Re: [carfree_cities] high-speed rail: where do we put it? a response to Mark's comments
> B. Why is the "corporate welfare is too high of a cost"?I'm not too good with #s. Mostly I'm poor in off the cuff #s. The cost for
the Pittsburgh Maglev is way, way out there. $950 Million for a 47-mile test
course and an extra $2 billion to make it fully operational in 2006.
I'm more of a Free Market advocate. The project needs to be sustainable. It
has to pull its own weight.
- - - -
snip from a letter to the editor: Pure waste
Friday, November 9, 2001
Kudos to Bob Ludwig for his column "The problem with maglev," of Nov. 6.
I believe the project is a waste of money, land and energy.
Anyone who has been to Europe can attest to its wonderful public
transportation system. A person can buy a Europass and travel all over
Europe on high-speed, steel-rail trains for pennies a trip.
My question is this: If maglev is so great, why aren't the Europeans using
it? Looking back at the history of industrial development, most of the
innovations came from Europe because the need to produce goods and services
with the most efficient use of energy and raw materials was paramount due to
the scarcity of these assets.
consequently, the transport methods of choice in Europe are steel-rail
trains and traditional buses. It's true these services are subsidized by the
government, but they were still selected on the basis of the best use of
As with the stadiums, the North Side development and maglev, if these are
such great profit producers, why aren't private investors lining up to get a
piece of the action. The answer is obvious.
Every citizen should call every one of their representatives, local, state
and federal and protest spending tax dollars on this terrible project.
William R. Casey
- - - end snip - - -
Prior article: see: http://triblive.com and search on "maglev"
Maglev faces funding difficulties
By Gregor McGavin, TRIBUNE-REVIEW Sunday, November 11, 2001
Pittsburgh officials remain hopeful they can bring a high-speed maglev train
to town, despite a down-to-the-wire race for $950 million in federal funds
to complete a maglev demonstration project.
Two months after the terrorist attacks on America, however, congressional
budget hearings continue. Billions of federal dollars are being set aside
for emergency relief, stepped-up security measures and a partial bailout of
the airline industry.
The real question facing maglev now, officials agree, isn't whether
Pittsburgh or Baltimore-Washington, D.C., will be named the host site in
2003: it's if Congress will set aside the $950 million to build a test track
and the extra $2 billion to make it fully operational in 2006.
"All indications are that funding for the transportation program is going to
remain at the same level," said Paul Skoutelas, chief executive at the Port
Authority of Allegheny County, part of the Pittsburgh maglev planning group.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore-Washington are the two finalists from a field of a
dozen regions in the federal program to pick a maglev test city. Pittsburgh
and Baltimore-Washington split $14 million this year to undertake
environmental impact studies.
"The big question is, can we find the moneys to move forward with this,
recognizing there's all kinds of other financial constraints?" said Rick
Peltz, deputy secretary of transportation for PennDOT, another planning
Before September, the Senate had proposed $10 million for further studies
next year. The House earmarked $6 million.
They'll likely appropriate a compromise $8 million in conference committee
this week, said Bill Reynolds, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, a
"We're going to continue to press for the funding, but as far as where it
all irons out because of the Sept. 11 events is yet to be seen," Reynolds
The Sept. 11 fallout could cause Congress either to continue to embrace
futuristic transportation projects like maglev, or to shy away from them.
"I believe the first real test of that will be when (the current maglev
funding program) expires in 2003. There has to be a new reauthorization of
that funding," Skoutelas said.
The maglev technology uses electromagnets to levitate train cars inches over
an elevated guideway and hurl them forward at speeds up to 300 mph. The
technology already has been tested in Germany and Japan.
Pittsburgh's $2.8 billion proposal would link Pittsburgh International
Airport to Downtown, with connections to Monroeville and Greensburg along 47
miles of track.
The Baltimore-Washington plan would link Union Station in Washington, D.C.,
to Baltimore-Washington International and downtown Baltimore via a 40-mile
track, at a projected cost of $3.5 billion.
The competitors have until early 2003 to hand over a final study. Federal
Railroad Administration officials are expected to make their final cut in
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a Penn Hills Republican, said he's not sure there
will be any shortage of federal funds as a result of the terrorist attacks.
"We did something with the airlines, we're doing something with airport
security and I think we're going to do something with port security,"
"But it's a separate pot of money, and I'm not real concerned it's going to
have an impact on the levels of funding for this."
Writer: Gregor McGavin can be reached at gmcgavin@... or (412)
- - - -
Furthermore, consider the proprietary nature of this project. There are
patents, trademarks, certified dealers, union contracts and approvals from
A-to-Z on this project. The technology is German, and everything comes via
them one way or another. There is NO off-the-shelf capabilities. If a widget
breaks, you don't go out to the machine shop and get another built. This is
like getting a car with the hood welded shut. Everything goes back to the
If there was an "open-source" train project where the investment of public
money was for a train that could evolve and be duplicated elsewhere -- fine.
That is way different. I'm a Linux kinda guy -- and NOT so keen on
Microsoft, etc. We don't need to be held slave to the corporate interests.
> If you considerYou bid on a road contract -- you build it to spec, you get the contract.
> how much the US government has pushing into roads, airlines, airports, etc.
> why can't the government put money into a system such as high speed rail?
There is no way that happens with this track. Maglev is a closed system.
> The reason Amtrak cannot currently compete with automobiles and airlines isTwo wrongs do not make a right.
> because the government deemed these types of corporate welfare more
> desirable than rail travel. Our government refuses to give Amtrak a
> fighting chance.
> C. What "benefits are way too low"? Having a public works program thatWhy not have a public works program that teaches everyone how to read? There
> puts people to work to build a high speed rail line that benefits all people
> (residents, tourists, etc.) is a great benefit across the entire country.
are 100s of better ventures in terms of upside benefits.
Having a public works program that nobody uses and is a drain upon our
children's children is worse. Let's take care of what we got. Let's get
people to live in urban settings and walk, bike and swim. Let's build kayaks
and paddle. Let's think harder about democracy. Let's vote on the plans
> My 2 cents,Thanks for the interest and reply.
- Matt said:
>Both passenger *and* freight rail in the USA are in a pretty poorActually, the freight railroads in the USA and Canada may be
>state--we need a remedy for both.
>I offer two possible solutions--two direct opposites. The USA enjoys
>two separate sets of right-of-way: the Interstate system, and the rail
>system (which, although in a poor state, still has a dedicated
>right-of-way, although with crossings. It would require some fencing
>and making under and overpasses).
the best in the world. The USA moves 37% of its ton-miles by
rail, higher than anywhere except the former USSR and maybe
China. While it has a bad rep, large sums have been invested
in freight rail systems, and most are profit-making even with
the huge subsidies to trucking. Speeds are way up from what
they were 25 years ago, and roadbeds are in generally good
condition. Many formerly double-track rights of way have been
single-tracked because heavier trains and better signalling
made the 2nd track unnecessary. In the case of increased
demand, it would be comparatively simple and inexpensive to
restore the 2nd track.
>Solution 1: 180 mph passenger rail on existing rail lines, and freightThis is a big problem on the Northeast Corridor, especially from
>on Interstate Rail. This would allow us to locate high-speed stations
>closer to downtown, however, freight yards would have to relocate. And
>can curves in rail lines handle 180 mph?
New Haven to Boston. The line is laid with a lot of curves that
would now be extremely difficult and expensive to remove. The
new trains are tilt-body, which means they can go around curves
at higher speeds than conventional trains, but certainly not at
anything even approaching 180 MPH. Curves on very high speed
lines require extremely broad radius. Increasing the permitted
superelevation in principle makes it possible to run trains
around any curve at any speed, but the G forces can become
roller coaster-like. You can't run freight over tracks with
superelevations over 6".
>Solution 2: visa versa--freight on existing lines, passengers onActually, you could probably also move freight on IR without
>Interstate Rail. Can the curves on the Interstate system handle 180
>mph? This would move passenger train stations slightly away from
>downtown, but a quick light-rail connectoin would solve that. Anyway,
>many cities are sprawled so far that the area around the Interstate is
>suburban sprawl--which could eventually become carfree urban, would
>would essentially put the train station in a good location.
impeding passenger service. Some high-speed freight (perishables,
express) might warrant this treatment and the higher energy
>Another minor issue with Interstate Rail for passengers is that thereNow, just where IS the intersection of I-10 and I-75????
>would be some transfers in very weird places. For example, the
>intersection of I-10 and I-75 is in an extremely remote area, and
>there really isn't anything near it. This station, although a major
>station, would wind up a "transfer only" station, kinda like some
>middle-of-nowhere Interstate rest stops: heavily used, but only one
>way to get in and out, and aside from that, nothing significant
>Come to think of it--the presence of a transfer station in a remote
>area might be just what we're looking for--a site for a new
>reference-design carfree city! We can always dream. ;-)
As far as maglev, my bet is that this technology will never be
commercialized on a large scale. The costs are very high and
there is no real benefit over conventional rail. The usual claim
that the trains "glide" is apparently more accurate stated as
"rumble"--the ride quality is nothing to write home about.
I also think that trains in excess of about 250 MPH don't make
sense from an energy standpoint--it probably takes less energy
to fly at 500 MPH than to maglev at 300 MPH.
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J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
- Karen responded:
>A. I am opposed at all costs to flying for at least 3 reasons, (1) theHydrogen-powered aircraft (almost certainly on the way) should be
>environmental damage that airplanes do is unfathomable,
very clean and far more energy efficient.
>(2) airports areThis isn't intrinsic, although it certainly is ususal.
>extremely sterile & inhumane places,
>(3) they are always located away from aHere in Europe, almost all large airports are readily accessible
>downtown and most times require a car to be used in conjunction with them.
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J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
- Mark Rauterkus said:
>High speed rail works in effective models (hunch) when the stops are moreProbably doesn't have to be as much as 100 miles. Boston-Providence is
>than 100-miles apart. The more distance between A-and-B the better.
probably just far enough for trains to travel at speeds as high as 200 MPH.
>The high-speed rail is going to cost $12, $15 per trip. We don't needThat's been one of the unexpected (and by may, undesired) side-effects
>commuters taking high-speed rail.
of the Paris-Lyon TGV--people DO commute between two cities that
are 2 hours apart in time and hundreds of kilometers in distance.
>Agree. So, to evolve and upgrade the Acela makes sense then, right?Now that they've stuck billions into the New Haven-Boston electrification,
I certainly hope so!
>We don't need MAGLEV speed along the east coast. We need that speed (if wePossibly. Air travel may still make more sense from a whole host
>need it at all) into the heartland.
of perspectives, especially if it can be cleaned up and made much
more efficient (hydrogen fuel!).
-- ### --
J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
>Here's a good question: let's say that enought interest was raisedMostly state & local level, I believe. Federal regulations affect
>to build a new carfree city. Are there any state or national laws
>that prohibit it?
lending institutions, so indirectly they have an effect.
NU communities are getting built, and they almost always require
changes in local zoning. This appears to be achievable in many cases.
>I know that carfree development in many existingNot sure what that would entail. It's a serious question that
>cities can be considered illegal due to laws that separate zoning,
>require parking, and require "fire and disabled access".
bears looking into.
>Is there anyone out there--possibly a lawyer specializing inThe irony of this all is that the carfree city ought to be, by far,
>disability law--who would be able to explain the legal implications
>of developing an area that doesn't have a disabled parking space in
>sight (except for the parking garages in the utility areas, of
>course)? The reference design calls for all buildings within a
>quarter mile of a metro stop--half mile if a sparser layout is
>chosen. The majority of disabled parking spaces I see are within 100
>feet of a building--and there are some outside every building.
>Apparently, there's a law keeping 'em real close in, since I have
>seen nice little plazas destroyed with disabled parking spaces
>(which induces illegal parking all over the plaza).
the most accessible urban form possible.
-- ### --
J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
- Hi All,
Since we are on this thread about high-speed trains, ... here is the latest
news in the saga.
Here is an article from our Pittsburgh Business Times about MAGLEV.
> Maglev to partner with German company- - - -
> Maglev Inc. and CargoLifter AG of Germany are expected to form a
> partnership that would give each company an equity stake in the other.
> Under the partnership, Maglev Inc., the Monroeville-based private group
> backing the proposed local high-speed train project, and CargoLifter would
> exchange stock and other undisclosed considerations.
> The pact is expected to be announced during a news conference Wednesday
> afternoon at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland.
> CargoLifter is currently working to develop airships to help transport and
> install guideway beams during construction of Pittsburgh's proposed
> high-speed maglev line. The German company has developed an airship
> technology capable of lifting 175 tons.
> Pittsburgh is competing against Baltimore/Washington, D.C., for $950
> million to be appropriated by Congress for a pilot project of the
> high-speed train. The two regions beat out five others to become finalists.
> Under Pittsburgh's proposal, a 15-mile line would be built from Downtown to
> Pittsburgh International Airport. The second stage of the project involves
> running the line from Downtown to Monroeville and a third stage would run
> from Monroeville to Greensburg.
> The commuter train, which would levitate over an elevated guideway and be
> propelled by electromagnetic fields, could be capable of traveling at
> speeds approaching 300 miles an hour -- taking passengers from Downtown to
> the airport in seven minutes.
> The entire project, which has been under study since 1990, would run 47 miles.
> The Baltimore/Washington project, which calls for a 40-mile line connecting
> Camden Yards and Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Union
> Station in Washington, D.C., has been under study since 1994. That
> project's sponsors view its construction as a key element to winning a bid
> for the 2012 Olympics.
> A decision from the U.S. Department of Transportation on which city will
> get the funding isn't expected for at least a year. Both regions are
> currently conducting environmental impact and other studies.
Here is my prime gripe --- besides it not being sustainable -- is that we'll
be giving $950 M to one company. The ownership of it all is so suspect. This
isn't a public project -- rather one for the benefit of Maglev Inc., the
Monroeville-based private group.
Notice how the organizers hold the meeting at CMU. Now we get the "Olympics"
as a backdrop too.
Get past the spin and into the facts of the corporate welfare elements.