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Old 12-26-2012, 01:29 PM  
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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Why are we not investing in transportation infrastructure?

China continues its amazing investment in infrastructure, including this:



A high speed train system, producing trains that travel nearly 200 mph and can get you distances from New York to Key West in 8 hours.

Investments like this make a ton of sense for large countries like China (and us) because (a.) they hire a shit ton of workers (China has said it has hired up to 100k people for it), (b.) they allow for more economic integration and economic prosperity for the parts of the country connected to it, and (c.) in an era where job immobility is at its highest in modern history for Americans, this provides a feasible way to travel great distances for poorer Americans.

But not only do we refuse to invest in this shit, we can't even muster the finances needed to repair the infrastructure we do have, made decades ago, in considerably less-modern ways.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/27/bu...a.html?hp&_r=0

World's Longest High-Speed Rail Line Opens in China
By KEITH BRADSHER
Published: December 26, 2012

HONG KONG — China began service Wednesday morning on the world’s longest high-speed rail line, covering a distance in eight hours that is about equal to that from New York to Key West, Florida, or from London across Europe to Belgrade.

Bullet trains traveling 300 kilometers an hour, or 186 miles an hour, began regular service between Beijing and Guangzhou, the main metropolis in southeastern China. Older trains still in service on a parallel rail line take 21 hours; Amtrak trains from New York to Miami, a shorter distance, still take nearly 30 hours.

Completion of the Beijing-Guangzhou route is the latest sign that China has resumed rapid construction on one of the world’s largest and most ambitious infrastructure projects, a network of four north-south routes and four east-west routes that span the country.

Lavish spending on the project has helped jump-start the Chinese economy twice: in 2009, during the global financial crisis, and again this autumn, after a brief but sharp economic slowdown over the summer.

The hiring of as many as 100,000 workers per line has kept a lid on unemployment even as private-sector construction has slowed down because of limits on real estate speculation. And the national network has helped reduce toxic air pollution in Chinese cities and curb demand for imported diesel fuel, by freeing up a lot of capacity on older rail lines for goods to be carried by freight trains instead of heavily polluting, costlier trucks.

But the high-speed rail system has also been controversial in China. Debt to finance the construction has reached nearly 4 trillion renminbi, or $640 billion, making it one of the most visible reasons total debt has been surging as a share of economic output in China, and approaching levels in the West.

Each passenger car taken off the older, slower rail lines makes room for three freight cars, because passenger trains have to move so quickly that they force freight trains to stop frequently. But although the high-speed trains have played a big role in allowing sharp increases in freight shipments, the Ministry of Railways has not yet figured out a way to charge large freight shippers, many of them politically influential state-owned enterprises, for part of the cost of the high-speed lines, which haul only passengers.

The high-speed trains are also considerably more expensive than the heavily subsidized older passenger trains. A second-class seat on the new bullet trains from Beijing to Guangzhou costs 865 renminbi, compared with 426 renminbi for the cheapest bunk on one of the older trains, which also have narrow, uncomfortable seats for as little as 251 renminbi.

Worries about the high-speed network peaked in July 2011, when one high-speed train plowed into the back of another near Wenzhou in southeastern China, killing 40 people.

A subsequent investigation blamed flawed signaling equipment for the crash. China had been operating high-speed trains at 350 kilometers an hour, and it cut the top speed to the current rate in response to that crash.

The crash crystallized worries about the haste with which China has built its high-speed rail system. The first line, from Beijing to Tianjin, opened a week before the 2008 Olympics; a little more than four years later, the country now has 9,349 kilometers, or 5,809 miles, of high-speed lines.

China’s aviation system has a good international reputation for safety, and its occasional deadly crashes have not attracted nearly as much attention. Transportation safety experts attribute the public’s fascination with the Wenzhou crash partly to the novelty of the system and partly to a distrust among many Chinese of what is perceived as a homegrown technology, in contrast with the Boeing and Airbus jets flown by Chinese airlines.

Japanese rail executives have complained, however, that the Chinese technology is mostly copied from them, an accusation that Chinese rail executives have strenuously denied.

The main alternative to trains for most Chinese lies in the country’s roads, which have a grim reputation by international standards. Periodic crashes of intercity buses kill dozens of people at a time, while crashes of private cars are frequent in a country where four-fifths of new cars are sold to first-time buyers, often with scant driving experience.

Flights between Beijing and Guangzhou take about three hours and 15 minutes. But air travelers in China need to arrive at least an hour before a flight, compared with 20 minutes for high-speed trains, and the airports tend to be farther from the centers of cities than the high-speed train stations.

Land acquisition is the toughest part of building high-speed rail lines in the West, because the tracks need to be almost perfectly straight, and it has been an issue in China as well. Although local and provincial governments have forced owners to sell land for the tracks themselves, there have been disputes over suddenly valuable land near rail stations, with the result that surprisingly few stores and other commercial venues have sprung up around some high-speed stations through which tens of thousands of travelers move every day.

Zhao Xiangfeng, a farmer in Henan Province, said a plan to build a minimall on his and six other farmers’ land near a station had been shelved indefinitely after he and three of the other farmers refused to lease the land for anything close to what the village leadership offered. He said he worried that local leaders might try strong-arm tactics against the farmers to force them to lease the land and revive the project.

The southern segment of the new high-speed rail line, from Guangzhou as far as Wuhan, has been open for nearly three years and already suffers from heavy congestion, which could limit the number of seats available for travel all the way to Beijing during peak hours. Regular travelers on the route said in interviews that the 800-seat trains are often sold out as many as 10 trains in advance on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons, even though the trains travel as often as every four minutes, and even lunchtime trains at midweek are often full as well.
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:47 PM   #61
blaise blaise is offline
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Are you talking about the one I talked about in this thread? That is Tampa to Orlando. Benefits..........
Tampa/St. Pete has some of the best beaches in the world. The families going to Univeral/Disney world/Sea World could get on a train at those places and be at the beaches in 40 minutes. They would gladly pay the $20.00 fee one way.

The 2.5 million Tampa residents would visit Orlando more often if they didn't have to drive an hour and a half.

The million in Orlando could be at the beaches in St. Pete/Tampa in 40 minutes.

Half that $20.00 was profit on every ticket. Tourist agencies, Disney, Universal had estimated that 40% of all their visitors would use the trains and also visit the beaches.

Everyone profits, families vacations are much better at a pretty cheap price. The communities receive more tourist $'s and permanent jobs.
No, I'm talking about the NY to Florida that was clearly mentioned right in the OP.

But thank you for your self-centered response.
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:49 PM   #62
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You're missing the big picture. It's not about going from NY to Florida. It's about having the means to go from one destination to one relatively close to it. DC to NY. Atlanta to Orlando. If this were the midwest, imagine being able to go from St. Louis to Chicago in an hour.

I get that people want to see cost-benefit. But are they people seriously questioning the value of having high speed rail? Seriously? It would be a huge boost to tourism and hugely convenient for businesses, not to mention a great way to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
I imagine billion dollar trains operating at about 20% capacity.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:56 PM   #63
chiefzilla1501 chiefzilla1501 is offline
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No, I'm talking about the NY to Florida that was clearly mentioned right in the OP.

But thank you for your self-centered response.
The OP references a regular speed rail line that makes many, many stops. It's not a non-stop rail from new york to florida. Some may take the rail all the way down. But most would be boarding a stop along the way and departing on a stop along the way
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:59 PM   #64
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I imagine billion dollar trains operating at about 20% capacity.
If the trains go fast enough, on a daily basis, car commuters and those who currently use planes will substitute for a high speed rail. For short destination travel, it will become by far the most convenient mode of transportation and likely at a reasonable price.
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:18 AM   #65
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If the trains go fast enough, on a daily basis, car commuters and those who currently use planes will substitute for a high speed rail. For short destination travel, it will become by far the most convenient mode of transportation and likely at a reasonable price.
Where are you suggesting it would be "by far" a more convenient commute to and from?
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:24 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by chiefzilla1501 View Post
You're missing the big picture. It's not about going from NY to Florida. It's about having the means to go from one destination to one relatively close to it. DC to NY. Atlanta to Orlando. If this were the midwest, imagine being able to go from St. Louis to Chicago in an hour.

I get that people want to see cost-benefit. But are they people seriously questioning the value of having high speed rail? Seriously? It would be a huge boost to tourism and hugely convenient for businesses, not to mention a great way to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
Sadly, you're missing the big picture as well. If they built a high-speed train line between Chicago and St. Louis, it would undoubtedly be subject to the same psychotic security measures that we currently have in airports, and then you'd have the same problems and no time savings.

I'm already starting to see TSA goons milling around Union Station in Chicago more and more. It'll probably take just one train bombing for them to gleefully install metal detectors and security lines. I sure as hell wouldn't want to go through that every day on the way to work.
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:52 AM   #67
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Sadly, you're missing the big picture as well. If they built a high-speed train line between Chicago and St. Louis, it would undoubtedly be subject to the same psychotic security measures that we currently have in airports, and then you'd have the same problems and no time savings.

I'm already starting to see TSA goons milling around Union Station in Chicago more and more. It'll probably take just one train bombing for them to gleefully install metal detectors and security lines. I sure as hell wouldn't want to go through that every day on the way to work.
I couldn't understand the justification of train security being as heavy as airplane security. Is somebody going to hijack the train and run it into a building?
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:58 AM   #68
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I couldn't understand the justification of train security being as heavy as airplane security. Is somebody going to hijack the train and run it into a building?
You sure as hell wouldn't want to be anywhere near one of the damn things if it derails.

But the main point is, the government would enact ridiculous security measures regardless of the risk, because that's what they do. Why does a man climb a mountain?
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:08 AM   #69
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You sure as hell wouldn't want to be anywhere near one of the damn things if it derails.

But the main point is, the government would enact ridiculous security measures regardless of the risk, because that's what they do. Why does a man climb a mountain?
Fair enough.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:41 AM   #70
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:48 AM   #71
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I couldn't understand the justification of train security being as heavy as airplane security. Is somebody going to hijack the train and run it into a building?
It's not a matter of security, it's a matter of control
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:10 AM   #72
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Flights aren't 90 minutes tops. You have a half hour to an hour checking in yourself and luggage. You have an hour waiting in the airport both ways. You have a good half hour on plane where you can't use your laptop. Multiply that by 2 round trip. If you're on business travel, you lose 2-4 hours of productive time. If you drive that in a car, you lose 5 hours or whatever in time you could've spent on your laptop.

For business travel, it's a hell of a lot more convenient that I can quickly board, pack whatever I want, and just sink my head in my laptop or presentations. For leisure, it beats driving or the hassle of flying.

A lot of people who rip on train travel probably haven't spent any time in markets with good train travel. Europeans and northeast metros use trains because they want to.
And you don't think high speed rail has any time wasted in the station? Does the train also run on unicorn farts?
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:13 AM   #73
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Wait. These high speed trains don't have stops between their main destinations?

Obama has had many stupid ideas but this one ranks right up there.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:51 AM   #74
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And you don't think high speed rail has any time wasted in the station? Does the train also run on unicorn farts?
I didn't say no time was wasted. But buying a ticket is quick and check in is immediate. Your terminal is a short walk instead of a long airport walk. Security checks take a few minutes versus 10 to 30 minutes. And your train is almost always on time, even in inclement weather. And theres no baggage claim instead of waiting 15 minutes for your luggage. And you get 40 extra minutes to use your laptop and phone then you'd get on or phone so once on the train, you can bury your head in your laptop or phone for the long haul. Oh, and you can check in whatever you want. Food, drinks, etc....

It shaves off a good 1-2 hours each way of annoying check in. I travel for business a lot. I can't tell you how much time I waste by constant interruption, hustle and bustle and inability to use basic electronic devices.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:54 AM   #75
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Sadly, you're missing the big picture as well. If they built a high-speed train line between Chicago and St. Louis, it would undoubtedly be subject to the same psychotic security measures that we currently have in airports, and then you'd have the same problems and no time savings.

I'm already starting to see TSA goons milling around Union Station in Chicago more and more. It'll probably take just one train bombing for them to gleefully install metal detectors and security lines. I sure as hell wouldn't want to go through that every day on the way to work.
Train station security will likely be beefed up, but it will never compare to the logjam especially at major airports where check in of bags and security screenings can overall take over a half hour.
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