electricron wrote: ↑Tue Nov 10, 2020 10:31 pmThe problem with freight railroad companies adding capacity or maintaining their infrastructure to any sort of reasonable amount is because of their shareholders. I agree that the solution is the government owning the tracks, but they have backed themselves into a corner: on some corridors, freight traffic has decreased and the government/Amtrak needs access more than the freight companies do, and they know it, so they jack up the price to a ridiculous degree. Or, if there still is traffic, they say the cost of state of good repair or adding tracks is so astronomically high that Amtrak/the government throws their hands up and says "well, we tried but we can't afford it!" Whether or not that money could very well come from reallocating funding from other sectors of the government is a different conversation, but I for one think it's ridiculous the government isn't prioritizing it for the most part. Infrastructure is just going to crumble even more.daybeers wrote: ↑Tue Nov 10, 2020 3:23 pm While high speeds are flashy and give politicians the PR and grand ribbon-cuttings they so dearly enjoy because it's a tangible showing of their commitment to their constituents, it's really not what we should be focusing on first. Average speed is the real measure, and to increase that, you need to spend less time not moving or going slow. All-door, level boarding, superelevating curves, double/triple/quad tracking, passing sidings, replacing bridges & tunnels. Reduced travel time lets you run more frequencies with the same amount of equipment, thereby increasing ridership, which means more revenue to fund higher speeds in the future. These are not new ideas; frankly they're the opposite. We've known where the answers are all along, they're just not flashy and sometimes don't get a project to the criteria needed for certain grants/bonds/commitments from both government & the public. Replacing a tunnel that's crumbling to increase the speed through it by 15-20 mph isn't sexy, but if you present it as an increase in reliability and decrease in delays & travel time and pair it with other similar small improvements along the line, that is where you get interest.It is difficult to criticize freight railroad companies for not adding more tracks when Amtrak has not done so on every track they own.
The problem the freight railroad companies have with adding more tracks to any corridor to accommodate more passenger trains is the cost to maintain the extra tracks. Even if the government pitches in the entire costs to add the tracks, will they pitch in more funds to maintain those tracks? I do not think the government will.
Brightline in Florida has added tracks to the FEC mainline, willing to pay to build and maintain them. Ideally, I believe it would have been better for Illinois to have paid to build the second track to the line between St. Louis and Chicago, instead of paying to rebuild the single track line. But Illinois was not willing to pay to maintain the tracks, leaving that cost to the UPRR. So, the UPRR replaced the tracks in the existing single track line and upgrading the signaling.
In Europe and other countries around the world, the rail corridors are owned by the government. Not true for most of the USA, the freight railroads own the tracks, pays the entire costs to maintain them, and also pays taxes to the government for the equipment on their property. They are competitive with their competitors on price. Anything that increases their costs makes them less competitive. Adding more tracks increases their costs. Maintaining their tracks to a higher standard required by passenger trains increases their costs. Paying more property taxes for the additional value of their property increases their costs. That is why adding tracks to the existing corridors has not happen!