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  #541  
Old Posted Mar 24, 2011, 8:33 PM
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I know my wife and I and many of our friends would do the same. We have discussed this over dinner. Would you go to St Louis if you could get there in about 2hours or so on the train. Yep. 5 hour drive Nope.

40 minutes to Milwaukee is a no-brainer.

I have never been to Minny but if could do it in 3 hours or so via train....hell I might just go for dinner.

It would be a game changer in so many ways
You might not drive to Saint Louis but plenty of people do. If 110 mph service can bump the average speed so the train is comparable to driving, many people would consider switching. If that service can be achieved cheaply by upgrading signals and crossings without the need to rebuild the entire right of way, than I am all for it.

Let us not forget about the other side too. Plenty of people drive from Saint Louis and intermediate stops into Chicago and most of these people would love to skip parking fees in the city. If the train was comparable time wise, many would leave the car at home. Hotel parking fees for a four night stay would pay for a family of three's train ticket.

220 mph service is a different animal entirely. The train competes with air travel and cars. Many more people would consider it for travel and it should be the ultimate goal. However, it also requires new right of way, grade separation, freight separation, new signals, new power source, $$$$$, etc.

Is 220 mph service worth the money? I think so but we should not say 220 mph or nothing. Getting the train to be faster than driving is a necessary first step and to achieve that for around 2 billion dollars is great in my book.
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  #542  
Old Posted Mar 25, 2011, 3:46 AM
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I totally agree! As a frequent Minneapolis to Chicago commuter I can see a huge benefit of reducing that trip time by a couple of hours. It would make traveling between the cities something that you could do over a typical weekend, wherea right now it's a little extreme to drive 6+ hours both ways over a normal weekend, but a 4 hour trip may be the difference maker.
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  #543  
Old Posted Mar 25, 2011, 5:08 AM
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The question is whether it’s worth going ahead with improvements that lead to 110-mph travel, or whether we should just go ahead with 220-mph. 110 mph seems like it has an advantage in terms of capital costs and, using the Chicago-Minneapolis corridor as an example, it makes a lot of sense if your main concern is with relatively short trips like Chicago-Milwaukee, Minneapolis-Rochester, or Milwaukee-Madison (for the sake of this post, I’m ignoring the existence of Scott Walker). However, the travel market for Chicago-MSP dwarfs these smaller markets, so to me it makes the most sense to concentrate on trying to link the two places as effectively as possible. This would be best done with 220-mph rail. Assuming 110-mph rail averages 80% of its top speed, the 417-mile trip from Chicago to MSP would take about 4:45, which is a definite improvement over driving and the current rail trip but doesn’t come close to being competitive with air travel. SNCF estimated a 2:45 trip for true HSR between Chicago and Minneapolis, which would, including door-to-door times for both air and rail, be about 5 minutes shorter than air travel; I can’t get the Midwest HSR site to load (surprised it was still up as of a couple weeks ago, actually), so I’ll assume an extra 10 minutes for routing the line to Rochester and LaCrosse instead of SNCF’s preferred Eau Clair alternative, bringing door-to-door time to five minutes longer, which I’ll assume is still competitive with air travel.

Unfortunately, there’s basically no way to get from 110-mph to 220-mph unless you’re building a 110-mph greenfield route with upgrades in mind (Minneapolis-Rochester being the prime example of this)—true HSR requires infrastructure that’s mostly separate from existing rail. I don’t see, then, how “getting a train faster than driving” is a necessary first step—at best you’re connecting a lot of places that wouldn’t see HSR (small towns+Bloomington-Normal on the Illinois Lincoln Service upgrade), at worst you’re throwing money at improvements that you hope will be made obsolete in the near future. And I haven’t heard much about private interest in running 110-mph lines in this country, either, whereas California and Florida’s HSR proposals have attracted ample attention.
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  #544  
Old Posted Mar 25, 2011, 8:37 AM
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But it is not 110 vs. 220. If it were just these two options, for sure starting with 220 would be the way to go. But there is a very large possibility that nothing gets built in the near future. Therefore it is 110 vs. 220 vs current service. In my opinion 220 mph service has a lower percent of being implemented.

Not only does 110 have a huge capital cost advantage but it also has a huge time advantage as well. The SNCF plan has Milwaukee-Cleveland and Milwaukee-Detroit being implemented in ten years. The improvements on the current Lincoln Service are supposed to finish 2014-2015? The longer the time needed for implementation the more time for politicians to interfere and stop the build out. Big projects that can be used by both should be built to 220 standards right a way, i.e. improvements within the city.

Those small trips add up though. Northeast regional trains move a lot of people compared to Acela trains on a per train basis. Illinois small towns added up have far higher ridership than St Louis. Even with introduction of 220 service, I do not think that the 110 mph Lincoln Service then becomes obsolete. It will be important to those that are going to intermediate cities or those unwilling to pay for air travel or the express service.

110 mph is a necessary first step. It will help introduce the populace to better train travel, induce development in the core of cities, show doubters that train travel is a valid alternative and build up future support for the roll out of 220 or above service. I do not think 220 can even start construction before 2014 so that means a passenger start date around 2024. 110 can do all of this over the next twelve years and pave the way for 220 service in the minds of the public.

You can ignore Scott Walker all you want but he and others will always be there trying to stop HSR. I want 220 mph too but I would prefer 110 over nothing. How much private money has gone into California HSR or Florida HSR to date. California HSR appears to me to be step 1. Pass referendum, step 2. , step 3. High speed rail. I will take the sure thing anytime.

Last edited by Standpoor; Mar 25, 2011 at 8:40 AM. Reason: I should quote to make it more coherent but I have to go to bed.
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  #545  
Old Posted Mar 25, 2011, 1:20 PM
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Beta: Of course there's also the flipside that Western European passenger rail systems have two components, the high-speed and the medium-speed ones. Since we have neither, it does make sense to invest in both systems. And frankly in Europe they have found investment synergies--with a medium-speed infrastructure they can run run high-speed trains further than the trunks ought to dictate. (Let's ignore current FRA regulations making this effectively impossible here.) While I agree that true HSR will need more investment, we can also argue that these interim improvements will demonstrate the latent market just by tapping a bit into it and hence demonstrate market viability for faster trains.

There's no denying it's a high-risk argument, however; 110-mph travel is usually just unprofitable. The Keystone Service, for example, is a 110-mph train that goes to a dull town in the middle of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg), yet it gets a farebox recovery of IIRC 80-90%--so it demonstrates the demand of the latent market. The big irony with Keystone, I think, is that while it has captured the Philadelphia-Harrisburg rail market and demonstrated the viability of a Philadelphia-Pittsburgh one, the cost of extending service across Appalachia (and thus being able to realize a profitable line) is so high further extensions will remain out of our reach until there's something to connect to, either in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, if not both.
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  #546  
Old Posted Mar 25, 2011, 7:35 PM
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I could definitely see Harrisburg eventually having post-Acela HSR running along its current route, along the lines of the TGV. Even if there isn’t sufficient FRA reform, the fact that the Harrisburg line’s four-tracked might make things easier.

I’m not sure how easy it is to draw lessons from the northeast and apply them to the Midwest, though. The Keystone Service doesn’t just stop in Philadelphia—it also goes to New York (and offers the possibility of a transfer to Washington, DC). The northeast has several several major metros in a row and is much more continuously urbanized than the Midwest, which is much more rural and has a clear hub in Chicago.

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Originally Posted by Standpoor View Post
Those small trips add up though. Northeast regional trains move a lot of people compared to Acela trains on a per train basis. Illinois small towns added up have far higher ridership than St Louis. Even with introduction of 220 service, I do not think that the 110 mph Lincoln Service then becomes obsolete. It will be important to those that are going to intermediate cities or those unwilling to pay for air travel or the express service.
The Lincoln Service’s 2010 ridership was 572,424. The air market between St. Louis & Chicago in 2009 was 1,645,483—if HSR is able to get 1/3 of that market, that’s over 95% of the existing ridership of the Lincoln service—that’s not assuming any diverted car and rail trips, intermediate stops, or induced demand. Chicago-St. Louis is definitely a bigger market than downstate Illinois.

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110 mph is a necessary first step. It will help introduce the populace to better train travel, induce development in the core of cities, show doubters that train travel is a valid alternative and build up future support for the roll out of 220 or above service. I do not think 220 can even start construction before 2014 so that means a passenger start date around 2024. 110 can do all of this over the next twelve years and pave the way for 220 service in the minds of the public.

You can ignore Scott Walker all you want but he and others will always be there trying to stop HSR. I want 220 mph too but I would prefer 110 over nothing.
Remember, though, that Walker killed 110-mph service between Milwaukee and Madison, and that Kasich killed 3-C, which was originally to be 110-mph but was eventually dumbed down to 79. Any rail project is going to be too expensive, so it has to have clearly demonstrable benefits. Cutting an hour or so from a five-or-six hour trip (what 90 to 110-mph rail means for definitely an improvement, but I just doubt that it’s enough to boost rail’s profile in the midwest. At best, it’s building rail up to standards a little better than they were in 1930’s and ’40’s, and American passenger rail ridership still managed to decline then. To demonstrate the potential of high speed rail in this country, we should focus on high speed rail.

I don’t have much of a problem with the current phase of Lincoln Service improvements—it brings definite benefits downstate and, when the Chicago segment gets completed, it will likely have benefits to freight and commuter flow as well. What I question is whether the next phase—a $3.2 billion dollar project that would include double-tracking the line—is worthwhile. If the Lincoln Service upgrades do lead to a capacity crunch, should we take that as a sign to start work on 220-mph HSR, or a sign to double-track the entire line? I fear the latter would only deliver marginal benefits.

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How much private money has gone into California HSR or Florida HSR to date. California HSR appears to me to be step 1. Pass referendum, step 2. , step 3. High speed rail. I will take the sure thing anytime.
None, yet, though California’s initial Request for Expressions of Interest brought about a strong response, including from experienced companies such as Alstom and Skanska. And remember that the consortia vying to build the Florida project were willing to take on any construction risk and operating losses. While California’s process certainly isn’t moving as quickly as that in Illinois, it’s also a huge project with huge environmental impact statements to complete and a lot of funding to gather. It has to work in a market where land values have been pretty well distorted by Proposition 13, which also serves to make things more difficult. Finally, although it’s a phased project, the CAHSR group decided to prioritize the biggest market—SF to LA, which is also one of the most difficult due to topography plus length. That’s not saying that a Chicago hub project wouldn’t have its share of difficulties, but at least it could be done in phases rather than having to build, say, Minneapolis to Cincinnati all in one go.
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  #547  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2011, 12:01 AM
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At best, it’s building rail up to standards a little better than they were in 1930’s and ’40’s, and American passenger rail ridership still managed to decline then.
Yeah, rail ridership declined as brand-new wide-open freeways spread across the American landscape, and the glamorous new air travel became the preferred mode for long-distance trips.

Today those freeways are congested and air travel is anything but glamorous. 110mph train travel offers convenience and reliability, and the experience is usually more pleasant than either of the two main alternatives. If the train can offer speeds to match those of the car, I think it can pull a significant number of motorists off the road.
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  #548  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2011, 12:51 AM
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On some routes, if trains can get anywhere NEAR the times of other modes, they do well among a signicant number of travelers. You can take a nap, play a game on your computer, walk up to grab a microbrew, whatever.
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  #549  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2011, 3:16 PM
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I could definitely see Harrisburg eventually having post-Acela HSR running along its current route, along the lines of the TGV. Even if there isn’t sufficient FRA reform, the fact that the Harrisburg line’s four-tracked might make things easier.

I’m not sure how easy it is to draw lessons from the northeast and apply them to the Midwest, though. The Keystone Service doesn’t just stop in Philadelphia—it also goes to New York (and offers the possibility of a transfer to Washington, DC). The northeast has several several major metros in a row and is much more continuously urbanized than the Midwest, which is much more rural and has a clear hub in Chicago.
The Amtrak owned Keystone East corridor is four tracks from 30th Street station to Paoli. It is 2 tracks from just west of Paoli to Harrisburg. The upgrade plan for the corridor includes the restoration of a 3rd track from Paoli to Atglen PA which was taken out by Penn Railroad back in the day. The 3rd track would allow the Keystone trains to bypass the SEPTA local commuter trains. The plans for Keystone East corridor are to upgrade the tracks for 125 mph speeds in the higher speed section and reduce trip times from Harrisburg to Philly by 15 minutes. Someday, the existence of the Keystone East should help leverage the development of a HSR corridor extension to Pittsburgh - via a new route with tunnels through the mountains.

At just shy of 1.3 million riders in FY2010, the Keystone East is one of Amtrak busiest corridor services. The service has seen steady growth since electrified service and higher speeds were restored around 5-6 years ago. Despite the modest population sizes of Harrisburg and Lancaster PA, the Keystones get high relative ridership numbers because people living there are used to the idea of taking the train and the high frequency and convenience of the service. I think it shows that there are sizable markets for 110 mph diesel locomotive services and electrified 125 to 160/160 mph services. If it is faster than driving and reasonably competitive under 300-400 miles to taking the plane, a lot of people will take the train over sitting in traffic or getting crammed in on the plane.

It does not all have to be expensive 220 mph corridors. Save that for the main trunk corridors. But we need 79 mph, 90-110 mph, 125-150/160 mph electrified connecting corridors to the main HSR trunk lines.

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Originally Posted by Beta_Magellan View Post
The Lincoln Service’s 2010 ridership was 572,424. The air market between St. Louis & Chicago in 2009 was 1,645,483—if HSR is able to get 1/3 of that market, that’s over 95% of the existing ridership of the Lincoln service—that’s not assuming any diverted car and rail trips, intermediate stops, or induced demand. Chicago-St. Louis is definitely a bigger market than downstate Illinois.
Are there published number on the number of Lincoln service passengers going end to end between St. Louis and Chicago? As the trip times are reduced, it will be interesting to see how the rail share of the air/rail Chi-StL service grows. If they get the trip times down to 4 hours, they might get 30 to 40% of the market, especially for the business travelers whose destinations are in the downtown business areas or to points closer to the train route and not the airports.
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  #550  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2011, 7:46 PM
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  #551  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2011, 8:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Standpoor View Post
You might not drive to Saint Louis but plenty of people do. If 110 mph service can bump the average speed so the train is comparable to driving, many people would consider switching. .
It takes around 5 hours, give or take, to drive St. Louis to Chi or vice versa, with a stop for gas and a little traffic, not speeding much. The Illinois State Police will take you down, I-55 is one route through the midwest that you will not be safe driving 10 over, not to mention the lower speed limit in Illinois on I-55. On a summer weekend, it's comparable or a little quicker to take the train to Chicago from St. Louis than to drive, and the regularly sold out STL/CHI trains reflect this. We have a little bit of a traffic situation here with a huge bottleneck at two different bridges across the Mississippi, and theres always an inbound jam on the Stevenson on a Fri night. My Chicago friends tell me the drive inbound on the Stevenson and on up to the northwest side where they live on a summer sunday evening from St. Louis can be an absolute horror - 7 + hour drive times from St. Louis to Logan Square door to door not uncommon (I guess because of traffic coming up the Dan Ryan from around the lake jamming everything up at the loop, I cant imagine THAT much more traffic coming up I-55 in the summer). I think 4 hour travel times between St. Louis and Chicago will make such a line as successful as it could possibly be - growing the off peak time trips. It's a rare trip already that I don't hear the conductor saying that "it's a full train tonight folks, make some room, move your bags" to a chorus of groans, and the train usually seems fairly full when it leaves St. Louis. Anecdotally, sure, there's some shuffling at Alton (which is St. Louis metro anyway and is a station for Missouri residents from the north side of the metro), Bloomington and Joliet, but the masses get on and off at St. Louis and Chicago.
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  #552  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2011, 1:36 AM
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Obviously this is a good idea. But it'll have to go through Ohio, probably Cleveland. And as long as a certain inane crybaby from that state is in the House of Representatives, we can be sure this won't happen... for now.
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  #553  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2011, 2:42 AM
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How about Governor Kasich?

As it stands, Ohio is the biggest obstacle to a Chicago-New York line (Indiana can be convinced of HSR's benefits) but that's ignoring the other problems. Even assuming a high-speed line can be built between Chicago and Harrisburg, there needs to be a 220mph line EAST of there... and that's the real challenge.
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  #554  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2011, 3:06 AM
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In the comment section it deals with the issue of GOP govenors. The GOP will kill anything that will help make Obama more than a one term POTUS. They are willing to kill their local state level economy to knock of the POTUS.

Quote:
Eric T. wrote:
This proposal would make much more sense than a line to St. Louis, but the big reason it isn't even being considered is political.

As we've seen with several states the past few months, Governors, Legislatures, and the Feds can't agree on how to spend the rail funds, and several states have outright rejected all federal high speed rail projects.


If you put a line from Chicago to New York, you have to deal with at least four different states, and just one state has the potential to ruin any proposal.

When you go from Chicago to St. Louis, you just have to deal with one state, with a pro-rail Governor and a generally supportive General Assembly.

3/28/2011 2:21 PM CDT on Chicago Business


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Remember " I want him to fail. " Look at Wisconsin, NJ, Ohio, ectal. There is no way a GOPer tied to the national plan to destroy BHO will spend any federal dollars to make such a rational plan work. This is not how the GOP works. They are willing to off millions of their own for years just to change the top of the ticket in 2012. They care little about their own people and are working off of a master plan to Destroy Obama at all cost, and if it means offing some of your residents that live in your state well then so be it. They got elected in 2010 and taste blood in the water. They despise Obama and will personally sabotage the local and general economy and hope and pray for a second dip recession to accomplish their goal. Their orgasmic dream is to include the word BHO in the same sentence as Jimmy Carter. Every single effort to eliminate the Democratic party starts will destroying Obama, pure and simple....


They will self mutilate their own state purposely throw thousands out of work and send multi billions back to the federal fund to make those that will vote in 2012 think about what it was like a decade ago. These are important states... Wisconsin, close in the last couple of elections. Florida, a very important electoral prize. NJ a democratic strong hold but if Obama has to waste money to win here than the gop wins by making the dems spend where they do not want or should have to. Ohio, Ohio is crazy and nuts but needed as much as PA. Ohio is a scizco of a state and who knows where it will go but if Obama cannot win in Ohio and Florida than it will be a very tough map to win in 2012. Obama cannot expect to win like he did in IN, NC, VA may be winnable but still it is a tough map. Even small states like Iowa will become important in the end game of the next election when otherwise non important states like NV, NM, CO, may be important enough to win this one way or the other. The simple fact is is that this is going to be a tight election pure and simple. Obama needs to hold the Great Lake states including the given [IL, MI, ] win tough in [WI, MN, IA, OH, PA ] he can give up on IN. But if he holds the Great Lakes and does not lose his east and west coast core he could be in good shape overall if he picks up a state that is not thought of as a democratic given. Think some weird state like the Dakotas or perhaps NC or VA afterall. It will be complicated math pure and simple.
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  #555  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2011, 3:22 AM
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How about Governor Kasich?

As it stands, Ohio is the biggest obstacle to a Chicago-New York line (Indiana can be convinced of HSR's benefits) but that's ignoring the other problems. Even assuming a high-speed line can be built between Chicago and Harrisburg, there needs to be a 220mph line EAST of there... and that's the real challenge.
If it was privately funded or it was done with mostly private funding with bonds backed by the US Government, Kasich would probably not get in the way (although he would likely have his hand out for campaign contributions). But by the time they got done with the feasibility studies, the EIS, raising the money, ROW acquisition, Kasich will be gone from office. But a project of that magnitude will need public funding, regardless of what the right wingers think.

A Chicago to NYC HSR line is a good idea and I think eventually it will happen connecting a mid-West HSR to a eastern HSR corridor. But the nychicagorr website is a hodgepodge of image files and stuff collected from other websites. Not a serious website.
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  #556  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2011, 4:21 AM
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A Chicago to NYC HSR line is a good idea and I think eventually it will happen connecting a mid-West HSR to a eastern HSR corridor. But the nychicagorr website is a hodgepodge of image files and stuff collected from other websites. Not a serious website.
Agreed—I was surprised to see this on Hinz’s blog.

Also agreed on how New York to Chicago HSR would be the result of midwestern and eastern networks touching, not a dedicated cross-country effort—if we’re very optimistic, we can imagine Midwest HSR being successful as far east as Pittsburgh and a branch of the northeast corridor stretching as far west as Cleveland, so there’s definitely some chance of overlap. However, any trains between Chicago and New York would be scheduled to make the run pretty much by accident—most travelers would be making shorter trips, but through-routing could mean that some some trains end up making the entire journey. I doubt any rail operator would make schedules specifically with such a long trip in mind, though.

EDIT: Okay, Amtrak or a Chinese operator might, but most European or Japanese operators wouldn’t give it much thought.
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  #557  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2011, 2:50 PM
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One of the comments brought up the important but mundane point that the fastest route from Chicago to New York, historically, was the Water Level Route, which would hit Toledo and Cleveland but then followed the shore to Buffalo, then rougly following the Erie Canal's valley route to cut over to Syracuse and Albany before hitting NYC via the Hudson River Valley.

Granted, an infinity billion dollar HSR route going straight through any and all Appalachian mountains, with minimal curvature and the gentlest of grades, could probably make it faster on a straight shot through Pittsburgh, but... well, it's hard to see Chicago-NY ever being anything but an air route. As noted, at most, it may be a viable but rather long trip via two regional networks touching in Cleveland or Pittsburgh.
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  #558  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2011, 6:08 PM
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Chicago nyc is great, but NEC/Cali are priorities. Distance a bit too long and then you have population drain in between (rust belt). Maglev would make sense to reduce route to 4 hours.

If only more Americans could experience HSR in other countries, the GOP could never get away with that hardline anti-rail dogma. People would see the benefits first hand. It would no longer be seen as a socialist waste of money b/c people would actually understand how fabulous rail travel can be.

I think they need to market HSR better. Do ads, make presentations, do an advertisement campaign on national TV. Otherwise, HSR will never happen in the USA if people believe it is what the fascist party say - that stupid word 'boondoggle'.

California is nearly as dense as Spain, and could even surpass that soon. Don't tell me that HSR won't make sense there. Look at what Spain has for HSR. Amazing network.
The NEC is prime for HSR or even Japanese maglev technology (which would propell the US even further ahead). TBH, the NEC should have been #1 far before CAHSR. It is needed far more.

Just focus on California, NEC for true HSR given that there is some support from the selfish (individual comes first) party for those. Once they have proven themselves, the rest of the country can get in on the action when they finally see what an amazing thing it can be. The biggest mistake seem to be spreading the funding too thin. Just get a real project underway in a market that makes sense. Florida was a mistake, the place is happy to be what it is - a car/bus state. Don't mess with the idiots who think rail is somehow linked to socialism, etc... waste of time. Trying to get them on board, is like talking to a bunch of fundamentalists or aliens from another planet. Too far gone.

Last edited by aquablue; Mar 29, 2011 at 6:29 PM.
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  #559  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2011, 9:09 PM
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Generally speaking, I agree with the above posts.

I was just on another forum where they were talking about a European city banning cars in the city center and one dude was talking about how "it's an affront on personal freedom".

It's a religion.

California would be a great project to tout to the nation...........if it actually had any money.
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  #560  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2011, 9:15 PM
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How much money do they need to start the first phase? Didn't they vote to sell bonds or something?
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