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Old 10-04-2010, 09:07 AM   #41
Justin7
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

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Since these agencies are all state-run, they tend not to operate across state lines. SEPTA doesn't run into New Jersey; the NJ suburbs of Philadelphia are served by NJ Transit. NJ Transit doesn't run into PA or NY; the Port Jervis line of Metro North (on the western bank of the Hudson) uses NJ Transit track to get from Manhattan to that part of NY state via New Jersey, but doesn't stop there. Metro North trains from Grand Central to Connecticut are actually run by that state's DOT. Maryland's MARC serves DC, but doesn't extend into VA, which has its own commuter rail network.

The bottom line is that, while some state agencies run trains into other states, they do so on the basis of their own state population's needs (CT commuters need to get to NY) or form contracts to use each others' trackage like the rail systems of different countries in Europe would.
This is why we have Port Authorities (http://www.ridepatco.org/stations/routemap.html), though the transfers are annoying if not well planned.
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Old 10-04-2010, 01:09 PM   #42
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

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NJ Transit doesn't run into PA or NY
Lots of NJ Transit trains run into NYC's Penn Station.

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the Port Jervis line of Metro North (on the western bank of the Hudson) uses NJ Transit track to get from Manhattan to that part of NY state via New Jersey, but doesn't stop there.
All of the Port Jervis line trains make at least a small number of stops in New Jersey, and some of them make lots of local NJ stops. Schedule
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Old 10-04-2010, 02:15 PM   #43
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

SEPTA regional rail also serves NJ and DE. And MARC serves West Virginia.
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Old 10-06-2010, 01:05 AM   #44
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

The point is that interstate operations tend to be pretty minimal. Of course NJ Transit operates to NY Penn - that's practically its entire raison d'etre.

What there clearly aren't, really, are completely integrated systems across state lines. One system for the Philadelphia metro area, or New York's, largely because of the interstate issues (although I'm not sure why Metro North and LIRR aren't the same agency for anything other than historical reasons).
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Old 10-06-2010, 09:54 AM   #45
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

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One system for the Philadelphia metro area, or New York's, largely because of the interstate issues (although I'm not sure why Metro North and LIRR aren't the same agency for anything other than historical reasons).
They are. Both fall under the umbrella of MTA, and are in most respects no different than the North and South side operations of MBCR (which likewise don't interoperate), just with different names (and rolling stock). Two divisions of the same railroad, essentially.
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Old 10-06-2010, 11:04 AM   #46
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

To be fair, there aren't many local, European systems that cross national boundaries either. I.e. You can't take the RER from Paris to Brussels. In Germany, which has a federal system similar to the US's, where trains cross state boundaries (however, the Munich S-Bahn does not leave Bavaria), it can do so easily because the S-Bahns are usually just arms of Deutsche Bahn. In other words, Amtrak would have to directly take over the regional rail systems from their respective owners.

Where a drastic improvement could be made is in cities where multiple systems operate, having one, integrated fare system. This may already be the case in New York but not to the extent I'm thinking. What I'd like to see is someone be able to buy a fare card (or a CharlieCard-like plastic card for commuters) in Stamford, use it on the Metro-North to Grand Central, then transfer to the Subway on the same card and then have it as valid fare on NJ Transit from Penn Station to Princeton. So, in that sense, the traveller will have travelled on three different systems but, as far as fares are concerned, he will have bought only one ticket. So, essentially, you're given a fare card (or maybe incorporating it with an open-payment system, like what the NY Metro has trialled, i.e. MasterCard PayPass) and then you have a period (say 3-4 hours) where your fare card is valid. Then have fare inspectors travel the commuter rail systems with handheld devices to check the validity of the ticket.

I suppose you could get SEPTA on board as well and essentially have one fare system from Southwestern Connecticut to Northern Delaware, though fares would centre around the respective cities, mainly because it would be difficult (probably impossible) to ride the Metro-North, Subway, NJ Transit and SEPTA from New Haven to Newark, DE via local transit in the allotted time (again, say 3-4 hours).
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Old 10-07-2010, 10:36 PM   #47
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

There definitely should be more integration to that extent. In Japan, you can use the same farecards on transit systems in the entire country! (and not only that, but you can use them as debit cards at vending machines and in certain convenience stores too...or you could even use your phone!)
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:58 PM   #48
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

Amtrak is trying to get out of the FRA's requirements for heavier trains. Hopefully this means better looking, better functioning, faster trains at a cheaper off the shelf price.

If amtrak does this, could the T as well for future orders? is there any good rolling stock for the T if so? Can we plug and play some of those Paris trains for the Green Line?

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Amtrak Seeks Safety Changes to Allow U.S. Bullet Trains
By Angela Greiling Keane - Jan 2, 2013 12:00 AM ET
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Amtrak will recommend new U.S. rail- safety regulations to allow it to replace its Acela trains in the Northeast U.S. with lighter, faster equipment, Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said.
U.S. crashworthiness standards force Amtrak to use trains that have locomotives on both ends and are slower and heavier than bullet trains used in Europe and Asia, Boardman said in an interview. Those standards reflect that U.S. passenger trains often share tracks with freight railroads rather than operating on their own lines.
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Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said, “What we’re really looking for is a performance specification here.” Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
22:00
Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Robert Stevens, chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Corp., and Marillyn Hewson, president and chief operating officer, talk about the potential impact of automatic federal budget cuts on the company and defense industry, and the outlook for the F-35 fighter program. Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman discusses the company's improvement plans. Bloomberg Government's Robert Levinson talks about the implications of fiscal uncertainty for the defense industry. They speak with Peter Cook on Bloomberg Television's "Capitol Gains." (Source: Bloomberg)
4:24
Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- "Capitol Gains" profiles the man trying to get Amtrak back on track. Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman is trying to get Congress on board with his multibillion dollar plans to upgrade the passenger train service and move high-speed rail forward.
Existing standards apply to trains traveling as much as 150 miles per hour (241 kilometers per hour). Writing new rules that relax railcar structural-strength requirements for faster trains “would allow for less use of fuel, quicker acceleration, a different performance profile,” Boardman, 64, said. “What we’re really looking for is a performance specification here.”
Amtrak last month announced it would seek bids to replace its 12-year-old fleet of 20 Acela trains operating between Washington and Boston instead of adding two cars to each train, a plan its inspector general questioned as too expensive. The Acela carried about 3.4 million passengers and produced about a fourth of Amtrak’s $2 billion in ticket revenue for the year ended Sept. 30.
Boardman, in the interview, said he’d like to add at least 10 to 12 trains before beginning to retire the current Acela fleet. The cost, for which Amtrak said it will seek information from potential suppliers in early 2013, may be $30 million to $40 million per trainset, Boardman said.
“It depends on how many we actually would purchase and whether anybody else in this country is going to move forward with high-speed trainsets,” he said.
Train Competition
Amtrak in 1996 signed a contract valued at $1.2 billion to buy the original Acelas, which operate much more slowly than their maximum speed on most of the Northeast Corridor due to the limitations of tracks and tunnels.
Companies including Siemens AG (SIE), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011) and Hitachi Ltd. (6501) may want to compete with Bombardier Inc. (BBD/B) and Alstom SA (ALO), the joint suppliers of Acela equipment used since the service’s start 12 years ago. Amtrak is subject to rules that require its equipment to be made in the U.S.
Safety standards for passenger trains operating at more than 150 mph are being developed, Kevin Thompson, a spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, said in an e-mail. Amtrak is “working with FRA and other members of the Railroad Safety Advisory Council to better define the car strength criteria for higher-speed passenger equipment,” he said.
Amtrak’s long-term plan for high-speed service in the Northeast envisions those trains running on dedicated tracks.
Congress Challenge
Boardman, who was FRA administrator from 2005 to 2008, said he’ll also challenge Congress this year to commit to maintaining taxpayer funding for long-distance train service outside the Northeast Corridor, so it can get the best value on equipment purchases.
Amtrak will be up for reauthorization by Congress in 2013, as the railroad’s chief critic in the House, Florida Republican John Mica, relinquishes his seat as chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee due to term limits.
Representative Bill Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican who has said taxpayer subsidies for Amtrak are inevitable, will assume the panel’s chairmanship this month. Amtrak has never made an annual profit and received about $1.4 billion in taxpayer aid in the 2012 fiscal year.
“Until Congress establishes that reliable funding source for rail infrastructure investment, it’s going to be very difficult to take advantage of millions of dollars available from the private sector,” Boardman said.
Non-Cash Returns
Boardman, who became Amtrak’s CEO in 2008, said it won’t be easy to convince budget-conscious lawmakers to spend more money on a transportation service they sometimes hold out as an example of waste. Mica held a series of hearings last year to criticize Amtrak’s subsidies, especially on long-distance trains, and its $151 billion proposal to build a high-speed system in the Northeast.
“It’s always that way in business; there are always scarce resources for the things that you want to do,” he said. “So you continue to look for the returns. Those are not always returns in cash money.”
Mica’s staff in September released a report showing taxpayers have provided Amtrak subsidies of $50.97 per ticket sold for the past five years, an amount Boardman said needs to be compared with taxpayer support for highways and airports.
President Barack Obama made establishing high-speed rail passenger service in the U.S. a priority shortly after taking office in 2009. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last week in a blog post said that vision still exists even after states including Florida and Ohio rejected grant money they’d received to build such projects.
To contact the reporter on this story: Angela Greiling Keane in Washington at agreilingkea@bloomberg.net
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:13 PM   #49
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

Could you imagine these operating on the MBTA or MTA or NJT , the lighter trains would mean they be cheaper to buy...



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Old 01-02-2013, 04:01 PM   #50
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

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If amtrak does this, could the T as well for future orders? is there any good rolling stock for the T if so? Can we plug and play some of those Paris trains for the Green Line?
The FRA only controls interstate railroads, i.e. parts of the system physically connected to rails that freight happens to run on or even parts of the system only connected to other parts of the system on which freight may run.

In other words, the entire Northeast Corridor is subject to FRA regulations simply because a million-pound coal train is physically able to find its way onto the line, and therefore 'might' go on to collide with a Regional in Midtown Manhattan.

Yes, it is exactly that ridiculous. If you physically disconnect all active freight routes (and I mean seriously disconnect, disable the switches and obstruct the crossing), or run rails that don't connect to active freight routes (or connect to routes that connect to active freight routes, recursive indefinitely), then the FRA has no regulatory authority over you (unless you're crossing state lines and they argue authority based on interstate commerce, but I don't think that ever happens).

In practice, that means the FRA has zero say in what runs on the Red/Blue/Orange/Green Lines. The T could apply for waivers for their commuter rail operations, though.

What's stopping us from using 'off-the-shelf' rolling stock for the Green Line is the fact that its signaling system is a relic from the 19th century and that the Boylston curve still hasn't been shaved down a matter of inches to make it smooth enough for off-the-shelf rolling stock to traverse. Also, I'm pretty sure most light rail lines outside of the US don't have doors on both sides, but that's a comparatively minor issue.
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:11 PM   #51
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

The FRA does not have authority over transit systems, not even ones that cross state lines.

Transit systems as old as Boston's usually have some idiosyncrasies which require some customization. But F-line has stated here that they could run off-the-shelf equipment on the Green Line if they did the following: ease the Boylston curve by shaving the wall a bit, make additional vertical clearance on the St Mary St portal, and avoid using the Park St and Lechmere loops (the latter of which is going away soon). What else?

As for Amtrak -- about time. Also, I saw that Austin's tiny little commuter railroad system uses Stadler DMUs, but I think they do time-separation, if those tracks are even still used for freight at all.
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:32 PM   #52
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

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The FRA does not have authority over transit systems, not even ones that cross state lines.

Transit systems as old as Boston's usually have some idiosyncrasies which require some customization. But F-line has stated here that they could run off-the-shelf equipment on the Green Line if they did the following: ease the Boylston curve by shaving the wall a bit, make additional vertical clearance on the St Mary St portal, and avoid using the Park St and Lechmere loops (the latter of which is going away soon). What else?

As for Amtrak -- about time. Also, I saw that Austin's tiny little commuter railroad system uses Stadler DMUs, but I think they do time-separation, if those tracks are even still used for freight at all.
Yea , there are a few systems like the Riverline here in NJ , Sprinter in Oceanside , a few lines in Texas.... There are over 40 of these lines proposed....there cheap to build and maintain for the ridership they get which is below 20,000.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:10 PM   #53
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

There's lots of room for relaxing some of the more insane FRA regs. The most insane being that equipment weight somehow directly correlates to buff strength. That's like 1940's auto maker mentality on safety: the safest car on the road is the biggest hulk of steel on the road with the highest differential of damage it can inflict vs. damage it can absorb on lesser hulks of steel on the road. Yeah...how did that philosophy end up playing out over 70 years of modern car design? We don't drive 'boats' as the vanilla choice of ride anymore so things evolved just a smidge, didn't they? There are Euro and Asian train designs/regs out there that are 100% as effective as U.S. regs at preventing injury and enabling safe evacuation. But they're treated like autos: it's a whole-train design treatment, not some uselessly narrow and arbitrary set of goalposts. And the more you have to customize from a tried-and-true design to get something arbitrarily-fit like the Acela, the harder it's going to be to maintain, the quirkier it's going to be to operate, the shorter it'll last in service lifetime, and the more expensive it'll be. If stuff breaks down too much because it's over-customized it can in some cases end up less safe than "weaker" standard equipment. Hell...look at the local light rail analogies: Type 8 vs. Type 7.


That said, the U.S. does have a hell of a lot more freight and a hell of a lot heavier freight than much of the rest of the world. Its passenger network is behind its freight network in development, it has to mix-and-match a lot of infrastructure of very degrees of decay to function, and it has to bootstrap onto the freight network as a practical matter for getting anything useful done. That's true to some degree on the NEC too, although most dramatic on most new-growth routes where the surviving thru-freight corridors are simply the most well-developed traffic corridors for any kind of movement...freight or passenger. Mainly because the interstate highway network grew in parallel alongside them. We definitely can't use tincans on steel wheels in mixed traffic. That is not adequate for safety. At minimum the regs have to set a "do no harm" golden rule as baseline. So we're going to have to adopt comparatively heavier designs than some countries have the luxury to. We're going to have to enforce time separation on the RiverLINE-type operations that go on exemptions. The amount of flex zero-freight lines could be afforded in exemptions may be limited by the fact that they're interconnected with freight-carrying branches and in the name of interstate commerce can't be prohibited from carrying freight again from the national network should the need arise (which would affect the T's commuter rail purchases, because you never know if Rockport's going to have a must-have freight customer drop out of the sky and move into town next year bringing such an incredible economic windfall that freight rights slam-dunk need to go out to bid north-of-Salem for the first time in 30 years). And the feds do have constitutionally-protected interstate commerce authority for common carriers and 180 years of caselaw built up around RR's that--like it or lump it--still stands and is impossible to dismantle without chaotically destabilizing transport. There is a need for the agency that calls itself the FRA.


But the car analogy is apt. The regs need to see the forest for the trees and start favoring aggregate safety of both (rail)road and vehicle over OCD micro-focus like the current buff strength inanity. Safety still has to be absolute; we can't compromise it. But there's a shitload of reform and a shitload of better-value and flat-out-better equipment that can run here if stupid old habits are allowed to die when they have functionally nothing to do with real-world safety. The framing needs to be careful on this...we don't want this to be about cutting corners. We want to untie manufacturers and buyers from a straightjacket so we can have train equipment evolve to be as nimble and exponentially safer as autos have been allowed to evolve through the years.

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Old 01-03-2013, 01:00 PM   #54
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

They should at least relax the regs for the Northeastern states our Freight network is shrinking not growing and alot of the older lines are becoming commuter or Intercity rail...
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:07 PM   #55
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

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They should at least relax the regs for the Northeastern states our Freight network is shrinking not growing and alot of the older lines are becoming commuter or Intercity rail...
Slippery slope. We've got a ragged-looking rail network, but it is at least unified to carry any kind of traffic. You don't want to start introducing fragmentation to what can and can't run on it, and you most definitely don't want to fragment it by region. Interstate commerce is important enough to preserve as a common denominator. That's one area where the U.S. network will, and probably has to, look a little different from the light-freight or freight-free networks overseas that do use less-crashworthy equipment. There is precedent for this. By the Civil War the northern states had moved aggressively to standard-gauge rail--and spent a shitload of money to retrofit--so all the track was compatible and they had a pretty robust common carrier network to move troops and supplies anywhere-to-anywhere. The South was behind the curve. It quite literally lost them the Civil War when they had narrow-gauge lines that couldn't interchange with standard-gauge lines and left them a step too slow and cumbersome to move their troops or feed their citizens. The enormity of fixing that inequity left their postwar economy lagging far behind the North for generations. Fragmentation is real; it's left scars that shaped history.

Hell...I don't even think the feds thought the PTC mandate out well enough. It's too rigid on what has to be retrofitted, and too rigid on the types of systems (and available manufacturers of those systems) to use. There are exemptions galore, and all kinds of pending appeals for more exemptions. And there are cases where it may not even be necessary on minimal-traffic lines where dispatch rules are already draconian enough to ensure that only one train will be occupying a line at one time. You don't need expensive technology to prevent two trains from crashing when there is 99.9999% regulatory probability that there will be no physical means of two trains being within several ZIP codes of each other to collide at all. That's how unsignaled passenger lines ALREADY work. Apply new regs where it makes sense and the probabilities call for it. They're risking fragmentation of the network by absolutist-overkilling this the way only the FRA can overkill something.


Now, exemptions can be granted for new dedicated HSR lines like in California. Or the FRA can designate an entire new track class that bans freight or requires grade separation from freight tracks (maybe even one-and-the-same to integrate things like CAHSR). But as an organic extension of the current classes, not as network fragmentation that effectively spins off whole separate modes.

We don't know what freight's going to look like in 50 years. Or passenger Just as folks in the 1920's when the private RR's peaked in power couldn't have ever known that it would hit its nadir as a form of transport 50 years later in the 1970's. We do know the mode of transport is going to be around in 50 years, so every effort should be made NOT to preclude necessary uses we can't foresee today. There is a fine line here. We want to keep up with the world, but we also still have levels of freight the rest of the world doesn't and it ebbs and flows. Freight's undergoing a revival with intermodal. It doesn't look like the freight patterns of 50 years ago because it's coalescing around long distance travel to large hubs as opposed to local deliveries on a web of tiny branchlines straight to some mom-and-pop's loading dock. But the volumes are growing because that's the type of shipping that beats trucking on price. And it's going to grow a LOT in Massachusetts. Go look up CSX's stock. It's rock solid and gets a hearty "buy" recommendation from analysts. So do a lot of the other big carriers. That's what 50 years of ebb and flow netted us. Couldn't have predicted that when the B&M and NYNH&H were going tits up in New England in the late 20th century. It would be foolish to limit future flex when we don't know what 50 more of ebb and flow and evolution shaped to current needs is going to do. What if we have another major war and need to use the national network to transport equipment? Why would we ever weaken ourselves in that way? Money talks...land a big enough customer and even the NIMBY's and pols will shut up if a freight absolutely has to chug down the Needham, Newburyport, or Greenbush lines again. Or think in the smallest terms...what if somebody has to make a one-off move of an electrical transformer too heavy for the expressway? The state borrowed CSX for one day to do that a couple years ago on the Plymouth Line, which hasn't had any freight rights whatsoever in 15 years. What if there's a disaster or highway bridge out and somebody has to move relief supplies to an area? Are we really going to prohibit that just because a line doesn't have active freight?


Need to be careful. We aren't even getting close to the current regs' ceiling on mixed passenger traffic...because there's so little of it overall. Reform the regs and get rid of their stoopider constrictions, but until we're approaching the ceiling we don't need a whole new paradigm equivalent to what suits Japan with its huge HSR network and negligible freight needs. Japan isn't the U.S. geographically, economically, historically, etc., etc. Like it or not, our passenger network has to bootstrap onto the freight network if it's going to grow into anything robust. We're just not in a place where things are sturdy enough to separate them from each other.
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Old 12-18-2013, 07:09 PM   #56
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

http://www2.illinois.gov/cpo/dot/Doc...rocurement.pdf

http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/...comotives.html


Meet your new Amtrak diesel locomotives. Siemens got the committee recommendation for the next-gen order for the state-funded Chicago-hub and West Coast corridor routes. 35 units for 2016 delivery on this base order; option orders break out to +75 more state-sponsored units and +157 for the general Amtrak fleet to replace all existing diesels. Tightest emissions standards on the books, lighter weight, and good for 125 MPH.

Barring any disastrous setbacks with the base order, Amtrak's going to be an all- Siemens-powered shop in a few years save for the niche Acelas and specialty dual modes that are subject to separate procurements TBD.
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Old 11-06-2014, 08:58 AM   #57
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

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220 mph train to Boston? Long Island-Connecticut tunnel? Feds discuss plans for Northeast rail line

By The Associated Press
on November 05, 2014 at 8:58 PM


By DAVID PORTER

NEW YORK — Rail travelers would be able to speed from Washington, D.C. to Boston at 220 mph and people on Long Island would take a tunnel straight to Connecticut and points north rather than go through New York City under some of the more ambitious long-range plans described by federal rail officials Wednesday to remake the beleaguered Northeast Corridor.

The 457-mile corridor is the busiest commuter rail line in the country and the site of regular and often lengthy delays on Amtrak and regional lines such as New Jersey Transit, due to 100-year-old infrastructure and crowded tracks.

At Wednesday's open house, the Federal Railroad Administration laid out its vision for expanding service and making existing service more efficient. The three groups of projects presented, contained in a report released this month, were culled from an original list of 98 individual proposals that was then winnowed down to 15.

All three scenarios factor in new rail tunnels under the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York, a contentious issue that reached a boiling point four years ago when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pulled the plug on a $9 billion tunnel project, citing potential cost overruns. Amtrak, which owns the tracks along the Northeast Corridor, is seeking funding for a new tunnel project that is at least 10 years away.

While work on aging infrastructure up and down the corridor would proceed regardless of the fate of a new tunnel, the expanded capacity it would provide would be crucial to any of the major projects, said Rebecca Reyes-Alicea, FRA project manager for the Northeast Corridor.

"What we can do is account for the immediate infrastructure needs in this process, so that it all fits together," she said. "Building tunnels is not an easy task, but at least if we can all kind of shepherd around the same goal, we can get there. It's going to a take a while, but if we can at least get the groundwork through this and through the environmental work that has to be done for the tunnels, we can at least start to get the wheels turning."

The three proposals include features such as a tunnel to connect stations on Long Island to the Connecticut coastline for service to Providence and Boston; a "second spine" alongside the current Northeast Corridor tracks that would carry high-speed rail at speeds of 220 mph, and new service between New York and Boston that would serve Hartford, Springfield and Worcester, Massachusetts.

Currently, Amtrak lines split in New Haven, with Boston-bound trains heading up the coast and inland trains terminating at Springfield.

Also, new tracks would bypass several movable bridges between southeastern Connecticut and Rhode Island that currently contribute to slowdowns due to capacity and speed restrictions.

A fourth proposal, called "no action," calls for maintaining service at current levels through 2040.

The plans are in the very preliminary stages. Within the next year, more public comment will be solicited on the proposals and a draft environmental impact study on proposals will be released in fall 2015.
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Old 11-06-2014, 09:11 AM   #58
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

That's great and all, but how are they planning on getting the money? I don't see it happening in this current government.
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Old 11-06-2014, 10:23 AM   #59
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

Quote:
Originally Posted by FenwayResident View Post
That's great and all, but how are they planning on getting the money? I don't see it happening in this current government.
There are two big problems with the way Amtrak is doing this:
1) As if there's a Federal interest, rather than a regional one
2) As if the NEC needs win a race with other railroads, when all it really needs to do is beat the airlins.

1) The problem with Amtrak is that it makes NE Governments stupid and dependent. HSR would be a huge win for the NEC. Clearly, using other people's money (the Feds) would be even huger, but in the process we act like we can't/shouldn't do this thing for ourselves, but instead should wait around for somebody else to shower it on us as a gift, rather than just something like a 1c Regional Fuel Tax (over 40 years).

2) It starts from the wrong technological and competitive assumptions.

If it is totally-new ROW (which I don't recommend), it makes sense to do Maglev. If all these new lines are going through "populated" areas, you're going to end up doing a whole lot of tunneling. But if you're spending 10x to tunnel from NYC to Providence, the additional marginal cost of going to maglev is insignificant, but you get an additional 2x in speed. You'd no more put conventional rail in that expensive tunnel than you'd put a canal boat in there.

Competitively, the real problem (that former NYCTA and WMATA head and Amtrak exec David Gunn points out)is that its designed as if the line has to out-compete the Shinkansen, when in reality, all it has to do is out-compete the PHL and LGA airports (which isn't nearly as hard)

David Gunn estimates that if you want to shave 30minutes off trips, it is way cheaper to build city-center stations in Baltimore and Philly that save a 15 minute cab ride, and to improve circulation at NY Penn rather than trying to save the same 30 minutes by upgrading long stretches of right of way.

It is way better and cheaper to speed the trips at their destinations (where the cities would be thrilled and the NIMBYs would be minimal) rather than trying to carve a straighter path through the 'burbs.

Also along those lines, a tunnel under select Connecticut curvy spots ( New London CT) is cheaper than a whole lot of new ROW upstate.
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Old 11-06-2014, 11:55 AM   #60
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Amtrak's $117 Billion Plan For High Speed Travel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
There are two big problems with the way Amtrak is doing this:
1) As if there's a Federal interest, rather than a regional one
2) As if the NEC needs win a race with other railroads, when all it really needs to do is beat the airlins.

1) The problem with Amtrak is that it makes NE Governments stupid and dependent. HSR would be a huge win for the NEC. Clearly, using other people's money (the Feds) would be even huger, but in the process we act like we can't/shouldn't do this thing for ourselves, but instead should wait around for somebody else to shower it on us as a gift, rather than just something like a 1c Regional Fuel Tax (over 40 years).
And here's the other kicker...bypass New York????? And get Congressional approval to do so? Yeah...a House of Representatives apportioned by population does not work that way.

Go through 3-5 states dependent on a New York stop as the cost of doing business and your greatest-fastest-bestest build ever must stop in New York. There is no logic in the "A+" route and investment therein kicking NYC to the slow lane, because the majority of the demand is still shaped by the slow lane. No Congresscritter taking the temperature of his/her own district would vote to fund that.

Quote:
2) It starts from the wrong technological and competitive assumptions.

If it is totally-new ROW (which I don't recommend), it makes sense to do Maglev. If all these new lines are going through "populated" areas, you're going to end up doing a whole lot of tunneling. But if you're spending 10x to tunnel from NYC to Providence, the additional marginal cost of going to maglev is insignificant, but you get an additional 2x in speed. You'd no more put conventional rail in that expensive tunnel than you'd put a canal boat in there.
No, they shouldn't. Maglev is never getting out of the laboratory in any serious way because conventional-rail HSR has so hugely closed the technological gap. To-date there is no maglev system in the world longer than 19 miles, and the only ones that have proceeded to the serious (non-fantasy or whitepaper) stages are more of the same: airport dinkys and commuter shuttles. Niches where it may viably be able to replace automated people movers. Those grand HSR maglev proposals around the world are one-by-one getting chucked into the file cabinet next to Hyperloop and getting supplanted by common-carrier HSR proposals that can be done sooner, less costly, at larger scale, and with confidence that the technological gap is going to keep quickly narrowing. Hundreds more miles of real HSR track worldwide open up every year. The worldwide market has made its choice on Jetsons Shit rail.

Maglev's not going to graduate beyond technology test bed. It's useful as a test bed because that's helped push innovation along on all kinds of transportation tech...and it is a real testable technology unlike Hyperloop. But common-carrier rails, including the ones that segregate high-speed and low-speed traffic on different infrastructure, always have the better scale and better cost-per mile. And always have more flexibility to mix common-carrier traffic in constrained areas, alt-route anywhere under the sun, or to fill in empty frequencies. Look at DesertXPress, which began its conceptual life as a maglev. How fast did it take their private developers to see that...duh!...thru-routing into CAHSR after flying across the desert opened up way more travel options to Vegas from the coast. That's where every maglev proposal starts wavering. It's not raw performance, but the options...so many more options.

It's important not to demagogue the FRA's faults so badly as to call for junking the U.S. rail network with isolated splinter modes. North America has the most standardized common-carrier rail network on the planet. If we want something that serves this continent's needs...embrace it, don't extinguish it. A national HSR network has none of the patchwork of platform heights, loading gauges, rail gauges, incompatible electrification schemes, incompatible signaling schemes, and so on that the EU has to square which has to shape and contort a lot of those cross-continent routes to certain paths over others, lots more frequent transfers, and certain on-a-map direct routes off-limits to practical thru traffic. It's an administrative nightmare for them in the same sense that everything EU-integration is an administrative nightmare.

The North American rail system's problem is funding, not flex. The NEC is a special beast to tackle because it's through some of the oldest, most built-up, and most constrained megalopolis in the world. But applied at Euro/Asia levels to, say, the Midwest? The South? The West? Trans-Canada? Fuck yes a capacity-enhanced North American common-carrier network can reach that performance level with less overhead than EuroLand because of the standardization in our common carrier rails.

Embrace and extend. I honestly think the "KILL THE FRA!" shouting (just read some of the CAHSR blogs out there for a taste of that) is really unproductive.

Quote:
Competitively, the real problem (that former NYCTA and WMATA head and Amtrak exec David Gunn points out)is that its designed as if the line has to out-compete the Shinkansen, when in reality, all it has to do is out-compete the PHL and LGA airports (which isn't nearly as hard)

David Gunn estimates that if you want to shave 30minutes off trips, it is way cheaper to build city-center stations in Baltimore and Philly that save a 15 minute cab ride, and to improve circulation at NY Penn rather than trying to save the same 30 minutes by upgrading long stretches of right of way.
Gunn is a smart, smart dude. He's a little bit of a lightning rod for some of his quirks, but that guy "gets it" about what's uniquely American about American travel patterns. And has "gotten it" decades longer than anyone else. My nitpick with some otherwise scary-smart transportation advocates (Alon Levy, I'm looking in your direction) is engaging too much in "transit tourism"...a sprinkle of Shinkansen here, a dash of TGV there, some U-bahn there...where it cherry-picks individualized feature preferences from regions completely different from each other. France isn't Germany, and nobody in Europe is like Japan. Things that work in one country would be bad fits in another. But there's this blind spot in some of those voices where the dogma that "The U.S. is stupid if it doesn't do this FrankenTrain mix of things I saw on semester abroad" doesn't take into any account what a uniquely U.S. (or NAFTA countries) rail system is supposed to do that's uniquely North American. If all those other systems grew up around their native lands, what's a native system here? It's not "be Europe with a slice of Japan",

Tell you what...the freight system is what's uniquely North American. The standards compliance that grew organically from the freight system (and got more efficient in the NAFTA era) is uniquely North American. Co-existence of traffic and routing anywhere-to-anywhere across NAFTA-land is uniquely North American. Don't pretend it doesn't exist. Sketch out an HSR system with all the HSR frills like traffic separation by high/medium/slow-speed lanes off that idea. It doesn't mean we're stuck in the freight-speed era or FRA buff-strength era forever. It does mean that an open system that shape-fits to the most important blended nodes on the existing system--like Gunn says--is what'll make it work here.

Gunn gets that.

Quote:
It is way better and cheaper to speed the trips at their destinations (where the cities would be thrilled and the NIMBYs would be minimal) rather than trying to carve a straighter path through the 'burbs.

Also along those lines, a tunnel under select Connecticut curvy spots ( New London CT) is cheaper than a whole lot of new ROW upstate.
Yes and no.

The cross-Sound tunnel manifest destiny thing has been around since the early interstate highway era. I really have to roll eyes every time the Oyster Bay-to-CT8, or New Haven-to-I91, or Watch Hill/I-495 routings get dusted off in another permutation. This time on rail. There's no evidence that's going to look any better a deal when studied out as the last 10 times it was studied out.

That said, the Springfield Line is an unused asset because it can be pushed and straightened to higher speed south of Hartford. It's got the right mix of downtown centers for demand and wipe-able industrial crud for speed improvements. And Hartford-east has a mix of the straightest portions of the ex-NYNE ROW and bypass alternatives through the Eastern CT "quiet corner". Like the I-384 bootstrap routing which would pretty much present 150 MPH territory save for about 2 slow zones at Bolton Notch and in the density around Warwick, RI. NYC-Boston used to have FOUR routings: Shoreline, Inland, NYNE, and Air Line. The two surviving (sorta) ones trapped the highest ridership, but the Shoreline route sucking isn't a new thing...they were trying to solve that problem 100 years ago.

I'm a lot more dubious about the Westchester-I84 routing. The New Haven Line, slow and congested and all, just can't be beat for maximal-ridership destinations. So I think you will to some degree, even if the HSR routes split on semi-parallel flanks, have to engage that as one of your trunk mainlines. For the same reasons Gunn says...the demand's too much better hitting city centers and then working your time savings outside city centers. The "Gunn Model" HSR is pretty obvious here: use the Springfield Line and the Eastern CT bypass for time savings on one end, use the New Jersey swamplands and something some off-NEC excursions between Baltimore, Wilmington, and Philly as a speedup on another end...and don't sweat the blending at built-up stations where people need the current NEC stops most.

That is North American standardization in a nutshell. Gunn "gets it". Lots of wiggle room on how you implement it and where the diversions go. I'm not even remotely suggesting there's only one way to do it or that what I cited is anything more than 1 example out of 20. But this cleanrooming fetish is an answer to a question the real sources of demand aren't asking. So embrace it, assimilate it as our own...don't run from it. That's the (North) American way.
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