By Ami Cholia
Posting in Cities
The Florida Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Rick Scott was well within his means to refuse federally allocated funds -- $2.4 billion -- to build a high-speed rail line in his state.
The Obama administration's efforts to get high-speed rail to Florida are all but dead. Today the Supreme Court of the state ruled that Governor Rick Scott was well within his means to refuse the $2.4 billion allocated to the state to build a high-speed rail line connecting Tampa to Orlando.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the money would be sent to other states.
In a unanimous ruling earlier today, the Florida Supreme Court turned down the suit brought by two state Senators, Thad Altman of Melbourne (R) and Arthenia Joyner of Tampa (D) — who had argued that the governor was obligated to take the money, because the Florida State Legislature voted in December 2009 to authorize the project.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D, however, has asked LaHood if he would reopen the bidding process to allow four cities -– Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Lakeland -– to seek the funds without the Governor's involvement.
Scott, though, would have to authorize land use for the project and he has in the past refused a similar proposal.
Scott’s spokesman, Brian Burgess, released the following statement:
“The Governor is gratified that the court provided a clear and unanimous decision, he is now focused on moving forward with infrastructure projects that create long-term jobs and turn Florida’s economy around. He also spoke with US DOT Secretary LaHood this morning and informed him that Florida will focus on other infrastructure projects and will not move forward with any federal high speed rail plan.”
However, mayors from Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Lakeland had managed to create a deal where private companies would pay for the project and operating expenses.
LaHood, who is a big supporter of a nation-wide high-speed rail network, said, "I know that states across America are enthusiastic about receiving additional support to help bring America's high-speed rail network to life and deliver all its economic benefits to their citizens."
California, Illinois, Missouri, Washington and New York are all vying for the money now.
Scott is the third newly-elected Republican governor who has returned federal money for high speed rail. Scott claimed that the project would result in cost overruns and that Florida tax payers would be left paying the difference. Earlier this year, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio also canceled rail projects in their states, citing potential high costs as well.
House Republicans have been wary of Obama’s high-speed rail initiative from the get-go. Obama, however, in his budget proposal last month, had called for spending $53 billion on passenger trains and high-speed rail projects over the next six years. He has maintained that an investment into rail would help jump start the economy by creating jobs that cannot be outsourced and would help reduce our dependence on oil.
Unfortunately, politics seems to have become the biggest winner in the end.
Mar 4, 2011
How about a HSR system for our cars? That would be great to be able to travel across the country and still have your car. This would cost more than the currently planned system though and would be harder to secure from terrorists.
Speed trains from miami,Fl to NYC would be great. They'll need to change engines after so many miles.From Miama.Fl to Atlanta Ga,change engines. Express and locals.As long as there are speed train that would go a long ways people will be happy. How about high speed trains from NYC to L.A.Ca. I want the speed train to run by electic, not gas.
You backwoods farmers love to Pollute our earth with your pickups. Electic speed trains don't pollute the air as your gas up junk cars do.
Some of you have commented that Florida's 90-mile stretch is too short to serve any benefit, but at least one would be the possibility of covering that 90 miles in as little as 30 minutes, depending on how well that infrastructure had been built. Combine this with the desire of travelers--especially tourists-- wanting to travel from Disney World, for instance, to Tampa for some historical tourism in St. Petersburg, the potential rises for more efficient transit systems for those tourists that would bring even more money into the state. But that's not enough. As I remember and by some of the other comments posted here, that short rail line would be merely the kick-off point for a high- speed circular route that could take in Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Panama City. Now, suddenly, travel to some of the most popular tourist locations in the state is quick and easy, a tourist now capable of visiting a different city every day of the week without tiring themselves out by driving. Deep sea fishing off of Jacksonville. Gulf fishing off of Panama City only a few short hours away the next day. Drop down to Orlando for MGM Studios or Sea World. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg. What about corporate people who do have to fly between cities? Yes, I know that 90 miles isn't worth the flight, but what if that business person has to hit franchised locations in each of the major cities over the course of a work week? Just how tired is he going to be when he returns home? How effective is he going to be at each of those later stops as the driving wears him down? Look, even I enjoy driving, but when you have to do it every day for two hours or more each day, I get tired. I want to just rest and forget doing anything more. Not a good attitude when you're a corporate traveller. Take a look at the NEC--it is one of the profitable lines. Take a look at the LA/San Diego line--it is one of the profitable lines. Neither of these is truly high-speed as in 200mph plus, but both of these see heavy ridership; some runs standing-room only on a daily basis. These runs need the infrastructure rebuild--and slowly, they're getting it. That is, the NEC was until the NJ governor shut down the new tunnel project. Even so, during the night-time hours, the NEC still has to put up with revenue freight which can interfere with passenger scheduling, just as passenger scheduling interferes with freight schedules on the lines owned by the Class 1s. Progress costs money, but from what I can see right now, people would rather stagnate than spend the money needed to progress. My guess is that American rail isn't going to see a full resurgence until it's impossible to drive a car over a significant distance. Electric cars today barely go 50 miles without needed a gasoline engine's support. When gas is gone, where will you drive?
I've only been on one train and that was in Greece - took FOREVER to get to Athens. What I don't understand and no one has ever remarked on is how do I get to the train and how do I get where I want to be after I take the train? If I drive to the train I have to park my car (additional cost like the airport?). After I get where the train goes do I walk, take a taxi or have a car parked at the other end? I live in the Pacific North West and if I want to go to the San Juan islands it's ruinously expensive anymore. $11.50 to walk on and no transport at the other end and $40 for my car and myself $60 if I take my truck and $160 for a motor home). I pity the people that live there. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/fares/FaresDetail.aspx?tripdate=20110309&departingterm=1&arrivingterm=10 Scotty
@vulpine 1. Faster and easier travel over medium distances *might* be worth it but the Florida line was less than 100 miles. The time savings being offered would easily be erased by the added time getting to the train and getting to where you are going once you got off the train. 2. Fuel prices rising again. Yes they are, but even at $5 dollars a gallon, it would likely be cheaper (and more convenient) to drive for this particular case. Commerical flying is a ridiculous option for the distance here. 3. Again, with the fares being talked about for the train and the convenience factor, rental cars would be a better option for most tourists. 4. Given 1,2 and 3, it is highly unlikely the passengers would be there for this. In your final paragraph, you cited 25-30 years to spend that much in maintenance costs. With the expected ridership and anything close to a competitive fare, it would take longer than that to pay off the initial investment even at zero maintenance costs. Your answer implies that the initial investment might never be paid back. It may work as an alternative to flying for some medium distance destinations, but for a 90 mile stretch, it was an utter waste and the governor was right to kill it.
But 2 big events hurt the profitability of trains. The US military contributed to the death of rail by committing most of its resources to transporting equipment by the new highway system. The second big shot was the US Postal Service pulling out of using rail to move mail in favor of trucks on the new highways. The loss of those steady incomes pushed many railroads from being profitable to losing money. Any effort to rebuild express rails needs to look at the possibility of express cargo to make the tracks profitable. The goal would be to make passenger service break-even and cargo the moneymaker. Tens of thousands of long haul trucks a day could be pulled off our nations highways by a well thought out train system of cargo hubs. It would be better for our environment and reduce or eliminate the need to continue widening our nations highways. Cargo would move via express trains between the regional hubs and smaller trucks would run the last 300 miles. Rail hubs would need to be at or link with seaports and cargo heavy airports like Bradley International in Connecticut and the Pease Trade port in New Hampshire.
"Amtrak, with hundreds of millions spent on equipment, takes 20 hours to make the same run today. Why? A steam engine running on the current Acela run in the 1940s had the same performance. So why did we pay over $1 billion for Acela to do the same thing a steam engine did during World War II?" I've heard this reasoning and it sounds very good to me. WW2. In Europe the rail infrastucture was destroyed. It had to be rebuilt pretty much from scratch. So everything was rebuilt in the 50's and 60's. Just in time for highspeed rail, running on relitively new track. North America the tracks were built as cheaply as possible by the private Railroad Barrons subsidised by enormouse land grants back in the late 1800's It was these massive land grants the made the Rail Barrons not the profits of the railroads which usually lost money. When the money from the land grants ran out so did rail barrons. These tracks having received only minimal maintanence for over 130 years simply cant take the demands of highseed rail and must be replaced from scratch without the massive subsities given the rail barrons. In the 50's when Europe was putting all their resources into replacing the destroyed rail infrastructure, Eisenhower was using Americas resources to build the Interstate Highway system to make emergency landing strips for bombers. Thats how the North American rail got into the mess its in today. And why its costing Billions of 2010 dollars (with inflated gov contracts of course) compared with whatever in 1950's dollars.
Florida taxpayers will probably never know how much money this decision has saved them. It may save them money in the short run and cost them dearly in the long run. It will be interesting to compare what happened in places that accepted the HSR money vs. places that rejected it in 10 years.
Since the state of Florida has said no to high-speed rail, I hope the federal government says no to highway expansion funding. Let the state change all of it's interstates to toll roads.
It is quite expensive to run high-speed trains; far more than the 1% you suggest. High-speed tracks and infrastructure need constant tuning and maintenance. (In Europe, the have a metric that calculates how many maintenance personnel is required by the kilometer) That is even before the energy costs. It takes many-times more energy to get a train over 200 than it does over 120. As for getting the tourists off the road: Are you serious? Have you never been to Orlando? Try getting around without a car. After you've arrived by train, you're going to have to go rent one anyway, so there goes whatever time and money you might have saved by taking the train. Florida taxpayers will probably never know how much money this decision has saved them.
The rails are a core problem many supporters of HSR over look. As with Acela, they think if they buy the trains they get the speed. That is just not the case. Even upgrading existing rails is a poor option because you still share them with slower trains. It all goes back to the destruction of the nations express rails in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. If they had rebuilt the express rails for Acela you would see the top speeds in daily use. Now high-speed freight to compliment passenger service could be a moneymaker to help justify new express tracks.
The money is needed to build that infrastructure--otherwise it's just an ordinary train. Yes, there are stretches of the NEC that limit the speed of the train, but I do know there're at least a couple stretches where it can reach the advertised speeds. What you cannot do is assume that every corridor has to be that way. My biggest argument is that the current system forces Amtrak's trains onto rights of way owned by other railroads, where they have to interact with revenue freight which is those other companies' bread-and-butter. Rebuild what needs rebuilding, build new where systems don't exist, but make it right or we remain an also-ran in the scheme of national transportation networks.
The Twentieth Century Limited, a steam train, used to make the Chicago to New York City run in 15 ? hours in 1946. High tech to them was using scoops to gather water for the steam engine rather than stopping. Amtrak, with hundreds of millions spent on equipment, takes 20 hours to make the same run today. Why? A steam engine running on the current Acela run in the 1940s had the same performance. So why did we pay over $1 billion for Acela to do the same thing a steam engine did during World War II?
With rising fuel prices airfares have jumped. Driving any great distance becomes costly. A well designed express train, I hate the words high speed rail, could be faster than driving and more cost effective than both driving and flying. The key is we do not have to spend billions to meet that goal. If cost effective express trains running at 120 mph can under cut airfares, without subsidies, you would see a flood of people using them on medium range trips. 300 to 600 miles is an emerging sweet spot. You can keep the costs of setup low by keeping the expected speeds modest.. For every 20 mph below 200 you give up you save billions in rail bed strengthening on a run from DC to Chicago. Making express trains more cost effective to build and maintain makes it possible to operate them without subsidies. Take Acela as an example of a failure to do this. They spent over $1 billion on trains and never upgraded the rail bed. So you have trains capable of 150 mph running at speeds never exceeding 80 mph. They could have bought a train capable of 90 mph for $500 million. So right off the top they wasted $500 million. If they spent the extra $100 million up front to upgrade the tracks they might have increased rider ship with better transit times. But even a 50 percent increase in rider ship would still leave them operating in the red based on their current operating expenses. And their cost of operations would go up to maintain the higher standard needed by the better tracks. So the subsidies would always be needed. Just as the Chinese are finding out, high-speed rails are expensive to build and maintain. They built them on the cheap and their new trains are already operating under speed restrictions because of rail problems. Now they must spend billions to fix the rails or run trains capable of over 250 mph at half that speed or less knowing they could have bought trains capable of 125 mph for much less money.
I live in Florida. About half the state wants this rail and the other half does not. Those of us who can still drive well really want this rail. It removes a lot of tourists from the surface roads and keeps us all safer. The real problem is that Gov. Scott has been exposed by government accounts before and is not about to sign up for more Federal oversight and scrutiny. Nope, he sure is not. He barely escaped last time. (The reason the rest of that Hospital Board let him go and took the heat is that he threatened to expose all of them. He was not going down alone. Thus it was easier for them to pay him off and close ranks and take a fine and carry on.) Nope, when it comes to Federal funds he is not going to get involved.
The problem I see with the high speed rail (that has not already been brought up=tracks) is they are planning on such short runs, it should not be a Miami to Tampa or a Tampa to Orlando track run, it should be a Miami to Atlanta run, or a Miami to Charlotte, NC run. then an Atlanta to Charlotte, add on a Charlotte to DC run, or Charlotte to Chicago, DC to NY is a good plan, NY to Chicago, also good. Chicago to Denver would be another "useful" track run for 160-250mph trains. Then Denver to Las vegas and vegas to LA, then put an LA to Seattle and a Seattle to Denver. that is where we need high speed rail, not on a 45 minute commute by car.
Boston to Washington, DC for example?the Acela Express does it in little over three hours. I do not think so. The Acela runs from Boston to DC are as follows. Departs: 5:10 AM Boston, MA - South Station Arrives: 11:47 AM Washington, DC - Union Station Duration: 6 hr, 37 min Departs: 6:05 AM Boston, MA - South Station Arrives: 12:47 PM Washington, DC - Union Station Duration: 6 hr, 42 min Departs: 7:15 AM Boston, MA - South Station Arrives: 1:47 PM Washington, DC - Union Station Duration: 6 hr, 32 min The fastest regional train takes 7 hours and 44 minutes. While competitive with a car Acela would be more convenient if the train actually ran at the 150 mph speeds we paid for. Top speed on the Boston to DC run is still limited to 80 mph for short distances over the safer track segments.
High-speed trains are a boondoggle for the US. We don't have the demographics to support them. It's like building the Concord all over again or another bridge to nowhere. NASA lied to Congress about building the shuttle, saying it would only cost a few million per trip. Each trip costs a billion instead.
They are planning on using the old freight lines as their rail. Why not use the massive median between I-4 that seems to be there for this specific reason. I cant see this being anything more that the Acela mess due to the reuse of old freight lines.. CSX doesn't want them on their track! This high speed rail plan was going to force them to move their Intermodal hub to Auburndale, a small town about an hour south on I-4. While the extra work is very much needed in this rural community, the added high speed rail on the existing tracks will not be welcome. It will be a mess that cannot handle the speed of a HSR system. Therefore it will be a complete waste of time and money due to the lack of new rails to support the trains. Waste of time and money. I think its a great idea but I cant see the government truly picking the right stops and they would not design it to allow direct runs from Tampa to Orlando or Tampa to Lakeland or Orlando to Lakeland.. The stops in Orlando only go up to the international airport and what good is that? another poster commented on the stop in Tampa not going to the international airport.. why not send it smack into downtown Tampa? There's a whole lot more to Orlando than an airport that is almost 10 miles out of town.
The Governor has data we do not, and he feels that the project would saddle Florida taxpayers with budget overruns. What government project has NOT done this in the past 100 years? Furthermore, government spending never creates jobs without destroying them somewhere else. That's because REAL jobs (sustainable) are borne out of PROFITS. Only businesses have profits. Governments have TAXES, which are levies on profits, and are the opposite of profits. What is difficult to understand here? The only politics at work here are Obama's and his ilk--NOT the Governor's.
Leaving politics itself out of the discussion, the reasoning for high-speed rail should be obvious. 1. Less air and highway congestion which allows faster and easier travel over medium distances of from 100-300 miles. While this may not seem like much to you, driving from Boston to Washington, DC for example, takes about seven to eight hours while the Acela Express does it in little over three and even the regionals do it in about four and a half. This avoids the heavy traffic consistently seen around Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and DC itself, even including the stops this train makes in those cities. Air travel is little better when you consider the in- airport delays and waiting times for what is usually a one-hour flight plus or minus. You arrive less tired and better prepared for whatever purpose you travelled in the first place. 2. Fuel prices are rising again. This means that driving any distance at all is becoming more expensive--and don't expect air fares to remain the same, either. The complaints about the high costs of flying are already driving many airlines broke. Each is trying to cover the higher fuel costs by initiating new and deceptive fees when they should simply say "We can't afford to fly you if you don't help pay for the gas." On the other hand, electric train corridors don't see the change in fuel costs the same way and starting a trip on nearly frictionless steel rails is far easier and more fuel efficient than lifting 100 tons of metal and flesh up to 20,000 feet or higher. Planes really don't start realizing any economy until they have reached altitude and can throttle back while the train is already cruising at a steady speed. 3. The Florida corridor especially could serve far more benefit to the state than the politicians want to believe. Airlines don't just fly into Orlando for Disney World, nor do the just fly to Miami for Daytona's racing; the state is a tourist mecca. By offering relatively fast, cheap and easy transport between the state's major cities, HSR could have tourists visiting not just one area, but several in the course of a one-week or two-week vacation; spreading their dollars around the state and benefitting both the businesses and the state's tax income as well. Not only that, it would help get the tourists off the roads and highways where their ignorance of local roads create hazards for the natives and the rental cars don't pollute the air as much. Again, less traffic makes things easier for everyone. 4. Rail can be profitable when the passengers are there. This means that the passengers themselves need to understand the benefits rail travel offers. 50 years ago, cars and planes were cheaper and/or faster to their destinations, 80 years ago trains were the only way to travel any distance at all. Today the train has the ability to be the cheapest and fastest for any distance under 500 miles and by any means the most comfortable and stress-free. Meanwhile, the NEC, without subsidy, is profitable. Why? Because they own their own rails where everywhere else they have to pay to use the track. Give them their own track, and costs fall precipitously. Finally, you bemoan the high cost of developing the infrastructure but simply ignore that once that cost is paid, maintenance of that infrastructure becomes a tiny fraction of the ongoing cost -- motive power and carriage maintenance is the higher cost. What might take 2.5 billion dollars to build could take 25 to 30 years to spend that much again in maintenance. Compare that to the cost of fuel and road maintenance and it's very likely that highways and cars would burn through that much money in months.
If High Speed Rail were designed by private industry, you wouldn't see a Tampa-Orlando system with twenty-mile segments in Orange-Osceola Counties that would never allow the thing to get up to speed, or a terminal in Tampa that was nowhere near Tampa International Airport.
> Like many politicians these days tend to do, you are "forgetting" >to mention the real underlying reason why these trains don't >save much time. >The tracks! It's not the tracks. It's the pattern of development and population density in the U.S. Rail is particularly unsuitable for our needs in this country. I believe New York City is the only city with sufficient population density that even with heavy general tax subsidies to keep the costs down that it attracts enough ridership to keep their public transit system running around the clock. Other fairly densely (by American standards) populated areas like Boston shut the trains down (1am) before their bars even close (2am) The Northeast Corridor is the only area that can viably support a regional train system, and even that takes significant subsidies -- which can be justified as avoiding even greater air traffic congestion. (Highways are not subsidized -- 100% of their costs from the 1950s through 2008 or so are born by gas taxes, tolls, property tax and registration fees, and other government revenues that have a direct correlation to their source and use. It's not so clear today that the funding is so separated due to Obama's acceleration of spending of the Highway Trust Fund as part of the "Stimulus Bill" -- they spent the money in 9 months meant to last 18, and are now begging for a credit card called an "infrastructure bank" to replace what used to be a pay as you go system.) All other areas of the U.S. highway and airplane travel is the most efficient mechanism -- time and money -- to move people, despite the TSA's best efforts to annoy people off of airplanes. Rather then Ray LaHood, etc proclaiming they have the solution in the form of better buggy whips for a dead technology, we should be focusing our rail efforts where it could really make a dramatic difference: Freight Rail. Rebuild the tracks, automate the handling, electrify them, and move freight at 120mph across the country instead of 65mph trucks. Have trucks handle the final 50 mile or less deliveries. (And to cut off the folks who point to high speed rail in Europe and Japan and China, beyond the differences in development and population density, remember we went to the moon -- the other nations had to settle for showing they could make supersonic jets and high speed trains. High speed passenger rail in Europe is at least as much about politics and socialist make- work programs as it is about efficiency in their model of development.)
A nice bit of unbiased, fact-based reporting up until this: "Unfortunately, politics seems to have become the biggest winner in the end." Just couldn't resist editorializing, huh? Is this what is taught in the Journalism program at Columbia these days?
HBUX; you make a very valid, and what I consider grand statement. Let me get one thing straight here to sum up much of this as well as the countries difficulties in general. The Democratic and Republican parties in Unison have been in control of this country since it's inception or very shortly thereafter. The major problem with this is the age of that infrastructure. As has been noted time and time again throughout history power and time generally do not mix well. So these two parties have become unbeatable. I think politicians in general and especially in today's world should be party less. I also think that the should be monitored 100% on there votes, and life in general. These people are supposedly public servant's, but we pay them a salary that amounts to at least double what a upper middle class citizen makes. Then of course most of them (note I do not say all) are also for sale, through services, property, vehicles and various other transactions. These methods of transportation could be very vital in some states. This is on a case by case basis. The high speed rail between Tampa and Orlando would help the state. Of course that would have to be fully high speed track, train and all. I still do not understand why the government has to subsidize it. A private industry company would most likely love to do this at absolutely no cost to the tax payers. The route to Miami etc I think wouuld hurt them because they gain a lot of money in the state budget from travel on I-95/75 south etc. So this would financially hurt the state to some degree, but Orlando-Tampa, and Tampa to Panama city or even Gulf Shores would most likely help for everything from public to vacation traffic. Over all the main thing that disgust's me is the way politics works now in our country. It is generally to the highest bidder which would obviously have to charge considerably more because they also have to pay off all the politicians to get the bid. The high speed rail in many areas say a Dallas/Houston/Austin triangle, a LA/Frisco/Vegas track, DC/New york/Chicago etc, Atlanta/Gulf shores/Birmingham/Memphis/Knoxville/ Chattanooga track you can see what I am saying here, tracks like these especially for leisure destinations would be very good especially if they were true high speed 200+ mph with the tracks and safety needed. Why would a travel company not jump all over it. They can even run on clean energy which in the long run is cheaper all the way around for the provider. I think these type of rail routes on a true high speed train would be great all the way around, but you have to pay the piper (politicians) because our existing super old political system, and the parties that control it are mostly as crooked as can be. Do you want new taxation systems (IE: flat tax of some type), Transportation, innovation etc? Then get rid of these whackjobs who control your country. A truly great America will not ever be a truly great America when it is controlled by organizations at or over 200 years old.
All of the privately owned freight rail systems throughout the US are profitable. Passenger trains are a black hole (dare I say super massive) boondoggle. There is NO benefit to the tax payer. There is not enough ridership to support the system and any level of charge to the rider. Heck, even if you believe in the hoax of Global Warming/Climate Change, the carbon foot print of just BUILDING the high speed rail would take half a century to recover at full ridership. . .and never at the typical usage level. As has been said time and time again, if HSR were practical, private enterprise would have already built it. And, just because it hasn't been built by private enterprise is NO indication that government should build it. There is minimal desire and no need. And, the only motivation that can be found for government to be pushing this is a welfare-like program for unions so that there will be continued membership dues of which billions find their way into Left wing campaign coffers.
With an estimated 3.07 million riders a year and a one way fare of 20 dollars (estimates were 15-30 dollars for fare), it would take almost 40 years to pay for even if there were zero operating costs. The travel time savings is estimated at around 30 minutes if you went end to end. Add on time to get on the train (parking, security, etc) and time after you get off to get where you actually need to go and you've probably saved nothing. Driving my car would be cheaper at 5 dollars a gallon and I'd be where I wanted to be when I got there. Oh, and I could travel when I need to come and go, - not on a train schedule. Yeah, that project was a fine idea.
The US used to have express tracks between most major cities. Trains in the 1940s used to hit 80 mph all the time. Look at some old train schedules and do the math. During the 1960s and 1970s many of those express tracks needed maintenance. With the declining usage of trains, and the US military seeing trains as less important for moving military hardware, our government shut down many of those express rails during and after the takeover of rail that ultimately formed Amtrak in 1971. To make matters worse they tore up many of the tracks and destroyed the rail beds. When they spent over $1 billion on Acela they neglected to fix the tracks. So a billion dollar train capable of 150 mph is trapped on local tracks with slower trains. The handfuls of express tracks they still have are in such bad shape the trains cannot exceed 80 mph. So you the taxpayer spent over $1 billion for 18 minutes because the hacks in charge did not spend the additional $100 million more needed to fix the tracks and gain over an hour on the transit time. A $400 million train capable of 90 mph could have done the same job for less than half the cost.
If railways were economically feasible then they would STILL be privately owned. The rail system was built by private companies that turned the system over to the government when it became a money pit.
Well poster # 1 you are absolutely right about the fairly minimal time saving. However this is only part of the story. Like many politicians these days tend to do, you are "forgetting" to mention the real underlying reason why these trains don't save much time. The tracks! The majority of the tracks have never been upgraded to allow high speed travel. Some of these tracks I believe still have Civil War era sections. Imagine I-95 without tarmac. The trains are no good without the proper tracks to carry them. If there is a case to be answered here it is that the infrastructure should have been built to support high speed trains before using them. It is a great pity that moving further into the 21st. Century that American corporations and their lackeys continue to stifle options for faster more fuel-efficient mass transit.
High speed trains? What a crock. Not only would they start using emminent domain and take people's property, there has never been a Federal project that came in at bid! Here in Washington state we just got the report that 77 people ride the "Light Rail" per run, which cost the people of this state and the LOCAL community $15 Million a MILE! A Mile! Good god, man, How can you justify that?? The BUS service is still there! We have been duped by the Gov and the Legislature that has been IN POWER in this state for the last 3 Govs. That is Many years. Each has at least two terms under their belts. They took people's property and THEN, after the carniverous act, they tried to sell some back to the ORIGINAL owners at a PROFIT, after realizing that in their zeal, they took the wrong routes. Now that it is partly done, and we are building more, (the price has gone up now per mile to build, it saves No time. It serves too few, and they raised the Taxes because of OVERRUNS! Leave the rails to Private enterprises who have a stake in the build and maintenace. Like the Connecticut Wilbur-Cross Parkway. The Highway system in Pensylvania. Keep the Feds out. You want jobs- Leave things to the Private sector.
You do not need a $2.4 billion train to save 5 minutes on a short run when a $500 million train does the job in just 5 minutes more time. The billions spent on Acela gained only 18 minutes on the Boston to New York run compared to a conventional train.