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Why Trains Suck in America

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Old 08-17-16, 08:32 AM   #1
bagwell
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Old 08-17-16, 09:53 AM   #2
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yeah (passenger) trains suck, but one interesting point in the video - when comparing to train passenger-friendly france for example was that the u.s. does many times as much FREIGHT via train than france. i'd much rather have all that freight on rails than on even more 18 wheelers on the interstates. since freight isn't in the same 'hurry' as people, it doesn't matter as much if it can't go 100+mph. also, the video points out that in passenger-friendly countries, the ticket prices are massively subsidized by taxes.

so if you like huge taxes, would like more tractor trailers on the roads, and accept the fact that even if we had tons of nice fast passenger trains it wouldn't help much because our cities are generally not walking friendly anyway, then good for you. meanwhile, i'll wait for self-driving cars, buses, and other ride-share options which will go door to door, don't require tracks and unions, and will run on time.

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Old 08-17-16, 10:56 AM   #3
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accept the fact that even if we had tons of nice fast passenger trains it wouldn't help much because our cities are generally not walking friendly anyway, then good for you. meanwhile, i'll wait for self-driving cars, buses, and other ride-share options which will go door to door, don't require tracks and unions, and will run on time.
Denver (and most other large cities, minus Houston) has an excellent rail system - e.g. every 15 mins from downtown to airport and lots of suburban areas too that long distance high speed trains could connect to. Don't have to re-invent the wheel!!! I actually don't have a car here in Denver anymore because rail system is so nice here; its back in Houston (work in denver during the week and fly home to houston for weekends).

oh and even with self-driving cars there will be horrible rush hour traffic; just too many cars on the road in large cities

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Old 08-17-16, 11:28 AM   #4
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I didn't watch the video, but trains are pretty pointless in the US since the air travel infrastructure is so well developed.


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meanwhile, i'll wait for self-driving cars, buses, and other ride-share options which will go door to door, don't require tracks and unions, and will run on time.
Probably not in your lifetime, if ever.
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Old 08-17-16, 12:09 PM   #5
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America built up on individual car culture so the infrastructure went that direction. We'd taken the rail system when visiting Japan and this was pretty amazing at the convenience, efficiency, speed and timing. One aspect that I didn't like about commuter trains in Japan is the sardine issues and the risk of contracting colds. For distant travels on the shinkansen this was wonderful though prices almost comparable to air. Would I want that here? 50-50 leaning no but I don't have the perspective of cities like NY, Boston, etc to draw upon. So. Cal is spread out that I could not see a carry over to what we'd experienced in rail service from Japan.

I enjoy watching the BNSF freight trains but hate the noise. Our house is about 5 miles from the line and they can be heard almost every night-morning as they rumble through. The horn is the worst part.

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Old 08-18-16, 02:33 PM   #6
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Railroad quiet zones, won't stop the rumble but does end the horn.

https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0889
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Old 08-18-16, 10:47 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by bagwell View Post
Denver (and most other large cities, minus Houston) has an excellent rail system - e.g. every 15 mins from downtown to airport and lots of suburban areas too that long distance high speed trains could connect to. Don't have to re-invent the wheel!!! I actually don't have a car here in Denver anymore because rail system is so nice here; its back in Houston (work in denver during the week and fly home to houston for weekends).
Many large cities - even in Europe - do not have "excellent" rail systems. And certainly not in the US. And Denver's rail line to the airport literally opened 4 months ago, a whole 20+ years after the airport opened! And at a 200%+ budget overrun (originally projected for $350MM, wound up costing 1.1 billion), to boot. The reality is that Denver's airport line (and FasTracks in general) should be the case study for why trains shouldn't be built and especially why governments shouldn't force taxpayers to fund them. Governments and politicians promise the world and they never deliver, in large part because they aren't the ones left holding the bag and footing the deficit when things go south.

Ya, I'll probably take the train next time I fly into DIA. But no one should pretend the cost to taxpayers and to society isn't enormous. I sure won't.

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I didn't watch the video, but trains are pretty pointless in the US since the air travel infrastructure is so well developed.
Of course, the reason for that is the US is so big and cities are so spread out that trains are pointless here versus planes. High speed rail can work well when the two biggest metropolitan areas in a country are 300 miles apart, like Tokyo and Osaka, where the shinkansen can do the route in 2.5 hours. Not so much when LA and NYC are 2,500 miles apart.
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Old 08-19-16, 07:18 AM   #8
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Many large cities - even in Europe - do not have "excellent" rail systems. And certainly not in the US. And Denver's rail line to the airport literally opened 4 months ago, a whole 20+ years after the airport opened! And at a 200%+ budget overrun (originally projected for $350MM, wound up costing 1.1 billion), to boot. The reality is that Denver's airport line (and FasTracks in general) should be the case study for why trains shouldn't be built and especially why governments shouldn't force taxpayers to fund them. Governments and politicians promise the world and they never deliver, in large part because they aren't the ones left holding the bag and footing the deficit when things go south.

Ya, I'll probably take the train next time I fly into DIA. But no one should pretend the cost to taxpayers and to society isn't enormous. I sure won't.
yes, costs are are enormous - IDC...do it - put the money into something worthwhile or......let's not build trains because of the cost overruns...lame excuse IMO......that's not the train's fault - its the fault of planners, engineers, and officials.

Denver's population is exploding https://www.google.com/webhp?sourcei...plosive+growth and the freeways are already jammed - what would you suggest...triple decker freeways to resolve the issue, LOL! sorry, I'd rather see my tax dollars go to rail rather than making and 18 lane wide freeways (which will still be jammed with cars).

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Of course, the reason for that is the US is so big and cities are so spread out that trains are pointless here versus planes. High speed rail can work well when the two biggest metropolitan areas in a country are 300 miles apart, like Tokyo and Osaka, where the shinkansen can do the route in 2.5 hours. Not so much when LA and NYC are 2,500 miles apart.
I don't anyone thinks a high speed train from US coast to coast can make a legitimate business case....but for cities like SFO-LAX-SAN or OKC-DFW-IAH-SAT, yes.
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Old 08-19-16, 10:11 AM   #9
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yes, costs are are enormous - IDC...do it - put the money into something worthwhile or......let's not build trains because of the cost overruns...lame excuse IMO......that's not the train's fault - its the fault of planners, engineers, and officials.
doesn't matter whose fault it is, but cost/benefit is relevant. the RTD there already has a 1% sales tax just for them and there's talk of more to 'fill in gaps'. while it sounds good, those sales taxes amount to ENORMOUS of amounts of money. and apparently fares aren't cheap there already, holding back more people from using it, but of course lower fares would mean subsidies, i.e., more tax money needed.

this article (and the comments) show loads of the problems, while highlighting that the system is being used more...

http://www.denverpost.com/2016/07/31...m-denver-gaps/

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Denver's population is exploding https://www.google.com/webhp?sourcei...plosive+growth and the freeways are already jammed - what would you suggest...triple decker freeways to resolve the issue, LOL! sorry, I'd rather see my tax dollars go to rail rather than making and 18 lane wide freeways (which will still be jammed with cars).
communal transportation (trains/buses) SUCK because they make commuting take MUCH LONGER unless you're one of the few that lives and works right near main connection points (with few or no changes in between). if you're young you may have the patience and energy to deal with it all, and if you're poor you may have little choice...

when i was just starting out i lived in toronto and took buses and subway to get around. toronto (at least then) was viewed as pretty state of the art in terms of public transportation. it still took me a LONG time (hours a day) to get to work/back or downtown and back, etc. i also did it sometimes in -30 (F or C, doesn't matter, freaking cold either way) with biting winds... so much fun. ah but i was younger. but i did it because it was cheaper than owning and insuring a car (especially for a young person), so i could save money for the future. then i moved to dallas and of course had to buy (my first) car or i was dead in the water.

not long ago i was back on that toronto subway system and it more resembles a sewer now

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Old 08-19-16, 10:36 AM   #10
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Southwest airlines has opposed high speed rail in Texas for decades.

http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/...d-rail/392462/
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Old 08-19-16, 01:11 PM   #11
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yes, costs are are enormous - IDC...do it - put the money into something worthwhile or......let's not build trains because of the cost overruns...lame excuse IMO......that's not the train's fault - its the fault of planners, engineers, and officials.
Hmm yeah sure, let's just build stuff - who cares how much it winds up costing. No wonder this country is 20 trillion in debt.


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I don't anyone thinks a high speed train from US coast to coast can make a legitimate business case....but for cities like SFO-LAX-SAN or OKC-DFW-IAH-SAT, yes.
Except that SF/SJ and LA/SD metropolitan areas are about 22 million people combined. Tokyo area and Osaka area combined is nearly 3x that. That's why people compare to NYC/LA because those are the only two city pairs that come even close to the big cities in Japan. And unlike CA, Japan has big cities on the shinkansen in between Tokyo and Osaka, like Nagoya (a stop even on the super express shinkansen), whose metro area has another 10 million people. All that factors in hugely to the economic viability. To put it in perspective, outside of SF/SJ/LA/SD, Sacramento is the only other metropolitan area in CA that has over 1 million people. There are no other metropolitan areas in CA that have over 1 million people! And remember, California is bigger than the entire country of Japan! That's how different the USA is from other countries, and that's why trains don't work here.
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Old 08-20-16, 08:38 AM   #12
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Southwest airlines has opposed high speed rail in Texas for decades.
I read the link you provided, but it still doesn't make sense to me. Sure, high-speed trains may take some airline business....that's a given. But, by opposing high-speed rail, Southwest and other airlines are shooting themselves in the foot. They need to be able to send their passengers SOMEWHERE when the planes beak down, airports are closed due to storms, or flights get cancelled. People don't want to be stranded at the airport, not being able to get out.

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Old 08-20-16, 01:43 PM   #13
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Hmm yeah sure, let's just build stuff - who cares how much it winds up costing. No wonder this country is 20 trillion in debt.
so let's hear your solution....18 lane freeways is that it? LMAO! that shti does NOT work.

I want solutions...not band-aids.

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Old 08-20-16, 01:46 PM   #14
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Sure, high-speed trains may take some airline business....that's a given. But, by opposing high-speed rail, Southwest and other airlines are shooting themselves in the foot. They need to be able to send their passengers SOMEWHERE when the planes beak down, airports are closed due to storms, or flights get cancelled. People don't want to be stranded at the airport, not being able to get out.
yep, you are right Mike --- this happens a LOT -- I almost was stranded last night - and a lot of others WERE stranded due to wx at their final destination - gate agents said they rent buses A LOT to get pax to final destinations due to wx or mech cxls.
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Old 08-21-16, 03:36 PM   #15
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Train (human) transportation/demand is low in the U.S. The reasons driving the equivalent distance of 4 to 5 hours is cheaper. Longer/further distances are much quicker, by flying to your destination.
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