12 Billion $ HSR boondoggle - CNN report (1 Viewer)

BHM

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Severum

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That isn't very in-depth reporting.

The purpose of the cited projects in Washington was known before the ARRA even existed. The projects are part of multi-decade effort to improve the reliability and speed of Amtrak Cascades along the neglected and congested Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor. Most of the tracks were built over 100 years ago when speed was less of a concern and carry lots of slow freight as well. While a continuing $800 million investment might only show moderate improvements today, it's part of a larger effort to eventually support higher frequency 110 MPH emerging HSR along the route. Washington's long-range plan would reduce travel time to 2:30 from Portland to Seattle and 2:37 from Seattle to Vancouver, BC while increasing round trip trains to 13 and 4.

It's impossible to achieve true HSR over a neglected 466 mile route for only $800 million. Upgrading existing tracks to benefit freight and 110 MPH passenger service is projected to cost around $7 billion. A new Cascades HSR route would cost at least $25 to $100 billion depending on the type of trainsets. Since I'm within walking distance of Bellingham's Amtrak station I'd love 250 MPH service along the route, but I don't think it's a realistic goal right now.

I suggest reading WSDOT's long-range plan for Amtrak Cascades if you want more details.

The ARRA rail investment is tiny compared to funding needed for modern HSR corridors. Our rail infrastructure is so neglected that we need to invest significantly more just to reach emerging HSR capability with the long-term possibility of true HSR. We could skip all the upgrades and build completely new dedicated HSR lines, but a one time $12 billion investment won't get us there. China is investing $100 billion per year in HSR while our politicians can't agree to invest $1.
 

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If we could afford it, meaning, profitable, I'd love to see HSR here in the northeast, particularly between DC, Baltimore, Philly, Boston and NYC. I know Acela runs from DC to NY, but that's the low end of HSR. Nationwide HSR in the mold of the interstate would be awesome, but stupid expensive to pull off. It would take decades, if ever, to break-even.

Love the concept.

That isn't very in-depth reporting.

The purpose of the cited projects in Washington was known before the ARRA even existed. The projects are part of multi-decade effort to improve the reliability and speed of Amtrak Cascades along the neglected and congested Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor. Most of the tracks were built over 100 years ago when speed was less of a concern and carry lots of slow freight as well. While a continuing $800 million investment might only show moderate improvements today, it's part of a larger effort to eventually support higher frequency 110 MPH emerging HSR along the route. Washington's long-range plan would reduce travel time to 2:30 from Portland to Seattle and 2:37 from Seattle to Vancouver, BC while increasing round trip trains to 13 and 4.

It's impossible to achieve true HSR over a neglected 466 mile route for only $800 million. Upgrading existing tracks to benefit freight and 110 MPH passenger service is projected to cost around $7 billion. A new Cascades HSR route would cost at least $25 to $100 billion depending on the type of trainsets. Since I'm within walking distance of Bellingham's Amtrak station I'd love 250 MPH service along the route, but I don't think it's a realistic goal right now.

I suggest reading WSDOT's long-range plan for Amtrak Cascades if you want a more details.

The ARRA rail investment is tiny compared to funding needed for modern HSR corridors. Our rail infrastructure is so neglected that we need to invest significantly more just to reach emerging HSR capability with the long-term possibility of true HSR. We could skip all the upgrades and build completely new dedicated HSR lines, but a one time $12 billion investment won't get us there. China is investing $100 billion per year in HSR while our politicians can't agree to invest $1.
 

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That isn't very in-depth reporting.

The purpose of the cited projects in Washington was known before the ARRA even existed. The projects are part of multi-decade effort to improve the reliability and speed of Amtrak Cascades along the neglected and congested Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor. Most of the tracks were built over 100 years ago when speed was less of a concern and carry lots of slow freight as well. While a continuing $800 million investment might only show moderate improvements today, it's part of a larger effort to eventually support higher frequency 110 MPH emerging HSR along the route. Washington's long-range plan would reduce travel time to 2:30 from Portland to Seattle and 2:37 from Seattle to Vancouver, BC while increasing round trip trains to 13 and 4.

It's impossible to achieve true HSR over a neglected 466 mile route for only $800 million. Upgrading existing tracks to benefit freight and 110 MPH passenger service is projected to cost around $7 billion. A new Cascades HSR route would cost at least $25 to $100 billion depending on the type of trainsets. Since I'm within walking distance of Bellingham's Amtrak station I'd love 250 MPH service along the route, but I don't think it's a realistic goal right now.

I suggest reading WSDOT's long-range plan for Amtrak Cascades if you want a more details.

The ARRA rail investment is tiny compared to funding needed for modern HSR corridors. Our rail infrastructure is so neglected that we need to invest significantly more just to reach emerging HSR capability with the long-term possibility of true HSR. We could skip all the upgrades and build completely new dedicated HSR lines, but a one time $12 billion investment won't get us there. China is investing $100 billion per year in HSR while our politicians can't agree to invest $1.
The point they are trying to make is how they sold it to the people. They sold it as "high speed rail". Which if you watch the end of the report (6 minute mark and after) that is what they are emphasizing.

As somebody who has used the DC Metro quite a few times when I am up there for archival work I can appreciate the effort to improve railway conditions, but don't be disingenuous to the taxpayers and make them think they are getting something they arent.

"China is investing $100 billion per year in HSR while our politicians can't agree to invest $1."
Also this is a pretty petulant line considering the report clearly states we have invested $12 billion so far.
 

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The point they are trying to make is how they sold it to the people. They sold it as "high speed rail". Which if you watch the end of the report (6 minute mark and after) that is what they are emphasizing.

As somebody who has used the DC Metro quite a few times when I am up there for archival work I can appreciate the effort to improve railway conditions, but don't be disingenuous to the taxpayers and make them think they are getting something they arent.
The ARRA HSR strategic plan clearly stated the goals and discussed upgrades to conventional rail, emerging HSR, regional HSR, and express HSR. Money was intended to go to shovel ready projects which meant our neglected conventional rail and emerging HSR were the likely recipients. The plan and proposed projects never promised bullet trains for pennies on the dollar. The administration's attempts to begin investing in 150 MPH HSR have been blocked by political opposition.

Also this is a pretty petulant line considering the report clearly states we have invested $12 billion so far.
That funding was 1.4% of an emergency stimulus bill which saw significant opposition at both state and federal levels. It wasn't enough to provide the needed 79 MPH service upgrades much less 110 MPH emerging HSR. Investment in high-speed passenger rail prior to and after that has been essentially non-existent. Political opposition and inaction has clearly derailed our national passenger rail infrastructure.
 

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If we could afford it, meaning, profitable, I'd love to see HSR here in the northeast, particularly between DC, Baltimore, Philly, Boston and NYC. I know Acela runs from DC to NY, but that's the low end of HSR. Nationwide HSR in the mold of the interstate would be awesome, but stupid expensive to pull off. It would take decades, if ever, to break-even.

Love the concept.
Most rail service will never be profitable from ridership which is why government investment is required. The overall economic impact of improved rail service can be significant however. When considering the economics of rail service we have to consider increased jobs, tourism, property values, reduced road congestion, and many other improvements.
 

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If we could afford it, meaning, profitable, I'd love to see HSR here in the northeast, particularly between DC, Baltimore, Philly, Boston and NYC. I know Acela runs from DC to NY, but that's the low end of HSR. Nationwide HSR in the mold of the interstate would be awesome, but stupid expensive to pull off. It would take decades, if ever, to break-even.

Love the concept.
We can afford it. It's more about priorities in spending.

Most of the rest of the developed world affords it and makes it work. For some reason we seem incapable.

If you want it done tright, should probably just outsource the whole project to Alstom or ABB and let them build it for us and then train locals to fill in afterward.
 
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With the 12 billion spent already, have we put down any tracks that would support HSR? What improvements have we made in Washington with the 800 million spent there? If and when we go get HSR?

What portion of the 800 million will have done anything to allow HS trains to run? I can not seem to find what exactly the money was spent on.
 

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My only opposition to the HSR would be the fact that we need to fund our interstate road system, roads, levees, and bridges before the HSR. :rolleyes:
 

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With the 12 billion spent already, have we put down any tracks that would support HSR? What improvements have we made in Washington with the 800 million spent there? If and when we go get HSR?

What portion of the 800 million will have done anything to allow HS trains to run? I can not seem to find what exactly the money was spent on.
Here's WSDOT's list of current rail projects that received any federal/ARRA funding:

Advanced Wayside Signal System

Upgrades to wayside signal systems components at all control points, sidings and turnouts between the US - Canada border and Vancouver, WA (Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor - PNWRC). This will improve safety, add capacity, increase reliability, and allow for higher speed limits. Budget: $60 million Completion: 2016

Corridor Reliability Supplemental Work

Slope stabilization to prevent mudslides along the PNWRC, primarily between Everett and Seattle. Will improve safety and increase reliability. Budget: $16 million Completion: 2014

Corridor Reliability Upgrades

Track upgrades (ballast, ties, rails) to allow for higher maximum speeds along the PNWRC. Budget: $149 million Completion: 2016

Blaine Swift Customs Facility

9,000 feet of main track at the border crossing to reduce delays caused by freight train inspections. Budget: $5 million federal, $3.5 million state Completion: 2015

Mount Vernon Siding Extension

9,300 feet of siding in Mount Vernon to increase freight and passenger capacity. Budget: $3.3 million federal, $7.3 million state Completion: 2014

Everett Storage Tracks

Two new departure and receiving tracks at the Delta Yard in Everett to reduce delays caused by freight. Budget: $3.5 million Completion: Jan 2013

Seattle King Street Station Track Improvements

Track upgrades and additions for increased freight, passenger, and commuter capacity at King Street Station. Budget: $52 million federal, $15 million partner usage fees Completion: 2016

Tacoma - D to M Street Connection

Track, signal, and road improvements to extend Sounder commuter service to South Tacoma and Lakewood. Budget: $161 million federal/state/BNSF Completion: 2012

Tacoma - Point Defiance Bypass

Rerouting passenger trains to existing tracks west of I-5 for improved reliability, capacity, and speed. Budget: $89 million federal Completion: 2017

Kelso Martin's Bluff Siding/Junction

Additional main track, sidings, and road separation to reduce delays caused by freight and improve safety, reliability, capacity, and speed. Budget: $194 million Completion: 2017

Vancouver - Yard Bypass Track

New roadway bridge to enhance safety and bypass track to reduce freight delays, reliability, capacity, and speed. Budget: $150 million federal/state/BNSF Completion: 2016

Port of Vancouver - West Vancouver Freight Access

New freight tracks at the Port of Vancouver, WA for increased freight capacity and reduced PNWRC congestion. Budget: $173 million port, $47 million tenants, $33 million federal, $14 million state, $8 million BNSF. Completion: 2017

Seattle - King Street Station Renovation

Renovations at King Street Station to benefit passenger, commuter, and bus service. Budget: $47 million federal/state/local/partners Completion: Summer 2013

Integrated State Rail Plan

Integrated long-term passenger and freight rail plan. Budget: $400 thousand federal, $300 thousand state Completion: 2013

Upgrades are done with the intent of supporting additional capacity at current 79 MPH limits with future support for 110 MPH emerging HSR. You can read more about the current and future projects in the previously linked long-range plan for Amtrak Cascades.

You can view ARRA projects in other states at the FRA's site.
 

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Maybe they should change the name of the department/project.

RUM. Rail Upgrade and Maintenance.
Rail upgrades and maintenance are precisely how you achieve functional HSR on existing corridors. It won't be as fast as a dedicated HSR line, but it will be a lot cheaper and also benefit our freight infrastructure. That has to be a major component of our HSR strategy, especially if we don't want to spend hundreds of billions on new tracks.
 

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That funding was 1.4% of an emergency stimulus bill which saw significant opposition at both state and federal levels. It wasn't enough to provide the needed 79 MPH service upgrades much less 110 MPH emerging HSR. Investment in high-speed passenger rail prior to and after that has been essentially non-existent. Political opposition and inaction has clearly derailed our national passenger rail infrastructure.
So you admit that your statement of not investing a $1 was complete hyperbole?
 

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Most rail service will never be profitable from ridership which is why government investment is required. The overall economic impact of improved rail service can be significant however. When considering the economics of rail service we have to consider increased jobs, tourism, property values, reduced road congestion, and many other improvements.
Beyond the commuter crowds I would think that the next best group to target are those who make frequent trips between regional cities. Around here you are looking at NOLA, BR, Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Jackson, B'ham, Atlanta, etc. Service is too slow for people to give up their cars to use the existing implementations between these cities but reasonable upgrades instead of a full HSR system could be feasible, or nearly feasible at least. Hell, even keep the existing infrastructure and add an express b/t these locales. For instance, it takes 4:10 b/t Jackson and NOLA because of all the extra stops. The price is right but it just takes too damn long.
 

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