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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, 11:25 AM   #181
chiefzilla1501 chiefzilla1501 is offline
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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.
Train vs. car. It is an enormous waste for business people to spend five hours round trip in a car. You have a driver who can't use a laptop or email. Or read a presentation. Or rest and recharge. For leisure travel, same deal. Rails aren't uncomfortable, you can curl up to a good book, and a high speed rail will get you from point A to point B significantly faster. Significantly, especially in markets like California where traffic is an absolute nightmare.

Planes vs. car. You must not travel in the midwest, where cheap point to point flights are hard to find. I have a business route that is an hour or two direct flight away, but I can only fly a five hour indirect flight. The check in procedures can shave hours of productive time off, not to mention constant delays and the stress from constantly moving around. Not to mention a half hour of plane time where you can't use any business devices. Business travel on a plane isn't efficient. It is a major pain in the ass. If I am a business, rails are cheaper and my employees can save several hours more on their laptops, wireless, phones, and email than on a plane. Quantify that. Quantify the cost savings plus the ability for your fifty dollars an hour employee to spend a few more hours working versus dealing with plane procedures. It is a tremendous business enabler for travel within a certain distance.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:26 AM   #182
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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.
I don't know the California market so I'll trust your judgment. I am speaking to the Midwest and northeast, which I do know.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:29 AM   #183
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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.

And we shouldn't invest in multi billion dollar bullet trains because of ambiguous benefits that you assume we would receive, but don't really know that we would.
I don't see hordes of business travelers and college students filling bullet trains every day. I see minimal amount of interest.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:51 AM   #184
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Originally Posted by blaise View Post
And we shouldn't invest in multi billion dollar bullet trains because of ambiguous benefits that you assume we would receive, but don't really know that we would.
I don't see hordes of business travelers and college students filling bullet trains every day. I see minimal amount of interest.
Everybody wants to cut spending EXCEPT the stuff they want~
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:53 AM   #185
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And we shouldn't invest in multi billion dollar bullet trains because of ambiguous benefits that you assume we would receive, but don't really know that we would.
I don't see hordes of business travelers and college students filling bullet trains every day. I see minimal amount of interest.
These are not ambiguous benefits. There are clear benefits and costs. And I would like to see an independent nonpartisan commission assess and invest where ROI is achievable or at least reasonable.

Your latter statement suggests because we don't want to do things today we should never do them. That's not the right mentality. Again, this is not just an additional form of travel. This is a better alternative for plenty of situations. The northeast will get riders immediately. Other markets will require some adoption curve.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:57 AM   #186
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Everybody wants to cut spending EXCEPT the stuff they want~
Give me a break. I am talking about Using ROI. It's other people who are saying you don't want a rail, therefore nobody will ever want one. There are lots of things that benefit me that I don't want to be spent on. There are lots of ways to add roads and improve highways and beautify my area that affect my commute that I utterly reject.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:00 PM   #187
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Originally Posted by chiefzilla1501 View Post
These are not ambiguous benefits. There are clear benefits and costs. And I would like to see an independent nonpartisan commission assess and invest where ROI is achievable or at least reasonable.

Your latter statement suggests because we don't want to do things today we should never do them. That's not the right mentality. Again, this is not just an additional form of travel. This is a better alternative for plenty of situations. The northeast will get riders immediately. Other markets will require some adoption curve.

Well they're going to need a pretty convincing assessment of the supposed ROI people are getting in order to sell them on billions of dollars worth of bullet trains between midwestern cities. Good luck. I doubt you'll even be approaching reasonable levels.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:08 PM   #188
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Well they're going to need a pretty convincing assessment of the supposed ROI people are getting in order to sell them on billions of dollars worth of bullet trains between midwestern cities. Good luck. I doubt you'll even be approaching reasonable levels.
It isn't going to be difficult to sell proctor and gamble on the benefit, given that Cincinnati is one of the most expensive airport hubs in the country. Or corporations that spend millions every year to accommodate inconvenient air travel. Or tourist destinations like the indianpolis speedway that allow for more access. Or to assess the damage if the northeast invests in rails, and the midwest does not, which essentially isolates the midwest from major business hubs.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:16 PM   #189
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Everybody wants to cut spending EXCEPT the stuff they want~
I don't want anything
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:19 PM   #190
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It isn't going to be difficult to sell proctor and gamble on the benefit, given that Cincinnati is one of the most expensive airport hubs in the country. Or corporations that spend millions every year to accommodate inconvenient air travel. Or tourist destinations like the indianpolis speedway that allow for more access. Or to assess the damage if the northeast invests in rails, and the midwest does not, which essentially isolates the midwest from major business hubs.
Sure it will be a tough sell. That's why there's almost no interest in a bullet train. If it's an easy sell them we should have bullet trains across the midwest in no time. I'm highly doubtful that we will.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:21 PM   #191
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Sure it will be a tough sell. That's why there's almost no interest in a bullet train. If it's an easy sell them we should have bullet trains across the midwest in no time. I'm highly doubtful that we will.
That's BS that there is no interest. These projects are talked about repeatedly and have legs in the east. Lots of these projects are debated not outright rejected, and it's not like it's outright off the table everywhere.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:30 PM   #192
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That's BS that there is no interest. These projects are talked about repeatedly and have legs in the east. Lots of these projects are debated not outright rejected, and it's not like it's outright off the table everywhere.
Then let the states in the East pay for them then.

You make it sound like the midwest will be cut off from the world if they don't install high speed rail, and that simply is not true.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:36 PM   #193
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That's BS that there is no interest. These projects are talked about repeatedly and have legs in the east. Lots of these projects are debated not outright rejected, and it's not like it's outright off the table everywhere.
It's less BS than acting like it's an easy sell and that there's some sort of high demand in the midwest for it.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:59 PM   #194
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Originally Posted by chiefzilla1501 View Post
Give me a break. I am talking about Using ROI. It's other people who are saying you don't want a rail, therefore nobody will ever want one. There are lots of things that benefit me that I don't want to be spent on. There are lots of ways to add roads and improve highways and beautify my area that affect my commute that I utterly reject.
If the return on investment is so lucrative than it will not need to be subsidized by our tax dollar, tax dollars that have already been spent before they are collected. The tax revenue collected is what? Half of what we spend? You are throwing up a pie in the sky payoff with no real numbers to back it up. The only real numbers in this conversation is the amount it will cost that the government does not have~
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:27 PM   #195
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It's less BS than acting like it's an easy sell and that there's some sort of high demand in the midwest for it.
I never said it was an easy thing to get going. I'm saying that people obsessed with cost and direct revenue need to stop. Nor should it matter what demand is today versus what demand could become once adoption increases. It's this kind of resistance that would have killed CDs and DVDs.
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