Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

High Speed Rail in the Ark-La-Tex

Arkansas lawmaker Steve Harrelson has one of the region’s best legislative, government, and general interest blogs. He also keeps up with regional passenger rail issues. This is the latest entry from Under the Dome.

High Speed Rail in the Ark-La-Tex


David Dean shows possibilities of high speed rail across Arkansas during yesterday’s town hall meeting on rail at Texarkana College. This form of high speed rail, while officials tout it being constructed by private dollars, is far more expensive than the more conventional “high performance rail” and is even higher than constructing interstate-standard highways.    

Here are a few differences:

High Speed Rail    

Cost: $20 – $46 million per mile
Speed: ~220 mph
Floats above the track on magnets
Can’t using existing rail bed – must obtain new land for route
    High Performance Rail    

Cost: $1.3 million per mile
Speed: 80 – 110 mph
Conventional steel wheel rail
Can use existing track, but double tracking needed


Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

5 Responses

  1. Erv says:

    I am surprised that these people do not know the difference between High Speed Rail and MagLev. They call it High Speed Rail, but describe a MagLev system. The two are not the same, and there is an enormous difference in their costs. HSR operates on a conventional rail system with a standard guage on a conventional roadbed. The roadbed must have most curves removed so that the trains can proceed at high speed in comfort and safety. Highly streamlined electric-powered vehicles are necessary. Speeds of 220 mph are often attainable, and costs are appx. those described above. MagLev, as described above, can operate at speeds about twice as fast as HSR. Costs are enormous. HSR technology is fully developed in Japan, France and Germany, and has been in use for over thirty years. Other European countries, such as UK, Netherlands, Belgium and Spain, are just beginning to operate HSR. HSR may soon be built in California. Europe will soon have HSR freight systems to compete with airlines. MagLev exists only in a couple of short shuttle-type lines–it’s just too expensive to seriously consider building a full-scale system.

  2. Couldn’t have said it better Erv!

    The only commerical operated Maglev route is in Shanghai, China. An extension will start in 2010 (supposedly) which will be the worlds fastest “railroad”

    Japan has a test maglev and Transrapid has a test facility in Emsland which are both high speed. There is a smaller and much slower maglev system in Japan I think that has been very successful.

  3. The Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation (THSRTC) group leaders know very well the differences between rail and maglev, but from the information displayed it doesn’t come across.

    And I must disagree with the contention that “The two [HSR and maglev] are not the same, and there is an enormous difference in their costs.” Siemens, the supplier who builds both the ICE/Velaro trains and Transrapid maglev, says two main things about costs in a recent company brochure:

    1: In comparing investment costs, “For normal topologies, investments for the track/guideway [for high-speed rail and maglev] are almost equal,” and that “Magnetic levitation provides [cost] advantages in more demanding terrain.”

    2: With regard to life-cycle costs, “…the magnetic levitation
    system offers [cost] advantages which are due to the absence of mechanical wear (running gear, brakes).” Further, at least from the German experience, the consultant Dornier Consulting says that maglev offers similar life cycle costs and, with potential cost reductions over time, maglev offers an even more attractive alternative to high-speed rail.

    The cost issue is also touched upon in a Congressional response document from early 2007, (–roundtable-Brady-questions.pdf) on pages 2-3.

  4. Ran says:

    Siemens is disingenuous. Most HSR schemes will upgrade an existing right of way, while maglev will usually need an entirely new right of way (even if it shares the route with existing tracks). Investment costs may be comparable starting with a clean slate, but very few projects do, in fact, start from a clean slate.

  5. Allan says:

    Ran, you don’t just “upgrade” existing track for HSR. That position by HSR supports is in itself is being disingenuous. A track must be totally redone and once done, you certainly don’t want to share it with heavy freight trains. Thus, usually, the actual portion of the rail that can be run at high speed are totally separate tracks.

    The Shanghai line has proven that the operating and maintenance costs are significantly lower than HSR.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Top Clicks

  • None
November 2008


%d bloggers like this: