Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Acela defies California’s bullet-train naysayers –

I don’t check in here so much any more. It seems rather pointless. To those of you who still fight the good fight, thanks and good luck. Frankly, I am sticking with my prediction that not one single mile of true European style high speed rail will ever be built for intercity transportation in the United States.

While this editorial does not disprove my prediction, It is a good perspective, even though the Washington-Boston corridor does not “make money” (whatever that means).. Read it all at the link.

Critics deride the line as a train to nowhere that will never attract the funding needed to run all the way from Sacramento to San Diego (with a spur to San Francisco) as originally envisioned. What’s more, they say, the train’s planning has been so undermined by special interests that it has no chance of running fast enough to fulfill its promise to get from L.A. to San Francisco in 2 1/2 hours. The naysayers aren’t necessarily wrong — there are serious troubles in trainville — but their aversion to risk is blinding them to the potential rewards. If the cynics fail to kill the train and more visionary leaders succeed in drumming up the funding needed to complete it, the line could become the most successful transportation project in the country.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at Amtrak‘s Acela Express.

Acela defies California’s bullet-train naysayers –

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

8 Responses

  1. Hieronymous Braintree says:

    When the price of gas finally goes above five smackerollas per gallon and stays there, we’re going to have mounting demand for decent rail service whether the right-wingers want it or not. There’s going to come a point when the reality of how much better other countries prepared to deal with the future hits home. Then, if we have the bucks, we’ll build. If not, hello second- and third-rate powership.

  2. Nathanael says:

    To be clear, we don’t need the bucks… we just need the labor and the smarts.

  3. says:

    IIt seems to me that most multibillon dollar projects are going to require a significant heap of green somewhere along the line to pay for the labor and those smarts you speak of, no?

  4. Hieronymous Braintree says:

    I know this is a lightly-travelled blog these days, but would someone remove my email address which I foolishly put in the wrong box?

  5. LoboSolo says:

    I’v heard that before … when the price of gas hits X, then folks will folk to trains … didn’t happen and won’t happen. Europeans pay more for gasoline than we do and cars still belord the whole system.

    I think most folks know that Amtrak is doing some Enron-like cooking of the books for the Acela. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be afeard of being cut loose from Congress.

    Now let’s look at some numbers posted by a commenter on the LA Times writ:

    DocScience at 11:09 AM August 16, 2012
    Hmmm…. let’s do some math.

    Acela one-way DCNYC fares are $145. Air fare is $55. So much for trains saving money.

    Air time is 1:10. With 1 hr check-in and 30 min from LaGuardia to Manhattan, that’s a trip time of 2:40.

    Acela time is 3:25, so much for trains saving time.

    Air travel statistics indicate about 5900 people per day fly the DC-NY pair.

    There are 20 Acela trains per day. Each train has 304 seats.

    Twenty trains, if 100% full of passengers ONLY going from DCNY would hold only 6080 people.

    I think the NY and LA Times’s math is a bit faulty. You have confused total Amtrak traffic with Acela traffic.

    The entire northeast corridor carries 27,000 people per day, some going only a short distance.

    Many of comments I saw on the NYT writ were that they were taking the train owing to the TSA. So if security is privatized, then a lot of the folks would go back to flying. Or, if TSA keeps growing and takes over security for trains, then the folks will drive.

    Always keep in mind:
    “Not everybody knows, and it does not always come through in the press, that the basic statute provides that Amtrak is not to be a government agency and is to be operated as a for-profit, privately owned railroad corporation. If it weren’t for that, a lot of us wouldn‘t be here, because I don’t‘ think that it is possible to run a railroad as a government agency and not have it be a disaster.” – Interview with Graham Claytor, Trains magazine, June 1991

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