Author Topic: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.  (Read 22245 times)

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Offline Scheavo

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #245 on: December 04, 2011, 11:19:42 PM »
I had this conversation with my brother a while back.  I like to drive.  I like the fact that my older model car has a direct link from the key to the starter,  from the gas pedal to the throttle body,  from the brake pedal to the master cylinder,  etc.  Cars nowadays have none of these things.  Pretty soon, even the steering wheel will be FBW.  Today's generation really doesn't seem to give a shit, though.  I suspect that half the drivers on the road today would be happy with a car that drove itself,  so they could spend their commute dicking around on facebook and texting each other.  I'm a bit of a relic in this regard.  In a few more years,  there won't be too many people like me left.

I think as Guinea Pig pints out, why not do that on a high speed rail? Those self-driving cars probably have a place in the future still, but I think it's premature to think that it's anything but at least a decade away.

Otherwise, you make great points. I still think there's something to the psychological belief is being in control of your car though, even if you don't actually have control, per say.

Offline El Barto

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #246 on: December 05, 2011, 08:35:46 AM »
Two reasons.  First,  cars are individual units, and would be phased in over time.  Rather than having to fork over a billion dollars now,  we'd just be gradually deploying more and more autonomous vehicles.  Second,  rather than the government squandering money with gross inefficiency,  the private sector would be doing this.   It'd be more efficient,  voluntary,  and quicker to deploy.  Seems to me like a solution that each citizen can jump into over time is much better than an enormous infrastructure investment. 
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Offline Super Dude

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #247 on: January 31, 2012, 07:24:32 PM »
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #248 on: January 31, 2012, 09:32:38 PM »
I can't see driverless cars being a thing anytime soon.  The most advanced railway signalling can give minimum headways of about 1 minute and half at 160 km/h, and that's on a simple two-track get-up with typically conflict-free movements.  Managing a road would be much more complex, and much more could go wrong.  A system like that would not be implemented until long after safety concerns went away.
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Offline El Barto

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #249 on: January 31, 2012, 09:48:14 PM »
Railways have two distinct disadvantages.  For one thing,  there's no place to go.  Cars can get out of each others way.  The other problem is that a train at 160 kph is going to take miles to stop.  Cars have multiple lanes and very short stopping distances.  Furthermore,  I could see the management being decentralized.  There have already been examples of cars communicating with each other.  As for now,  it's a privacy issue.  People like me don't want their cars talking to each other.  As said before,  I'm a dinosaur,  so that'll change in good time.  I still don't see cars driving themselves to the store any time soon,  but a few lanes of highway designated for high speed,  autonomous driving doesn't seem all that far off. 


Are these the self-parking cars Barto and folks were talking about?
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In a city like Dallas,  where half the drivers are women driving 5900 lb Escalades,  driving one of those things would be suicide.  From a speed and distance stand point,  my daily commute is exactly what that sort of thing is designed for.  From the self preservation standpoint,  I couldn't see surviving a month.
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #250 on: January 31, 2012, 10:23:09 PM »
Railways have two distinct disadvantages.  For one thing,  there's no place to go.  Cars can get out of each others way.  The other problem is that a train at 160 kph is going to take miles to stop.  Cars have multiple lanes and very short stopping distances.  Furthermore,  I could see the management being decentralized.  There have already been examples of cars communicating with each other.  As for now,  it's a privacy issue.  People like me don't want their cars talking to each other.  As said before,  I'm a dinosaur,  so that'll change in good time.  I still don't see cars driving themselves to the store any time soon,  but a few lanes of highway designated for high speed,  autonomous driving doesn't seem all that far off. 


Depends.  A 100-car freight train would.  But a light-weight EMU can go from 160 to 0 in about 15 seconds if need be.  Normal deceleration would be about 35 seconds or so.

However, I really don't think automated driving would actually bring greater capacity.  Right now, highway capacity is about 2,000 people per lane per hour (compared to about 60,000 per track per hour for some of the busier commuter railways).  Increasing the spacing between each car to three seconds (which is about what it takes to stop, and would probably be the minimum for any scheme) still only leaves a throughput of about 1200 cars / hour, which is actually a reduction assuming passenger trends remained the same.  Essentially, any automated system of driving that would guarantee a certain level of performance (let's say, 140 km/h as a benchmark) would have to price people out taking it, lest demand swamp it.
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Offline GuineaPig

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Offline El Barto

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #252 on: June 28, 2012, 01:16:51 PM »
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120627/00501819503/rep-jackie-speier-puts-forth-bill-to-extend-tsa-to-mass-transit.shtml
Quote
Rep. Jackie Speier Puts Forth Bill To Extend TSA To Mass Transit
from the because-that's-exactly-what-we-need dept

Well this is very disappointing. My own Congressional Representative, has put forth a bill, HR 3140 to expand TSA info sharing capabilities to mass transit. Because that's just what we need. Even worse, in speaking about it, Speier doesn't seem to even recognize that there's a problem with the TSA at airports, and seems to assume that it's just obvious that everything's great with airport security:

    "We have put in place through TSA a very elaborate system [in airports]. We all go through those metal detectors and those secondary searches. And we've put a lot of focus on the airlines for good reason. But we have neglected the mass transit components, generally speaking," she said.

    Speier said 2 million people fly each day, compared with more than 5 million who ride the subway each day in New York City alone. She pointed out that the most recent terrorist attacks have been on mass transit. Also, when U.S. Special Forces raided Osama Bin Laden's compound last year, intelligence gathered revealed the next attack was intended for mass transit.

    "The writing is on the wall. We need to be better prepared than we are right now," Speier said.

I'm all for keeping trains safe from terrorists. I ride on trains all the time -- including a Caltrain that has been named after Jackie Speier (I'm not joking). But any approach that suggests the current TSA efforts are somehow reasonable and should be expanded -- without even offering any evidence that this is true -- is a serious mistake.

Damn, I've been fairly prescient lately. 

Five bucks says she's recently gotten a sizeable contribution from one of the companies that makes imaging scanners.  Anyhoo, if this passes, HSR will have absolutely nothing to offer except high prices, high costs and little ridership to show for it. 
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Offline Super Dude

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #253 on: June 28, 2012, 01:21:50 PM »
What the fuck America. Or Rep. Speier I guess.
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Offline El Barto

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #254 on: June 28, 2012, 01:40:50 PM »
It was inevitable.  If it wasn't Mrs. Speier, it would have been some other crooked (or retarded) politician.
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #255 on: June 28, 2012, 01:48:52 PM »
Fucking retarded.
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Offline PraXis

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #256 on: July 09, 2012, 01:10:21 PM »
Looks like Commiefornia is moving ahead with the train to nowhere after all... where are they getting that money again?

Offline El Barto

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #257 on: July 09, 2012, 01:20:34 PM »
LA to SF isn't what I'd call a train to nowhere.

Still, it's a bad idea.  My prediction is that it'll wind up like DART did.  They'll oversell the whole thing, and abort it half way through.  There's no way they complete the 68b dollar project.  If that's the case, then they shouldn't squander money beginning it.
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #258 on: July 09, 2012, 01:30:24 PM »
I fear it will be executed terribly and set back rail's implementation in the US.  High speed rail is an incredibly effective technology when deployed correctly and cost efficiently.  There still needs to be a ton of value engineering done.

Also, I worry about the public transit at either end which will be essential for feeding ridership.  LA's come a long way, but CA's major metropolises are still light years from European standards.
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Offline El Barto

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #259 on: July 09, 2012, 01:44:43 PM »
Also, I worry about the public transit at either end which will be essential for feeding ridership.  LA's come a long way, but CA's major metropolises are still light years from European standards.
Yeah, I was thinking this as well.  It really is vital to be able to get around when you arrive somewhere.  When you can arrive at a central terminal and waltz right onto a subway to get to your final destination it's a great way to travel. 

And I wasn't aware that LA's improved in that regard.  Honestly, it's so sprawled out, I don't see how they could really pull of light rail. 
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #260 on: July 09, 2012, 02:19:27 PM »
Also, I worry about the public transit at either end which will be essential for feeding ridership.  LA's come a long way, but CA's major metropolises are still light years from European standards.
Yeah, I was thinking this as well.  It really is vital to be able to get around when you arrive somewhere.  When you can arrive at a central terminal and waltz right onto a subway to get to your final destination it's a great way to travel. 

And I wasn't aware that LA's improved in that regard.  Honestly, it's so sprawled out, I don't see how they could really pull of light rail.

The tide has turned in LA: there have been massive pushes for public transit, which, while suffering from horrifically stupid NIMBYism (one group in LA has been claiming that THE NEIGHBOURHOOD WILL BLOW UP IF THEY BUILD A SUBWAY HERE) and some mediocre planning, has made huge strides already.  The current mayor is pushing his "30 in 10" plan, which proposes to complete 30 years worth in projects in ten years by borrowing against future earnings from an already passed transit tax (that passed via referendum with a large majority).

EDIT: Here's the NIMBY group's video I referred to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81tihdzaecc
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #261 on: July 12, 2012, 07:05:37 AM »
There's been some interesting rumours floating around that SNCF had an extensive plan drawn up for California HSR with the backing of private investors, but that they bailed because of politics being played with the route and other aspects. 

This has been quite the clusterfuck. 
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Offline El Barto

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #262 on: July 12, 2012, 07:54:48 AM »
There's been some interesting rumours floating around that SNCF had an extensive plan drawn up for California HSR with the backing of private investors, but that they bailed because of politics being played with the route and other aspects. 

This has been quite the clusterfuck.
Wouldn't surprise me at all.  An outside group like that would be the best possible method to go with, and completely out of the question for the politicians who're more concerned about their own futures than the success of the project. 

To be fair, it'd also look really bad to be giving all that stimulus money to the French. 
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #263 on: July 12, 2012, 08:27:22 AM »
There's been some interesting rumours floating around that SNCF had an extensive plan drawn up for California HSR with the backing of private investors, but that they bailed because of politics being played with the route and other aspects. 

This has been quite the clusterfuck.
Wouldn't surprise me at all.  An outside group like that would be the best possible method to go with, and completely out of the question for the politicians who're more concerned about their own futures than the success of the project. 

To be fair, it'd also look really bad to be giving all that stimulus money to the French.

The sense of "We don't do things the European way in AMERICA!" seems to be so pervasive.  Caltrain is currently tendering the contracts for re-signalling its line on the peninsula, that it will be in the future sharing with HSR.  The options are:

1. Choose the industry standard, which is used throughout the word, fully compatible with HSR, offers 100% crash avoidance, performance-tested on numerous different kinds of lines in numerous different climates, and installation is offered by dozens of different companies making competition very viable.

2. Choose to develop their own signalling system, which will not be compatible with HSR, has no performance record, only can be installed by one firm, and is about three to four times the per km cost of option #1.

I'll give a hint to which option they went with: signalling system 1 is European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).
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Offline El Barto

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #264 on: July 12, 2012, 08:38:53 AM »
Yup.  This is actually one of the best selling points for libertarian style small government.  If they'd stick to examples like this, instead of looking to reinvent the wheel, they'd fair much better.
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #265 on: July 12, 2012, 09:31:52 AM »
Well, I don't think that it's an argument of big government vs. small government.  There seems to be as big an aversion to universal healthcare or public transit or other things because they're European amongst the Tea Party, who are the biggest "America is #1!" horn-tooters.  It's more an instance of nationalism amongst the voting public and in bureaucracies that has led to misguided and wasteful spending.

"Buy American" has been another boondoggle in this regard.  And Canadians suffer from the same shit too.
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Offline El Barto

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #266 on: July 12, 2012, 09:47:27 AM »
I'd certainly agree with your sentiment in dozens of instances.  I think Americans are stupidly arrogant in their ways.  But in this case it reeks of cronyism, corruption or pandering.  I'd bet money there was a financial or political gain to going with the home-grown solution.  The company was in somebody's district, the board members are supporters of somebody, or the decision makers have stock in the company.  This is a situation where there's too much money involved to let "buy American" interfere with your plans.   
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #267 on: July 12, 2012, 09:53:10 AM »
I'd certainly agree with your sentiment in dozens of instances.  I think Americans are stupidly arrogant in their ways.  But in this case it reeks of cronyism, corruption or pandering.  I'd bet money there was a financial or political gain to going with the home-grown solution.  The company was in somebody's district, the board members are supporters of somebody, or the decision makers have stock in the company.  This is a situation where there's too much money involved to let "buy American" interfere with your plans.   

Yeah, probably.  More money gets spent if things are done twice instead of once right.

I'm fairly certain a large number of people and businesses supporting HSR in California don't care about the technology or the benefits or anything inherent to the project itself; it's just a marketable way to transfer money from taxpayers to the private sector.
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Offline El Barto

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #268 on: July 12, 2012, 09:58:29 AM »
And out of curiosity, why do you?  You seem to have put a good deal of thought and research into this.  Professional interest?
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #269 on: July 12, 2012, 10:03:02 AM »
My interest stems mostly from two things:

1. I love trains.  Always been fascinated by them.
2. I hate global warming.  Trains are by far the most efficient and most environmentally friendly form of intraregional, interregional, and intercity transit.  North America is light years behind Europe, but is going to have to catch up fast, and soon.
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Offline Super Dude

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #270 on: July 12, 2012, 11:07:38 AM »
Not least of all because we're becoming positively medieval in our way of life compared to nearly everyone else.
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Offline snapple

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #271 on: July 12, 2012, 11:24:26 AM »
Not least of all because we're becoming positively medieval in our way of life compared to nearly everyone else.

Explain.
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Offline tofee35

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Re: Why "high-speed rail" is dumb.
« Reply #272 on: July 17, 2012, 01:46:27 PM »
Why doesn't Ca invest in commuter rails and subway systems instead of high speed rails? LA used to have the best public transportation system in the world at the beginning of the 20th century before the auto industry literally destroyed it. That place needs to think more about daily public transit and not long distance travel. Unless I'm missing something and this is part of what they're proposing.

Regardless, when Ca's taxpayer's money is going into constructing single-lane carpool lanes that soar 100 feet in the air and 7 lane highways, it's time to rethink the infrastructure a little bit.