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View Diary: All Infrastructure Is Not Created Equal (284 comments)

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  •  Where's the long-range planning? (1+ / 0-)
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    Along with funding current projects and getting people back to work, we need to have a separate group (led by some kind of "czar") to step back and take a look at what we should have 5, 10, 20 years from now. For instance:

    Given the costs and inefficiencies of flying, we should replace as much short and medium haul passenger flying with high-speed trains. They've done it all over Europe, so it's not rocket science. In Spain, for instance, they changed the traffic between Madrid and Barcelona from 80% air to 80% rail when they opened theAVEline between the two cities.  California has committed the first $10B to their high speed rail project.

    And spare me the usual whine that the US is much larger and doesn't meet the model. There are dozens, and more, of city pairs that could easily have high-speed trains connecting their downtowns much faster than air travel with all its overhead. There's no physical reason why it should take over an hour and a half to go from New York to Boston or New York to Washington, let alone Chicago to Minneapolis/St. Paul or St. Louis or Louisville or Indianapolis or Cleveland or Detroit. Then there is the southeast corridor, starting at DC down through Richmond, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, Atlanta, and down to Florida. Another setup is from New Orleans to Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin. All of these cities have too many people driving between them or taking flights where the wait at each end is longer than the flight, and where at 200 mi/h (easily within the current state of the railway art) the overall trip would be under 2 hours, not to mention much more comfortable.

    Electrified rail traffic is anywhere from 5 to 10 times more energy-efficient than driving or flying. This part of the equation is a no-brainer.

    But none of this works if you start patching the current lousy system. High-speed intercity rail only works if you have completely dedicated passenger lines, double-tracked all the way, with no grade crossings. That's why we have to take a serious look at what you are subsidizing now and what we should be planning for.

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