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Burning the Midnight Oil for a Brawny Recovery


This information from the Midwest High Speed Rail Blog, Ohio Proposed Budget Includes Developing Passenger Rail Between 4-5 Cities (who themselves give a h/t to Transportation for America):

As part of a two-year, $7.5 billion proposed budget, Ohio plans to continue developing passenger rail service connecting four cities Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati (DispatchPolitics) - and possibly including a link to Toledo. Rail advocacy group All Aboard Ohio supports the so-called "3-C" plan and describes it here.

From the DispatchPolitics article, the political static:

The rail element of the budget did not sit as well with some state representatives. Until Amtrak completes a study of potential ridership and revenue this summer, state officials don't know how much the train system would cost.

Of course, in the Financial Viability chapter of the Ohio Rail Development Commission planning for the Ohio Hub, the Triple-C corridor is the strongest corridor, projected to be able to gain revenues 180% of operating costs as the core of the Ohio Hub and MidWest Rapid Rail System is brought online ... so waiting for the Amtrak ridership analysis to confirm that its a strong corridor seems to be a delaying tactic, precisely so the politicians can say things like:

"I'm not saying that I'm opposed to passenger rail, but show me the numbers," said Rep. Cheryl L. Grossman, R-Grove City."

... assuming, of course, that their constituents are ignorant about the volume of numbers that have already been produced.

The most important point, here, is that this is a seed project. The Triple-C is such a good corridor for 110mph Rapid Rail that it should quickly achieved an operating surplus. Then the operating surplus can be used to fund state bonds to provide a state match to Federal funding down the track, to continue building out the entire system.

And of course, because of the geography of the US and the history of Chicago as a rail hub, the complete Ohio Hub project fills in the missing link between the Empire Corridor in New York and Keystone Corridor in Pennsylvania and the Mid-Western Rapid Rail System centered on Chicago and extending into Indiana, Michigan and Ohio to its east; Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas to its west; and the Amtrak corridor to Memphis and NOLA to its south.

If the well-practiced bullshit and delaying tactics of HSR denialists is allowed to prevail, its not just an Ohio issue ... it will slow the growth of Rapid Rail connections in an areas stretching from New York State to Kansas.

See Also:

Transportation Matters An Ohio advocacy group for improved transportation (h/t here4tehbeer

Originally posted to BruceMcF on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 11:06 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  High speed rail solves a lot of problems (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaleA, lams712, BYw, Neon Vincent, Losty, skyfox

      A good enough nationwide system could greatly reduce the need for horrendously polluting air transport.

      Sorry about people who work in that industry, but the survival of humanity is more important - and without massive subsidy, that industry wouldn't be viable now.

      Diaried this a a while back.  If you're interested, It's time for big, bold plans

      Ninth amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

      by UneasyOne on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 11:24:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd love a high speed train here (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaleA, lams712, BruceMcF, BYw, Neon Vincent

      While I live in northern Nevada now, I am originally from Cleveland and go back regularly to visit family and friends.  I also have a lot of friends in Columbus and Cincinnati, so being able to visit them without having to borrow or rent a car would be great.

  •  Why is this corridor good for high-speed rail? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rick Winrod, Bartimaeus Blue

    High-speed rail is good for connecting places where people have decent mass transit options at either end (or else you can't get to and from the station), where road traffic is heavy, and where population is dense. I don't really see those factors coming into play in the three-Cs.

    •  You are getting caught in a false dichotomy ... (14+ / 0-)

      ... you are writing, "High Speed Rail is good for ...", but arguing as if you are writing, "High Speed Rail is only good for ...".

      The statement as written as true, but its false to suggest that HSR is only good for connecting cities with decent mass transit options at either end. That is especially the case here, where the capital costs per mile are so much lower than for bullet trains, and so the market share required to justify the project is correspondingly smaller.

      Remember that there are a mix of inner urban and outer suburban stations on a Rapid Rail line ... the HSR line is more convenient both to those who can access it more easily by public transport at the urban core, and to those who can access it more easily by driving to a train station that is closer than the local airport.

      The two reasons that the Triple-C corridor is in such a sweet spot for 110mph Rapid Rail service is that it is located in an area that was industrializing at the turn of the last century, and so there is a wide number of existing rail rights of way with ample room in the rail corridor to lay down new tracks as needed, and because the Triple-C cities are "too close" to have substantial air travel markets, so cars dominate the existing transport market.

      If we are going to have eight readily accessible daily common carrier services each way between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, Rapid Rail is the most effective solution.

      And now, thanks to the HSR funding in the Stimulus Bill, it is within our reach.

      •  I dunno (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        brittain33, Bartimaeus Blue

        Long term, rail is an "of course"

        Right now, though, going to Columbus by car makes more sense than a train, because Columbus is a nightmare of wide roads full of speeding cars with angry people driving them.

        So I'd rather see Ohio added as stops on a NY-Chicago route. Whatever happend to the Lake Shore Limited?

        •  Lake Shore Limited still runs (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DaleA, Downpuppy, Neon Vincent

          18 hours from NYC to Chicago.

          Great ride.  I've taken it a couple of times.  Sure would be nice if it was a shorter trip, though.

          Would y'all just chill the hell out?

          by nightsweat on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 12:11:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Bear in mind that viability of the ... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NMRed, BYw, Neon Vincent, MCinNH

          ... system does not require getting a majority of people out of their car ... it does not even require getting a large minority of people making these trips out of their car.

          This is not a one size fits all solution, but rather a solution that is a good fit for the segment of the transport market that it addresses.

          What matters for driving ridership numbers is trip speed and trip reliability. Train rides of under two hours and under three hours will be attractive enough, to enough people, to be able to cover the operating costs of the system.

          As to "rather" have Ohio "added" to a NY-Chicago route ... Ohio is already on three Amtrak interstate routes. Two routes pass through Northeast Ohio once each way in the wee hours of the morning, and one route passes through Cincinnati each way in the wee hours of the morning. And of course being Amtrak, all of them are subject to hours of delays if there happens to be a slow coal train using a single-track stretch of track and its just necessary to wait for it to clear the track so the 80mph Amtrak trains can get through.

          If you want higher speed, daytime,  NY/Ohio/Chicago services ... this is the best opportunity to support that which has come our way for a generation. Take another look at the Ohio Hub map ... it connects directly to the 110mph Midwest Rapid Rail System for 110mph daytime trains to Chicago ... and including Columbus in addition to Cleveland and Cincinnati ... and connects to both the emerging Empire and Keystone Corridors to our east. And the Triple-C is the seed from which the full Ohio Hub can grow.

      •  Forgive me... but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        brittain33

        Moving people around Ohio at high speeds, worthy though it may seem, is probably less important than building out regional rail in other areas.  A fast NY to Boston connection (right now it's 5 hours) or a fast Philadelphia-Pittsburgh connection, or a really fast LA-SF connection, or a Portland-Connection all seem to make more sense to me.  Similarly sized cities with sizeable populations without cars, and economic strengths that Ohio simply doesn't have.  For that matter, it would make more sense to build a high speed Chicago-Milwaukee route before a 3-C infrastructure.

        "Terror is nothing other than justice...; it is ... the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs." M. Robespierre

        by Bartimaeus Blue on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 12:13:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Chicago Milwaukee (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Neon Vincent

          already has a 90 minute rail connection. It is faster than driving already. High speed would be nice, but not a priority.

          •  It should be a 30 minute connection. (0+ / 0-)

            It should be possible to live in Cudahy and go to the Loop in 45 mins...

            "Terror is nothing other than justice...; it is ... the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs." M. Robespierre

            by Bartimaeus Blue on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 12:19:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  And it's about the same as driving now. (0+ / 0-)

            "Terror is nothing other than justice...; it is ... the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs." M. Robespierre

            by Bartimaeus Blue on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 12:19:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  As a single corridor it makes little sense ... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BYw, Neon Vincent, MCinNH

            ... but in terms of expanding the northern origin/recruiting population for the Chicago / St. Louis line, it makes a lot of sense.

            Indeed, AFAIU, that is precisely what the MWRRS is going to propose ... Milwaukee / Chicago / St. Louis as the first corridor in the MWRRS. Obviously Buckeyes that want the full fledged Ohio Hub pictured above would support that proposal as well, since the Midwest Hub and Ohio Hub would each improve the financial viability of the other ... but in terms of calling / emailing our state legislature, its the Triple-C that we can support locally.

        •  On the basis of what Benefit/Cost ratio? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BYw, Neon Vincent, MCinNH

          This is, indeed, how some of the House Republicans seem to think, that the benefits of Rapid Rail are restricted to connecting the largest cities with the most substantial car free populations.

          But people take planes without insisting on bringing their cars along with them ... even us dumb rubes from Ohio and Indiana and Kentucky and lots of other parts of flyover country are just barely smart enough to work that one out.

          There is no need to play into the hands of the Republicans that HSR is nothing but an expensive subsidy for inner urban big city residents, because its not true. If Ohio were a geographically bigger state, then there would have been a substantial growth in air shuttle services between Cleveland and Columbus and Cincinnati and Columbus as Columbus grew from 1/3m people five decades ago to 1m+ today.

          But Ohio is too compact for airlines to pick up that common carrier role. Rapid Rail, by contrast, offers a cost effective way to establish self-sustaining services. And also has a legacy of rail rights of way that are available to establish a system at less cost per route mile than adding a new mile of Interstate Highway.

          At the same time, because of the "squeeze" effect of the Great Lakes, Ohio occupies a strategic position if rail corridors in the Great Lakes and Midwest and rail corridors on the Northeast Coast are going to be linked up ... you talk about Philadelphia/Pittsburgh and Chicago/Milwaukee as if they do not benefit from getting the Ohio Hub up and running, when in fact the three are complementary.

          •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

            even us dumb rubes from Ohio and Indiana and Kentucky and lots of other parts of flyover country are just barely smart enough to work that one out.

            Please don't do this. It's no more attractive from a Democrat than it is from Sarah Palin or Mitch McConnell.

      •  Of course all of those arguments apply (0+ / 0-)

        with greater force to the NE corridor, where people are already convinced that taking trains makes more sense than cars...

        I can't tell you how many Congress critters I see on the acela from DC to NY every Thursday evening...

        "Terror is nothing other than justice...; it is ... the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs." M. Robespierre

        by Bartimaeus Blue on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 12:24:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Rapid Rail is long overdue! Let's hope this is (7+ / 0-)

    the beginning of real committment to getting it done.  Thanks for a great diary Bruce.

    "Flush twice, it's a long way to Washington." Author Forgotten

    by nannyboz on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 11:11:05 AM PST

  •  Boehner won't like supertrains causing his (14+ / 0-)

    constituancy to move out of the 17th century and into the 21st!

    I'm so hoping that most of the lines will be built that are on the drawing board.  Here in North Carolina, connecting Charlotte, Greensboro, Chapel Hill and Raleigh to a line that connects to Richmond, VA and on to Washington, DC in the north and to Atlanta and points south would be a fantastic use of resources.  I know I would be a frequest traveller, and many others I know and work with would also.

    Bring on the supertrains!

    'Media' is the plural for 'mediocre'. - Rene Saguisag

    by funluvn1 on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 11:11:46 AM PST

  •  My mom would benefit. So would I. (9+ / 0-)

    If she could take a reliable, cost-effective train ride from Ft. Wayne, IN to Akron, OH (and from the looks of the proposed routes, she'd be able to), she could visit my grandparents and trade 4-5 hours in a car for a shorter, undoubtedly more comfortable train ride.

    And it would be a help me to economize on visits up north. Visit my mom in Ft. Wayne, then hop on the train, visit the grandparents for a day or two and be back. Believe me, when you are traveling with a toddler anything that shortens a trip is a big plus.

    "Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. You've got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight." --Bruce Cockburn, "Lovers In A Dangerous

    by AustinCynic on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 11:15:43 AM PST

  •  Not sound like a whiner... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, lams712, UneasyOne

    ...but why only 110 MPH?  Is this improving existing trackage rather than laying new banked railbeds with welded rails for trains that could exceed that speed?  

    •  Its not the track, its the corridor ... (9+ / 0-)

      ... to get the bullet trains (220mph) as in California, you need a fully grade separated right of way and many stretches require a new alignment with a much broader turn radius (but with much more tolerance for short steeper gradients).

      All up, the Triple C would be around $1.5b to $2b. Stage 1 of the CAHSR is $46b. Now, that's a longer alignment, but its still around $1:$10 ratio of capital costs.

      And the gain in terms of market share is not very substantial over the distance of Cleveland to Cincinnati, let along Cleveland/Columbus, Columbus/Cincinnati.

      The main bullet train corridor would be Cleveland/Akron/Canton/Pittsburgh and east to NYC on the Northeast Corridor. And if we get the Ohio Hub built out, so that it can act as a recruiter for that corridor, that becomes a lot more plausible down the track.

      •  The Northeast corrido needs no recruitment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DaleA

        It needs a separate high speed right of way...

        "Terror is nothing other than justice...; it is ... the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs." M. Robespierre

        by Bartimaeus Blue on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 12:17:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are talking about distinct transport tasks .. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BYw, Neon Vincent, MCinNH

          ... there should be bullet train systems established for the main population centers along the Northeast Corridor (of course, the Northeast Corridor is a right of way) ... but that should obviously not be instead of work to reduce trip times on the NEC, but in addition to work to reduce trip times on the NEC.

          There is, certainly a maximum speed that will be attainable on the NEC, but breaking free of those speed limits will also mean moving away from population centers served by the NEC, so rather than the NEC needing recruitment, the NEC will be acting as a recruiter for the Northeast HSR bullet rail alignments.

          However, a bullet train alignment from NYC to Chicago is (obviously, I would have thought?) a different transport task from a bullet train alignment from NYC to Boston. They kind of go in substantially different directions in service of substantially different trips.

        •  Ah, an ambiguous referent ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BYw

          The main bullet train corridor [1] would be Cleveland/Akron/Canton/Pittsburgh and east to NYC on the Northeast Corridor [2]. And if we get the Ohio Hub built out, so that it can act as a recruiter for that corridor [1], that becomes a lot more plausible down the track.

          ... the last "act as a recruiter for that corridor" refers to the East/West bullet train corridor between New York City and Chicago, yet to be built, not the the existing Northeast Corridor that Amtrak is slowly upgrading to the effective equivalent of a 100mph Rapid Rail corridor.

      •  Thanks for the info! n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF, BYw
  •  Some new players in Ohio (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, lams712, BruceMcF, BYw

    I believe formed out of another organization's staffing cuts this past fall...

    Transportation Matters

    Join us now at Kossack Networking. Save a Kossack, Save the World!

    by here4tehbeer on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 11:21:55 AM PST

  •  Put a casino in Ohio along the track (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rick Winrod

    and that would be a winner.  I know there are a lot of people against casinos, but I just spent over $1,000 on a couple days trip to Vegas - and there were a lot of Ohioans spending their $$ there.  We can continue to proclaim as a state that we are so righteous and don't want the terrible "gambling" devil in our state, all the while advertising the state run Ohio Lottery, or we can keep the dollars here and put a bright spot in this God-forsaken state.  

    My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

    by buckeye voter on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 11:32:14 AM PST

  •  Are these going to be dedicated tracks? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, lams712, BruceMcF, MCinNH

    If so, I am in.  I travel from Cincy to Columbus and Cleveland fairly frequently.

    If not though, my one and only experience on AmTrak in Ohio has cured me of any desire to ride the rails if they are on shared lines with freight trains.  The risk of half a day worth of delays just ain't worth it.  I'll do the drive just to be able to schedule and arrive when I planned to.

    Matt

    In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

    by Cixelsyd on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 11:35:56 AM PST

  •  I just wish they would (0+ / 0-)

    connect airports to each other rather than cities. Airports are already built as transit hubs. The cost of building high speed rail into the hearts of cities is very high. So you are better off building ultra-high (not yesterday's high) speed transit between existing airports.

    Ambition is when you follow your dreams. Insanity is when they follow you.

    by Batfish on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 11:57:34 AM PST

    •  You lose the advantage over air then (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruceMcF, BYw, MCinNH

      Air travel will always be a faster method of transit.  But rail to downtown picks up a lot of that lost time on short-haul air routes.  Instead of losing three hours in the airport and getting to and from it, you go straight to downtown and walk out into the city.

      On a short haul trip like Chicago-Cleveland or DC-NYC, the downtown to downtown transit time can be very competitive.

      Would y'all just chill the hell out?

      by nightsweat on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 12:02:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Also, one thing we want to accomplish ... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nightsweat, codairem, BYw, MCinNH

        ... is to get the short-hop air flights out of the sky. They tend to carry fewer passengers per plane, so they drive airport construction by requiring more gates and more runways to support the same number of passengers, and they are the least fuel efficient per route mile.

        So we want to have airport stations, so that people can connect from the long haul flight to the train to complete the rest of their journey. But we also need to offer suburban stations on the other side of the city from the airport, and in the inner urban area where the train has an advantage both in collecting originating passengers and delivering passengers to urban destinations.

        And of course, it is impossible to engage in Transit-Oriented Development at an airport, since it has one or more runways on one side and acres of parking on the other. Since there are multiple stations in a large metro area and it is easier to get to any one of them, its possible to use a HSR station for TOD.

      •  It depends (0+ / 0-)

        on the airport. But I would suggest that what you lose on one, you gain on the other. Airports already have established ground transportation networks. People often want to use a combination of ground and air, and the other aspect is that a very high speed system will encourage more transit connection upgrades in the region.

        Ambition is when you follow your dreams. Insanity is when they follow you.

        by Batfish on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 01:46:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Victorian rail road stations (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruceMcF, Bartimaeus Blue, BYw, MCinNH

      are in the heart of almost every American city. What the Europeans do is run at normal speeds from the central city to the high speed rail, then go all out. The rights of way already exist for high speed rail, they just need to be built.

      •  Not in the West (0+ / 0-)

        San Francisco doesn't have one. Neither does LA or Las Vegas, etc, etc. And even the Victorian stations on the east coast are often badly placed as demographics of cities have changed. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Union station in KC would be pretty good for a high speed station, for example, but no station in NYC would be very good because it's hell building new lines into a place like that.

        Ambition is when you follow your dreams. Insanity is when they follow you.

        by Batfish on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 01:49:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  LA has Union Station (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BYw

          which is in the downtown. All the light rail feeds into it also, as well as the subway which serves all of downtown. I have used one in SF, which was very convenient to the downtown.

          The high speed part is for between urban areas, not in them.

    •  A Cleveland Hopkins station ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, MCinNH

      ... is on the Ohio Hub, as is Columbus (on the Pittsburgh/Columbus incremental corridor) ... but its not either or.

      Effective HSR systems around the world bring their trains into central urban stations, and also bring their trains into outer suburban stations. A HSR faces a much, much smaller time-penalty per stop than an airplane.

      This should not be surprising ... effective design involves designing around the features of the technology at hand in order to maximize its usefulness to people.

  •  100 mph was too slow in the 60's (0+ / 0-)

    Trains between Chicago and Minneapolis and between SF and LA were at (or over) the 100 mph speed limit on much of their routes. With stops, they only averaged 60 mph and lost out to air travel.

    •  Its curves that were the killer for trip speed. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, MCinNH

      Trains would also have had to slow down to 79mph for level crossings unless upgraded ... between slowing down to 60mph to all curves, and slowing down to 79mph for all level crossings, many they would have spent much less than 30% of their trip time traveling above 80mph.

      In the 1980's, the Japanese and the Spanish started developing the tilt-train technology that allows trains in conventional rail rights of way on Express Intercity track to operate at sustained speeds of 100mph+. Its that technology, combined with the class of traffic crossing that permits trains to cross at 110mph, that allows for a substantial reduction in effective trip times.

      So don't confuse the 1960's technology that had a top speed of 100mph with modern tilt-trains that can maintain over 100mph for over 80% of a route. This is up to date technology we are talking about using here in flyover country, even if it will be a bunch of rubes and hicks riding in it.

    •  And SF and LA ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, MCinNH

      ... its just too far. Rail is competitive against air for trips of 2 1/2 to 3 hours ... it tends to dominate air for trips of 2 hours or less. Line of sight, SF and LA is 342 miles, and when the intervening terrain is taken into consideration, the route rapidly blows out to 400 miles plus.

      That is just too far for Rapid Rail to provide a competitive common carrier service ... you need bullet trains to provide a competitive service over those distances.

      By contrast, Columbus/Cincinnati is 100 miles, and Columbus / Cleveland is 124 miles, line of sight, with existing rail rights of way that are well suited for maintaining 100mph service the bulk of the route.

  •  Holland MI needs high speed rail? (0+ / 0-)

    If people are serious about funding high speed rail, they better come up with a map more realistic than the one posted here!

    Holland. freaking. Michigan.
    Have you ever been there?  Strip malls and a closed lifesaver candy factory.

    My Palin baby name: Claw Washout Palin

    by vincent vega on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 01:17:16 PM PST

    •  That's the MWRRS, not the Ohio Hub ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MCinNH

      ... the Ohio Hub has its core system in Blue and the incremental corridors in Orange ... the green are the eastern ends of the Midwest Hub.

      I believe I've been in Grand Rapids once, but never had the pleasure of going to Holland ... I don't have the project planning for the MWRRS at hand, so I can't say how expensive it is to continue the Grand Rapid line on to terminate at Holland ... it could be that its a cheap alignment.

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