December 26, 2014 at 6:16 pm #4942December 26, 2014 at 6:17 pm #4943
This would be also perfect for Seattle to Portland. IMO.December 26, 2014 at 6:43 pm #4944VitalogyParticipant
High speed rail is a colossal waste of money.
Rail is good for moving products, but as far as moving people, it’s nowhere near cost effective compared to other modes of transportation. Simply put, it’s a 1800’s technology with important, but limited abilities in an age where people need choice and control of how they “get there”.
Street car, MAX, whatever you want to call it, it’s not cost effective. And when you add “high speed” to the equation, it’s even less cost effective and more limited in who it serves.
Don’t get me wrong, in a world where money is free, high speed rail makes sense. But it fails the ROI test big time. So until we have money growing on trees, money should be spent on other alternatives that serve more people.December 26, 2014 at 9:16 pm #4951skepticalParticipant
Of course, in Europe, there’s compelling evidence that completely debunks the claims made in the last post.
Anyway, current Gov. Rick Scott of Florida turned down some $2+ billion to build high speed rail. All it needed was his signature and it was completely shovel ready.
Scott didn’t like the thing because former Gov. Turncoat Crist had his hand all over it.
I believe the money went to California when Gov. Brown asked for it. Florida, not wanting the jobs, re-elected Scott.December 26, 2014 at 10:02 pm #4952Master of DisasterParticipant
Others the Master of Disaster knows who subscribe to the ‘let’s-put-transportation-under-a-mircoscope’ model have explained better than the Master of Disaster can here how FRA regulations make rail not cost-effective.
If we were to have put the Interstate Highway System under the same level of scrutiny, it would have been highly unlikely to have been built (at least how it was).December 26, 2014 at 10:39 pm #4953duxruleParticipant
I pay close attention to this as rail mobility is a huge issue here in Cowlitz County, both for passengers and for freight.
Vit makes a couple of good points, particularly when he talks about goods vs. people. As it is now, Amtrak runs on tracks they lease from BNSF, Southern Pacific, or whoever owns the main line. Passenger trains have to get out of the way for freight trains, which is a main issue when trying to keep a time schedule. As long as passenger trains and freight trains run on the same track at the same time, passenger trains will always lose out.
That being said, work is under way to get better separation between the two, which will improve passenger reliability. A HUGE portion of the stimulus money went into rail improvements, including about $300 million for a project between Kalama and Kelso, where they’re going to install a third main line. This will allow passenger trains to avoid the traffic at the Ports of Kalama and Longview. It will remain to be seen, but they’re supposed to get travel times between Portland and Seattle down to less than three hours, which damn near rivals a car, both in time and expense. Another $300+ million is also being spent all along the corridor. Ridership on the Amtrak Cascades is growing every year, and the latest numbers show that it’s close to turning a profit.
Vit’s right when he talks about High-Speed Rail being very expensive. To do it right, it has to have it’s own dedicated railway, so nothing can get in its way. Just obtaining the right-of-way is going to have an astronomical price tag, let alone the technology.
Bottom line, there is a need and a demand for passenger rail, but it needs to be done right. IMO, the right steps are being taken. If you haven’t taken a ride on one of those Amtrak Cascades Talgos, you’re missing out.December 27, 2014 at 2:40 am #4957skepticalParticipant
Sure you have to buy the right-of-way, but have you priced the cost of developing a new passenger jet lately? It would buy a lot of right-of-way.
Plane designers have hit a wall technologically – improvements in fuel efficiency are going to come in fraction of a percentage. Plane designers are not going to start with a clean slate anytime soon. Buyers of the 380 Airbus are pulling their orders because, well, it doesn’t fit the current infrastructure.
Laws of physics support high speed rail and the technology already exists and pencils out no-brainer-style for routes of less than 1k.
Boeing should get into high speed rail and they’ll make a bundle.
Today’s kids don’t care about cars so the “grandpas” in this forum ought to at least consider the possibility that America’s love affair with cars has turned sour.December 27, 2014 at 3:44 pm #4981
I’m not sure high speed trains are a waste of money. Yes, as mentioned above, right of way will cost, as will the construction of new tracks and bridges. However, considering the pain that air transportation has become, you probably could make the SEA-PDX trip in about the same time as it takes from driving to the airport, going through security, waiting, and the inevitable delays. The high speed trains in Japan are continually being improved, and we are talking roughly the same geographic distance, give or take a hundred miles or so.
BTW, CA is building one too, but it is ill-mapped as it will run only through the central valley at present. And I believe they will be using existing tracks.
The Texas idea is interesting, and I can see this as the future. Fortunately, Texas geography creates a clear path, except around some suburbs in Dallas and Houston. The Seattle-Portland route would be more complicated without a doubt. But why not think BIG? This is how our country was built, are we willing to let go of that?December 27, 2014 at 3:51 pm #4983missing_kskdParticipant
The EU has had good outcomes with rail.
I’m a fan. Bring it on.December 28, 2014 at 11:53 am #5037Master of DisasterParticipant
Duxrule makes an excellent point: HSR (and, for that matter, other ground-based transportation) can serve points inbetween, airline flights between Portland and Seattle can’t.
Amtrak can get you to and from Portland and Seattle, however it’s subject to the freight delays mentioned.
Right now, a not-so-secret of public transportation is Bolt Bus, which runs express buses between Portland and Seattle among other places (Eugene; Vancouver, BC), runs rather frequently during high-demand times, and the trip between cities is about 3 hours. This is presently the quickest trip between Portland and Seattle, but doesn’t do much good for those in between the way Amtrak can.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.