                        >> (let's say anything above 100 MPH) is probably not a good idea;
                        >> the speed differentials make it awfully difficult. What's wrong
                        >> with Interstate Rail (not to beat a dead horse):
                        >>
                        >> http://www.carfree.com/papers/interstaterail.html
                        >>
                        >> True, that proposal is only for 100 MPH, but in most circumstances,
                        >> speeds above 100 MPH are only going to be achieved over short
                        >> distances, and that has only a small effect on total travel times.
                        >> The California HSR project is supposed to go up to 220 MPH, but
                        >> only for short distances. It's a waste of money. In France and
                        >> Japan, the really do run above 160 MPH for long distances, and
                        >> that DOES save time.
                        >
                        >
                      • J.H. Crawford
                        Hi All, ... There are two other reasons MagLev is not going anywhere: It s three times as expensive. It uses three times as much energy. Finally, we simply
                        Message 11 of 15 , Mar 25 8:52 AM
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Hi All,

                          Eric said:

                          >MagLev will never catch on if for no other reason that it must have
                          >100 percent new RoW every mm of the line.

                          There are two other reasons MagLev is not going anywhere:

                          It's three times as expensive.

                          It uses three times as much energy.

                          Finally, we simply don't need the speeds that are possible.
                          Conventional TGV is faster than what is really needed or
                          desirable.

                          Best,

                          Joel


                          At 2009-03-24 14:47, you wrote:



                          >The beauty of the TGV/AVE solution is that it can come into cities on
                          >existing paths and also go down branch lines not up to
                          >high speed standards. Thus, the huge investments are only in the
                          >countryside, not in the cities. But I should point out that
                          >they can be a nuisance in the country -- they make noise at high
                          >speeds and disrupt migration patterns. So they end up being put in
                          >trenches a lot, in which case you can't see much as a passenger.
                          >
                          >MagLev will never catch on if for no other reason that it must have
                          >100 percent new RoW every mm of the line.
                          >
                          >Eric Bruun
                          >
                          >Quoting Matt Hohmeister <<mailto:matt%40mahohmei.com>matt@...>:
                          >
                          >> When HSR started coming out in Europe [AVE and TGV come to mind],
                          >> were the dedicated HSR tracks built on existing ROW, or was
                          >> completely new ROW acquired for the projects? Or a mixture?
                          >>
                          >> I think it's time for the USA to undertake real HSR--100% dedicated
                          >> ROW, use existing rail or Interstate ROW where feasible, and where
                          >> not, acquire the appropriate ROW. Efforts should be made to use
                          >> existing stations, since they tend to be in good locations. The TGV
                          >> goes up to 200 mph--there's our speed goal.
                          >>
                          >> Oh--and let's not replicate mistakes like the Cross-Bronx
                          >> Expressway. BTW, how much eminent domain had to be used to build
                          >> TGV/AVE systems?
                          >>
                          >> Any new HSR ROW could be justified quite simply: the Tallahassee
                          >> airport is on 2743 acres, which is the same amount of space taken by
                          >> 226 miles of 100' ROW--does HSR even need that much?
                          >>
                          >> Don't get me wrong: Interstate Rail is an excellent idea, even if
                          >> it'll be "only" 100 MPH. We already have pseudo-examples of this in
                          >> parts of BART and the Chicago 'L'.
                          >>
                          >>> probably not advisable. Mixing low-speed and high-speed traffic
                          >>> (let's say anything above 100 MPH) is probably not a good idea;
                          >>> the speed differentials make it awfully difficult. What's wrong
                          >>> with Interstate Rail (not to beat a dead horse):
                          >>>
                          >>> <http://www.carfree.com/papers/interstaterail.html>http://www.carfree.com/papers/interstaterail.html
                          >>>
                          >>> True, that proposal is only for 100 MPH, but in most circumstances,
                          >>> speeds above 100 MPH are only going to be achieved over short
                          >>> distances, and that has only a small effect on total travel times.
                          >>> The California HSR project is supposed to go up to 220 MPH, but
                          >>> only for short distances. It's a waste of money. In France and
                          >>> Japan, the really do run above 160 MPH for long distances, and
                          >>> that DOES save time.
                          >>
                          >>
                          >
                          >



                          ----- ### -----
                          J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                          mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
                        • Christopher Miller
                          ... I would (generally) agree with the first three points, but only as they apply to the two currently operational high speed maglev systems: the German
                          Message 12 of 15 , Mar 27 9:42 AM
                          • 0 Attachment
                            On 25-Mar-09, at 11:52 AM, J.H. Crawford wrote:
                            > Eric said:
                            >
                            > >MagLev will never catch on if for no other reason that it must have
                            > >100 percent new RoW every mm of the line.
                            >
                            > There are two other reasons MagLev is not going anywhere:
                            >
                            > It's three times as expensive.
                            >
                            > It uses three times as much energy.
                            >
                            > Finally, we simply don't need the speeds that are possible.
                            > Conventional TGV is faster than what is really needed or
                            > desirable.
                            >
                            I would (generally) agree with the first three points, but only as
                            they apply to the two currently operational high speed maglev systems:
                            the German Transrapid (of Shanghai airport run fame) and the Japanese
                            Railways system recently approved for a future Tokyo-Osaka route (cf.
                            Rick Risemberg's posting from the New York Times a few days ago). Low-
                            speed urban maglev involves a somewhat different set of issues.

                            Yes, it's true these two systems and most others in development
                            require entirely new infrastructure (like steel on rail, rubber on
                            asphalt, or wheeled aircraft when introduced). The argument as I see
                            it is that introducing a system interoperable with existing
                            infrastructure would normally be cheaper than building an entirely new
                            infrastructure. Huge cost overruns were what did in the Munich
                            Transrapid project, which was cancelled a year ago on (March 27,
                            2008). Whether this was due to construction/capital costs or something
                            else I don't know, but adding construction costs onto an already
                            ballooning budget would not have been popular, for sure...

                            That said, especially with raised guideways, you *can* use existing
                            rights of way: many maglev proposals actually take the same tack as
                            Joel's Interstate Rail proposal by proposing to route their raised
                            guideways along interstate rights of way. This was in fact a
                            requirement of the US National Maglev Initiative of the 1990s.

                            Construction costs for the TR and JR maglevs - as for most other
                            maglev technologies in development - are indeed very high compared to
                            steel wheel on rail train infrastructure, mainly because of the high
                            materials costs for guideway construction. However, operational costs
                            are lower due to the reduced need to maintain and service mechanical
                            parts compared to wheeled trains.

                            The energy consumption figures I have seen for Transrapid, at least,
                            seem to be in the same league as for conventional high-speed rail
                            (Germany's ICE 3).

                            Like "wheeled transportation", "maglev" is a family of sometimes very
                            different and incompatible technologies. There are other systems at
                            various stages of development, most of them similar in most ways to TR
                            and JR maglevs, but one in particular, proposed by the original
                            developers of superconducting maglev and building on their original
                            technology behind the JR maglev, brings numerous improvements that get
                            around a lot of the problems with the others. It uses raised hollow
                            beam guideways most of the time, but also uses flat horizontal
                            guideway panels to be easily interoperable with existing railroad
                            track (or asphalt roadway for that matter), and would be able to
                            achieve greater speeds on flat guideways laid along existing rail than
                            high speed wheel on rail could safely do. Because of its simpler
                            guideway structure, estimated construction costs are estimated at 1/4
                            to 1/3 those of the JR or Transrapid, i.e. $15 to $20 million per two-
                            way mile (and only around $3 M per mile for installing guideway panels
                            along railway track). What really distinguishes it from all others is
                            this plus the fact it is designed to be able to carry heavy freight
                            (not only passengers) at high speed, so carrying fees for ferrying
                            transport trailers are estimated to help pay back construction costs
                            over a five year period. (The whole financial model is aimed at
                            private financing from freight.) Operating costs (including very low
                            energy consumption) are estimated to be quite low.

                            Now this system (like other less differentiated ones) is not yet
                            operational and would still need to be tested out on a test track for
                            several years before they could even begin to try putting it into
                            operation. It's certainly possible that they might not be able to
                            continue their development efforts.

                            I'm not convinced about the speeds thing. Air travel (despite its cost
                            and discomfort) continues to flourish not only for transoceanic
                            journeys, but also for long- and short-distance intercity travel. The
                            reason is that a very large portion of the population finds the high
                            speeds attractive because they reduce travel time (and the same goes
                            for light air cargo). One of the major premises of high speed rail or
                            maglev is to provide a fast and cheap alternative to air (and
                            automobile) travel that is attractive enough to reduce dependence on
                            those two modes. We know, for example, that the Paris-Lyon TGV led to
                            a huge reduction in air travel between the two cities (somewhere
                            between 70% and 80% if I remember right).

                            We know car and airplane-heavy travel is among the worst sources of
                            greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Although a main reason for
                            advocating carfree cities or at least heavy reductions in car use in
                            cities is to restore a humane urban living space, the environmental
                            argument is no less important. It seems to me it would be in our
                            interest to support high-speed alternatives to the car and air travel
                            that would actually attract people away from these modes as fast as
                            possible, rather than letting them dominate our transportation system
                            way into the future.

                            Unlike Europe, it is clear that any return to a workable passenger
                            rail network in North America will require massive new construction
                            simply to avoid being held hostage to the demands of freight rail, so
                            in that sense exactly what technology finally gets adopted is a moot
                            point. The main thing is that we need to do this and get people out of
                            cars and planes sooner rather than later. I think it's pretty clear
                            that currently available maglev systems, Transrapid in particular, are
                            not the answer, and also agree that high-speed rail technology as it
                            currently exists is also limited in North America, unlike in Europe,
                            by the distance factor. But if we can adopt a better technology that
                            would work around the problems with these - that is, if it does get
                            developed - I would say it fits in pretty well with what we want to
                            do. If you have an alternative to using a car to go everywhere you
                            will be less inclined to feel "the car" is the essential tool for
                            taking you everywhere you want, including right into downtown.

                            This was a fairly long post - I've done and redone it over the past
                            few days - but I think the whole high-speed train and maglev issue is
                            much more complex than the way it's been presented in the discussions
                            I've seen so far. I does seem to me that any hope of reducing or even
                            eliminating in-city car use depends a lot on reducing the overall car-
                            dependent culture and infrastructure and replacing them with a
                            pervasive and convenient mass transit system both within and between
                            cities.

                            Regards to all,

                            Christopher Miller
                            Montreal QC Canada
                          • Matt Hohmeister
                            The recent TGV/MagLev discussion brought up a few questions: - Joel has mentioned the carfree city having an airport far from the city, linked to the city
                            Message 13 of 15 , Mar 27 6:04 PM
                            • 0 Attachment
                              The recent TGV/MagLev discussion brought up a few questions:

                              - Joel has mentioned the carfree city having an airport far from the city, linked to the city center by high-speed rail--I assume this to be TGV/AVE/similar. How far away would/should the airport be? For that matter, how much time and distance does it take a TGV to accelerate to 186 mph?

                              - People talk about TGV being competitive with flying for generally under 500 miles: Madrid-Barcelona, Paris-Lyon, Jacksonville-Miami, etc. I say it's competitive for even longer.

                              Amtrak lists the distance between NYC and Jacksonville as 977 miles. The Madrid-Barcelona AVE running as a "local" [not express between the termini] averages 114 mph. Bringing that to our Atlantic coast would make that 977-mile trip take 8:56, compared to 2:15 for a nonstop flight.

                              OK, add two hours at the departing airport for the TSA drill and one hour at the arriving airport to get your luggage; we're up to 5:15. Then add 40 minutes on either end for the rides to and from the airports, and we're up to 6:35--a two-hour difference from a TGV-esque line covering that distance. I'll gladly spend those extra two hours on a train than on an airplane.
                            • Greg Steele
                              ... I can confirm that Amtrak operates 100+ speed trains on the same tracks as freight and yes, the freights do beat up the tracks. The US is the only
                              Message 14 of 15 , Apr 6, 2009
                              • 0 Attachment
                                --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "chbuckeye" <coleridge3150@...> wrote:
                                >

                                > Can someone confirm whether that is in fact the case in Europe and Japan? I had previously heard that passenger and freight traffic share at least some of those tracks.
                                >

                                I can confirm that Amtrak operates 100+ speed trains on the same tracks as freight and yes, the freights do beat up the tracks. The US is the only country with high speed (100+ mph) that does this. An antidote: An Amtrak engineer got into a disagreement at an international conference with a French engineer who insisted that the Amtrak engineer was lying about this because "it was impossible to run freight on the same tracks as passenger rail."

                                With the stimulus money, there are plans, works to begin soon to create/improve freight ROW to move some of this traffic off Amtrak ROW in the Northeast Corridor(NEC). There are also a number of improvements to eliminate sharp curves and add tracks on the NEC being funded with stimulus money. With NJ transit, Metro North and the Long Island RR all sharing New York Penn station with Amtrak and all experiancing increased ridership and adding more service, there are traffic jams getting into and out of NY. There are plans to add track and improve signaling and control to improve this.

                                Long distance on-time performance has been improving the last couple of years, because increased gas prices have helped freight profitability. Therefore, the freights have been putting money into long differed improvement in track and signaling.

                                Greg
                              Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.