• Barack Obama's Train Ride; Curbing the Enthusiasm

  • General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by 2nd trick op
Those of us who frequented this site at the time will likely recall the special move that carried President-Elect Obama from New York to his inauguration in 2009; the hoopla was accompanied by a Master Plan of expansion that would have vastly increased the amount of Amtrak service -- some of it on lines that had already been tried and curtailed, and some of which hadn't seen a passenger train in decades.

Almost needless to say, Obama never traveled by rail in the remainder of his two terms served.

The YouTube link below serves to illustrate, in the academic language of simple economics, (and without the usual justification in terms of the gap between personal freedoms with regard to both consumer spending and individual mobility), why the resounding success of HSR in China can't be replicated here.


This post is not intended as an attack on the most fervent HSR advocates at this site, but it is presented as a demonstration that the failure (or success) of HSR projects depend mostly on geographic and societal factors, such as the size of centers of population and the distance between them, which are not subject to change, save in the extreme long run.

There is a potential market for HSR in the United States, but it is limited in scope and, as amply demonstrated by the boondoggle into which Califorina's HSR project has devolved, would be much more likely to adapt to the realities if the politicians and their dreamer clientele were restrained by economic and societal facts.
  by electricron
One high speed rail advocate with lots of youtube videos I enjoy watching is citynerd.
His gravity formula for comparing city pairs is the best simplistic scientific method without doing a deep study.
Ranking = City1 population x City2 population / distance square.
Here's his top 10 city pair in usa ranking video
10 Miami - Orlando (4.7) Brightline 125 mph max speeds
9 Boston - Philadelphia (5.4)
8 Chicago - Detroit (5.5) Amtrak Regional 110 mph max speeds
7 Los Angeles - Las Vegas (5.7) Brightline West 180 mph max speeds
6 Los Angeles - San Francisco (7.8) CHSR 200+ mph max speeds
5 Dallas - Houston (9.6) Texas Central? 200 mph max speeds
4 Washington - Philadelphia (13.5)
3 New York City - Philadelphia (20.0)
2 New York City - Boston (32.3)
1 New York City - Washington (37.2)

Underline city pairs already serviced by Amtrak Acela with 160 mph max speeds

Only 3 other city pairs in the USA exceeded the 3.8 ranking for Paris - Lyon,
Los Angeles - Phoenix (4.4)
Chicago - Indianapolis (4.4)
Washington - Pittsburgh (4.1)

Note, with his rankings he is using Combine Statistic Area population data. So his rankings ranked Washington -Pittsburgh higher than Philadelphia - Pittsburgh.
Never-the-less, this gravity model is helpful, and just about all the great city pairs in the USA are already being addressed by Amtrak, CHSR, Texas Central, or Brightline.

Note missing on his ranking list are Chicago - MStP, Chicago - StL, Seattle - Portland, Washington - Charolette, Washington - Atlanta, Atlanta - Anywhere, Columbus - Anywhere.