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  #1481  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2019, 4:28 PM
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Microsoft Hosting a Conference in Seattle Next Month on a Possible High-Speed Rail in the Pacific Northwest

https://www.wweek.com/news/2019/10/3...fic-northwest/

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- Transportation leaders from Portland, Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle plan to meet next week at Microsoft's headquarters in Seattle about a possible high-speed rail train connecting the three cities. The idea for the high-speed train was re-invigorated in February 2018, with the formation of an advocacy group called Cascadia Rail. The group envisions a train that is able to carry passengers across the region at speeds of 350 km/hr, reducing the travel time between Vancouver and Seattle to an hour. Microsoft, the Daily Hive reports, has been a prominent proponent of the project, contributing $300,000 to a WSDOT feasibility study in 2018. — The company's "Cascadia Rail Summit" will explore how a high-speed rail could impact housing affordability, create jobs and reduce transportation emissions. Attendeeswhich include Washington Gov. Jay Insee and Oregon Department of Transportation's rail and public transit administrator Hal Gard will also discuss the concrete next steps necessary for initiating high-speed rail construction.

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  #1482  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2020, 5:40 PM
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Las Vegas high-speed train project, once stuck in low gear, is now moving forward

https://www.latimes.com/california/s...g-after-delays

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- Amtrak had tried to jazz up its service, enlisting comedian Milton Berle and basketball great Wilt Chamberlain. New proposals for train service since have come and gone, including one by a Spanish firm that saw a “renaissance in train travel on the horizon.” But in recent weeks, a more concrete proposal by Florida-based XpressWest for Las Vegas train service has quietly advanced. The privately-held firm has taken key steps to secure private debt funding under bond programs operated by California, Nevada and the federal government. If the chips fall the right way, the $4.8-billion project should have full funding for a 170-mile line along Interstate 15 and start construction later this year with trains running by 2023, the company told The Times.

- The plan calls for a high-speed electric train system from Apple Valley in the California high desert to Las Vegas, almost entirely with private funding. On March 9, the U.S. Department of Transportation gave its approval for the project to issue $1 billion in tax-free private bonds, according to a letter federal officials sent to the company. The bonds are technically known as “private activity bonds” that work like tax-free municipal bonds for infrastructure but are not issued or guaranteed by the government. The XpressWest bonds would have to be issued by September 30, the letter said. The federal approval led California officials to take the next step, scheduling a state committee meeting for April 14 to approve XpressWest’s issuing another $2.4 billion in bonds under California’s share of the federal program.

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  #1483  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2020, 9:02 PM
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I wish Virgin would spend a few thousand $ and produce some sexy conceptual animations showing birds-eye views of the route, stations and pov's on board. There have never been animations since this project was concieved, not even one official rendering. You'd think they'd know how far that can go to built interest and support for a project like this.
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  #1484  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2020, 5:00 AM
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There has been a profound improvement to air quality in all U.S. cities in recent weeks thanks in large part to the grounding of most commercial aviation. It's an irrefutable argument for a robust national rail system powered by renewable electric sources.

Jets can still do the cross-country trips but we need to get rid of all of the short flights. High quality rail not only gets jets out of the air, it gets cars off the interstates.
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  #1485  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2020, 1:33 PM
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Originally Posted by aquablue View Post
...Most of America doesn't give a crap about rail and is suburban car based.
Build it and they will come. I believe this is universally true when it comes to high speed rail. I could not disagree more that the only suitable HSR route in the country is the NEC. You're just wrong. But it's very hard to prove a negative which is why Texas Central, Xpresswest and the California CV-IOS are so incredibly important. It may take another twenty years but after seeing trains like that fly over American geography, serious efforts across the country will made made to bring HSR to most major population centers hopefully starting with a midwest program.
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  #1486  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2020, 1:42 PM
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Build it and they will come. I believe this is universally true when it comes to high speed rail.
Certainly not true when it comes to rail transit in America. Not sure why HSR would be different.

Construction doesn't induce demand, as has been shown countless times, but the U.S. is still spending megabillions on rail in exurban TX while actual viable routes wither.

The only viable HSR route in NA is the NE corridor, at least presently.
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  #1487  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2020, 5:45 PM
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^ Because air travel is a form of mass transit that is successful in all parts of the US, and Texas Central is designed to be exactly like air travel despite being on rails. Americans don't care whether they're airborne or rail-borne so long as they get where they're going quickly and with maximum convenience - so far, Amtrak and other mass transit providers have failed to meet these conditions except in a handful of markets.

Texas Central's stations will be just like airports - spacious suburban terminals with freeway connections, huge parking garages, and minimal connections to local transit. Unlike the Acela, Texas Central doesn't claim to target city-center to city-center travel, nor would such a market be sustainable in Texas if it meant inconveniencing the bulk of the population living in suburbs. And, compared to air travel, Texas Central has the advantages of roomier seating and no obnoxious security procedures, so I don't know why it wouldn't be successful.

Amtrak has tried to go after this market before, but they've always been embarrassingly under-capitalized, saddled with a requirement to run money-burning long distance services, and hindered by the 19th-century infrastructure they run on (but don't even own), including slow curves, poorly-maintained track, and city-center stations in iffy areas where suburbanites won't dare to tread. The only place Amtrak has succeeded is the NEC, but that's because it's the one place where they don't have the usual limitations - they own the track, and development is oriented along the rail line to a large enough extent to support frequent rail service, including the large transit-oriented populations in city centers. A rail service without the usual limitations of Amtrak can succeed in the US regardless of whether it is Northeast, Southwest or anywhere in between.
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Last edited by ardecila; Apr 8, 2020 at 5:59 PM.
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  #1488  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2020, 7:26 PM
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Certainly not true when it comes to rail transit in America. Not sure why HSR would be different.
Wasn't talking about rail transit. Talking about true-HSR. If I was talking about a 2-mile streetcar circulator I would have said so.
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  #1489  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2020, 7:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
and city-center stations in iffy areas where suburbanites won't dare to tread.
I'm pretty much with ya except for this. Come on man. This cannot be a serious factor. If a high speed train station was in an "iffy area" but was competitive to air and car that people found very attractive and appealing, in theory it's location would be a complete non-factor. We're not talking about Mogadishu.
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  #1490  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2020, 8:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
I'm pretty much with ya except for this. Come on man. This cannot be a serious factor. If a high speed train station was in an "iffy area" but was competitive to air and car that people found very attractive and appealing, in theory it's location would be a complete non-factor. We're not talking about Mogadishu.
The country is full of Amshacks in dusty, out of the way industrial areas. Bathrooms out of order, confusing paper signs on every wall, sometimes foul food smells, etc. Not just small towns but big cities even. Hell, Houston has one. So does Detroit. Compare those to the airport terminals in same cities.

The New Orleans Amtrak station is pretty depressing too, despite being a legitimate railroad terminal...
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  #1491  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2020, 6:17 PM
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Amtrak test train - Siemens Venture Trainset Coach on the Northeast Corridor
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Amtrak test extra Train No. 834 (9) was out testing Siemens Venture Trainset coach along the Northeast Corridor. Different speed test were done. Goal was to reach 125 mph
Video Link
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  #1492  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2020, 7:26 PM
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That's a cool video! I didn't realize how large the Siemens cars were compared to the Amfleet cars. Bigger car body, bigger windows, bigger doors. They're just as tall as the ACS locomotives, which makes sense seeing as they were built in the same factory. Since it is basically inevitable now that siemens is going to take over North American passenger train equipment, I wonder how these passenger cars will look next to the Viewliners? My guess is probably pretty close.
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  #1493  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2020, 4:17 PM
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^ You want Siemens to turn into a monopoly on your national market? Hoïaïaïe, that would be wrong. Just think about the effect of monopoly to the economy, it is absolutely all wrong. Pretty much like dictatorship. It's like evil people to say - only I am entitled to be. Others can die.

Frankly, I don't find these trains by Siemens to be anything really convincing. Germany is all crazy about cars, not so much about trains or even aviation or aerospace. My country is actually better at the latter. We have more faith and funding in these fields than they do, thus more involved engineers.

There is quite a couple of corporations that could easily rival Siemens out there. At least Alstom that made sure they had a manufacturing facility in the US, namely in NY state.
That's a requirement of the US to sell anything to them, isn't it? We should stop buying Boeing airliners until they create thousands of jobs in Europe, just to show them what reciprocity actually means.
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  #1494  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2020, 4:56 PM
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^ Alstom did manufacture the Avelia Liberty that is to replace the Acela. It's really just a coincidence that Siemens has gotten a series of large orders for Amtrak locos and rolling stock, they are not "on track to take over the industry".

Amtrak and state officials spent years developing (by committee) a frankenstein spec for bilevel cars to be used on service west of Chicago and West Coast, and awarded the contract to Sumitomo - that blew up in their face when Sumitomo was literally unable to manufacture the cars as specified.

After that blew up, the states had to find a different supplier who could provide railcars before the Federal grant funding expired - it was authorized in the 2009 stimulus bill under Obama and was set to expire in 2017. Siemens was the only company available, they could offer quick delivery on the Viaggio/Venture cars because they already had an assembly line set up for Brightline's order so they could just roll into the Amtrak order without retooling costs and delays.

Commuter rail operators have used a wider range of manufacturers - Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo, Bombardier (now part of Alstom), Stadler, etc so there is no monopoly.
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Last edited by ardecila; Apr 13, 2020 at 5:10 PM.
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  #1495  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2020, 8:08 PM
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On a side note, I wish a ridiculously wealthy industrialist or investor like a Warren Buffet would in their twilight dedicate themselves to reconstituting a competitive American railcar building company. Think Pullman for the 21st century making rapid transit cars, light rail vehicles, EMUs, DMUs etc etc. It's just absolutely shameful, but not at all surprising due to federal priorities, that we've gone from having such a robust domestic rolling stock industry to basically having nothing where we, even though most have set up assembly plants, rely entirely on foreign companies for our needs (FR, DE, ES, IT, JP, KO and now China...motherf***ing China with open questions about whether they're spying on us through the vehicles...you can't make this stuff up). Pullman Standard, ACF, St. Louis, Budd, Westinghouse, Brill, MK, and on... I'm sure I've left out several. If one dwells on alternative history you can imagine where several of these would be robust companies producing vehicles for the world market. Sigh.
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  #1496  
Old Posted Apr 14, 2020, 4:07 PM
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Originally Posted by mousquet View Post
^ You want Siemens to turn into a monopoly on your national market? Hoïaïaïe, that would be wrong.
Yes, monopolies are dumb for all the reasons you listed - and more - and I certainly do not want one, but at this point I think it is most likely that as far as intercity rail is concerned, Siemens is going to be the dominant player for a while.

My city is home to a new Stadler Rail factory (assembly building, but whatever), and I would be delighted to see Stadler win more projects. But all of their off-the shelf equipment is either too tall or too slow for the Northeast Corridor, and Amtrak really isn't interested in articulated trainsets (beyond Acela).
Is there any other real alternative in NA for an amfleet replacement besides the Siemens viaggio (or whatever it's called)? If they go with Siemens, they will have Siemens electric locomotives, Siemens diesel locomotives, and Siemens passenger cars (probably coaches and cab cars). That sounds pretty much like a takeover to me. But so long as it is limited to Amtrak and Via, it isn't necessarily a bad thing.
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  #1497  
Old Posted Apr 14, 2020, 5:24 PM
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^ There are several potential alternatives. CAF built the Viewliner IIs very recently, Stadler has built single-level unpowered coaches for other countries (not their bread and butter business though) and CRRC is definitely one to keep an eye on, depending on how geopolitics shake out over the next few years. Alstom could bid on it once the Avelias are finished.

I'm interested to see where Virgin will get trains for the Las Vegas line, too... not sure if they are subject to Buy America, but I think they will be since they are taking a Federal loan.
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  #1498  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2020, 1:10 PM
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LA - Las Vegas Virgin Trains

High-Speed LA-To-Las Vegas Virgin Train Wins $600 Million California Bond Allocation


Alan Ohnsman
Forbes
April 14, 2020

"Amid the broad economic slowdown triggered by the coronavirus, California has approved a $600 million private activity bond allocation for construction of the $5 billion Virgin Trains-Brightline railway that within four years could be whisking passengers from Las Vegas to a (distant) Los Angeles suburb at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour.

Approved unanimously in Sacramento on Tuesday by a committee overseen by California Treasurer Fiona Ma, Virgin Trains-Brightline can sell up to four times the allocation amount, raising as much as $2.4 billion for the project. The company, which operates the Brightline rail service in South Florida, is also awaiting word on a $200 million private activity bond allocation from Nevada that would raise an additional $800 million. The U.S. Department of Transportation last month provisionally awarded the project $1 billion of private activity bonds, raising potential funding for the 180-mile-long project to $4.2 billion. That’s just $800 million shy of the railway’s $5 billion construction tab..."

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohn.../#56c973e294f6
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  #1499  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2020, 2:45 PM
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$600 million should fund, oh, about 200 ft. of rail. Maybe this will be done by AD 3000.
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Old Posted Apr 16, 2020, 2:51 PM
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$600 million should fund, oh, about 200 ft. of rail. Maybe this will be done by AD 3000.
Did you read the article? Virgin Trains is using this to issue bonds that will provide up to $2.4 billion in financing. Virgin is seeking a similar loan from the US Dept. of Transportation that will it to issue even more bond financing.
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