• General US High Speed Rail Discussion

  • 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 Desertdweller

Is that why New York City keeps going bankrupt?

  by mlrr
Gentlemen, let's not turn this into the coast vs the heartland debate...


I'm a bit disturbed by your philosophy and slightly offended by your perception of life in the northeast. I can see how you would draw your conclusions however.

Regarding the perception of the northeast, it's also not so much wealth (although many wealthy folks do live in the northeast) as it is about the cost of living. As stated before, you pay allot more for allot less in the Northeast compared to other parts of the country. It's a fact. So in a sense the northeast is paying its fair share in an indirect way. To ignore this means that whoever's opinion is consistent with your claims is not looking at the situation holistically. Many studio apartment dwellers in NYC for example will likely be able to afford a house out in Nebraska. I've seen it for myself. In all fairness however, one could say it balances out because wages are lower in the Midwest compared to the Northeast but again; it's about cost of living; not wealth. Try moving to NY and getting a higher wage and then living off that wage. I almost guarantee you your standard of living would have to decrease. Personally; there's no way I'd be able to afford the two bedroom apt. I currently have in Baltimore if I lived in NY (especially within close proximity to downtown) and if I did, it would be much smaller.

Incomes may be higher, but it's by necessity and survival, not luxury.

HSR dollars in the NE makes sense because the land use supports it. It's much more dense. It's also a region where it's been proven by our half-way attempt at HSR with Acela on the existing NEC (it's not true HSR but an incremental approach that yielded results). The fact that Acela is one of he few trains that generates a profit proves that HSR can work if built the right way. The question is whether or not the majority of the public can afford it; especially on a national scale as proposed by Obama in his first term.
  by Jeff Smith
If I may, I just want to say that I'm appreciative of the tenor this subject. The mods do a great job, and you all are to be commended for avoiding the ad hominem and hyperbole' that often infects such a subject.

-Thanks! The Management
  by penncenter
Desertdweller wrote:PC,

Is that why New York City keeps going bankrupt?


The whole country is on the verge of being bankrupt! As for NYC, well, I am not in a position to know about their specific finances. All I am saying is that much more tax money leaves the NYC metro area than they receive back in Federal Funds. And if we are talking about self-funding, then the Northeast comes out smelling like a rose. It is the rural areas that benefit disporportionately relative to their Fed contributions. I wish it would go to a fair system, where the subsidization stops.

That being said, we have the current system. The long distance Amtrak trains lose money, the NEC makes money. Why? Distance and population density. HSR needs bodies willing and able to pay for it over a medium distance dyay in and day out, every week, every year. That also involves people getting on and off at intermediate points to maximize revenue. The Northeast is the only place in the country with the population density that can even begin to justify the cost of HSR. So if the Feds are going to subsidize and invest in HSR, then lets do it in a place that can either 1) make a profit, 2) break even, or 3) lose as little as possible. Foreign govts all subsidize their HSR. Its another one of the social compacts that makes everyone "more equal." But it does cut down on emissions, and it can efficiently move lots of people in and out of city centers cleanly and quickly.

You mentioned the Basin area, but lets be real, why do we need HSR there? How many people really need it? How many people benefit? The expense per beneficiary would be so disproportionate relative to the Northeast that you would think you had made a major mistake in your math.

Not every region is equal, and not everyone needs---or can justify---this kind of major infrastructure investment. Just because the Northeast can run a profit on Acelas and Regional service doesn't mean Nebraska's or Colorado's residents should have equivalent service. Unless of course, you want to pay for it. But the states never would because individual taxes that would need to be levied would never get passed by the state legislatures. Very few would be able to pay for the construction, let alone the cost of a ticket.

I hear you, but I just don't agree. But I appreciate your point of view...
  by Desertdweller

I am attempting to disagree without being disagreeable.

For a short time I did work in the Northeast. I was surprised at the cost of houses there. I also noted, in the area I was working at least, an almost complete lack of fast-food outlets. If one wanted a quick lunch, best bet was one of the food vendors that would set up on heavily trafficked routes around noontime. Otherwise, take-out food from supermarket delis. If I was off duty, Ruby Tuesday's was about as good a deal for a sit-down lunch as anyplace.

On the other hand, small family-owned Italian restaurants were universal. And priced no higher than elsewhere in the country. Their food was uniformly great!

Aside from those examples, I found prices to be pretty well in line with anywhere else. I suppose a lot has to do with the preponderance of national chains.

For the job I held in the railroad industry, at least since 2005, I could live anywhere I wished, as I was working away from home all the time. My arrival in Nebraska was the result of a job relocation after the railroad I worked for in Mississippi was sold. I think I found a nice place to live, on a services vs. cost basis. The housing market is poor here, as in most places now, and I was able to buy a nice house at an attractive price. I still own my Mississippi house, and have no immediate plans to sell it.

We are down to one train a day in each direction in Nebraska. For some reason (maybe to serve the state capital) the old CB&Q Denver main line was chosen over the UP main, which actually serves more population centers in this state and provided daily service to this town. UP was quick to demolish its passenger depots soon after the creation of AMTRAK.

If the NEC is actually making money, why not use that revenue to fund HSR in that area? My objection is using the AMTRAK budget to build and expand services in the NEC while the long distance trains that serve the rest of the country barely get by. While they show good ridership, the lack of access and insistence of retaining a hub-and-spoke system more suited to airline operation keeps it from reaching its potential.

I think the answer may lie in the 503b operations. If states like Nebraska and Colorado want passenger rail, the legislatures should be willing to entertain bills that would provide for funding. Even better would be a system where the states themselves own and operate their trains in a co-operative system. I would support that idea.

As far as Willoughby's goes, I am retired, but not ready to get off there yet.

  by Zmapper
Quick comment, but currently North Dakota has a 1 Trillion budget surplus. Yes, they get about $2 for every $1 they contribute, but likely the money infused is for oil development, which though the use of taxes is where ND gets their surplus.
  by 2nd trick op
With a current population of about 650,000 .... a $1T surplus would amout to about $1,300,000 for every man, woman and child in the state of North Dakota.

Inacurracies like this, in the hands of people whose idea of journalism is the National Dipstick or whatever you call the trash at supermarket checkouts, is the principal reason this nation is struggling right now.
  by djlong
I just checked and as of earlier this month, North Dakota as a $2B surplus due to natural resource (ready fossil fuel) revenues.

Big difference between $2B and $1T
  by Jeff Smith
Someone play me a dirge...

Republicans prohibit funding for high speed rail

Now, this is a blog, so it's really opinion couched as news, although I actually find this blog not to be riven with political hyperbole'. And I think her conclusions are mostly on the mark.
SF Gate Carolyn Lochhead BLog wrote:House Republicans late Thursday night adopted an amendment that would prohibit California from receiving any high speed rail money in a huge five-year transportation bill headed to the House floor next week. The $270 billion bill also eliminates bicycle and pedestrian programs and detaches urban mass transit funding from its traditional revenue source. The underlying bill did not include any high speed rail funding to begin with, and indeed would cut Amtrak by 25 percent, so the prohibition serves mainly as a stick in the eye to California’s plan for bullet trains.
Again, I think CA is an ideal spot for HSR. Now the project has issues for sure.
  by David Benton
i guess this is why its important to vote , and let your politicans know what you want .

  by amtrakowitz
David Benton wrote:I guess this is why it’s important to vote, and let your politicans know what you want
They did vote. The politicians played around anyway.
  by gprimr1
I just want to say a note about voting and making your intents known, and this applies to both Democrats and Republicans and anyone else.

I wish people would stop writing their own party a free pass. I know so many people who want to blame the other party, but when there own party does something they don't agree with, they get a free pass.


  by electricron
amtrakowitz wrote:They did vote. The politicians played around anyway.
The majority did vote to bond less than $10 Billion for CHSR, not over $90 Billion. The majority voted for a CHSR as it was then proposed to be. It's not that design anymore. It's gone from a grade separated railway using cheaper elevated construction to more expensive below grade construction. Instead of train riders watching the beautiful California scenery fly pass at 200 mph, they now see graffiti painted concrete walls fly pass at 200 mph.
  by Jeff Smith
From a 2008 promoter of CA HSR: UK Guardian
I created this US High Speed Rail Map as a composite of several proposed maps from 2009, when government agencies and advocacy groups were talking big about rebuilding America's train system.

Having worked on getting California's high speed rail approved in the 2008 elections, I've long sung the economic and environmental benefits of fast trains.

This latest map comes more from the heart. It speaks more to bridging regional and urban-rural divides than about reducing airport congestion or even creating jobs, although it would likely do that as well.
I like the "Turquoise line" because it reconnects a "Floridian" somewhat via Atlanta and Savannah.

The map contemplates an HSR Sunset; not sure that works. Also, a Boston - Chicago connection via Canada which to me is a non-starter. There's also a very interesting connection to Monterrey, MX.

Image credit to Guardian/Alfred Twu (Google): https://sites.google.com/site/californi ... ail-system

Petition at: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petiti ... s/2KwWYNSb
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