TGV - why was it considered advanced?

bryan9 Jun 27, 2006

  1. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    My random thoughts on all this good conversation.

    Frances TGV and Japans shinkansen probably have a leg up on us yanks due to a new way of thinking. Putting money down up front to create a national network that can run from city center to city center, combined with zero defect operating plans.

    Aerodynamic trains is another of those old ideas someone mentioned. It's like a long airplane without wings.

    To reiterate some other folks comments about airtravel. I'm in Denver. Our airport is a 30-45 minute drive from my house depending on traffic. With security walk through taking up to an hour and the added half hour of sitting and waiting. Travel time including taxiing to the runway and back. Then waiting for luggage and such. What a waste.

    I have inlaws in KC and the bi-annual drive to visit takes ten hours doing about 70 MPH. What I would give to be able to go downtown and hop a bullet train at 7 am. The train would pull out of Union station and amble out of town at reduced rates till it can hit the eastbound mainline for Kansas City.

    Once we clear all the junctions and curves our engineer cranks it up to nearly 200 MPH for the four hour train ride into downtown KC. I could hop off the train in Kansas cities enourmous passenger station. My inlaws would greet us with their car.

    By 1pm I'd be sitting in a Kansas City barbacue joint, maybe Gates or Bryants, devouring some ribs and licking sauce off my fingers. I can dream can't I?

    One question for those in the know. How much is the individual cost difference between air travel and train travel on bullet trains?
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes. Depressing. The philosophy of not funding railroading, seems have been inbred into our politicians. You must remember that the concept of self-sufficiency comes directly from that bunch of irresponsible people. Who can almost never be held accountable. Who for the most part, possess zero business acumen. And really could care less. They're simply saying it, as a matter of poli-sci-speak.

    The above then being combined with questionable lobbying, (air, trucking, maritime....), keep things well blocked. And then there are those ever litigating NIMBYs....

    However, there's also a problem or two with our public. Misinformation for too many years, from the above noted sources. Plus purely lousy historical education, has deliberately skewed opinion. So, far too many citizens have no clue of how railroads function, or their requisites. And, we taxpayers hold a deep distrust, having seen too many boondoggles, (essentially outright thefts), when expending revenues on National infrastructure.

    Things will likely remain as they are, for a long time to come.

    Boxcab E50
     
  3. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    Well, we have them too..... That is why the last two large railroad investments in our country (high speed line to Belgium and freight line to Germany) have become a big problem: thanks to expensive tunnels, fences, and gigantic safety measures, these new tracks cost a lot of money. Nobody wants a freight line in its backyard, so with a lot of money the goverment has bought the NIMBYs: tunnel here, fence there..... And now everyone is complaining about the high costs. Duh....
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    That's exactly the word!

    Far too many people cannot connect the fact such project funds being spent, will be coming from their own pockets. They have a mythical belief it's "government money." Well, government generally has no money. They take (tax) it from the populace. And spend it. So, Duh.

    Everything tacked on to a project, must be paid for. By Joe Citizen. Not the special interest that sued for a tunnel, fence, etc. Up go the taxes. Up goes the rent. And...... Duh.

    If you want progress, you must accept what comes with it. Or if you want a situation mitigated, you'd better not complain about cost. But then they do grump...... Duh.

    :eek:mg:

    Boxcab E50
     
  5. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    It is generally accepted by political and financial historians that the downfall of US rail passenger travel was due to a conspiracy instigated by an automobile, oil, and rubber consortium from the 1920's well into the 1950's. The major players in this consortium are said to be Ford, Standard Oil, and Firestone, who formed multiple paper corporations that obtained controlling interest in intra-city and inter-city rail passenger companies, drained them of their assets, deferred maintenance, corrupted schedules, and finally raised fares until the riding public chose to use their private automobiles or gasoline burning rubber tired busses for daily transportation. This consortium then in 1953-54 convinced President Eisenhower that the Interstate Highway Sytem was the only answer to the defense of the US. He immediately agreed, having seen how the Allies dessimated Europe's rail system during WW-II, and how Hitler used Germany's Autobahn as alternate airfields. (A major requirement of all Interstates is that each must have a five-mile straight section every 20-40 miles. This has been implemented throughout the US with few exceptions.)

    It is no wonder that a society, who was taught by their parents to trust authority without question, was convinced by this "trusted" authority that rail travel was wasteful, unsafe, unreliable, and un-American, would immediately gravitate to the wonderful, modern, jazzy, and chique automobile....and when Our Government "gave" us new, wide, fast Interstates to drive them on, the result became history. Sadly, it takes only one or two generations to be convinced that something is evil, but it takes four to six generations for that same society to realize it had been lied to....!

    When San Francisco's BART System first was proposed in the late 60's or early 70's, then Mayor Alioto commisioned a study to determine why the Key System had failed. His study was the first time that the magnitude of this conspiracy came to light. Sadly, by this time it was too late to save any of the systems, even Pacific Electric which ran its last Red Car in 1964.

    For those who wish to study this further, I recommend that they research the demise of the Pacific Electric System, San Francisco's Key System, and the Indiana Electric System, among many others. One must dig very deeply, as these paper corporations were buried under up to seven layers of holding companies and other covers. Similar in many ways to the Enron conspiracy, only seventy years earlier....!
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hank-

    If I recall correctly, this went through a court system. Do not remember who the complaintant was... But didn't they win damages of $1.00, trebled to $3.00? It was a truly bizarre outcome. Believe CBS did an expose' on their 60 Minutes Show about 15 years ago.

    :eek:mg:

    Boxcab E50
     
  7. Martyn Read

    Martyn Read TrainBoard Supporter

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    But the car is not the main competitor to HSR, it's the domestic air travel market that this would be mostly competing with (and to some extent replacing).

    I can't find a sensible number anywhere, but thousands of Americans must use rail on a daily basis with the NEC and the various commuter rail agencies around the country, some of which are very large operations these days. (Edit - found a number on Trains that suggests 150,000 folk a day use Metra for their round trip to and from work, so that's at least 150,000 people in a small geographical area that use rail).

    I can't think that folk in Chicago are somehow not real American's, it's just that they have a rail service that does something that's relevant to their needs.

    People these days don't want to plan their entire week around their transportation, the transportation has to be a valid option when they want to travel, and to be a valid option it's got to be competitive in the places that they want, cost, time, convenience. (In different proportions for each person admittedly)
     
  8. BedfordRob

    BedfordRob TrainBoard Supporter

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    Worth looking into. I've a friend in Tokyo so I'll bounce him an email for some comparisons.

    When I was there in 2000 I do remember bullet trains being expensive, something like £200 to get from Tokyo to Kyoto if I remember rightly but on Japanese wages not too bad I guess.

    As a tourist you can get an excellent deal by buying a Japan rail pass before you travel (you can't get them once you're there). Unlimited travel. Two week ticket cost me £150

    Rob
     
  9. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    Another aspect of high speed lines, is the positive effect it can have on cities. The French city Lille, on the crossing between France, Belgium and the UK, was a poor and deteriorated industrial city. With the arrival of the TGV, they restored the city and build a magnificent station. The city has prospered thanks to the new and fast connections with the main economic regions. By the way: it IS really a very nice city!

    In Holland, you see a struggle between the large cities in the western part of the country. Amsterdam and Rotterdam will get a HSL stop, but The Hague (where the goverment and parlement reside) will not be a stop. After many protests, there will be a few trains a day starting and ending in The Hague.

    These kinds of transport can give a boost to a city. Not always the case, of course, since the smaller cities also want a stop and well, than it won't be a HSL anymore ;-)

    But the large investments have created high quality corridors in Europe and the main users are business people traveling between the important economic regions.
     
  10. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Ken, there have been many court cases on the conspiracy subject over the years. Sadly, all were "too little, too late" resulting in mere slaps on the wrist, especially since most, if not all of the involved parties had long since died. Most cases over the past 30 years appear to have been filed merely to capture "headlines" prior to an election.

    Martyn, many people use public transit to commute into center-city areas because the automobile is such a hassle. But that option is not available for commuting in and around sprawling suburban areas. As you say, the NEC and to a lesser degree the CalTran systems are finally becoming preferred modes of inter-city transit. But acceptance has taken nearly 30 years, more than one generation, and even now growth is ponderously slow. It takes a long time to change public opinion. Return to rail travel in the US nationwide will not become a major consideration until the politicians and leaders understand that they must make automobile travel too costly, as I understand has been done in London. Still today, the annual US Federal transportion budget is nearly 100:1 skewed in favor of highways and airlines over rail.

    Although I agree with your observation, 150,000 rail commuters are still a small percentage of the 2-3 Million people who commute each day into downtown Chicago, New York, and Washington.
     
  11. bryan9

    bryan9 TrainBoard Member

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    Just a note on high-speed night freight service - it's for parcels and other lightweight freight, including fruits and vegetables (see the English version of the SCNF Fret page) -- Bryan
     
  12. bryan9

    bryan9 TrainBoard Member

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    It ain't necessarily so (streetcar version)

    I'm a scholar in the field known as science, technology, and society (STS), which includes the history of technology... which means I follow the scholarly literature in a variety of areas that interest me... and I'm really sorry to say that the conspiracy theory is no longer generally accepted. (I fervently believed it myself until I saw the evidence to the contrary.) Here are a couple of recent articles:

    To be sure, there was some collusion, but historians now believe that, even in its absence, the streetcar and interurban systems that had survived into the 1950s wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway. The bottom line is that they were, on the whole, shabby and decrepit systems that had not been significantly upgraded since the Depression. They were kept alive, mostly, due to the war... a massive capital investment would have been necessary to salvage them.

    Now don't kill the messenger, please! :angel:

    --Bryan
     
  13. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Bryan, thank you for those enlightning articles. I have merely scanned them, but will study them further as time permits. What I find curious is my memory of the Mayor Alioto study of the early 70's. It's possible that this study was the origin of Snell's position and resulting myth. I'll try to find that study, or perhaps you have ready access to it...?

    Thanks again, Hank
     
  14. Martyn Read

    Martyn Read TrainBoard Supporter

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    The 150000 figure was for Metra in Chicago alone, it doesn't include CTA or possibly even the South Shore, and certainly not any commuters from DC or NYC.

    I would imagine as a percentage a higher number of folk in NYC use rail than in Chicago, but because of the way things are I'd have to try and find stats from several organisations, and I would imagine that some proportion of transit customers in NYC would have arrived on one of the 'main line' rail providers and so I wouldn't like to hazard a guess at the number of folk actually using trains in NYC on a given day. Chicago was just an easier one to figure as there are less operators involved.

    My point was that folk don't hate the train, it just isn't relevant enough. Where the train is relevant folk use it. Pricing folk out of their cars is fine, but you have to have an alternative there before you do that.

    Going back to that Chicago-Kansas City analogy again, I figure that if there's a straight road (haven't looked to see wether there is or not, so apologies if i'm wrong there) it's about 8 hours by car centre to centre. Rail on the SWC was about 6 hours. Air, allowing for an hour each end would be around 3 hours.

    Car's advantage:
    * Door to door
    * Go whenever you want, to the exact minute.
    * Flexible
    * Percieved as Reliable
    * Personal space
    Car's disadvantage:
    * Rising fuel costs
    * No chance to relax
    * Slowest centre to centre times (but the door to door issue may negate this disadvantage)

    Rail Advantages
    * Direct centre to centre
    * Opportunity to rest/work/eat without stopping
    Rail Disadvantages
    * One train a day, take it or leave it. If you need to arrive before that, or can't leave Chicago after this train has gone it ceases to be an option at all.
    * Reliability at mercy of host railroad, or indeed any eedjit with a stray dump truck (percieved safety issue as well, it might be an incorrect perception, but it exists)

    Air advantages
    * Fastest overall
    Air disadvantages
    * Cramped
    * At least two mode changes needed
    * Security checks
    * Reliability issues, at mercy of weather

    HSR gives you the speed of the air mode, but far greater reliability, more personal space, the amenities of conventional rail, and unless they are doing something really wierd with it, far more options in the way of journey opportunities.

    But nobody can use that mode yet in the US, as it doesn't properly exist in the US, at least not outside the NEC. The mode has to exist before folk can use it, and it is a different product than Amtrak is currently capable of selling (not through it's own fault mostly)
     
  15. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Good analysis, Martyn. I agree with all of your points. However, it will take strong leadership in the Executive Branch to develop a reliable HSR in the US. The Executive then must drag the Legislative Branch, kicking and screaming, into agreement....we shall see, hopefully before my demise, but I doubt it.
     
  16. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    About ten years ago there was a serious proposal to build, from the ground up, a high speed train conecting Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston in a triangle. Southwest Airlines and its cronies pulled out all stops to block the plan. They succeded.
     
  17. chndrsn

    chndrsn TrainBoard Member

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    An Outsider Travelling on the Eurostar

    Last year I travelled to Europe from Australia and had prebooked two Eurostar trips. I had not been to Europe since my childhood. Like most Australians these day I had not been on an intercity train for quite a few years. But I had sat down and worked out the costs, time advantages and options for getting to and from London and Paris. The economics and speed of catching the tube or cab to Waterloo, Eurostar to Gar de Nord Paris, cab to motel, killed any thought of the hour plus to the airport, hour plus checkin and security, half hour wait and then an hour flight, followed by a TGV into town then a cab to my hotel.

    Then being able to get Leisure Plus (Premium/First Class) seats for about USD 120, glass of complimentary champagne and a first class meal, walk around, good leg room - everything we want as travellers. An absolutely superb service only delayed by UK track speed limits.

    Now I know the service better, when I return I will use it far more extensivelly throughtout France, Spain and Belgium. Can Australia or the US do it, of course, if their is the political and public will to nation building again. There was talk here of running it Sydney - Canberra - Albury - Melbourne, an ideal route of about 800miles, include very fast mail sorting trains and light cargo/parcels would also significantly reduce road traffic. Airlines would keel over with the marketing of hotels and car rental also done by SNCF at the stations.

    One could hypothesise that a North Coast Route, Central - New Castle - Port Macquirie - Coffs Harbour - Grafton - Lismore -Gold Coast - Brisbane as a mixed passenger mail, light freight. If nothing more that pulling fatigued drivers of the road before they become statistics!

    Anyway enough dribble from me in my first post! Looking forward to all the advice as I start out on N scale prototyping Australian after 30 odd years away from the hobby!
    cheers,
    Chris
     
  18. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Chris,
    Welcome to Trainboard. We are looking forward to your participation not only in the N Scale Forum but everywhere you find an interest.
     
  19. chndrsn

    chndrsn TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you. My father who I believe visits here frequently pointed me to the URL and I haven't been of it for six hours! I look forward to getting many ideas for a prototypical Australian layout, where all owners/saystems converge and how to kitbash and model properly!
    cheers,
    Chris
     
  20. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Chris, Wecome aboard the Trainboard. I'm sure you'll find it fully "Leisure Class", although without the US$120 expense.

    Thank you for your positive travelogue. It's always a pleasure and informative to read travel experiences from an outsider's perspective.
     

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