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British are Considering High Speed Rail

Discussion in 'GatorNana's Too Hot for Swamp Gas' started by chemgator, Feb 16, 2020.

  1. chemgator

    chemgator GC Hall of Fame

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    And they are thinking about using Chinese technology:

    Lawmaker questions China's offer to build UK high speed rail

    Just a few observations. This is why Europe struggles to stay together on major issues (because every country is out for itself and refuses to stick up for another country on principles). Chinese high speed rail technology is actually Siemens (German) rail technology stolen by the Chinese (who made cosmetic changes and called it their own, and then started selling it worldwide at a fraction of the price of the Germans). Eventually, the Germans will want to buy something that was developed by the British, and they will have no problem buying it from the Chinese. What comes around goes around.

    How is Britain doing on keeping a lid on the costs of high speed rail? This is an important question for us, since the U.S. is considering high speed rail in several states. And if you can't keep a lid on project costs with the cheapest technology in the world, how can anyone control costs?

    3.2X? Not very good. As a capital projects manager, I would be fired if my projects routinely came in at 3.2X the initial cost estimate.

    Lesson to learn: Costs of high speed rail (or any major infrastructure project that goes through cities and over rivers and mountains) will be higher than expected, and will be minimized by people who want the project to be approved for whatever reason. No engineering firm is going to bet their profitability (much less their business) on meeting their initial estimate of the project cost. Make absolutely certain that the project will be needed and will have the ridership to make it work financially.

    In the U.S., the only reasonably sure bet for HSR is the New York City to D.C. corridor, which has the added incentive in that it has the most crowded air corridor in the world.
     
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  2. demosthenes

    demosthenes Premium Member

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    That would certainly be the first market to target. I’d extend it to Boston, however. It can replace the current service provided by the Acela.
     
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  3. nolancarey

    nolancarey GC Hall of Fame

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    There is currently no good bet in the U.S. on high speed rail. We led the way in rail too early, but also led the way on other forms of travel too early for there to be an easily available high speed rail structure. There would be far too many eminent domain issues, even/especially along the areas that could best use it. The current rail system is largely privately owned, and using that for human transportation is unlikely.
     
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  4. chemgator

    chemgator GC Hall of Fame

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    We do have the best freight rail system in the world. It is a big part of what makes the U.S. economy successful. You would not want to use freight rail tracks for high speed rail. New track (preferably elevated) would have to be installed. Not only that, but high-speed rail requires special concrete (minimal carbon or sulfur in the fly ash used) for long life with the high vibration levels of the trains. The eminent domain issues would be a significant part of the cost, but if it is a national priority, it could be done. If Taiwan can do it, so could we.
     
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  5. gatorzfan

    gatorzfan VIP Member

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    High speed rail, ask the idiots in Cali how that worked out !!
     
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  6. demosthenes

    demosthenes Premium Member

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    Ask the people in China and Japan how it’s worked out.
     
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  7. nolancarey

    nolancarey GC Hall of Fame

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    Taiwan? It's not of comparable size, really. I can see the prospect working between Chicago/Atlanta to the Pacific, but it would be hard to get the east coast property.
     
  8. gatorzfan

    gatorzfan VIP Member

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    Little more red tape and special interest groups here.
     
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  9. chemgator

    chemgator GC Hall of Fame

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    Actually, it is comparable to the N.Y. to D.C. corridor. Taipei to Kaohsiung is 185 miles, and N.Y. to D.C. is 237 miles. You can take a train at 180 mph between the cities, with 3-4 stops in between, in about 90 minutes. It slows down to 125 mph going through mountain tunnels. HSR in the northeast shouldn't require any tunnels or extensive earthquake protections.

    At $200 million per mile average plus $1 billion per stop, the total cost for D.C. - N.Y. would be $52 billion. Depending on the routing through N.Y., it might be double that. Not cheap, but doable if it were a priority. (The big problem with controlling costs in doing something like this in the NE is the unions. They would gouge as much money as they could out of this project. There are lots of reasons that the Big Dig in Boston went from $3B to $24B during construction, and I'm sure unions are one of the big reasons.) HSR would convert a lot of jet fuel and gasoline usage into electricity usage very efficiently, and it would take 100 flights per day out of the skies of the most crowded air corridor in the world.

    There isn't enough population between Atlanta or Chicago and the west coast cities to make up for the sheer number of miles between those cities, not to mention the difficulty in running track over the Rocky mountains.

    Acquiring property on the east coast would be expensive, no doubt about it. Especially in a city like New York. New York is a huge city, and is blocked on one side by the ocean. You would want the track to go through the international airports in the major cities, including JFK in N.Y. so that travelers could move easily between flights and rail. The primary purpose of HSR is to replace air traffic, while replacing automobile traffic is secondary. And airports have all of the same services that HSR would require: security, rental cars, taxis, large parking lots, etc. You would just have to make sure that you had light rail between the airport and the city center, or a light rail distribution point. Another option would be to bypass the city and run dedicated light rail from a HSR station at the edge of the city to the airport, but that slows down transit times quite a bit.

    I don't think buying up property in New York would be as expensive as running high speed elevated track across 3,000 miles and going over a tall mountain range and through earthquake country on the west end. And like I said, the western two thirds of the country doesn't need it, and probably wouldn't use it. As long as flying can be done in a third of the time for a similar cost, why would people sit for 16-18 hours on a train? You would almost need to make sleeper cars, cutting capacity by 80% or more, which really ruins the economics (even if you could find enough riders to make it work).

    The smart thing to do is begin with N.Y. to D.C., and then expand from N.Y. to Boston, and later from D.C. to Chicago (with a side track from Toledo to Detroit). People could even use it as part of international travel: fly to D.C., take the train to Boston, and then fly to London or Paris. If the Chicago route were successful, we could consider D.C. to Atlanta.
     
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  10. nolancarey

    nolancarey GC Hall of Fame

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    The Pacific side could definitely use it too. Though prone to earthquakes Japan has found a way to manage. Denver would probably not be an optimal hub, but there are paths north and south of Colorado that would require fewer tunnels.
     
  11. GatorNorth

    GatorNorth Premium Member Premium Member

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    Atlanta
    Which means it’s not a high speed rail problem.
     
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  12. 96Gatorcise

    96Gatorcise GC Hall of Fame

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    The problem with HSR in America is every little town wants a stop. HSR should be A to B. It's not HSR if there is a stop every 50 miles in between.
     
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  13. gatorzfan

    gatorzfan VIP Member

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    If you can't build it, it's a problem!!
     
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  14. gatorpa

    gatorpa GC Hall of Fame

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    Or if the special interests make the cost so crazy....
     
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  15. GatorNorth

    GatorNorth Premium Member Premium Member

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    Atlanta
    I agree, and that certainly extends well beyond (and for much smaller scale items) than HSR lines.

    Funny (not funny) how China can build 2 new coronavirus treatment hospitals ground up in 2 weeks and most of the US couldn't replace a missing stop sign in the same time period.
     
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  16. G8trGr8t

    G8trGr8t Premium Member

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    Chinese cheated on their concrete though. They will be rebuilding their systems for decades.
     
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  17. chemgator

    chemgator GC Hall of Fame

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    There aren't enough people on the west coast to make HSR work (18 MM between L.A. and S.F. metro areas), and the major cities are too far apart (383 miles). Tokyo and Osaka have a combined metro area population of close to 70 MM people, and are about 250 miles apart by air (a bit more by land). The differences are huge. The number of people per mile is six times greater for the Japanese line versus the West Coast line.

    Denver (or any city in the Rocky Mountains) is a no-go. Japan does have mountains, but the high speed rail stays closer to the coast where it is level. Taiwan does tunnel through one mountain ridge between Tai Chung and Taipei, but the train slows down to 125 mph (turns out the shock wave from the air being pushed ahead of the train and out of the tunnel can be quite dangerous). Besides, there aren't any other major cities near Denver. Denver itself isn't that big. I don't know if you could support an Amtrak (low speed) train line that ran through Denver if the riders believed they were traveling at comparable speeds to air travel.

    A run between San Fran and L.A. would be the best chance to make HSR work on the west coast, and I would put it's chances of success below that of a D.C. to Atlanta HSR line. You can see the problems that HSR has had just going through the cost estimation stage of the project. Every small city along the way wants a stop (killing the speed of HSR), although I'm fairly certain they do not want to guarantee any level of ridership for their city and pay the difference between ticket sales and the guarantee. The costs of the project were horribly underestimated up front in a desperate attempt to get it approved. My conclusion: boondoggle.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
  18. nolancarey

    nolancarey GC Hall of Fame

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    The high speed rail between London and Paris is comparable to the mileage you listed for Tokyo and Osaka. They've got a big tunnel, which causes considerable slowing. My thoughts for the west coast were essentially San Diego to LA to the Bay Area.
     
  19. G8trGr8t

    G8trGr8t Premium Member

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    Amtrak will officially begin testing its high-speed Acela train

    New state-of-the-art Acela train cars are one step closer to hitting the rails in 2021.

    On Thursday, Feb. 13, Amtrak announced it would begin testing its high-speed Acela trains.

    The trains left the Alstom manufacturing facility in Hornell, New York on Feb. 17 and are making their way to the Transportation Technology Center near Pueblo, Colorado, where they will undergo nine months of rigorous testing.

    Amtrak released stunning photos of the trainset heading west on Twitter, including a map of the journey. Train enthusiasts can watch for the prototype as it travels along the route used by the Amtrak Lake Shore Limited and Southwest Chief trains. It will pass through Chicago, before ultimately arriving in Colorado on Wednesday, Feb. 19.

     
  20. chemgator

    chemgator GC Hall of Fame

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    Being capable of going 160 mph and actually going 160 mph for the majority of a trip are two different things, unfortunately. Amtrak trains have road crossings and other potential obstacles that make it dangerous to go full speed during parts of its journey. Many of the curves are too sharp to take at high speed, also. A true high speed rail system on dedicated elevated track (which Amtrak doesn't have) would allow the trains to travel at high speed for most if not all of the trip. The old Acela trains could go 130 mph, but averaged 78 mph, because they had to slow to 60 mph or less for parts of the trip.
     
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