Thoughts on High Speed Railroad in the U.S.?

brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 28,553
edited November 2011 in A Moving Train
(No, I don't mean how can we make A Moving Train go faster... :lol: )

Seriously, what do you think? I know my friends abroad can't imagine living without their high-speed rail systems and don't understand why we don't have one. Personally, I love the idea of high-speed rail but I'm not sure it's tenable at this time in our history. Although in 2008 we voted for a high-speed rail system here in California, not much progress has been made and the projected costs keep rising. A nationwide system would be even more expensive despite adding more jobs.

The best argument I've heard is the idea of adding those new jobs and providing an alternative to driving by refurbishing our existing rail system and building light rail in our urban areas. Doing so, it is argued, would be much more financially feasible and even our older, standard rail systems are much more energy efficient than trucking, air and auto transport.

I support the rails through RailPac and NARP (The National Association of Railroad Passengers) but I'm just not sure about high-speed.

Any thoughts? Any rail buffs who have information to add and shed light on the discussion?
"Hate your job, love your stuff
If you think that's living, you are
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong"
-Juliana Hatfield
***********
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Post edited by Unknown User on
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Comments

  • CosmoCosmo Posts: 12,217
    High Speed Rail from Los Angeles to Las Vegas... with one stop in Riverside.
    It could be used as a commuter rail between L.A. and Riverside during the week, with some full length trips. L.A. to Vegas runs on the weekends.
    Anyone who has had to deal with the L.A. to Vegas trip on I-15 knows what I'm talking about.
    ...
    Regarding the L.A. to S.F. rail... I'd visit San Fran more often than I do.
    P.S. Add a stop for the Bridge School Benefits.
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  • JeanwahJeanwah Posts: 6,363
    Still waiting on a high speed train from Albany to New York. It's been talked about for years...
    We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

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  • nsepstrunsepstru Posts: 187
    My dad is Danish, born and raised. I had the priveledge of living there for about 7 1/2 years when I was young. And from my memories, we took the train A LOT. We lived in a rural part of Denmark so there was lots of driving as well. But many times when visiting my Grandparents and Aunts/Uncles in the city we usually took the train to and from as well as around the city. It wasn't highspeed rail at all but it was still SUPER convenient and an easy way to travel. I think the likely hood of this happening here in the U.S. seems unlikely especially here in the midwest were public transportation just isn't as feasible. Too many small towns that cannot sustain a bus/train system and driving is a necessity...I like the idea though and think it should be implemented in more urban areas wheter high speed or not.
    I'm not human...I'm Danish!
  • tybirdtybird Posts: 17,388
    It would be a huge under-taking....rivaling the first trans-continental railroad and the interstate highway system. It can not be piggy-backed on top of the current rail system, which is currently maxed out handling its freight business and Amtrak. In our current ultra-capitalist society, the issue of it paying for itself or making a profit will hold back its development for many years. That being said, I would love it.
    All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a thousand enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.
  • Jeanwah wrote:
    Still waiting on a high speed train from Albany to New York. It's been talked about for years...


    I'm alright with it as long as the MTA doesn't run it. Metro North is a disaster. Always broke, always looking for more money, and now they are taxing people who NEVER use the train.
  • markin ballmarkin ball Posts: 1,064
    Cosmo wrote:
    High Speed Rail from Los Angeles to Las Vegas... with one stop in Riverside.
    It could be used as a commuter rail between L.A. and Riverside during the week, with some full length trips. L.A. to Vegas runs on the weekends.
    Anyone who has had to deal with the L.A. to Vegas trip on I-15 knows what I'm talking about.
    ...
    Regarding the L.A. to S.F. rail... I'd visit San Fran more often than I do.
    P.S. Add a stop for the Bridge School Benefits.

    +1. I guess its been pretty difficult to get the right of way through all the various towns and counties, though.
    "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win ."

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  • FiveB247xFiveB247x Posts: 2,330
    I'm not positive, but I think most places that have these super trains and upgraded infrastructure which are modeled after recent technology are a result of wars having destroyed their previously laid plans. The US's infrastructure is based off of plans from the civil war and expansion west...technology has improved as have the trains, but overall, it's far from "modern". Same goes with most our bridge systems.
    CONservative governMENt

    Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. - Louis Brandeis
  • gimmesometruth27gimmesometruth27 St. Fuckin LouisPosts: 16,183
    if we had high speed rail i would use it.
    "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."- Hemingway

    "i'm not here to start the fire. i am here to fan the flames..."

    If you have never failed, you have never lived.
  • Jason PJason P Posts: 18,141
    I think it makes sense on the eastern seaboard (logistically). You may have enough commuters each day to make it cost-effective as well. But this is a major construction project and would be dragged through a political minefield, especially since it would have to go through so many districts. Imminent domain would have to be utilized and you would have politicians using little old ladies getting kicked out of the house they've lived in for the last 74 years on TV, attacking their opponents who favored it.

    It would be easier to build it in the Midwest due to available farmland, but I don't believe it is necessary and would be a waste of federal funds. I'm staring at a map of the U.S., and there is so much open land between major cities, I don't see it serving an effective purpose for the majority of citizens.

    For the west coast, the environmentalist groups would go ape-shit on proposals and expensive concessions and re-routes would have to be made so that a pond with an endangered turtle would not be disturbed. And I could see it being used from San Diego to L.A., but would it make sense to extend it to San Francisco considering the drive or flight isn't that long?

    When I lived in Seattle, they debated putting in a local rail system and it was a political clusterfuck .... and this was in Seattle! When I left, they were moving forward with an expensive plan that in reality would not serve it's main purpose ... to alleviate traffic.

    The biggest issue is that the traffic and logistic engineers from the 1950's did not plan or foresee using rail in the future. A high speed rail system sounds great in a speech, but not so much on paper.
  • polaris_xpolaris_x Posts: 13,554
    in theory - it makes a lot of sense ... but in reality - it's just not going to happen in the US ... at least not for a while ... why? ... because it makes too much sense ... haha
  • cincybearcatcincybearcat Posts: 12,763
    polaris_x wrote:
    in theory - it makes a lot of sense ... but in reality - it's just not going to happen in the US ... at least not for a while ... why? ... because it makes too much sense ... haha

    No, it's because we have a bit more land to try and cover.
    hippiemom = goodness
  • polaris_xpolaris_x Posts: 13,554
    No, it's because we have a bit more land to try and cover.

    uhhh ... are you trying to say that a high speed rail network in the northeast corridor doesn't make sense?

    boston-NYC-philly-DC-baltimore??
  • pandorapandora Posts: 21,855
    almost seems like a luxury right now

    "Judge yourself if you feel the need
    Just let me known to be
    In search of the truth myself
    There is a drop of blood on the ground
    And it seems to me that it's not my kind
    And I can't be sure if its yours or mine."
  • gimmesometruth27gimmesometruth27 St. Fuckin LouisPosts: 16,183
    polaris_x wrote:
    in theory - it makes a lot of sense ... but in reality - it's just not going to happen in the US ... at least not for a while ... why? ... because it makes too much sense ... haha

    No, it's because we have a bit more land to try and cover.
    what about china? they have a huge country and high speed rail.

    if people demanded it, it would be done. but we are fine with driving our couple of hundred million cars because "we have the freedom" to not lower ourselves enough to use mass transit...
    "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."- Hemingway

    "i'm not here to start the fire. i am here to fan the flames..."

    If you have never failed, you have never lived.
  • cincybearcatcincybearcat Posts: 12,763
    polaris_x wrote:
    in theory - it makes a lot of sense ... but in reality - it's just not going to happen in the US ... at least not for a while ... why? ... because it makes too much sense ... haha

    No, it's because we have a bit more land to try and cover.
    what about china? they have a huge country and high speed rail.

    if people demanded it, it would be done. but we are fine with driving our couple of hundred million cars because "we have the freedom" to not lower ourselves enough to use mass transit...


    That is true. And there certainly are some areas where it makes sense and is doable.

    I don't know about China's setup, what rails systems do they have? Is it just from big city to big city? Our suburbs make it difficult. Would have been nice if it was included in urban/city planning a long time ago.
    hippiemom = goodness
  • cincybearcatcincybearcat Posts: 12,763
    polaris_x wrote:
    No, it's because we have a bit more land to try and cover.

    uhhh ... are you trying to say that a high speed rail network in the northeast corridor doesn't make sense?

    boston-NYC-philly-DC-baltimore??

    Huh? where did I say that?

    I said as a country, a high speed rail system is difficult because of how spread out everything is.
    hippiemom = goodness
  • Jason PJason P Posts: 18,141
    polaris_x wrote:
    in theory - it makes a lot of sense ... but in reality - it's just not going to happen in the US ... at least not for a while ... why? ... because it makes too much sense ... haha

    No, it's because we have a bit more land to try and cover.
    what about china? they have a huge country and high speed rail.

    if people demanded it, it would be done. but we are fine with driving our couple of hundred million cars because "we have the freedom" to not lower ourselves enough to use mass transit...
    China has cheap and plentiful labor, a lack of labor and safety regulations, and an iron fist. The U.S. has expensive labor, tons of regulations, and a bunch of pussies running the show that like to stonewall and delay progress.

    It would be nice to have it. We need to make cuts to the budget to justify the $100B allotment though. The cuts would have to be on top of the cuts proposed in the so-called "ten year plan". Otherwise we will never dig ourselves out of the debt-hole.

    So what do we cut to afford a high-speed rail? Defense? Social Security? Education? Panetta is already crying about proposed military cuts. Unions will defend Education. AARP will defend Social Security. We can't even figure out how to make budget cuts. Does adding another $100B to the debt make sense?

    But it would be cool.
  • Speaking as a Canadian, I would LOVE a high speed rail corridor from say Windsor to QC. If these trains go as fast as they do, I could get to Toronto from Ottawa in 90 minutes. Hell, it takes me an hour to get downtown Ottawa by bus (I live in the burbs), I would do this in a heartbeat.
    Believe me, when I was growin up, I thought the worst thing you could turn out to be was normal, So I say freaks in the most complementary way. Here's a song by a fellow freak - E.V
  • gimmesometruth27gimmesometruth27 St. Fuckin LouisPosts: 16,183
    That is true. And there certainly are some areas where it makes sense and is doable.

    I don't know about China's setup, what rails systems do they have? Is it just from big city to big city? Our suburbs make it difficult. Would have been nice if it was included in urban/city planning a long time ago.
    i am not sure. a very close friend of mine lived in shanghai for 3 years and she took the high speed train everywhere. she taught english over there and after 6 or 8 weeks of class they got a coupld of weeks off that allowed her to travel and see a lot of the country. i am not sure if it went to just the big cities, but some of the pics i have seen show them going through some really remote areas. i will have to call her this weekend to try to get some more info. Byrnzie might be better able to answer these questions.
    "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."- Hemingway

    "i'm not here to start the fire. i am here to fan the flames..."

    If you have never failed, you have never lived.
  • polaris_xpolaris_x Posts: 13,554
    Speaking as a Canadian, I would LOVE a high speed rail corridor from say Windsor to QC. If these trains go as fast as they do, I could get to Toronto from Ottawa in 90 minutes. Hell, it takes me an hour to get downtown Ottawa by bus (I live in the burbs), I would do this in a heartbeat.

    for sure ... windsor --> london --> kw --> guelph --> mississauga --> toronto --> oshawa --> kingston --> ottawa --> cornwall --> montreal --> trois rivieres -- quebec city ...
  • polaris_xpolaris_x Posts: 13,554
    Jason P wrote:
    China has cheap and plentiful labor, a lack of labor and safety regulations, and an iron fist. The U.S. has expensive labor, tons of regulations, and a bunch of pussies running the show that like to stonewall and delay progress.

    It would be nice to have it. We need to make cuts to the budget to justify the $100B allotment though. The cuts would have to be on top of the cuts proposed in the so-called "ten year plan". Otherwise we will never dig ourselves out of the debt-hole.

    So what do we cut to afford a high-speed rail? Defense? Social Security? Education? Panetta is already crying about proposed military cuts. Unions will defend Education. AARP will defend Social Security. We can't even figure out how to make budget cuts. Does adding another $100B to the debt make sense?

    But it would be cool.

    germany probably has more regulation and labour is likely more expensive and they have it ...

    i would say the first thing to do is to eliminate the subsidies for things that ultimately only provide mass profits for corporations and limited benefit to the public ...
  • BinauralJamBinauralJam Posts: 14,158
    I believe there should be Two, one from Bangor Maine to Orlando Florida and one From northern California to Orlando Florida, that would be perfect!

    DisneyCharacters.jpg
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 28,553
    Our suburbs make it difficult. Would have been nice if it was included in urban/city planning a long time ago.

    I totally agree. It's very frustrating to look back and think- why didn't we start building high speed when we could afford it, when it was becoming the norm in places like Europe?

    Maybe we still can afford high speed rail in places like New England or all of the eastern seaboard where there is a higher population density. For the rest of the country it seems to make more sense to refurbish existing lines. According to The National Association of Railroad Passengers, we have many rail cars and engines that need some work but are still quite useful. If these systems were fixed and cleaned up we could expand rail service in the US and reduce our dependence on oil. Gimmesometruth27 pointed out that we don't want to give up our driving freedom and lower ourselves to using mass transit. That is the way most American's think but I also think it is possible for us to change our thinking. If rail service were made pleasurable (personally, I think it mostly is but it could be much better) and people learned to appreciate the extra time maybe it would catch on. Good food service, a well run and stocked lounge car, comfortable seating, free internet service on board, clean bathrooms, PJ radio, frequent rail miles- all kinds of things could be used an incentives to ride the rails. Think of all the posts you could make here while sipping on your favorite beverage, and glancing up at the scenery once in a while!
    "Hate your job, love your stuff
    If you think that's living, you are
    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong"
    -Juliana Hatfield
    ***********
    M.I.T.S.







  • gimmesometruth27gimmesometruth27 St. Fuckin LouisPosts: 16,183
    people said the transcontinental railroad and it was. people said the interstate highway system would never be built and it was built.

    we can do it if the people want to do it.

    but i stand by my opinion that people don't want to do it for 2 reasons...one, they like to drive and will not lower themselves to mass transit, and 2 people don't want to pay the taxes they pay now and nobody is willing to cut spending on anything...
    "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."- Hemingway

    "i'm not here to start the fire. i am here to fan the flames..."

    If you have never failed, you have never lived.
  • tybirdtybird Posts: 17,388
    polaris_x wrote:
    in theory - it makes a lot of sense ... but in reality - it's just not going to happen in the US ... at least not for a while ... why? ... because it makes too much sense ... haha

    No, it's because we have a bit more land to try and cover.
    what about china? they have a huge country and high speed rail.

    if people demanded it, it would be done. but we are fine with driving our couple of hundred million cars because "we have the freedom" to not lower ourselves enough to use mass transit...
    The additional population in China makes it more feasible for them...the country is bigger than most in Europe, but it is still smaller than the U.S. I love the idea and the possibilities that high-speed rail offer, but there are many hurdles...cost is the main one....and remember that the distance between many of our cities in regions in areas outside of the Northeast corridor is the excuse that Pearl Jam used for not touring those regions. :P
    All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a thousand enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.
  • polaris_xpolaris_x Posts: 13,554
    thing is ... it would make sense to start in the northeast corridor ... and then expand accordingly ... using existing rail lines ...
  • Thorns2010Thorns2010 Posts: 2,191
    tybird wrote:
    The additional population in China makes it more feasible for them...the country is bigger than most in Europe, but it is still smaller than the U.S. I love the idea and the possibilities that high-speed rail offer, but there are many hurdles...cost is the main one....and remember that the distance between many of our cities in regions in areas outside of the Northeast corridor is the excuse that Pearl Jam used for not touring those regions. :P

    According to wikipedia, the US and China are essentially tied for 3rd largest countries in the world. And if you were to take away Alaska, the US would drop below Brazil to be number 5.
  • tybirdtybird Posts: 17,388
    Thorns2010 wrote:
    tybird wrote:
    The additional population in China makes it more feasible for them...the country is bigger than most in Europe, but it is still smaller than the U.S. I love the idea and the possibilities that high-speed rail offer, but there are many hurdles...cost is the main one....and remember that the distance between many of our cities in regions in areas outside of the Northeast corridor is the excuse that Pearl Jam used for not touring those regions. :P

    According to wikipedia, the US and China are essentially tied for 3rd largest countries in the world. And if you were to take away Alaska, the US would drop below Brazil to be number 5.
    Hee hee...even I can make a slight error :oops: :oops: :o :o :shock: I still suspect that the difference in population makes a huge difference in the cost and utilization of high-speed rail when comparing the US to China...few years back I read that China had more than a million people who basically lived in transit between jobs. I NOT arguing against high-speed rail in the US....there are issues that need to be over come before we see it.
    All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a thousand enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.
  • polaris_x wrote:
    Speaking as a Canadian, I would LOVE a high speed rail corridor from say Windsor to QC. If these trains go as fast as they do, I could get to Toronto from Ottawa in 90 minutes. Hell, it takes me an hour to get downtown Ottawa by bus (I live in the burbs), I would do this in a heartbeat.

    for sure ... windsor --> london --> kw --> guelph --> mississauga --> toronto --> oshawa --> kingston --> ottawa --> cornwall --> montreal --> trois rivieres -- quebec city ...
    If I could get to Toronto in even under 2 hours, I'd be there a lot more often.

    Hell, if the trip to Montreal was cheaper now I'd be there more often now, too much of a hassle to drive it some times (and plus, part of Montreal is enjoying a few beverages on a patio).
    Believe me, when I was growin up, I thought the worst thing you could turn out to be was normal, So I say freaks in the most complementary way. Here's a song by a fellow freak - E.V
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 28,553
    polaris_x wrote:
    Speaking as a Canadian, I would LOVE a high speed rail corridor from say Windsor to QC. If these trains go as fast as they do, I could get to Toronto from Ottawa in 90 minutes. Hell, it takes me an hour to get downtown Ottawa by bus (I live in the burbs), I would do this in a heartbeat.

    for sure ... windsor --> london --> kw --> guelph --> mississauga --> toronto --> oshawa --> kingston --> ottawa --> cornwall --> montreal --> trois rivieres -- quebec city ...
    If I could get to Toronto in even under 2 hours, I'd be there a lot more often.

    Hell, if the trip to Montreal was cheaper now I'd be there more often now, too much of a hassle to drive it some times (and plus, part of Montreal is enjoying a few beverages on a patio).

    This is the other thing I keep thinking about- places I'd visit more often if we had high-speed rail. I don't fly so it's either drive, take the train or dream (usually dream).

    The other thing I wonder about is this: One of the things I love about rail travel is taking in the view. I've never been on high-speed rail though so I wonder- does the fast rate of speed make the view go by too quickly and make it less interesting?
    "Hate your job, love your stuff
    If you think that's living, you are
    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong"
    -Juliana Hatfield
    ***********
    M.I.T.S.







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