The cost of highspeed rail is expensive, but can we really afford not to consider it?

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Horseman: You would be surprised at the number of people who would rather take a SEPTA local from Philadelphia to Trenton, NJ and then transfer to a NJT local from Trenton to NY Penn, about a three hour ride, rather than the much faster Amtrak regional service, simply because the fare is significantly cheaper. The same folks will ride the discount bus services for the same reason. I suppose time doesn't matter to younger people.

I recall the ordeal of traveling on 80 MPH conventional trains during the late Penn Central / early Amtrak era. Increasing the speed to 100 then 110 then 125, ( 135 for the Acela), each brought more business travel back to the rails. Today, business people will board the train, and immediately plug in their laptops or pads and they are conducting business, all during the time they are traveling is productive. Something not even on the horizon when the freight roads ran the passenger trains.

The key to all of this is tailoring the equipment to the needs of the traveler, and providing a reliable service. Extreme speed, while nice, is not essential.
The primary need is catering to the business traveler.

It amuses me when someone proposes a High Speed route from NYP to Chicago, using some exotic futuristic means, but over looks Chicago - Toledo - Cleveland, for instance. Empire Service across New York State, is popular, but could do better if frequency and speed were increased. It wouldn't be that expensive, but in addition to the usual opposition, Amtrak and NYDOT have a habit of butting heads, instead of co-operating.

Another key point is that we need to remember that Intercity rail is intermodal, meaning they have to provide a place for passengers to safely park their cars. Without this feature, folks will not use rail. it's something that planners and visionaries often overlook.


When I lived in South Jersey yet, I would drive up to Mercer County & catch NJT at Hamilton station, right off 295, to go to NYC.
I still travel a lot by train. Amtrak that is. I do it to see things and relax. If I want speed I'll twist my legs into an airline seat-space and endure it for an hour or two.

Having said that, I think the California HS train was a scam and a fraud from the beginning. A small fortune was frittered away and nothing was usable. I know how corrupt this state is so it wasn't a surprise. I suspect it mostly went to "crony" pals and fake jobs for cousins, buddies and relatives.

I designed some electronics equipment over 20 years ago for the local commuter rail projects here and it had many layers of worthless "consultants" that they hired. All they did was get in the way and suck up haystacks of money needlessly.

I only wish the Bogus California HS train project funds could have been given to Amtrak. I think they could have done a lot with only a 1/10th of the amount that was totally blown.


Well-Known Member
I've been hearing a lot of rhetoric, bad jokes and other nonsense about the "Green New Deal" so I took the time to read it for myself. It offers no specifics, just outlines the problems and proposes targets to reach solutions. Sounds like a good starting point to me.

This is not about high-speed rail, specifically, but I think it highlights the real problem.

I got a new slogan "make America read again"
The "Green Deal" would be a good "Deal", if all the other nations worked to reduce their emissions and have lower target goals set for the reduction of harmful emissions their like they did for the United States. The United States working without the other industrialized nations fully cooperating would result in little, if no impact on the global pollution situation and at what expense to the United States?
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Not for nothing, but America's biggest problem is that everyone is dug in and ready to defend their position, and will not listen to other ideas or opinions.

In re-reading this thread, most of what I see is why "it won't work", and all sorts of reasons why we shouldn't consider passenger rail, period.

My last ten years of gainful employment, were in what passes for US HSR. I actually observed how it works and why it's popular with people of all sizes and shapes and economic levels. Believe me, if you carefully choose the route, and build it, the customers will come. All one has to do is make it accessible and convenient for the majority of the people you are targeting as a market. There are places where it will not work.

Planners should not assume that a profitable rail freight carrier will willingly give up their major access to their customers, just to run a passenger rail service. Planners should not assume that "if we build it, they will come". Planners need to discover what will attract people to regularly use the rail service.

As far as the "Green New deal" is concerned it's an empty slogan that makes for a great sound bite. Irrespective of anything the rest of the world does, we need to come up with cleaner ways of doing everything. I grew up in an area where all sorts of slop was discharged into the atmosphere, and my lungs bear the scarring from this pollution. HSR, Solar Power, Wind Farms, CNG, rail electrification, all have potential. Better ways of moving people to and from work are also needed. Where I live, many folks commute to the city, and that adds four or more hours of commuting to their work day. We really need to look at new ways of doing things, instead of finding reasons why proposals won't work.

Two quick thoughts.

The "Green New Deal" is a soundbite, easily repeatable on our news sources.

Environmental reform, that has meaning and is beneficial will only come about when we stop clearing land and trees (which consume carbon dioxide), with homes and asphalt. There is plenty of usable land laying fallow in our cities, that can be utilized for development instead of expanding into undeveloped areas. Politicians, that claim they are "green", but sign off on excess development. Very hypocritical.

Apparently, those folks trying to cross the border still think this is a shining city upon a hill, but the international business community doesn't approve. They play one against the other to get the best deal. They create all sorts of dissent, to distract us from what they are doing, the Surprise!

You really have to wonder why every TV network hires the same type of on camera employee, and disseminates the same information with the same slant... I know, I need to wear my tin foil hat, but...

"Not for nothing, but America's biggest problem is that everyone is dug in and ready to defend their position, and will not listen to other ideas or opinions.

In re-reading this thread, most of what I see is why "it won't work", and all sorts of reasons why we shouldn't consider passenger rail, period. "

Could not agree more with Boris comments! If Joe in Nebraska doesn't see a need for legitimate mass transit, then he may thinks it doesn't suit anybody else. If Jim in NY feels it would be quite beneficial, he may think that it makes sense for everyone. We are too polarized as a nation. Legitimate public transportation, in any form, is met with skepticism, fear of government inadequacies to manage it, and costs associated with it. More importantly, it is met with FEAR. Americans are so afraid of change and anything that is forced to make us think about something 'different' invokes fear. Hell, even if it is something that other countries have done already we are skeptical. If it's groundbreaking and completely new? Forget it!
I also meant to add that the vast majority of Americans have not had the good fortune to use an honest to goodness mass transit system that is timely and efficient. If they traveled Europe for any length of time they would SURELY have different perspectives than "it won't work" :) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to