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M1EK Dec 9, 2008 10:26 PM

1003 words about the commuter rail station downtown
 
Click for more.

http://www.dahmus.org/blogimg/downto...terstation.jpg

NormalgeNyus Dec 13, 2008 4:24 PM

I seen in the paper there was an open house for the commuter trains downtown. Did anyone get a chance to do that? what did they think?

llamaorama Dec 14, 2008 8:49 PM

I have not been to Austin in a while, but is that parking lot at San Jacinto and 4th, is it still there like I can see in Google Earth? Turn the thing there...

Honestly there seems like a number of spaces where buildings could be bought out and cleared to make room for the train to turn. From there it could run in some kind of mixed traffic/diamond lane also to be used by buses or cars when the train isn't running. I mean it could be worse, we could be talking about locomotives pulling bilevel cars here, but instead they did buy DMUs that would be appropriate in a street-running alignment.

Time to get creative, seriously. I guess I just want to be optimistic

NThomas Dec 15, 2008 2:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by M1EK (Post 3865728)
If Capital Metro had the power, they'd be better off telling Round Rock to go jump in a lake - accepting Round Rock's passengers at an intermodal station, if there ever are any, would be a huge loss for the agency.

Of course, they don't, because CM is always struggling for survival at the state level. But if this ever happens, and if anybody ever rides, it'll just be another of the long list of subsidies Austin is forced to give our 'friends' in Round Rock.

Is there any reason Round Rock can't join CapMetro?

NormalgeNyus Dec 15, 2008 3:21 AM

there is no reason that round rock or any other suburb cant join cap metro. the thing is that cap metro wants to carge us an arm and a leg to join, when we can do our own stuff cheaper and we have more important issues to pay for. If Austin wants the suburb's to help out they have to have some better offers out there

M1EK Dec 15, 2008 3:24 PM

That's an interesting way to put it. Round Rock currently dumps a lot of transit passengers on Austin's back at the northern park-and-rides (we subsidize their rides for them, just like we subsidize Round Rock's freeways).

As for turning downtown - there are no blocks downtown that can be had cheaply enough to make it worthwhile to buy just to run a diesel train through. To say nothing of the fact that you don't _want_ a diesel train running through a heavily used pedestrian area.

KevinFromTexas Dec 15, 2008 4:58 PM

The thought of noisy, smelly, polluting diesel engines running through downtown is a scary thought really. Just think about it. They're like 18 wheelers that take even longer to stop. Do you want to step in front of one? Thanks, but give me the real light rail version. The new commuter trains are light enough I guess for just entering the fringe of downtown, but no way would they work throughout downtown. Has anyone actually been near diesel trains? They're noisy and smell. I live a quarter mile from UP's tracks in South Austin and every night when one comes by I can almost feel the low rumble of it and I can certainly hear it. Of course I don't mind it, it's become something of a friendly sound. But I wouldn't want to be walking in front of one.

llamaorama Dec 15, 2008 5:32 PM

I live a few hundred feet from freight tracks too and the sound doesn't really nag me too much either, just a low rumble.

Anyways, I guess you guys are right. I wonder how the shuttles will be managed though? Circulators aren't really that bad if the are extremely frequent, or at least meet the train which doesn't seem to be too hard with the kind of schedule this thing will run on.

Personally I think more choice riders that you might think will not be that deterred, if you look at Denver as an example(Major office core around Broadway not adjacent to LRT). What they have is the 16th street mall with frequent electric shuttle buses that are free. Of course Austin's won't be as good and will run in mixed traffic but it's worth a try.

M1EK Dec 15, 2008 8:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by llamaorama (Post 3974666)
Anyways, I guess you guys are right. I wonder how the shuttles will be managed though? Circulators aren't really that bad if the are extremely frequent, or at least meet the train which doesn't seem to be too hard with the kind of schedule this thing will run on.

Personally I think more choice riders that you might think will not be that deterred, if you look at Denver as an example(Major office core around Broadway not adjacent to LRT). What they have is the 16th street mall with frequent electric shuttle buses that are free. Of course Austin's won't be as good and will run in mixed traffic but it's worth a try.

Again, we're talking about people who are already being offered express bus rides from the same park-and-rides the train will hit but unlike the train, the bus goes straight to UT and the Capitol and hits the parts of downtown where the big office buildings are.

So it's not a matter of people with no transit option before being offered a "train + circulator" commute, which is a rough sell even then. It's a matter of people who have already found a relatively pleasant two-seat ride to be uncompelling somehow being expected to leave their cars at home for a three-seat ride.

Get it?

alexjon Dec 15, 2008 9:54 PM

590/594 from Tacoma to Lakewood stops along 4th and 5th avenue, runs frequently at peak and throughout the day. The capacity at peak hours is about twice what it is with the Sounder and brings people into the city core with stops in front of major destinations.

The Sounder makes trips that run at the same speed, stops about .75mi from the center of the business core and requires walking uphill or a transfer to get to where you need to go.

Scottolini Dec 16, 2008 2:44 AM

Whoa you guys; comparing the trains Cap Metro is using to a freaking freight train just because they're both using diesel engines is just silly! It's like comparing a late model VW Jetta with a turbo diesel to the eighteen-wheelers you see on the highway. Very bad comparison.

M1EK Dec 16, 2008 1:51 PM

The train is more like a freight train than a light rail train, or so Capital Metro tried to convince the Feds when they had trouble getting their waiver to run it on the freight tracks.

But, yes, it's not a freight train. It's still a diesel-powered train and turns more like a freight train than like what most of us would consider light rail, and that difference is important when you're talking about the fact that it stops a half-mile from the core of downtown.

paulsjv Dec 16, 2008 3:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by M1EK (Post 3976589)
The train is more like a freight train than a light rail train, or so Capital Metro tried to convince the Feds when they had trouble getting their waiver to run it on the freight tracks.

But, yes, it's not a freight train. It's still a diesel-powered train and turns more like a freight train than like what most of us would consider light rail, and that difference is important when you're talking about the fact that it stops a half-mile from the core of downtown.

So what was their reasoning for not running it to at least congress?

M1EK Dec 16, 2008 6:23 PM

Politically, they needed to make sure they were running only on existing track (with minor modifications like straightening out a curve out in the burbs and building that overpass so it could run over the UP line). Technically, there's no reason they can't go to Brazos (and that was one of the things McCracken/Wynn were pushing for), but it will be hard to sell that to the voters and especially the other politicians after claiming they already have the 'downtown station' built.

paulsjv Dec 16, 2008 7:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by M1EK (Post 3977089)
Politically, they needed to make sure they were running only on existing track (with minor modifications like straightening out a curve out in the burbs and building that overpass so it could run over the UP line). Technically, there's no reason they can't go to Brazos (and that was one of the things McCracken/Wynn were pushing for), but it will be hard to sell that to the voters and especially the other politicians after claiming they already have the 'downtown station' built.

Well to me that was dumb to have the station where it is. Wonder how much more it would have cost to have it go a few more blocks?

M1EK Dec 16, 2008 10:01 PM

Doesn't matter - probably ten million bucks or less - but again, the big selling point of this piece of crap was that no streets had to be dug up (ignoring the part of 4th street between the Convention Center and I-35 which, uh, had to get dug up).

miaht82 Dec 17, 2008 4:57 PM

DoT eyes Texas for High-Speed Rail
 
Quote:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - 2:42 PM CST

From BizJournal:

Texas will be part of a federal program to create high-speed passenger train service, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The agency said it plans to begin accepting bids from companies that will finance, design, build, operate and maintain high-speed trains in 11 federally designated corridors, according to Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.

“Americans need new ways of traveling between major cities, and a properly structured intercity passenger rail system can, and must, play a larger role in our nation’s transportation future,” Peters said in New York City. “There is growing interest in intercity passenger rail as an alternative to driving and flying but, for it to really work, it must be viable, efficient and competitive.”

The corridors, as currently designed by the Federal Rail Administration, stretch across the country, but only half — those in the eastern portion of the United States — actually connect with one another.

If initiated, Houston will be part of the 1,022-mile Gulf Coast Corridor, based out of New Orleans, La., connecting the city with Mobile, Ala; Meridian, Miss.; and Birmingham, Ala., according to the Federal Rail Administration.

The rest of Texas has its own corridor, called the South Central High-Speed Corridor, that would link Dallas-Fort Worth; Austin; San Antonio; Texarkana; Oklahoma City; Tulsa, Okla;. and Little Rock, Ark.

nixcity Dec 18, 2008 12:15 AM

With the rail infrastructure already in place and that to come in the urban areas of Texas this idea becomes more viable. I really like the idea of taking a train to Houston, SA, or Dallas and still be able to get around well without a car.

pyropius Dec 18, 2008 2:49 AM

I never understood why Houston isn't connected to any other Texan city in the DoT plan. Can someone offer a non-snarky explanation?

electricron Dec 18, 2008 4:42 AM

The High Speed Train Amtrak Corridors really aren't European/Japan fast. 110 mph is significantly slower than 200+mph.

To go faster than 110 mph, you're going to need dedicated, entirely grade separated, electrified tracks.

What Amtrak suggests as High Speed Corrdors are diesel powered locomotives over upgrade existing freight tracks. The fastest diesel power locomotives in the world run around 120 mph, up to 150 mph during a recent test.
Like what Amtrak uses in the Pacific Northwest "Cascade" services. The "Cascades" uses Talgo equipment, which are FRA compliant.

http://www.nationalcorridors.org/df/df06042001d.jpg

http://www.photosbystevenjbrown.com/...steilacoom.jpg

To reach 120 mph max speeds, the existing freight tracks will have to be upgraded to Class 6 specifications.

Sec. 213.9 Classes of track: operating speed limits.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section and
Secs. 213.57(b), 213.59(a), 213.113(a), and 213.137(b) and (c), the following maximum allowable operating speeds apply--
[In miles per hour]

Freight trains / Passenger trains
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Excepted track..................10 N/A
Class 1 track.....................10 15
Class 2 track.....................25 30
Class 3 track.....................40 60
Class 4 track.....................60 80
Class 5 track.....................80 90
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. 213.307 Class of track: Maximum operating speed limits.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section and
Secs. 213.329, 213.337(a) and 213.345(c), the following maximum allowable operating speeds apply:

Passenger trains only
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Class 6 track............................ 110 m.p.h.
Class 7 track............................ 125 m.p.h.
Class 8 track............................ 160 m.p.h.
Class 9 track............................ 200 m.p.h.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Most freight tracks in the USA are Class 4 or less. Very few miles of track allow faster than 79 mph speeds. Most built for Class 4 decades ago are maintained at Class 3 or less today.
Which is why Amtrak cross country trains average 45 mph and less vs the much higher 60-70 mph average speeds.

A significant investment will be needed to upgrade a relatively few miles of tracks to Class 6, it'll be much more expensive to upgrade all the tracks Amtrak uses to Class 6, and really unaffordable to upgrade HSC designated tracks to Class 9.

To add, Amtrak doesn't own most of the tracks it runs on. The Freight RR Corporations aren't going to want to perform these upgrades for nothing. Since Class 5 (90 mph max) is the highest they can run freight cars on, that's probably what they will upgrade their tracks to with Federal/State supplemental funds (public/private funding). To upgrade to Class 6 or higher causes freight operational problems they will want to avoid.

Still, 90 mph speeds is much faster than what Amtrak trains can do today. It will be an upgrade with faster service. But, don't think for one moment the Feds are thinking of 200 mph speeds over freight tracks. That's not going to happen!


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