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High speed rail and airlines

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  • James Rombough
    I don t believe high speed rail makes any sense for some of the routes proposed in earlier e-mails. Take New York - Chicago for example. First of all, that s
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 14, 2001
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      I don't believe high speed rail makes any sense for
      some of the routes proposed in earlier e-mails. Take
      New York - Chicago for example. First of all, that's
      725 miles (as the crow flies), much of which is
      through mountains. Building high speed rail in that
      kind of corridor at 150 MPH speeds would produce a
      five to six hour, yet very expensive, ride.

      Something else to consider is that many air passengers
      flying New York to Chicago are actually headed
      somewhere else. United and American Airlines have a
      hub at O'Hare (ORD), and ATA has a hub at Midway
      Airport (MDW). Even if you moved all NY-Chicago
      passengers from air to rail, United, American and ATA
      will still fly NY to ORD/MDW in order for them to
      connect to flights going somewhere else, such as Salt
      Lake City, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, you name it.

      The marginal cost of adding one more passenger to a
      plane from New York to Chicago is pretty small (a few
      gallons of fuel, less than the fuel needed to drive
      the distance). Because the plane needs to fly that
      route anyway, it's a resource you might as well use.

      Another bad place to install high speed rail is
      Pittsburgh - Washington. It's not very far (200
      miles), but again, it's through mountains, plus the
      demand is much lower than NY-Chicago. Also,
      Pittsburgh is a US Airways hub, so you have the same
      situation -- US flies planes from Pittsburgh to D.C.
      with passengers who flew to Pittsburgh from someplace
      else. Same for Pittsburg - Chicago.


      Routes that currently have little passenger train
      service that should get high speed rail are those that
      are not many hundreds of miles apart and share a large
      population. Dallas to Houston is a good candidate
      (flat land, too), as well as San Francisco to Los
      Angeles (mountains but high demand).

      With the recent increases in airport security delays,
      quite a few people have switched from flying SFO-LAX
      to driving. A train connecting the two cities that
      doesn't take all day long to get there would be
      popular. Faster than driving, more reliable and
      comfortable than flying, and direct service to
      downtown is a winning combination.


      That being said, I do believe the long distance trains
      could use some upgrades! Chugging along for hours at
      40 or 50 MPH is not the way to run long distance
      trains. Not only does it take longer for the
      passengers, it increases labor costs for the train
      crew (being paid by the hour). The thing is, if
      you've got X dollars to spend on upgrading rail, I
      would prefer to see upgrades to conventional long
      distance trains that connect small cities along a
      line, and connect small cities to large cities.
      Spending a huge amount of money connecting two large
      cities by rail at breakneck speeds, skipping over the
      small towns along the way, seems like a waste of money
      IMHO.


      Here's a list of distances in miles (straight line)
      between selected city pairs, with my comments:

      San Francisco Los Angeles 337 (do it)
      Dallas Houston 239 (do it)
      Boston New York 184 (improve)
      New York Washington 214 (works now)
      Washington Chicago 600 (too far)
      Washington Pittsburgh 204 (see above)
      Pittsburgh Chicago 402 (too far)
      New York Chicago 725 (too far)
      Boston Atlanta 945 (way too far)

      Here's a map of the above city pairs:

      http://makeashorterlink.com/?P5CC2292

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    • Mark Rauterkus
      Hi All, ... If you think Pittsburgh DC is bad -- what do you think about Pittsburgh to Greensburg? You gotta give that a vicious thumbs down, right? The
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 14, 2001
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        Hi All,

        > Another bad place to install high speed rail is
        > Pittsburgh - Washington. It's not very far (200
        > miles), but again, it's through mountains, plus the
        > demand is much lower than NY-Chicago. Also,
        > Pittsburgh is a US Airways hub, so you have the same
        > situation -- US flies planes from Pittsburgh to D.C.
        > with passengers who flew to Pittsburgh from someplace
        > else. Same for Pittsburg - Chicago.

        If you think Pittsburgh <-> DC is bad -- what do you think about Pittsburgh
        to Greensburg? You gotta give that a vicious thumbs down, right?

        The mountains are a bit of a hurdle, but they are not fatal to the high
        speed rail. More trouble, it seems, are presented with curves (as in the lay
        of the river beds) and urban density. Going through rural areas (PA/WV/ on
        the way to DC) makes sense.

        Because Pittsburgh is an airline hub, that is a huge benefit for high speed
        train service too. (Intermodal)

        Pittsburgh is a US Airways hub. By the time this comes into more planning --
        US Airways will be a non-factor (perhaps).

        If there was Maglev between Pittsburgh and DC, then there would NOT be the
        flights. Furthermore, I'm suggesting that the DC airport close to the
        capital be turned into a Maglev port and all planes be removed from there.
        That airport closed for many days recently.

        The port -- of blending intermodal mass transportation makes sense. Plane to
        train - bus - rental car - light rail - taxi - bike - etc.

        The Pittsburgh airport has lots of capacity. That's a good thing.

        Case in point: More international flights could terminate in Pittsburgh.
        People would then hop on the high speed Maglev and go to DC.

        > Routes that currently have little passenger train
        > service that should get high speed rail are those that
        > are not many hundreds of miles apart and share a large
        > population.

        The heartland (Pittsburgh, Cleveland) have little train service. These are
        locations that are not many hundreds of miles apart too.

        Furthermore, I'm not sure about your thinking -- as I'd insert a good
        measure of culture as well. You are talking TEXAS. Think pick-ups and
        ranches and freedom that comes with autos. Folks there are NOT keen on
        public transportation. Then think California -- hot rods, the love affair
        with the auto, freeways and beaches.

        The solution has got to fit. Would people in Southern California drive their
        nice cars to the LA Maglev Port -- then zip to SF -- only to rent a car and
        go to Cupertino, Napa, Oakland, etc. ?

        A high speed rail solution is going to be less of a fit (perhaps/hunch) in a
        metroplex setting (LA, Dallas, SF, Houston).



        >Dallas to Houston is a good candidate
        > (flat land, too), as well as San Francisco to Los
        > Angeles (mountains but high demand).

        Where do you go after Houston? Where do you go after Dallas/Ft. Worth?

        The weather is another factor.

        > With the recent increases in airport security delays,
        > quite a few people have switched from flying SFO-LAX
        > to driving. A train connecting the two cities that
        > doesn't take all day long to get there would be
        > popular. Faster than driving, more reliable and
        > comfortable than flying, and direct service to
        > downtown is a winning combination.

        The combinations you mention are within-state solutions. A SF/LA is all
        California. A Houston/Dallas all within Texas. To run a federal program from
        DC (capital) to WV, PA, Ohio, (close to NY upstate) then to IN, MI, IL makes
        sense. That line gets connected to Phili, NY via east coast.

        > That being said, I do believe the long distance trains
        > could use some upgrades! Chugging along for hours at
        > 40 or 50 MPH is not the way to run long distance
        > trains. Not only does it take longer for the
        > passengers, it increases labor costs for the train
        > crew (being paid by the hour). The thing is, if
        > you've got X dollars to spend on upgrading rail, I
        > would prefer to see upgrades to conventional long
        > distance trains that connect small cities along a
        > line, and connect small cities to large cities.
        > Spending a huge amount of money connecting two large
        > cities by rail at breakneck speeds, skipping over the
        > small towns along the way, seems like a waste of money
        > IMHO.

        Nods.


        > Here's a list of distances in miles (straight line)
        > between selected city pairs, with my comments:
        >
        > San Francisco Los Angeles 337 (do it)
        > Dallas Houston 239 (do it)
        > Boston New York 184 (improve)
        > New York Washington 214 (works now)
        > Washington Chicago 600 (too far)
        > Washington Pittsburgh 204 (see above)
        > Pittsburgh Chicago 402 (too far)
        > New York Chicago 725 (too far)
        > Boston Atlanta 945 (way too far)
        >
        > Here's a map of the above city pairs:
        >
        > http://makeashorterlink.com/?P5CC2292

        Missing:
        Pittsburgh Cleveland
        Cleveland Toledo
        Toledo Detroit
        Detroit Chicago
        Chicago ?? Rockford/Peoria/Springfield/ St. Louis?
        else to Wisconsin and MN?

        Or,
        Pgh -> Cleveland -> Columbus -> Cinci
        -> Indy -> Chicago

        At 300 mph, a zig or two can work.

        Thanks for running the numbers in the other set-up however. Nice chart.

        - - -

        I do agree that there should be some better merger with passengers and the
        smaller cities. Picking up and dropping off without slowing down the train
        in other locations makes sense. I'm not sure how that can be done without
        the Jetson's TV show annimation experts.

        But then again, once you get near the smaller cities (even) -- the urban
        density is greater and the troubles of eminent domain and such are sure to
        boil and cause a big backlash. The smaller cities do have good connections
        (I assume) to the larger cities in their regions. It might make better sense
        to just avoid the smaller cities and zip the right of way in the rural
        areas.

        I wonder how much of these tracks could be put up along the right of ways of
        existing freeways?



        Ta.


        Mark Rauterkus
        Mark@... http://Rauterkus.com
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