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View Diary: Sunday Train: Steel Interstates & An America That Can Do Big Things (48 comments)

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  •  Different issue, though. (1+ / 0-)
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    NoMoreLies

    What particular transport problem is that technology resolving?

    Certainly not the transport problem that our long haul trucking is consuming over 10% of our imported petroleum.

    Certainly not the transport problem that our local transport is overwhelmingly oil-dependent.

    Gadgetbahn like that is most often used as an excuse to kick the can down the road with a small trickle of funding to some research projects, rather than serious funding of slam-dunk corridors for well-tested, mature technology.

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    by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 04:57:18 PM PDT

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    •  Well, (0+ / 0-)

      I threw out those links to expand the range of possibilities. The last link at the USHSRA shows, if you look down the page, three different tiers of passenger service, from trams, to regional rail, to a national high speed passenger network.

      Having just endured some ridiculous routing by air to get to Abilene, Texas from Newburgh, NY and back, passenger rail enhancements would be a nice alternative. (We flew into D-FW; Amtrak runs through there last time I looked to Abilene - but doesn't stop in Abilene for example) Considering how energy intensive air travel is, making passenger rail alternatives available where they make sense can't hurt.

      And if you're focusing on rail to replace petroleum-wasteful trucking, as long as you're talking about the infrastructure investments for that, it wouldn't hurt to look at how they could leverage off simultaneous investments in passenger rail and vice versa. If you compare maps, you see a lot of the same segments coming up. If we're looking at investments in rights of way, bridges, signaling, electrification, etc. etc., we should look at the synergies that could be obtained.

      We have problems now between passenger rail and freight rail competing for trackage. If we're going to invest, we should do it in a way that minimizes that conflict.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 05:17:14 PM PDT

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      •  Regarding this ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, NoMoreLies
        And if you're focusing on rail to replace petroleum-wasteful trucking, as long as you're talking about the infrastructure investments for that, it wouldn't hurt to look at how they could leverage off simultaneous investments in passenger rail and vice versa.
        ... with the Steel Interstates, I've looked at visa versa, how passenger rail can benefit from the infrastructure investments that we must make in long distance electric freight rail infrastructure. Infrastructure upgrades to improve the performance of once or twice a day long distance passenger trains is rarely justified by the benefit provided.

        On the other hand, infrastructure upgrades to improve the performance of long distance freight can be easily justified by the economic benefit of improvements, and indeed the original capital costs can be recouped from access charges and user fees, so that an interest subsidy is sufficient to finance the improvements. And then, if the freight rail system is operated in a way that allows long distance Rapid Freight Rail to get from railhead to railhead at a reliable schedule, it will be a system that can offer the same benefit to a long distance passenger train.

        The passenger rail corridors that justify the greatest infrastructure investment based on passenger transport benefits are dominated by corridors that provide 3hr and less trips, and then by corridors that provide 6hr and less trips. I've also long argued that Rapid Passenger Rail corridor investment should be pursued on the basis of no net interference with freight traffic, but given the typical transport demand, the net effect is an increase in overnight freight capacity, which could certainly be leveraged to feed freight through from the Steel Interstates into those improved Rapid Passenger Rail corridors.

        Of course, leveraging investments between Rapid Freight Rail on the one hand and Rapid Passenger Rail and Express HSR on the other hand requires compatible technology, which is one downside of gadgetbahn solutions that proceed as if the lack of choice in transport in the US is due to some kind of technological limitation, rather than policies of massively subsidizing oil-fueled transportation.

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        by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 06:04:17 PM PDT

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