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Re: [carfree_cities] high-speed rail: where do we put it?

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  • 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 1 of 13 , Nov 14, 2001
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      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
      >around.
      >
      >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.

      Regards,


      -- ### --

      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 2 of 13 , Nov 14, 2001
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        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.

        Regards,


        -- ### --

        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 3 of 13 , Nov 14, 2001
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          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!).

          Regards,


          -- ### --

          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 4 of 13 , Nov 14, 2001
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            >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.

            Regards,


            -- ### --

            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 5 of 13 , Nov 15, 2001
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              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.

              http://pittsburgh.bcentral.com/pittsburgh/stories/2001/11/12/daily27.html


              > 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.


              Ta.


              Mark Rauterkus
              mark@...
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