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

Re: [carfree_cities] high-speed rail: where do we put it? a response to Mark's comments

Expand Messages
  • Mark Rauterkus
    ... 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
    Message 1 of 13 , Nov 13, 2001
      > 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
      West Mifflin

      - - - 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
      group member.

      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
      Philadelphia Republican.

      "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
      May 2003.

      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,"
      Santorum said.

      "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 consider
      > 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?

      You bid on a road contract -- you build it to spec, you get the contract.
      There is no way that happens with this track. Maglev is a closed system.

      > The reason Amtrak cannot currently compete with automobiles and airlines is
      > because the government deemed these types of corporate welfare more
      > desirable than rail travel. Our government refuses to give Amtrak a
      > fighting chance.

      Two wrongs do not make a right.

      > C. What "benefits are way too low"? Having a public works program that
      > 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.

      Why not have a public works program that teaches everyone how to read? There
      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,
      > Karen

      Thanks for the interest and reply.


      Mark Rauterkus
      Mark@... http://Rauterkus.com
    • J.H. Crawford
      ... Actually, the freight railroads in the USA and Canada may be the best in the world. The USA moves 37% of its ton-miles by rail, higher than anywhere except
      Message 2 of 13 , Nov 14, 2001
        Matt said:

        >Both passenger *and* freight rail in the USA are in a pretty poor
        >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).

        Actually, the freight railroads in the USA and Canada may be
        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 freight
        >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?

        This is a big problem on the Northeast Corridor, especially from
        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 on
        >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.

        Actually, you could probably also move freight on IR without
        impeding passenger service. Some high-speed freight (perishables,
        express) might warrant this treatment and the higher energy
        consumption involved.

        >Another minor issue with Interstate Rail for passengers is that there
        >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. ;-)

        Now, just where IS the intersection of I-10 and I-75????

        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.


        -- ### --

        J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
        postmaster@... Carfree.com
      • J.H. Crawford
        ... Hydrogen-powered aircraft (almost certainly on the way) should be very clean and far more energy efficient. ... This isn t intrinsic, although it certainly
        Message 3 of 13 , Nov 14, 2001
          Karen responded:

          >A. I am opposed at all costs to flying for at least 3 reasons, (1) the
          >environmental damage that airplanes do is unfathomable,

          Hydrogen-powered aircraft (almost certainly on the way) should be
          very clean and far more energy efficient.

          >(2) airports are
          >extremely sterile & inhumane places,

          This isn't intrinsic, although it certainly is ususal.

          >(3) they are always located away from a
          >downtown and most times require a car to be used in conjunction with them.

          Here in Europe, almost all large airports are readily accessible
          by train.


          -- ### --

          J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
          postmaster@... Carfree.com
        • J.H. Crawford
          ... Probably doesn t have to be as much as 100 miles. Boston-Providence is probably just far enough for trains to travel at speeds as high as 200 MPH. ...
          Message 4 of 13 , Nov 14, 2001
            Mark Rauterkus said:

            >High speed rail works in effective models (hunch) when the stops are more
            >than 100-miles apart. The more distance between A-and-B the better.

            Probably doesn't have to be as much as 100 miles. Boston-Providence is
            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 need
            >commuters taking high-speed rail.

            That's been one of the unexpected (and by may, undesired) side-effects
            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 we
            >need it at all) into the heartland.

            Possibly. Air travel may still make more sense from a whole host
            of perspectives, especially if it can be cleaned up and made much
            more efficient (hydrogen fuel!).


            -- ### --

            J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
            postmaster@... Carfree.com
          • J.H. Crawford
            ... Mostly state & local level, I believe. Federal regulations affect lending institutions, so indirectly they have an effect. NU communities are getting
            Message 5 of 13 , Nov 14, 2001
              >Here's a good question: let's say that enought interest was raised
              >to build a new carfree city. Are there any state or national laws
              >that prohibit it?

              Mostly state & local level, I believe. Federal regulations affect
              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 existing
              >cities can be considered illegal due to laws that separate zoning,
              >require parking, and require "fire and disabled access".

              Not sure what that would entail. It's a serious question that
              bears looking into.

              >Is there anyone out there--possibly a lawyer specializing in
              >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 irony of this all is that the carfree city ought to be, by far,
              the most accessible urban form possible.


              -- ### --

              J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
              postmaster@... Carfree.com
            • Mark Rauterkus
              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
              Message 6 of 13 , Nov 15, 2001
                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.


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