Skip to main content

Topic: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies". (Read 31802 times)

  • mjmsprt40
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Global Moderator
  • undocumented space alien
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!

Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #75
I wish it was like that here. I would gladly not have a car payment, insurance plus about 90 USD each month for gas. But the only place we have decent public transportation is in the tourist areas.
"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

  • mjmsprt40
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Global Moderator
  • undocumented space alien
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #76
There's something to think about. Areas around Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of California are all but designed by God for high-speed rail. Set up the rails, build the trains to run on them, and there's no reason you couldn't have speeds out West to rival anything in the Eurasian continent. But,,,, they won't build the thing so there's an end of it.
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!

  • ensbb3
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #77
It's a waste of money. The LA to Vegas run seems to make sense because a lot of people make the trip to blow money, but it's not sustainable. Unlike some of the eastern corridors there's no commuter base for them out there so the first major recession ends it. That and the technology will be out of date in the coming decades. As the US reaches European population densities rails will actual be the economic benefit here that Europeans think they are. When that happens Maglevs that are being developed in Japan now show promise of providing a much better solution for the longer lines that would be needed. It has to actually make more sense than flying or driving for the money invested. Seeing how any attempt at highspeed rail will involve Japanese investment anyway it's better to just wait until they finish developing the next generation tech. Or at least wait until our investment shifts the balance of the industry.

Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #78
Don't be so negative ;) It's true our tourist profits plummeted in the recession. Further, the facts remain the economies of Nevada and California got their heads handed to them in the recession. But there's so considerable reason for optimism. The LA to LV stretch is to be only the first leg of a network connecting all the metropolitan areas of the Southwest, many of which are growing rapidly. This creates not only a much larger market for the service, but more reason to use it besides tourists coming to LV to blow their money (which we happily relieve them of carrying, being ever so helpful :yes: )

Then there's the changing nature of Nevada's economy. While I'm a little ticked at Governor Sandoval of the issues with Nevada Energy (see the last few posts of the Global Warming thread), under him the economy of Nevada is finally diversifying. This expands the reason reason for travel to LV to more business travel. Also let's not forget half of Nevada has friends and relatives in California. It will be faster (and possibly cheaper) to take the high-speed rail back and forth instead of driving, which is trip that's also hard on the car since you have to traverse high mountains to find yourself in Death Valley of all places.



"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

  • OakdaleFTL
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #79
It will be faster (and possibly cheaper) to take the high-speed rail back and forth instead of driving [...]
I'm sorry to keep bringing this up, but: If it's economically feasible and perhaps profitable -- why have no entrepreneurs ventured...? :)
The word "boondoggle" comes to mind.

As with high-speed rail in California (...where the obvious route along the coast was rejected and the darned-near impossible route over the Grapevine's mountains was assumed to be a given), the political forces will milk the "political" money-cow until it's dry.
Then, the project will die.
If people wanted to ride trains from LA to LV, someone would have made lots of money providing that service...

Hey, Sang, why don't you float and manage the project, yourself? :)
进行 ...
"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
 (iBook G4 - Panther | Mac mini i5 - El Capitan)

Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #80
I'm sorry to keep bringing this up, but: If it's economically feasible and perhaps profitable -- why have no entrepreneurs ventured...?

They have.
"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

Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #81
The previous post of insufficient. As early as 2012, they already had 1.5 billion in private investors :yes: But that's obviously old news, you might say. A lot could have happened since then. I agree. A lot has happened. Federal funding has fallen through. That's a thunderstorm with a beautiful rainbow at the end because  China Railway International USA CO has now partnered with XpressWest to make the project a reality. The rainbow is showing this can be done without government assistance.
If people wanted to ride trains from LA to LV, someone would have made lots of money providing that service...

An odd than it seems argument. There's always an original visionary for everything. If there was money to be made providing electric lightening before Edison, somebody would have beat him to it, no? (yes, I know there's contention if he actually invented the light bulb, but let's not derail, so speak, the conversation with that controversy)

Ensbb3 and Oakdale's skepticism is understandable, but from the looks of things, the project is a go. I'm not readily familiar with the Oakdales concern over Grapevine's mountains, but a quick wikipedia check show them to be smaller than Nevada's Spring Mountains so I'm not sure what the problem was there (there could be other issues such as the exact nature of the terrain?). But it doesn't appear to be unusual for several routes to be proposed and rejected before a final route is decided upon.

At the end of the day, close ties between LV and LA are all but inevitable, including a quick and easy train ride between the two cities. As a said before, I don't think it will be all tourists. We'll have plenty of business travellers and people with familial ties in both cities. 
"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

  • jax
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Global Moderator
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #82
By the numbers LA-LV should make a lot of sense, particularly for LV. In theory it makes a lot of sense  (and profit for the cities). However, there are many more  ways for a project to fail than to succeed, and once again it seems  LA have picked all of them.  They did so with the metro, they disembowelled their own HSR, and this line from LV is not projected to go to LA, but to the desert outside LA. Not a recipe for success.

It seems that everyone that don't have a personal interest in a line's success try to make it fail, so they do. The ones benefitting contribute nothing. While I lived in Oslo they built a metro station right outside my door. That new line added speed, strength and convenience to the system, but my biggest personal benefit was that the value of my apartment grew to half again what it would have been otherwise.  The real estate  boost runs in the billions.  I paid nothing,  except some extra taxes.  Sweden is trying to significantly improve  their local and national infrastructure part-financed by this. We'll see how this pans out. Sweden takes planning very seriously,  any results would be decades in the future. If I got the mindset right, this could work out in LV, but be an abject failure in California.

If I were rail planner in California I think the most reasonable strategy would be to give up. If that wasn't an allowed exit strategy,  I would start a bus company.  Buy a dozen sensible location in town, partner with local retail, office, hotel and parking barons, with long term plans to convert into rail stations. One stop check-in, tracking the passengers and their luggage so that they end up where they are supposed to, shop-while-you-wait. Buses providing a level of service comparable with trains, for work or play. This could be combined with a stack-em-high service  for volume, buses are cheap, it's the stations we need to develop.

  • rjhowie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #83
You are being trite negative ensbb3 as you country is famous for wasting billions on imperial directions. Yes there would be costs but you are so far behind the rest of the world on rail and makes you stand out and that is sad si hence the "waste" excuses.
"Quit you like men:be strong"

  • jax
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Global Moderator
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #84
It's not the money. California would benefit from growing a backbone, less traffic, better communication, better resilience, and not least developing the station areas and catchment. But you would want it to go between reasonably sensible places in a reasonably straight way, like from the brain to the legs.

Having it go along the coast would be the obvious, though certainly expensive, choice. More people, more valuable real estate, more traffic that wouldn't be SF-to-LA. Even the '"easier" desert route and a backbone with an extreme case of scoliosis isn't necessarily fatal,  but it takes the edge off the benefits.

I wouldn't worry too much about putative new technologies, they will come and do their thing, but as long as the existing infrastructure is sensible they will coexist, each doing their thing. If the future bring us pressurised pneumatic blowing us from SF to LA, airplanes would take us to far-off tubeless destinations, we would have suburban and regional trains and cars connecting  the other parts of the state.  Besides it is obvious it isn't  the technology that is the obstacle for new infrastructure.

  • OakdaleFTL
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #85
Having it go along the coast would be the obvious, though certainly expensive, choice. More people, more valuable real estate, more traffic that wouldn't be SF-to-LA. Even the '"easier" desert route [...]
"Certainly expensive" as opposed to outrageously expensive. And "more traffic that wouldn't be SF-to-LA"? :) Traffic between SF and LA and Sacramento is the only rider-base for high-speed rail in California...
The coastal route merely recognizes the realities of our geography: Trains crossing the northern valleys disembark at Bakersfield, put their riders on buses to go over the grapevine -- and, usually, let them ride into LA on the bus: There are no economical rail routes after that.
I'm sorry, jax, but you're understanding of California geography and demography preclude your understanding our high-speed rail options...
But thanks for playing!

I suspect it's mostly a "planner" mentality that thinks reality must bow to political will and federal money...
  • Last Edit: 2015-12-31, 09:29:34 by OakdaleFTL
进行 ...
"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
 (iBook G4 - Panther | Mac mini i5 - El Capitan)

  • jax
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Global Moderator
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #86
That should teach me to fact check before bloviating. In my mental map California was more coastal than in these maps, then again my mental map is very fuzzy between San Jose and Santa Barbara.



So more of you have trekked into the desert than I expected, the gravitational pull of Bay Area and LA on the other hand is normal. The upshot is that the proposed rail map (in yellow) is somewhat less insane than it was in my prejudgement.



LA-SF and to lesser extent LA-Sacramento might provide the passenger number (by this architecture SF-Sacramento is precluded), but the greatest benefits would be more local. Real estate owners with  commute distance reduced from significantly more than an hour to significantly less should be the big winners, as should the ones with an increase in business. San Jose should win from both, plus better connectivity to SFO. At the other end so should San Diego. All this assuming an actual improvement in service, let alone that the whole line will be built.

  • ensbb3
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #87
Then there's the changing nature of Nevada's economy.

Nice try. It's a casino oasis in the middle of nothing.

Country music tourism would benefit greatly from a link to, say, Atlanta. Not to mention we actually have a few large corporations based here (and there). But you won't see me trying to sell its practicality.

Expanding the rail up the coast does make the most practical sense For California. You also expand the range of the suburbs along the route going that way. Makes more economic sense for a much wealthier state.

The coastal route merely recognizes the realities of our geography: Trains crossing the northern valleys disembark at Bakersfield, put their riders on buses to go over the grapevine -- and, usually, let them ride into LA on the bus: There are no economical rail routes after that.

No idea what you're on about. They have mountains in Europe too.

I'd like to have high speed rail. But i'm not convinced it's the way to go right now. That doesn't mean public transportation isn't shit on this country.

Amtrak was the attempt to increase passenger travel time using current infrastructure. And failed because commerce travel covers too vast of distances for it to impact on a national scale. That's leaving passenger trains going on routes you could easily drive with no major time difference otherwise just fly there. There's never much funding for our shit trains because no one really needs them. 

  • rjhowie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #88
I think the country is well out of sync with the general world where progress is the order of the day and they cannot all be wrong. Know all the usual stuff about distances and so on but the power of the motr car industry was something else.  Even in other places where the car is taking off rail is still a big and constantly modernising thing. Unfortunately the plot has been essentially lost over there unless it is just freight traffic.
"Quit you like men:be strong"

  • mjmsprt40
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Global Moderator
  • undocumented space alien
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #89

I think the country is well out of sync with the general world where progress is the order of the day and they cannot all be wrong. Know all the usual stuff about distances and so on but the power of the motr car industry was something else.  Even in other places where the car is taking off rail is still a big and constantly modernising thing. Unfortunately the plot has been essentially lost over there unless it is just freight traffic.


There's the problem. Freight traffic is profitable for the rails here, so it gets priority. Long-distance passenger traffic--- not so much. The head honchos in the front office do a cost-benefit analysis and come up with the idea that it would cost fantastic amounts of money to build high-speed rail, and they're not at all sure they can recoup the investment much less make any profit.
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!

  • ensbb3
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #90
Yeah, a freight transportation network second to none. Sounds horrible.

  • Belfrager
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #91
I read no satisfactory explanation. It seems to me much more a matter of an automobile's culture deep inside people's mentality as well as the lack of a strong national choesion willing for a equally leveled development of the country's different areas. There's simply no infraestruture backbone that unites the country, the rule appearing to be each area per itself.

In such a development model there's no place for railways.
A matter of attitude.

  • ensbb3
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #92
Passenger railways. Pretty sure the US moves more freight via rail than any other country.


I may have to pass too. Seems it doesn't work as well everywhere.

  • rjhowie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #93
Yes mjsmsprt40 I was well aware of the financial freight situation over there and I did in a passing comment mentioning that even years ago a long distance passenger train would be instructed into s siding to allow freight to pass on. Not much of a practical help to passengers and they often ran very long late times.

That video ensbb3 has allowed you to catch up something know for years on such incidentally and it happens to be a local or suburban issue. Being a train fan was aware of these things many years ago! On the issue of maybe your country has the biggest freight money side is a consolation that you are way behind the world on passenger services.  That other big places are away head on the passenger side makes that a handy would-be cover positive.  :D
"Quit you like men:be strong"

  • Belfrager
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #94
Here, the adoption of direct, short run profitable criteria only has been shutting down several small railroad ramifications therefore stop serving isolated populations and increasing the disparity between develloped areas and the rest of the country.
Each time the train doesn't arrive anymore and that's one more part of the country that dies.

Some of those train branches have been turned recently into tourist train tours as in the beautiful Douro line.
A matter of attitude.

  • rjhowie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #95
There is a very direct truth there in what you say about rail closure in rural areas and that happened her away back in the time the State was allowed to run rail for decades. More recently where a passenger route has been re-opened after years of not existing the success has been wide - especially up here in the northern part of the kingdom. Now I have bought a national rail card at a great price I will be using those re=opened lines and travel to corners of the land I have always intended to be on a train with. Buses? nah.
"Quit you like men:be strong"

  • ensbb3
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #96

Of course train culture can leave you bias to the fact it just doesn't work everywhere.

  • rjhowie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #97
Of course knew about that for decades as well. Indian railways are a very important factor for a country of so many people and they are well used. They can thank the BE for that.
"Quit you like men:be strong"

  • ensbb3
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #98
Of course knew about that for decades as well.

Just to be clear. You say, twice now, you've known about these problems for decades.

Perhaps there's a point about the limits of that particular form of transportation infrastructure... But I just got too tickled over India thanking the British Empire. :lol:
  • Last Edit: 2016-01-05, 15:17:41 by ensbb3

  • rjhowie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Why trains don't catch on here in the "ex-colonies".
Reply #99
 :)
And all those dozens of former colonies wanting to be in the British Commonwealth! Nice of India to acknowledge the importance of that great railway we created for them, haha! Heavens, by inventing the railway we helped your country too!  :D
"Quit you like men:be strong"