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Obama Calling For $53B For High Speed Rail 1026

Posted by samzenpus
from the lyle-lanley-approved dept.
Antisyzygy writes "President Obama is calling for $53B to be appropriated for the construction of high-speed rail in the United States over the next 6 years. Assuming Congress approves this plan, the funding would be spent on developing and/or improving trains that travel at approximately 250 miles/hour, as well as spent on connecting existing rail lines to new developed high speed lines."
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Obama Calling For $53B For High Speed Rail

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  • by suso (153703) * on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @07:32PM (#35156084) Homepage Journal

    It doesn't matter if it goes 250mph if it sits on the track for an hour waiting for right of way. Granted, this is just one experience, but from reading up after it happened, it seems to be the norm. Back in 1999 I decided to take a leisure trip out to Arizona from Indianapolis and I decided to take a train for fun. Instead of a speedy ride up to Chicago, we ended up waiting for an hour on a side track to get right of way. On the way from Chicago to Flagstaff, AZ, at one point we sat on the tracks during the day for 3 or 4 hours waiting again for right of way. On the return trip the train was 5 hours late getting back to Chicago and I missed my connection train back to Indianapolis.

    Sure, you can build a high speed train, but if its run by Amtrak and exists in this countries rail system mentality, it will quickly become worthless. Fix the real issues.

    • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @07:38PM (#35156152)

      Amtrak runs on commercial rails. They've always been a second class citizen.
      But I agree you can't run passenger rail on freight tracks and expect either high speed or prompt routing.

      But you needn't worry about it, because this is never going to happen.
      Someone should point out to Mr. Obama that he already spent all the money. We couldn't possibly afford this now.

      • by EdIII (1114411) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @09:33PM (#35157494)

        We can't afford it period. Not the people at least. In order to do this right, you would need a huge construction project to build *multiple* railways side by side. Mimic the Interstate system. In fact, I would think putting the new railways close to the Interstate would be a great idea anyways.

        If we have multiple personal railways it would alleviate your concerns about commercial rails and right of way. You could dedicate some railways as been one way only. That way you don't have to worry so much about head on collisions and more about distance between trains. Putting in multiple points where a train could pull off to a maintenance track would help as well.

        Of course this would cost billions to do which means I hardly see it as being competitive with the airlines. Only reason why a person would choose the same price over an airline is getting rid of the TSA experience and crappy ass experiences flying......

        Guess what would happen if we magically had this huge railway infrastructure tomorrow and trains moving 250mph across the US? The Terrorists!

        Terrorizers would come out of the woodwork with ample targets at any point along the tracks to sabotage the infrastructure requiring us to absorb billion dollar costs to pay some military industrial complex behemoth to secure the infrastructure and I would still need my nutsack groped and inspected to get on a train that moves at half the speed of a plane.

        I am not going to pay for something like that, and giving huge subsidies to private industry to create it either. It's not like all the money given to the Telecoms and all the right of ways resulted in cheaper communications available to people. They still screw us at every opportunity and we are having to fight tooth and nail to keep content companies from influencing/merging with the Telecoms to give us even less service, choices, and competition.

        High speed rail? Uh huh....

      • by rsclient (112577) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @10:58PM (#35158238) Homepage

        One simple way to tell if we've "spent all the money": do really, really rich people still feel comfortable lending us money for long periods at low interest rates? 'Cause those people aren't dumb, and they'd sell their own grandparent to make more. ....survey says.... we just sold $24 billion of 10-year notes at 3.66%. I'd say that everyone who is rich disagrees with you.

        And lastly: basic economic data is that when countries are in a recession, they should increase government spending (especially on infrastructure like rails). Countries that cut spending then tend to fall further into recession.

      • by Leebert (1694) * on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @11:03PM (#35158276)

        Amtrak runs on commercial rails. They've always been a second class citizen.

        Not on the Northeast Corridor. It's almost entirely Amtrak owned. I've been into riding Acela from Boston to DC for the heck of it. I've gone from DC to NYC on the Northeast Regional. It's a pleasant experience, much better than flying, and I've not been significantly late.

        I've also Amtraked down to Orlando from DC, and, while I enjoyed it somewhat, after 17 hours on the train, I was ready to be done. If we could get that down to 8 or so with Amtrak-managed high speed rail, it'd be golden.

      • by tukang (1209392) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @12:19AM (#35158686)
        Why can't we afford it? The market is willing to buy our debt at attractive interest rates and if the return from this project is greater than the interest rate, then we should do it. A successful high speed rail network would lower road maintenance costs and reduce the need for emergency services. It would lower traffic congestion, which would result in a faster commute for car drivers. Other benefits include lower gas prices which translates into a stronger US economy and less money for petro dictators. IMHO fixing the transportation system is our only chance to pull ourselves out of this mess and that's why we can't afford NOT to build this. Our ability to repay our debt depends on making society more efficient.
        • by triclipse (702209)

          The market is willing to buy our debt at attractive interest rates...

          You are assuming that US debt will remain attractive. That is a dubious proposition indeed.

    • by VirginMary (123020) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @07:42PM (#35156196)

      Yes, I had a similar experience to you: The rail connection between San Diego and Los Angeles is also just a single track for part (most?) of the way. Two major cities not far apart and they can't even put in two tracks. As a European living in the US, I find this mindboggling. I bet that most emerging countries don't have this problem! Truly pathetic! I often tell my friends in Europe that the US is a weird mix between a 1st and a 3rd world country. And don't even get me started on health insurance here!

      • by MoonBuggy (611105)

        I often tell my friends in Europe that the US is a weird mix between a 1st and a 3rd world country. And don't even get me started on health insurance here!

        Perhaps not 3rd world, but I very much know what you mean. My working theory on the matter is that it arises from the very stratified (and inconsistent) views on government interference - health care, for example, starts with a laissez-faire libertarian free-market approach, but then evolves with government interference through Medicare and Medicaid; the end result is an odd public/private hybrid in which tax money serves the public via the private sector. It's not quite one thing or the other, and I get th

      • I think for the most part, most Americans (at least for me) consider rail travel to be a 3rd world way of traveling. This is America, everyone owns a car or takes an airplane were they want to go. Rail is just now being thought of again because everyone is having such a crappy experience with the airlines. (both cost and TSA hassle)

        The reason we don't have any great alternative to mass transit is primarily the airline, auto and oil industry. They've bought off enough politicians to ensure that other options

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        Yes, I had a similar experience to you: The rail connection between San Diego and Los Angeles is also just a single track for part (most?) of the way. Two major cities not far apart and they can't even put in two tracks. As a European living in the US, I find this mindboggling. I bet that most emerging countries don't have this problem! Truly pathetic! I often tell my friends in Europe that the US is a weird mix between a 1st and a 3rd world country. And don't even get me started on health insurance here!

        That's because in most parts of the country railroads are taxed on the amount of rail they have in use. That's why in the 70s and 80s most multi-line corridors were ripped up. For running freight, with modern signalling and communications, that works. But not for passengers. It makes me laugh every time I see a semi with a sticker on it that says something like "I pay $3,627 in highway taxes each year." Well, at $1million per mile to construct a highway that seems like a really good subsidy from the go

      • by garyebickford (222422) <gar37bic AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @09:57PM (#35157722)

        When I was living in Orange County back in the early 1980s, Amtrak paid a lot of money (I'm remembering $5 million) for a feasibility study for a high speed rail from LA to San Diego. The study included various possible routes. They got sued by every podunk town in between to prevent it from going through THEIR town - the ultimate in NIMBY silliness. After trying to work through this for a couple of years, they finally gave up and sold the plans to a consulting company for something like $100,000.

        If the Feds were to do it, they could use their eminent domain power and the interstate commerce clause to override the objections of the cities if necessary. Also I think the times have changed somewhat since then. It's been almost 30 years, so I hope so!

    • Afiact the real issue is that the freight companies own the lines and consider amtrak low priority. There are two ways to fix this, either move passenger traffic to it's own high speed lines or force a radical shakeup of the frieght companies operating priorities (I very much doubt they would do it voluntarily)

      So it depends, will these be new lines (possibly parallel to existing lines) or will they be speed limit increases on existing lines?

    • by dlevitan (132062) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:13PM (#35156598)

      Amtrak works by having the right of way for a certain window for each train. Basically, they have a schedule, and if they stick to it, it's fine. On the one long distance trip I did (LA to San Francisco) we left on schedule, stayed on schedule, and arrived on schedule, with no waits. But if they get behind at any point, it becomes horrible.

      The problem is that Amtrak trains are very, very slow. LA-SF takes 12 hours. It takes 6 hours by car driving the speed limit. They also cost just a bit less than airplanes. The major advantages of Amtrak are lack of security and the space. Sadly, for high speed trains, I'm sure the first will be removed, and who knows about the second.

      Therefore, why build high speed rail except in markets it actually would work due to the high concentration of people (northeast).

    • I used Amtrak twice this past weekend in Upstate NY and had a great experience. I was able to work on the train (3G tether to laptop), and the trip was just _slightly_ longer than driving.

      You were waiting for the right of way because Amtrak doesn't run on dedicated passenger tracks (with a few exceptions, like Albany to NYC.) It's likely that if high speed rail is to become reality in the US, a right of way dedicated to high speed passenger rail will be constructed. It will also be electrified, and the on

    • Yep. Took Amtrak once from KC, MO to Saint Louis. Never again, until they get their own rails. What would have been a 4-5 hour trip by car or a 30 minute (1 hr. with security) flight took over NINE HOURS, about half of it sitting completely still.

  • DO WANT! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MoldySpore (1280634) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @07:44PM (#35156210)
    High speed trains vs Airplane? With all the crap going on with airlines and privacy and charges every increasing for baggage and less and less room on the planes and higher and higher prices...yea a train sounds nice right now. Plus the jobs in can create and the decrease in commuter traffic and pollution (if it works well and people start using it) will be well worth the $ spent. Perhaps we can take a little money out of that huge defense budget and put it towards something that might be useful for the country for once?
    • Re:DO WANT! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by orphiuchus (1146483) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @07:51PM (#35156296)

      Just remember, you're going to wind up going through the same security bullshit getting on a high speed train as you would with an airplane.

      And I seriously doubt anyone is going to be riding this to work anywhere that they don't already ride a train, monorail, or subway.

  • by boxless (35756) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @07:44PM (#35156212)

    Unless they can even prove it works in the Northeast corridor, where it most likely has the most benefit, why bother with anything else?

    It's not exactly high speed rail. It's better than regular speed. But not dramatically. I think there are all sorts of right-of-way issues. Unless the country says: "I don't care what these issues are, just make them go away, and make this work", I don't think we should spend another penny.

    • by nschubach (922175)

      My only question is... why can't the States involved fund this? What benefit do the people in Kansas get from this high speed rail? Why are they paying for part of it?

    • I go BOS to NYC on Acela, and it's faster than flying. Not for everyone of course, but for me who lives on the T (Boston subway) and wants to get to Manhattan, door-to-door is faster on Acela than it is in the air.

      Could it be even made even faster? Sure. Keep in mind though that the Northeastern corridor is the densest part of America. The rights of way are narrow and windy, and straightening and widening them is massively expensive because of the value of the property adjacent to them. A few minutes c

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      Unless they can even prove it works in the Northeast corridor, where it most likely has the most benefit, why bother with anything else?

      It's not exactly high speed rail. It's better than regular speed. But not dramatically. I think there are all sorts of right-of-way issues. Unless the country says: "I don't care what these issues are, just make them go away, and make this work", I don't think we should spend another penny.

      It seems to work pretty well in the northeast and it's not even high speed. Just think what it would be like getting into New York without rail access. You couldn't build enough roads to handle the traffic. The sad part is in the 1920s and 30s, passenger trains averaged 100mph on bolted rail. That's about twice as fast as today.

  • Stupid Idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @07:49PM (#35156268)

    High speed rail for the US is a dumb idea. We have an EXTREMELY functional interstate system for local travel, and for all other domestic travel we have airplanes (very efficient and low cost if tickets are bought in advance. Don't like fees? Fly southwest).

    High Speed Rail would have the EXACT same security measures as airplanes, except they would be even less safe as blowing up track is easy, especially when you have hundreds of miles to choose from. I would be shocked if there weren't more deaths due to high speed rail than plane travel.

    It also isn't necessary for the distribution of freight. The current rail system will continue to serve that purpose for years, as well as the large trucks that are used to transport goods and services.

    High speed rail is useful in china because they don't have the built up infrastructure the US does for airplanes (or trains for that matter). If you were just starting a rail system in the US, of course you would build high speed rail. But we already have a rail system, and it works just fine.

    An additional question: Where would it be efficient? Very few cities have the public transportation infrastructure to support such a train station. Remember, you're competing with driving and airplanes. To replace driving you need a public transporation system. To replace planes you need it to be cheaper, safer, and actually faster. For driving locations you ou get: Boston, New York City, Chicago, and (so I'm told) Washington DC, Portland, and San Fransisco. Is there anywhere else? Where would it replace airports?

    • Re:Stupid Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Flammon (4726) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:24PM (#35156742) Homepage Journal
      Your oil propelled vehicles are not sustainable.
      • Re:Stupid Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

        by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:57PM (#35157138)
        It's just come out from some wikileaks cables that Saudi Arabia has been overstating its reserves [theoildrum.com] for years and can no longer elevate production to keep prices in check. More than that, we're likely sitting at peak oil, the odds that conventional oil production will never again climb up are getting better and better. While something might replace that, what that something is is not known. Running mass transit off the grid will always be more energy efficient than using cars, even electric ones. The smart and intelligent thing to do us utilize known technology to take up the slack.

        Obama is doing the right thing here. The airlines that run those airplanes that the GP thinks are so great were hovering on the edge bankruptcy when gas prices were high. If gas goes up to $4/gallon again this summer, watch what happens to their bottom line, it won't be pretty. Someone else in this thread commented that we should go to Mars, but what good will having a man on mars do us if we can't get to work because gas is too expensive?
        • Sure it's known. Coal -> gasoline, sugar cane -> ethanol, shale -> petroleum. Given the cost of reconverting from liquid fuel infrastructure to something else, I'm pretty sure an economically viable synthetic gasoline will magically materialize from currently known methods once the Saudis, Canadians, etc really start to run dry.
          • Coal -> gasoline, sugar cane -> ethanol, shale -> petroleum

            If making gasoline from coal was so great, why didn't the Germans keep doing it after WWII? Surely energy independence is a great idea and should be done. The coal industry has said that it could compete if oil stays above $50/barrel. It's been above $50/barrel for years now, where is all this great gasoline that's going to solve our problems?

            Brazil, the largest world producer of etahnol from sugar cane, only exports 4% [wikipedia.org] of the ethanol

    • Re:Stupid Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:38PM (#35156926) Journal

      Your argument is full of strawmen and simply incorrect statements.

      High speed rail for the US is a dumb idea. We have an EXTREMELY functional interstate system for local travel, and for all other domestic travel we have airplanes (very efficient and low cost if tickets are bought in advance. Don't like fees? Fly southwest).

      The interstate system is very slow and energy inefficient compared to high speed rail. Airplanes are only faster than rail over moderate distances, due to all the messing around. And southwest sadly does not yet serve the entire country.

      High Speed Rail would have the EXACT same security measures as airplanes,

      Simply incorrect. Try visiting a country with high speed rail sometime.

      except they would be even less safe as blowing up track is easy, especially when you have hundreds of miles to choose from. I would be shocked if there weren't more deaths due to high speed rail than plane travel.

      The TGV has derailed at nearly full speed without loss of life. The design of the trains is exceptionally safe.

      It also isn't necessary for the distribution of freight. The current rail system will continue to serve that purpose for years, as well as the large trucks that are used to transport goods and services.

      Nonsequiteur. Feright has little to do with passenger rail.

      High speed rail is useful in china because they don't have the built up infrastructure the US does for airplanes (or trains for that matter). If you were just starting a rail system in the US, of course you would build high speed rail. But we already have a rail system, and it works just fine.

      Fine? Have you tried travelling by train anytime recently? And how does airport infrastructure affect the performance of a rail network?

      An additional question: Where would it be efficient? Very few cities have the public transportation infrastructure to support such a train station.

      Yes it's terrible. All those passengers just end up at the airport and get completely stuck and are unable to continue their journey. Oh sorry you were talking about train stations, not airports. The difference being...? what exactly?

      Remember, you're competing with driving and airplanes. To replace driving you need a public transporation system.

      So how on earth does anyone ever go anywhere by plane?


      To replace planes you need it to be cheaper,
      safer,

      Well, it is certainly safer. Cheaper will depend on the trains getting the same tax breaks as airlines.

      and actually faster.

      Certainly faster over moderate distances. Go to Europe sometime and try it. You can even compare something fair like a journey from somewhere useful in a city A to somewhere useful in city B.

      Try e.g. Paris to London. Try by air. Then try returning by rail. Then try by car. You can even combine the last two if you wish.

    • by noidentity (188756) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:47PM (#35157032)
      I propose a new term: recovery theater - things done to give the appearance of recovery or helping it, while they have no effect or a negative effect.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by turbclnt (1776692)

      High Speed Rail would have the EXACT same security measures as airplanes

      Some of these things exist in the US already (Accela run by Amtrak between DC and New York City), and they don't have anywhere near the security measures airports do. No body scans...no metal detectors...just walk on and hand someone a ticket. If lines between these urban centers don't have security even though it could be easily implemented, why would new lines all of a sudden have DHS security around them?

      Where would it be efficient? Very few cities have the public transportation infrastructure to support such a train station. Remember, you're competing with driving and airplanes.

      You're making a big assumption here without even realizing it. I don't think rail would be a competit

    • Re:Stupid Idea (Score:4, Interesting)

      by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:55PM (#35157112) Homepage Journal

      it's a function of population density. livability and quality of life go up exponentially if you don't have to deal with traffic and parking in an urban to suburban environments. people often look forlornly at the usa's lagging behind say, south korea for internet connectivity or china for high speed rail. but those things work there not because those countries are necessarily more forward thinking than the usa, but because they are just more densely populated

      having said that, the west coast and the east coast need high speed rail on the order of china, asap. going from DOWNTOWN boston to DOWNTOWN washington dc on high speed rail is obiviously superior to driving or airplane. it's a simple function of productivity and business friendliness. people won't do business in the usa anymore if genuinely more forward looking areas that focus on infrastructure like belo horizonte or frankfurt or new dehli do (not saying those places are more infrastructure friendly than the usa, but those places do know that infrastructure means business). it's about simple business competitiveness: make sure your infrastructure is sound and business will prosper and quality of life will improve

      as for freight: you want trucks transporting garbage and coal?! come on, get real, its a function of simple business expedience that trains make more sense than cars and trucks in many situations

    • Re:Stupid Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by moonbender (547943) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <rednebnoom>> on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:57PM (#35157142)

      High Speed Rail would have the EXACT same security measures as airplanes, except they would be even less safe as blowing up track is easy, especially when you have hundreds of miles to choose from.

      Airport security in Europe is similar to (if not as invasive as) airport security to the US, yet we don't have any serious security (theatre) in our high speed rail network. AFAIK getting on a (low-speed) train in the US isn't quite as involved as getting on a plane, either; and I don't really think that'd change if the maximum train speed is a bit higher.

      In fact, attacking a train would probably result in fewer casualties as attacking a train station (or an airport). If you detonate a bomb on a plane, chances are everyone on the plane will die. The same cannot be said for a regular train, not even a high speed one. And of course, crashing a train really isn't much of an option, since high value targets are typically not on your track, and it's trivially easy to cut the power to a train (in fact, it will happen automatically if you unexpectedly drive to fast).

      High speed rail is useful in china because they don't have the built up infrastructure the US does for airplanes (or trains for that matter). If you were just starting a rail system in the US, of course you would build high speed rail. But we already have a rail system, and it works just fine.

      AFAIK China had a built-up rail network before they started their high-speed effort, which is far from finished. And compared to laying those tracks, building more airports was easy (so they did that, too). But railway infrastructure scales much better than airports do. Building tracks is costly, but sending more, longer trains down them is comparatively cheap.

      An additional question: Where would it be efficient? Very few cities have the public transportation infrastructure to support such a train station. Remember, you're competing with driving and airplanes. To replace driving you need a public transporation system.

      Yeah, you should build that, too. There are probably a few connections in the US where starting a high speed network would make sense. Clearly, making coast-to-coast isn't really among those. Connecting the big cities along the coasts seems an obvious first start.

    • by diegocg (1680514)

      It is not a "dumb idea". It depends. In areas with lots of big cities it has a lot of sense. Also, this is a technological transition - in a few decades all rails will be high speed and we will drop the current technology, in the same way nobody uses steam trains anymore. You have to start somewhere, and yes, it is expensive. If you are a third world country and you can't afford it, I guess you have no choice. But USA is not in that situation.

      As for security measures...why are you even thinking about that?

    • Re:Stupid Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:58PM (#35157156)

      High speed rail for the US is a dumb idea. We have an EXTREMELY functional interstate system for local travel, and for all other domestic travel we have airplanes (very efficient and low cost if tickets are bought in advance. Don't like fees? Fly southwest).

      High Speed Rail would have the EXACT same security measures as airplanes, except they would be even less safe as blowing up track is easy, especially when you have hundreds of miles to choose from. I would be shocked if there weren't more deaths due to high speed rail than plane travel.

      It also isn't necessary for the distribution of freight. The current rail system will continue to serve that purpose for years, as well as the large trucks that are used to transport goods and services.

      High speed rail is useful in china because they don't have the built up infrastructure the US does for airplanes (or trains for that matter). If you were just starting a rail system in the US, of course you would build high speed rail. But we already have a rail system, and it works just fine.

      An additional question: Where would it be efficient? Very few cities have the public transportation infrastructure to support such a train station. Remember, you're competing with driving and airplanes. To replace driving you need a public transporation system. To replace planes you need it to be cheaper, safer, and actually faster. For driving locations you ou get: Boston, New York City, Chicago, and (so I'm told) Washington DC, Portland, and San Fransisco. Is there anywhere else? Where would it replace airports?

      That might be true for China, I don't know. I do know that Japan, Germany and France all have airports and seemed to go the high speed rail route. Either they are all stupid, or we are. As for more efficient, air travel for people and freight is one of the least efficient means of travel. It may be the fastest, but it's not very efficient and that's not including the cost of the infrastructure like airports and planes.

    • Re:Stupid Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dachshund (300733) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @09:05PM (#35157210)

      High speed rail for the US is a dumb idea. We have an EXTREMELY functional interstate system for local travel, and for all other domestic travel we have airplanes (very efficient and low cost if tickets are bought in advance. Don't like fees? Fly southwest).

      When you make transportation policy, you need to plan for between 10 and 40 years in the future. In other words, you probably shouldn't base your policy on today's SWA airfares.

      You may not have noticed today's Wikileak cable, but in the opinion of US diplomats, the Saudis have been dramatically overstating the size of their oil reserves [guardian.co.uk]. The plentiful cheap oil from Saudi Arabia is what's keeping flights and car travel relatively cheap. As the global economy comes out of its stupor, there's a very good chance that we'll be headed towards dramatically higher fuel prices. As in, you're in the last few years of cheap air travel --- enjoy it.

      This problem may not be insurmountable for highway driving, assuming we can get widespread electrification and a huge network of charging stations. But it looks to be a bad time for air travel --- absent major breakthroughs in coal fuel conversion (and the willingness to dramatically increase coal usage across the board), driving and flying are probably not going to win the future.

    • An additional question: Where would it be efficient?

      Answered in TFA, which the poster conveniently didn't link to: http://www.america2050.org/maps/ [america2050.org]

      The entire west coast: San Diego > L.A. > San Jose > San Francisco > Portland > Seattle
      The entire east coast: Boston, NY, Philidelphia, DC, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Miami

      And more.

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:04PM (#35156466)

    I'm claiming "Obamarail (TM)".

  • Hey Obama (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mewsenews (251487) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:08PM (#35156526) Homepage
    I have an idea! Maybe if the TSA stopped molesting people, air travel would be more pleasant, and you wouldn't have to spend BILLIONS OF DOLLARS on passenger trains. Just an idea, I don't live in the States so I'm not sure how much you like being groped by goons with a badge just so that you can visit your parents.
  • by Maltheus (248271) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:11PM (#35156558)

    ...is a stable regulatory environment. It's the constant changing of the rules that keeps employers from hiring, not a lack of green technology. I'm sick and tired of Democrats and Republicans using the Treasury as a credit card for their buddies.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:17PM (#35156632) Homepage Journal
    speed trains became a reality in europe. so much that they changed life - people regularly commute to their jobs in paris, from lyon.

    http://www.wordtravels.com/images/map/France_map.jpg [wordtravels.com]

    you cant do the same thing in america. not even by plane. actually, with plane, it takes longer, even in france.
  • by PinchDuck (199974) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @10:01PM (#35157766)

    We're staring down default in 20 years and the government wants to play with choo-choo's. great.

    Are high speed trains good? Yes.
    Would it be bad to not have a high speed train? It would be inconvenient.
    Which is more important, having a high speed train, or making sure that the U.S. doesn't default and cause a world wide depression?

    ALL government funding now has to be justified in terms of:
    Do the benefits of X project outweigh the massive problems that would be caused by a U.S. Default and world wide depression?
    If the answer is no, then the project doesn't get funded.

    And since we're running a 1.4 TRILLION dollar deficit (that's per year, kids), we have to ask that question about all existing projects.

    Until the budget is balanced, we don't need shit like this.

  • BICYCLES (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johnrpenner (40054) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @01:30AM (#35159074) Homepage

    hope they have integration with bicycles -- if the new system is anything as good as germany's existing system, it will be amazing. in germany, they have an incredible integration of subway and regional trains, and all station platforms are level with the train - so you can roll bikes on and off the train at any stop, and it continues with bike paths.. it makes getting from A-B with bikes and trains pretty seamless. although, in america, maybe just having a place to lock your bike up at the station might be considered progress.

This place just isn't big enough for all of us. We've got to find a way off this planet.

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