Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Short Lines, not as long but just as wide: A New Riptrack Item

New ideas are good! New ideas can be good. I hope this is one of them. From time to time, there are "one liners" that occur in the railroad industry that don't warrant a full page effort, but are important nonetheless. With that in mind, "Short Lines" here at Riptrack is born.

Some of these items might be nothing more than a simple thought that is derived from an arbitrary, electrical verbage syntax that had occurred in my brain. So here goes:

Can someone please come up with a better one of these?

This is the weak link in everyone's railroad. Figure out a better one and you will never work another day in your life.

Arcady asked what my opinion was concerning the California High Speed Rail Initiative. It should be no surprise that Rip is strongly in favor. California is one of at least three locations where High Speed Rail has been discussed. In Texas, the idea of linking DFW with Houston and San Antonio looked like a distinct possibility. Florida also looked at Miami to Orlando to Tampa, if memory serves. High Speed Passenger Rail will be much like Light Rail, insofar as once the first demo is built, the question moves from "why" to "when are we getting ours?" California is a logical first place because, based on the Amtrak success story there, it will be a success.

Ridership is still going up, not only at DART/TRE but also Amtrak. There are many more examples. The downside is that some Agencies are having to choose between service cuts or fare increases. Here is what Sacramento RT is doing.


At 11:27 AM, September 07, 2008, Blogger Stephen said...

Rip, can your professional contacts get the rules changed to permit faster train running on the existing tracks? I remember a story about Carl Loucks bringing some old New Haven timetables to a meeting to deal with opposition to upgrading the Shore Line. Has anyone at FRA or the Congressional committees looked at what conventional railroads did years ago?

At 3:20 PM, September 12, 2008, Blogger Rip said...

Stephen, I doubt if I or any of my connections can facilitate progress in this regard, especially with Congress. There are many more cases of where returning to the good old days would mean an increase in passenger train speed. Carl Loucks is acknowledged as an expert in old public timetables, and my guess is that he was frustrated with the situation, too.

Running faster trains on existing tracks means dealing not only with opposition from communities, but also eliminating grade crossings, answering right-of-way access and safety concerns, as well as train control issues. I spoke once with someone who was involved with increasing the speed limit on Amtrak's existing route between Kalamazoo and Niles, Michigan. Amtrak wished to raise train speeds from eighty mph to 110 mph, if I recall correctly. The issues, in addition to the improved trackwork, that had to be overcome were incredible!

For that reason, I think that California is correct in asking for and planning a new, dedicated right-of-way for high speed rail. Not only could an entirely new line be easier to build than upgrading an existing line, but the resulting state-of-the-art line could mean less maintenance and more efficiency in the future, too.


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