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View Diary: A destination for that high-speed rail money (363 comments)

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  •  You've obviously never been there (6+ / 0-)

    Try driving I-94 and then get back to me on how an even hour on the train downtown-to-downtown or 1h10m downtown Madison to Milwaukee Airport seems by comparison.

    •  I certainly have. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MGross

      The question wasn't whether the train could make the trip in an hour -- I presume that it could if it managed 90mph or better at cruise --

      The question was whether it can pay for itself.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 06:21:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Likely it will (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dar Nirron, JeffW, BYw

        The operating subsidy was initially estimated at $7 million a year -- of which only $750,000 would be the responsibility of the state of Wisconsin.  That's for service every two hours.  Get that up to hourly (which would require an additional capital investment on trains, both for Milwaukee-Madison and for the connecting Milwaukee-Chicago), and you'd likely absolve yourself of any operating subsidy.  Comparable routes in Europe -- let's say, Edinburgh-Newcastle or Birmingham-Bristol in the UK -- operate without operating subsidy but they're half hourly or hourly services.

        Bear in mind that even Minneapolis-Duluth in Minnesota projects out to not needing an operating subsidy if it's fast enough (110mph or higher), and that's just for every two hours.  

        Amtrak's Achilles heel always has been the freight operators track, with its 79mph speed limit for Class 4 track and the limited number of available slots for passenger trains.  And more recently, the limited amount of available equipment with which to operate services.  When you bump it up to 110mph and you add extra trains, as was recently done on Philadelphia to Harrisburg, ridership soars and the operating subsidy gradually goes away.

        •  I've always been highly suspicious of initial (0+ / 0-)

          estimates, which tend to be highly political in nature, ie -- cow the voters then slam them with the tab.

          But...

          $7 million a year is close enough to $20,000 a day to let us play with round numbers.

          Hmmm.  12 legs, about $1,500 each.
          How many passengers can one of those fast trains hold?

          If they can hold 1,000 people and run completely full on every leg, that's $1.50 per person IN ADDITION TO any subsidies used to build/upgrade the rail line and equipment as opposed to collecting money from gasoline purchased to travel on I-94 and having drivers handle their own operating expenses.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 07:50:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  More likely that it's in the $10 - $20 range (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pHunbalanced, BYw

            For a first step, that doesn't matter.

            I would agree that it would be silly to do this if we were to stop. No one is planning to stop. You have to look at the entire network, something you repeatedly ignore.

            The US Senate is begging to be abolished. Let's fulfill its request.

            by freelunch on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 08:13:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not ignoring anything. (0+ / 0-)

              Why do you think that I am?

              I've seen no serious argument that this rail line is justified as part of a network, merely the mention that a network could be, might be, maybe some day will be built.

              As one leg on a longer trip, the Madison-Milwaukee trip would be cheaper to operate, for sure, but not without some impact on the longer trip.  More stops mean longer trip times, which is not the idea of high-speed rail, especially when one is making relatively short hops like Milwaukee-Minneapolis, etc.

              The question remains: can it compete with other forms of transportation at a price that doesn't require a batshit crazy subsidy?

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 08:30:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

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