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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 12-31-2012, 09:34 AM   #166
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Of course govt expenditures are a "cost". What else would they be?
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:59 AM   #167
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Ive heard both sides. But again, if we are talking ROI, this absolutely should be factored into the costs. Again why it's stupid for people to talk profit and loss. It works both ways. Costs are not just dollars spent. It's also stuff like if it creates more pollution than current alternatives.
It's not stupid to talk profit and loss. They're factors to be considered just like you're intangible ROI factors. You can't just say, "Well, even if it operates at a loss of $30 million a year it's worthwhile because people can travel to football games." There has to be a point where it would become cost prohibitive, despite what benefits you get from ease of travel. You surely understand that.
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:43 AM   #168
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Originally Posted by chiefzilla1501 View Post
Roads, bridges, etc... To me much of these projects are designed to keep workers working with little realized benefit.
I do agree that a bullet train in the USA, except perhaps in a few areas in New England, maybe, is a stupid idea. But, I strongly disagree with this.

Roads get torn up surprisingly quickly, especially in cold areas. Also, many of our bridges are dangerously in disrepair. If you want to see what its like driving on roads in an area where road maintenance is a very low priority, try driving around in Oklahoma.
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:46 AM   #169
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Originally Posted by alnorth View Post
I do agree that a bullet train in the USA, except perhaps in a few areas in New England, maybe, is a stupid idea. But, I strongly disagree with this.

Roads get torn up surprisingly quickly, especially in cold areas. Also, many of our bridges are dangerously in disrepair. If you want to see what its like driving on roads in an area where road maintenance is a very low priority, try driving around in Oklahoma.
Many bridges in this country are ticking bombs due to neglect~
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:51 AM   #170
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Originally Posted by alnorth View Post
I do agree that a bullet train in the USA, except perhaps in a few areas in New England, maybe, is a stupid idea. But, I strongly disagree with this.

Roads get torn up surprisingly quickly, especially in cold areas. Also, many of our bridges are dangerously in disrepair. If you want to see what its like driving on roads in an area where road maintenance is a very low priority, try driving around in Oklahoma.
I'm not opposed to basic infrastructure projects. I'm talking about building new infrastructure because it provides a slightly more convenient form of travel or beautifies an area. I've lived in Midwest metros where they invested a gajillion dollars to widen roads so a 30 minute commute could turn into a 25 minute commute. I'd rather fix infrastructure than build new ones.

Rather than spend a gajillion on highways, why not invest that same money into a rail, which accomplishes a similar objective.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:04 AM   #171
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It's not stupid to talk profit and loss. They're factors to be considered just like you're intangible ROI factors. You can't just say, "Well, even if it operates at a loss of $30 million a year it's worthwhile because people can travel to football games." There has to be a point where it would become cost prohibitive, despite what benefits you get from ease of travel. You surely understand that.
I am saying in a profit loss scenario, you are basically talking about passenger receipts versus costs.

It doesn't factor in if it helps hotels fill capacity. If it encourages out of towners to spend money in your city. Or what is the dollar value in cost and productivity businesses can now enjoy because they can get their employees to travel cheaper and FAR more conveniently than by car or plane. Or what dollar figure do you have on reduced traffic? Or what about if you live in Cincinnati, and p&g can gets higher quality employees who improve business revenue? Or what is the dollar value on additional revenue your arena and conventions can now pull in because more people can travel there? Profit loss does not consider that. On the flip side, profit loss doesn't consider costs. Does it add pollution? Does it encourage your own local residents to spend in other markets? What is the opportunity cost of investing in rails versus a highway project. Etc....

ROI considers all streams of money. And attempts to place a dollar value and costs and benefits that have an impact on the decision. I agree that these ROI calculations can be manipulated. But we shouldn't kill projects just because they don't make direct profit.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:05 AM   #172
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Originally Posted by chiefzilla1501 View Post
I'm not opposed to basic infrastructure projects. I'm talking about building new infrastructure because it provides a slightly more convenient form of travel or beautifies an area. I've lived in Midwest metros where they invested a gajillion dollars to widen roads so a 30 minute commute could turn into a 25 minute commute. I'd rather fix infrastructure than build new ones.

Rather than spend a gajillion on highways, why not invest that same money into a rail, which accomplishes a similar objective.
Because we are struggling to pay for the infrastructure that EVERYBODY uses already. I am not sure what part of cut spending you cannot grasp. If the economy turns around and the government pays down its debt then maybe...
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:06 AM   #173
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Originally Posted by chiefzilla1501 View Post
Rather than spend a gajillion on highways, why not invest that same money into a rail, which accomplishes a similar objective.
Because nobody outside of Boston and NY wants to ride a train. We are not Japan where its uber-crowded and hardly anyone owns a car, or China where most people don't own a car.

Build 10 bullet trains criss-crossing the country going anywhere, I don't care. I'll ride one once or twice for the novelty of it, and then thats it. I'm driving or flying, because there is no way to make rail more efficient than a plane that can fly anywhere at nearly any time.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:09 AM   #174
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I almost hope that stupid bullet train in CA does get completed, so that when hardly anyone ever uses it, and that damned train sucks money out of a broke state that couldn't afford to even build it to zip empty cars up and down the state, we can all laugh at their stupidity for building that instead of more roads.

People in this country don't want to ride a damned train.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:11 AM   #175
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:12 AM   #176
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Because nobody outside of Boston and NY wants to ride a train. We are not Japan where its uber-crowded, or China where most people are fairly poor and have no choice to to use a heavily government-subsidized rail.

Build 10 bullet trains criss-crossing the country going anywhere, I don't care. I'll ride one once or twice for the novelty of it, and then thats it. I'm driving or flying, because there is no way to make rail more efficient than a plane that can fly anywhere at nearly any time.
You are over generalizing. Trains are a very convenient form of travel in many contexts. Businesses would utilize the hell out of this. Colleges with massive enrollment would get huge use out of this. Markets where a lot of people don't own cars, like Chicago, would eat this up. And in the Midwest, where planes are incredibly inconvenient forms of travel, this is a very good alternative. Midwest airports are typically spokes, not hubs.

The rail isn't just an additional means of travel. It serves a specific need not provided by current travel options. It is a significantly better option than planes for travel within a certain distance.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:14 AM   #177
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I almost hope that stupid bullet train in CA does get completed, so that when hardly anyone ever uses it, and that damned train sucks money out of a broke state that couldn't afford to even build it to zip empty cars up and down the state, we can all laugh at their stupidity for building that instead of more roads.

People in this country don't want to ride a damned train.
CA absolutely needs a rail. But that's a state that shouldn't be thinking about spending on that now. There are plenty of markets that can afford to within the near future.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:15 AM   #178
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Originally Posted by chiefzilla1501 View Post
You are over generalizing. Trains are a very convenient form of travel in many contexts. Businesses would utilize the hell out of this. Colleges with massive enrollment would get huge use out of this. Markets where a lot of people don't own cars, like Chicago, would eat this up. And in the Midwest, where planes are incredibly inconvenient forms of travel, this is a very good alternative. Midwest airports are typically spokes, not hubs.

The rail isn't just an additional means of travel. It serves a specific need not provided by current travel options. It is a significantly better option than planes for travel within a certain distance.
You are simply wrong.

The #1 form of transportation will ALWAYS, at least for the next 200 years, be the car. Sometimes it is not feasible or possible to drive somewhere.

In that case, the plane will always beat rail. Both are inconvenient options that force you to uncomfortably sit with total strangers, but the plane will always be cheaper and faster, unless the government heavily subsidizes rail. If its a tie, people will fly. Businesses are not going to force their employees to use a train.

Other cultures are different, but in this country, no one wants to ride a damned train. Especially since the train carries the stigma, accurate or not, of possibly having to ride with very poor or "dangerous" people.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:19 AM   #179
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CA absolutely needs a rail. But that's a state that shouldn't be thinking about spending on that now. There are plenty of markets that can afford to within the near future.
CA does not need a rail, at all. The traffic problems in that state are intra-city, not inter-city. There is not a logjam from SF to LA to SD. You get traffic problems when you try to go from one end of those cities to the other end, and since people don't want to ride a damned train or a bus, they need more roads. They haven't built the necessary roads because of political stupidity and this eternal optimism that they can get people to start riding subways and buses.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:19 AM   #180
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We are ****ing broke. You have any idea what it cost to build a railroad? let alone a HIGH ****ING SPEED RAILROAD & the cost to maintain it? Its one thing to shove a train down tracks at 40 MPH its another thing to to push a train at 100 mph.
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