[Novalug] OT: High speed passenger trains
franklin at elfie.org
Mon Apr 12 10:09:42 EDT 2010
Yes, the Civil War-era tracks have to go in order to get anywhere with rail travel. It is doable, but there are technical, political and budgetary issues that have to be overcome.
On Apr 12, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Bryan J. Smith wrote:
> Many of these details could be addressed with some changes in current
> travel approaches. In reality, I see a lot of challenges with the solution,
> which are better addressed by changes in current travel approaches.
> The added rail and other requirements of the solution could be addressed
> with lower risk by other methods.
> But, again, there are other factors than technology.
> As far as Acela, I agree. Boeing looked at a near-SS aircraft that would
> shave almost a hour off of the NYC-SF route, and no one bought the idea.
> The reality is that until we look at an overhaul of the train infrastructure, it's
> not going to happen. In Florida, we mandated such, and it is still going no
> Orlando is saved by the wind currents. But when the wind stops for a day
> or two in the summer, its smog index bests LA. Greater Orlando is nearly 4M
> people in a 7 county area, not to mention the centerpoint for all travel above
> and below the state. Orlando has *0* mass transit other than the wholly
> limited Lynx bus routes. There is absolutely *0* rail of any kind, and the bus
> system does not touch jack outside of downtown.
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: John Franklin <franklin at elfie.org>
> This solution does address one of the major issues with rail travel: travel time. I'm looking at a trip to Boston in the near future. A direct flight from here will take 1h30m in the air, Amtrak will take 7h45m on the rails. While that seems like a no-brainer, these numbers don't tell the whole tale.
> * I need to be at the airport a full 2h before the flight. I can show up at the train station 15m before the train leaves. Given this, we're now looking at 3h30m vs 8h00m.
> * My luggage stays with me on the train, and it's a short walk from the platform to the street. With a flight I'll need another hour on the other end to get off the plane, walk to the baggage area and wait for my luggage to show up at the carousel. 4h30m vs 8h00m.
> * Trains take you from city center to city center. Air travel puts you on the outskirts of the city. If you're lucky, you'll land someplace like Reagan National where light rail is easily available. More likely, you'll land someplace like Dulles where you need a shuttle or cab or a car rental and another hour of driving to get to the city center. In this case, I'd be landing at Logan which is not served by light rail, but is at least on I-90. 5h30m vs 8h00m.
> * The train I cite above is a regular train. The "high-speed" Acela trains (which are high speed in the same way my old 2400 baud modem is "high speed") makes the journey in 6h30m instead of 7h45m. 5h30m vs 6h45m.
> * All this, of course, assumes both the plane and train depart and arrive on time. It is also assuming a direct flight.
> * With the time difference reduced to 1h45m over about 6h of travel time, it's time to look at comfort over that quarter-day. Personally, I look forward to air travel only slightly more than I look forward to the dentist. (This needs to be re-evaluated with the advent of Sedation Dentistry.) Planes are cramped and loud; movement, activity (cell phones, knitting) and personal items are severely restricted, the seats are tiny and (for someone 6'3" like me) lack sufficient leg room. On the train, the seats are larger and more comfortable, the noise level is far lower, the air is fresher, you can walk around all you like, get a snack or (on longer trips) a *real* meal, use your cell phone and plug your laptop into a real power outlet. Train travel is simply far more civilized than air travel.
> If time-reducing solutions like Charlie's were implemented, the time difference would make the train more competitive over a longer distance. Today, trains make sense on rail times of about 5h or less.
> Personally, I'd like to see real high-speed rail like what Europe or Japan have, or even faster and nicer. My pie-in-the-sky rail system would get me from DC to SF in 10-12 hours, leave in the evening, include a tasty, fresh cooked, sit-down meal, a real bed and an on-train shower in the morning. On arrival, I'd like to see a concierge service to take my luggage to my hotel while I head directly to whatever business meeting I have.
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