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HSR? 24/7 Everywhere?
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   Author  Topic: HSR? 24/7 Everywhere?  (Read 93 times)
HwyHaulier
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HSR? 24/7 Everywhere?
 
« on: Aug 10th, 2016, 10:55am »
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Lodge Members -
 
This current item here for amusement purposes only.
 
http://www.businessinsider.com/animated-map-high-speed-rail-network-united-states-2016-8
 
There are rude and tacky implicit unanswered questions. Vitally being: On many route segments, the actual track is not up  
to truly High Speed running. Example? Such the case on the NEC...
 
...........................Vern......................


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Norm_Anderson
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Re: HSR? 24/7 Everywhere?
 
« Reply #1 on: Aug 10th, 2016, 3:13pm »
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Hi, Vern,
 
Just a couple of quick observations about a corridor near me:
 
There is a proposal for an HSR service connecting Chicago and the Twin Cities.  They advertise a cost of $141 million to build it (a figure that seems to me absurdly low-- under $350,000 per mile-- I'm not sure you could build a residential street for that.  Maybe the $141 million is the cost of the preliminary studies?).  They predict 150,000 riders per year.  Taking their figures at face value, and assuming that every ticket sold averages $50, that would be a revenue stream of $7.5 million per year, or about 20 years to recover just the construction costs, even if 100% of revenue goes to reimbursement.
 
In return, they advertise a running time of 5.5 hours between Chicago and St. Paul.  That's better than Amtrak, which takes nearly nine hours, even if they're on-time.  But both Milwaukee Road and Burlington were covering the distance in six and a half hours, in the 1930s with existing equipment on existing track (the Hiawathas were even behind steam!).
 
Two practical questions:  Even if it's built, why would a non-railfan take five and a half hours to cover 400 miles, when there are flights every thirty minutes that can get you there in an hour?  On the longer-haul routes shown in the video, why take 20 hours to get from New York to San Francisco when a jetliner can get you there in six?  (As an example: Two business travelers leave New York at the same moment, early one evening-- one on HSR, and the other taking off from JFK.  The air traveler can get to San Francisco, sleep in a hotel overnight, conduct a full morning of meetings the next day, and be ready to return home by the time the HSR pulls into San Francisco.)
 
I understand the environmental and other political arguments for HSR, but if you have to shame people into adopting your plan, maybe it's not such a good plan.
 
 
Regards,
 
Norm


« Last Edit: Aug 10th, 2016, 4:09pm by Norm_Anderson » Logged
ClydeDET
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Re: HSR? 24/7 Everywhere?
 
« Reply #2 on: Aug 10th, 2016, 9:11pm »
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IF (and a Devil of an "IF" that "IF" is) your office is downtown and your destination is downtown, fast rail connection is at least potentially workable as a competitor for air  out to PERHAPS 500 miles. Especially if it is cheaper. After that...
 
Now - if you have just the right arrangement, can make it work out to around 900 miles - consider New York and Chicago. Leave late afternoon from NYC or Chicago, arrive 16 hours later, after a restful night and time to review papers and plans, have meeting, return home for second morning arrival, once again rested and having had time to review the meeting and consider things. But - not that many pairs just right, eh?


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George_Harris
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Re: HSR? 24/7 Everywhere?
 
« Reply #3 on: Aug 11th, 2016, 1:50am »
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I saw this thing.  I don't know what these guys are smoking, but it shore ain't tobaccy.
 
I do think there is great potential IF you can get a truly high speed for city pairs like Dallas / Ft. Worth to Houston where the travel volume is huge and the end to end time can be around 1:45 or less.  Howeveeer.....to get any truly high speed trains will require a dedicated line.  Not just track, but alignment.  That is the major problem in the northeast.  You can do all that can be done with track, power, etc, but you can't ignore the laws of physics.  What I see them doing up there looks like they have either lost their vision or given up.  Could be with all the anti anything "environmentalists" they have given up.  After all, you ultimately decide that after so much beating your head against the wall all you are getting out of it is bruises.
 
There may be a reasonable amount of overnight business travel given cities a 'sweet spot" distance apart and RELIABLE quality service,  but I don't think we are seeing that much of it anywhere.


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George_Harris
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Re: HSR? 24/7 Everywhere?
 
« Reply #4 on: Aug 11th, 2016, 2:07am »
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on Aug 10th, 2016, 3:13pm, Norm_Anderson wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Hi, Vern,
 
Just a couple of quick observations about a corridor near me:
 
There is a proposal for an HSR service connecting Chicago and the Twin Cities.  They advertise a cost of $141 million to build it (a figure that seems to me absurdly low-- under $350,000 per mile-- I'm not sure you could build a residential street for that.  Maybe the $141 million is the cost of the preliminary studies?).  They predict 150,000 riders per year.  Taking their figures at face value, and assuming that every ticket sold averages $50, that would be a revenue stream of $7.5 million per year, or about 20 years to recover just the construction costs, even if 100% of revenue goes to reimbursement.
 
In return, they advertise a running time of 5.5 hours between Chicago and St. Paul.  That's better than Amtrak, which takes nearly nine hours, even if they're on-time.  But both Milwaukee Road and Burlington were covering the distance in six and a half hours, in the 1930s with existing equipment on existing track (the Hiawathas were even behind steam!).

 
Norm,there are so many things wrong with this, I hardly know where to begin.  5.5 hours?  This represents approximately 80 mph?  Don't have the distance in my brain.  That is not really that big a step up from the Hiawathas.  Sounds like they are thinking that they can simply take over the existing railroad, fix up the track, tweak a few of the slower spots and restore the second main.  If you do that, given the fairly straight alignment, you should be able to get this run time with diesel operation and a maximum speed of 125 mph, maybe even with 110 mph.  Even if that is all you are thinking about, the price sounds way too low.  If you are talking a serious high speed, that is 180 mph plus and electrification, then you better add at least two zeros, maybe three onto that price.  Now, if you do that, you could get the time down to around 3.5 hours or so, maybe even 3 hours.  Unless the current flights between these two points, or three if you count Milwaukee amount to less than one hour between flights, then it can safely be stated that the traffic demand is not there.  $50 per trip?  Nope probably won't cover the basic variable costs.  Got to be way more than that to make it at all feasible as well.


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HwyHaulier
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Posts: 3432
Re: HSR? 24/7 Everywhere?
 
« Reply #5 on: Aug 11th, 2016, 10:13am »
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George -Norm - Clyde - Lodge Members- All Hands -
 
Well, Guys! Your writer did declare with caveat,"... for amusement purposes only..."
 
Noted your comment, George, about a proposal for CGO - Twin Cities. Rider guess of 150,000 per annum? Pitiful, yes?  
On a five day work week basis, that reduces to 300 riders daily, in each direction, for total 600 riders served. Build entirely  
new stretches of track for that?
 
Good to  see the comments from all, so far.
 
.......................... Vern.....................


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Norm_Anderson
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Posts: 1724
Re: HSR? 24/7 Everywhere?
 
« Reply #6 on: Aug 11th, 2016, 3:29pm »
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on Aug 11th, 2016, 2:07am, George_Harris wrote:       (Click here for original message)

 
Norm,there are so many things wrong with this, I hardly know where to begin.  5.5 hours?  This represents approximately 80 mph?  Don't have the distance in my brain.  That is not really that big a step up from the Hiawathas.  Sounds like they are thinking that they can simply take over the existing railroad, fix up the track, tweak a few of the slower spots and restore the second main.  If you do that, given the fairly straight alignment, you should be able to get this run time with diesel operation and a maximum speed of 125 mph, maybe even with 110 mph.  Even if that is all you are thinking about, the price sounds way too low.  If you are talking a serious high speed, that is 180 mph plus and electrification, then you better add at least two zeros, maybe three onto that price.  Now, if you do that, you could get the time down to around 3.5 hours or so, maybe even 3 hours.  Unless the current flights between these two points, or three if you count Milwaukee amount to less than one hour between flights, then it can safely be stated that the traffic demand is not there.  $50 per trip?  Nope probably won't cover the basic variable costs.  Got to be way more than that to make it at all feasible as well.  

 
George, I agree.
 
Before Amtrak, the shortest main line between Chicago and St. Paul was the North Western's line via Madison, at 398.6 miles.  Their route via Milwaukee (the route taken by the 400 streamliner) was ten miles longer-- 408.6 miles.  Milwaukee's Hiawathas advertised 410 miles from Chicago to St. Paul, while Burlington's route was the longest, at 427 miles.  I believe the HSR folks today want to route their train through Rochester (to serve the Mayo Hospitals and Clinics), and it will probably also have to serve Milwaukee and Madison. It is doubtful they could bring it in under 430 miles.
 
I believe the Minnesota HSR website admits to an average speed of about 80 mph, including stops.  I don't see how they could possibly compete with air travel, unless they can get the trains up to Eurostar speeds, and can offer service at under three hours endpoint-to-endpoint.  Flights between the Twin Cities and Chicago require about an hour in the air.  At least five airlines offer flights, averaging about 85 minutes gate-to-gate, at prices that are very competitive against Amtrak.
 
For those who would rather just drive, Interstate 94 will get you there in about six hours, unless you get caught in rush-hour traffic, and at little more than the price of a tank of gas each way (plus wear and tear, etc.)  But, when you get there, you've got your car with you.
 
As an aside, my estimate of $50 per ticket was meant to be an arithmetic mean, accounting for trips between intermediate stops, and in today's dollars.
 
Bottom line-- on this corridor, HSR could not compete against air or auto in either time or price.  The only way to make it work would be to find a political avenue of attack-- finding ways to "disincentivize" the alternatives, or to make people feel vaguely guilty for using the alternatives.
 
 
Such are our times,
 
Norm


« Last Edit: Aug 11th, 2016, 4:33pm by Norm_Anderson » Logged
Les_Shepherd
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Posts: 424
Re: HSR? 24/7 Everywhere?
 
« Reply #7 on: Aug 14th, 2016, 6:24am »
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If it makes you feel better, the US is not the only country struggling with HSR proposals. Our own proposals are a political quagmire. We have a costed proposal for a higher speed freight line linking Melbourne and Brisbane by an inland route and which has substantial proven economic benefits. We are unable to get started. About 75% of the route is over upgraded existing lines.
 
Having travelled on HSR services in Europe; (Germany, France, Belgium) as well as UK; Eurostar & Taiwan I believe that I have some grasp of the issues. For HSR to work at its best you need dedicated lines. These are VERY expensive to construct. The UK's HS2 proposal for a line linking London to Birmingham and Manchester is stuck because of projected costs. Therefore you need high passenger usage for economic viability. Your NEC fits the need. Because of residential densities and property values much of a HSR line would probably need to be underground. The HS1 line in London is a case in point.
 
It is common in Germany for many mainline services to use existing lines with their HS carsets but a slower speeds. I have experienced this several times.
 
Once you establish a HS line expect retaliation from the airlines. When Eurostar commenced they reduced their London/Paris fares. It has taken 10 years for Eurostar to turn a profit. Their levels of service; above basic; would be difficult for the airlines to match. A promotional basic fare of about $80 provides a cramped seat in a packed carriage and makes airlines Zoo class look upmarket.
 
For ourselves, we have proposals for a HS line linking Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle, Gold Coast & Brisbane. The Sydney/Melbourne air route is the 3rd most heavily trafficked in the world. The 2 heavier routes are in Japan. A Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne line would be about 600 miles with a combined population of those 3 cities of 10 millions. To this add another 350,000 existing population from regional cities also served.
 
So what might be possible? Certainly, baby steps first. The NEC standards to permit Acela should be extended to other suitable routes. You know the population densities better than me. Suitable routes would start with city pairs. SFO/LAX is obvious and there are many others. With patronage established it can be developed using on-board services and reliability. Further track upgrades and next generation rolling stock comes next. Hopefully a pattern will establish and HS lines would follow.
 
HS lines work best on distances up to about 500 miles. This with train speeds up to 180mph. Once you get beyond 800 miles airlines will always be preferred and be the most economical.
 
Like you, we have very short sighted political and economic leaders.


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