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Topic: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies". (Read 28890 times)

  • mjmsprt40
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Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Today, I have a job coming up actually for tomorrow morning. From Chicago IL to Lincoln, NE. So, here's the drill as far as transportation goes (remember that I'm carrying a large, heavy crate tomorrow so for me there is only one option-- this is for the sake of people who are getting themselves and maybe family from one place to the other). This information comes from Google Maps.

By airplane--- not counting the nonsense at each terminal where minutes become hours-- it's about an hour and a half flying time.

By car--- it's a little over 7.5 hours not counting stopping for fuel, eating, using the facilities and whatnot. Add another 2 hours just to be safe, so let's say 9.5 hours.

By Amtrak passenger train-- it's almost 15 hours. I kid you not. Only riding a bicycle would be slower. (But, after riding a bike for more than 500 miles you'd sure be buff.)

I really don't expect trains to catch on unless they can do something about that time.

Sorry, RJH--- maybe someday they'll come up with high-speed rail here. Until then, planes for any distance over 400 miles, cars for any distance under that except in the cities, where commuter rail has definite advantages over the car.
What would happen if a large asteroid slammed into the Earth?
According to several tests involving a watermelon and a large hammer, it would be really bad!

  • Belfrager
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #25
A single train retires 300 trucks from the roads or even more.
A matter of attitude.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #26
It has to be over an eight hour drive before I'll even consider flying. Capitulation is usually what's landed me on a plane. I've no problem driving 10-12 hours... It'd take that long to get the slightest complaint out of me. I start bitching within an hour of stepping in an airport. After four I'm completely done with everything.

As much as I dislike airports (not the actual flying itself, although it is cramped and noisy), the 12-hour drive from Antwerp to Vienna is a distance I'd probably rather fly than go by car or train. I'm not sure how a sleeper train might change the equation, but those barely exist anymore afaik.

  • ensbb3
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #27
I'm not sure how a sleeper train might change the equation, but those barely exist anymore afaik.


I've been wanting to take the Trans-Canadian railway. I've kinda figured on a one-way out west and fly back. It's on my todo list for in the next few years (hopefully). My boy is old enough to go along and enjoy it rather than be a hassle now.
  • Last Edit: 2015-11-17, 18:01:09 by ensbb3

  • Frenzie
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #28
I've been wanting to take the Trans-Canadian railway.

Sounds interesting. Speaking of sleeping on transit, the only time that I've been able to sleep the majority of the time on a trans-Atlantic flight was when I'd only slept for about three hours the night before. Back then I had the brilliant idea to go snowboarding in Germany, from which I got back close to 2 AM, only to have to leave for the airport around 5 something AM. :D

(And heck, it was all terribly fun and exciting and I was living my life darn it. But looking back that whole snowboarding thing right before going to America might not have been the wisest decision.)

  • mjmsprt40
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #29

A single train retires 300 trucks from the roads or even more.


But only on long-haul. There's still the distance from the railroad freight-yard to the shipping/receiving docks, and this is done by truck. Pulling pigs for the rails* keeps a lot of truckers in business.

* I did this for a couple of months. Trailers--- or sometimes containers-- ride piggy-back on the train, so these are "pigs". The trucker comes to the yard, gets his assigned trailer or container, then drives it to the final destination. On the flip-side, trucks pick up at the shipper and deliver the "pig" to the railroad, complete with information as to where the consignment is headed. The "Rubber link" can be anywhere from a couple of miles to a couple hundred miles, depending on the load in question.
What would happen if a large asteroid slammed into the Earth?
According to several tests involving a watermelon and a large hammer, it would be really bad!

  • Frenzie
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #30
But only on long-haul. There's still the distance from the railroad freight-yard to the shipping/receiving docks, and this is done by truck. Pulling pigs for the rails* keeps a lot of truckers in business.

No issues with the 300 number? I mean, freight trains are quite long, but I've never felt that they seemed 300 wagons long. :P

  • Belfrager
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #31
The 300 number is not to be discussed, Hollandeer.  :mad:
A matter of attitude.

  • mjmsprt40
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #32

But only on long-haul. There's still the distance from the railroad freight-yard to the shipping/receiving docks, and this is done by truck. Pulling pigs for the rails* keeps a lot of truckers in business.

No issues with the 300 number? I mean, freight trains are quite long, but I've never felt that they seemed 300 wagons long. :P


To be sure, 300 seems big. Until you take into account that containers may be stacked one on top of another, and it is possible to have 4 pup-containers on one freight car. Regular trailers may sometimes be 2 to a railcar. CN trains around here have grown to preposterous lengths, a two-mile long consist seems not uncommon. So--- I have to grant that Belfragers' number may be plausible.
What would happen if a large asteroid slammed into the Earth?
According to several tests involving a watermelon and a large hammer, it would be really bad!

  • rjhowie
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #33
Well sadly mjsmsprt40 you have little general choice over there but to drive. I notice we are drifting a wee bitty towards freight now which wasn't the original thrust and anyway rail in the US is more or less a goods system. Indeed at one time, a passenger train reference I found dating back to the 1850's and 60's, a passneger train would be put on a siding to allow a goods train through and the lateness ran into nuisance times of an hour and often longer.

Basically just using the size of a country to argue for the death of passenger rail is not a definitive stance as I pointed out other large countries where that does not happen. That the passenger decline happened is a localised thing in America apart from the motor car and I dare say the various companies had a lot to do wiot the decline. Remember too my example of distance trains in Japan compared to motorway travel.
"Quit you like men:be strong"

Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #34
Basically just using the size of a country to argue for the death of passenger rail is not a definitive stance as I pointed out other large countries where that does not happen.

Not to fear, Howie. He's just sleeping. :) With Xpresswest scheduled to begin construction soon, initially to connect Las Vegas to Los Angeles, but ultimately planned to connected to connect most of the major cities of the American Southwest and California Highspeed Rail also moving along, he's sure to rise from his slumber. :yes: But why LV? Because we host 41 million annually and I can see Xpress West partnering with hotels to provide inexpensive and convenient transportation, giving the high speed rail a jumpstart toward profitability and therefore success.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #35
I can see Xpress West partnering with hotels to provide inexpensive and convenient transportation, giving the high speed rail a jumpstart toward profitability and therefore success.

Don't forget about partnering with airlines. Airlines? Yes, that's what e.g. Air France does over here because switching from a plane to a TGV or Thalys may turn out to be no worse or even more convenient than switching to another plane.

  • mjmsprt40
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #36
A couple of points: I can see high-speed rail coming into its own in the Northeast Corridor, and in cases like Sang mentions between LA and Lost Wages, beyond that I just don't know---- could it make sense from Minneapolis to Billings, Montana? Hard to say.

The second point: RJ, you may want to re-think pointing out Japan as a "large country". It's a string of small islands, the entire distance from one end to the other probably doesn't reach (comparatively) from Land's End to John O'Groats--- in fact, it seems to me to be probably just a little over half that. You have the advantage in that the entire distance between those points is on one island, Japan is made up of many small islands.
What would happen if a large asteroid slammed into the Earth?
According to several tests involving a watermelon and a large hammer, it would be really bad!

Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #37
Don't forget about partnering with airlines. Airlines?

But for $89 dollars for the tickets, this will be a far less expensive option for the hotels to partner with. The time to LV will be an hour and half, so only half an hour longer than by plane. This doesn't mean the flying packages will cease to exist, but could mean such short flights would make less sense.
could it make sense from Minneapolis to Billings, Montana? Hard to say.

From Minneapolis to a city smaller than at least three of Las Vegas's suburbs (Henderson, North Las Vegas, and Paradise) wouldn't make sense, unless there was a track along the northern part of the US leading to either Portland or Seattle. Even than, the company operating it would need to calculate if they'll pick up enough passengers in the small city to justify the cost of building and maintaining a station there.

  • rjhowie
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #38
(Long sigh) Now there was no point mjsmsprt40 wher I said that Japan was included as a "big country." There was a poin in the discussion about the advantage of motorways for fast travel. It is well seen that you unfortunately are not too up to date about trains. Japan has an extremely modern and well serving railway running over bridges like anywhere else and the bullet trains do run over a good legth of the country whatever the geograpjy and I also informed you that the tv documentary stated that to travel from one end to the other in a roughly parallel the road expressway takes  hours longer than the bullet train does. The next generation of them is now to be even faster. So you wandered off dear man and my stance is still valid.

If those fast trains in America do get under way that willl be a great step in the right direction as up till now it has I am afraid been lagging behind others. Hope they do work out.
"Quit you like men:be strong"

  • Belfrager
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #39
This is the kind of trains I'm interested in.
A matter of attitude.

Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #40
Good one!


Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #41
Japan has an extremely modern and well serving railway

and is smaller than California.
Honshu, the island where Tokyo is located, is 88,997 mi² while California is 163,000 mi². Train service in Japan's islands doesn't exist because Japan consists of a series of islands. My guess is that extended travel in California largely consists of cross border travel.

San Diego, California, to New York city is a flight of five hours and 40 minutes. The train trip? Almost three days. In the ex-colonial power, travel is easier. Edinburgh to London four and a half hours. Hence, trains are reasonable in the ex-colonial power. For most trips here, they aren't.

Bus and train travel for business trips isn't practical, and a large percentage of trips are for business purposes.
  • Last Edit: 2015-12-17, 14:48:30 by Jimbro3738

  • Jochie
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #42

Japan has an extremely modern and well serving railway

and is smaller than California.
Honshu, the island where Tokyo is located, is 88,997 mi² while California is 163,000 mi². Train service in Japan's islands doesn't exist because Japan consists of a series of islands. My guess is that extended travel in California largely consists of cross border travel.

Yet, China which is 3.7 million sq miles is building a pretty nice high speed train system.

  • ensbb3
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #43


Japan has an extremely modern and well serving railway

and is smaller than California.
Honshu, the island where Tokyo is located, is 88,997 mi² while California is 163,000 mi². Train service in Japan's islands doesn't exist because Japan consists of a series of islands. My guess is that extended travel in California largely consists of cross border travel.

Yet, China which is 3.7 million sq miles is building a pretty nice high speed train system.


Apples and oranges.

China is developing modern infrastructure where the US has plenty of infastructure in the form of roads. Simply a problem of, if you build it - will they come?

Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #44
In the U.S. Short answer: No
Longer answer: No

  • mjmsprt40
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #45
China doesn't have a lot of cars. At least outside the big metro areas. Or a lot of roads to drive them on. Or a lot of people that could afford a car. For China, buses in the metro areas and trains for going from one city to another makes sense.

China is a Socialist country trying to form its own version of a capitalist economy. That requires them to do things we've already done here (railroads in the US were in their passenger-hauling prime from the 1850s or thereabouts to almost the mid 20th century).
What would happen if a large asteroid slammed into the Earth?
According to several tests involving a watermelon and a large hammer, it would be really bad!

Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #46
China doesn't have a lot of cars

Don't they? For Oct 2015, the Chinese auto market was larger than that of the US by of over 400,000. It is true that per capita they have fewer cars than the US (itself a larger marker than Western Europe, new EU countries and Russia combined.) You might say "Or a lot of people that could afford a car", owing to the country's population there well could be as many people that can afford car there as here.

A slightly interesting note on China's economy. I read an analysis that China is actually the world's first mature fascist country. The leaders are communist in name only.
"What kind of man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter."
― Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

  • rjhowie
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #47
That daft guff yakking at my Japanese comparison when I made a point of indicating that a modern motorway going the same distance as the super train took a lot longer than the train was neatly avoided.

Elsewhere in the world and in places like Europe trains are still the same. In a bigger place than America like the Russian Federation a wider system than America.  It is not something that the US has discovered that they do not see it is just the way things have went in the States due to the power of the car industry. Fair enough for them but the rest of the world values rail and proves the USA perhaps a wee bit wrong but that is as I say up to that country. Indeed decades ago when passenger rail started it's decline in the ex-colonies standards were not all that encouraging and lateness became a semi-regular thing. in fact passenger trains would be driven on to a parallel track to allow freight to get in front so hardly encouraging for distances! The rest of us are happy with rail so good luck to us.  :D
"Quit you like men:be strong"

Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #48
The rest of us are happy with rail so good luck to us.

Since you've never owned a car and live in a very small country.... .

  • jax
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Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #49
While the HSR and high-rise construction in China has gotten the greatest attention, every kind of infrastructure is built at staggering and unprecedented speed and scale, electricity, water, power plants, airports, ports and waterways, subways... The highway/motorway construction is on no lesser scale than railways, rather the opposite.

Rural and remote China hardly had roads and even less vehicles, now there might be crossing viaducts of rail and road nearby, and the village road might be congested.



Even at current break-neck speed it will take time before China reaches parity with Europe or North America.