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Old 08-05-2010, 11:21 AM   #41
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A point that I think is being missed is that Amtrak has to pay to run on those lines. Big rail companies like BNSF, CSX, N&S, UP and SP own the rail that Amtrak uses. They to have to pay to use the rails...like a toll road. Considering the aforementioned companies make their money transporting freight, they need to make sure they don't lose much when making way for pass. service since Amtrak has "right of way" and that all freight trains must yield/stop when an Amtrak train is in route. They're not about to let that happen for no cost.

The other problem with rail travel is that we are too spread out. For example, I am here in Atlanta. If I want to go to the beach, the quicket one I can get to is probably Charleston. It's a 5hr or so drive...and a little over 300 miles. How far will that get you in Europe? Going London to Paris is closer/faster...and considering that both cities are MUCH larger, there are more people moving between them making transportation other than driving much easier. Maybe I want to go to a slightly more populated city...like Miami. Now Miami is in my neighboring state, right? Now I'm looking at a 660 mile 10hr drive. How far will that get you in Europe? That is like driving from Paris to Berlin. Now look at a mapped route of both and compare it to the rest of the area. That ATL to MIA line is dwarfed by the rest of the country while the Paris to Berlin line seems much more significant compared to the area. Hell...Paris to Nice isn't even as far as Atlanta to Miami. That's population density for ya. There is demand for rail which makes it work. The large cities in Europe are closer together, which makes mass transportation easier (read- demand)...what is across a country or two for them is like driving across two states and barely passing through a large city.
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Old 08-05-2010, 12:25 PM   #42
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That's my daily commute. Odenton Marc to Union Station. Union red line to Silver Spring. Only takes about 50 minutes and fed pays for it. I'm so green that punching out my cats won't make me feel guilty!

Watch out, they fight back....

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Old 08-06-2010, 12:42 AM   #43
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Amtrak is really only viable in the NE corridor, where they run a **** ton of trains, and for the few who happen to live along (and have travel destinations along) their few overland routes.

I've taken the Portland<--> Seattle train numerous times on business. It works well for that - you can read for business or pleasure along the way, and you don't have to deal with traffic. You might have some extra reading time if one of our fine American Teenaged Youth decides not to move outside the yellow line at the station, and gets killed, as happened on Sunday in Puyallup WA.

July 2nd we (the family) took Amtrak's Empire Builder route to Glacier National Park. We had the De-Lux sleeper compartment that sleeps four. It actually worked pretty well, once the bunks are laid out there's plenty of room for two adults and two children to sleep. Pretty remarkable for a compartment that's about 8'x4'.

This worked well for us because we live 3 miles from the downtown Portland station, and our destination was actually a station along the route. Get on the train at 5:30 pm, eat dinner, sleep, get to Glacier at 9:30 am. Compared to flying to Montana, with connections, security, car rentals, etc, it was much simpler. It was not less expensive, but it was much simpler. Not having to wrangle a 6 and 4 year old through security is worth a lot.

Taking the train is not about getting to your destination in the quickest way possible. It's an experience in itself. In our case, there's some epic scenery along the way to/from Glacier. Lots of photography and train nuts on the train. It worked for us because the kids loved it and thought it was neat, and the train schedule was incredibly convenient for our particular trip.

But for random long-distance got-to-get somewhere travel, Amtrak is not viable.
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Old 08-06-2010, 01:46 AM   #44
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Taking the train is not about getting to your destination in the quickest way possible.
To make train transportation viable as a method of commuting in the U.S., this ^^ has to be the starting point. Unless people can get to work faster on the train than in a car, rail is doomed to fail.

I live in Columbus, Ohio area. I would love to see a high speed rail system from Cincinnati, through Columbus, and on to Cleveland. It would be built overhead of our major North-South freeway, stop 2-3 times between each pair of cities, and have 2-3 stops within each city. Unfortunately, to make it viable as a commuters' transportation system would also require a comprehensive secondary rail system within each of the three cities. My morning commute is 20 minutes; I doubt I would be taking a rail system to work on a regular basis. I have a co-worker who lives in Cincinnati, and she would happily take a train. I also have job opportunities in both Cincy and Cleveland that I would be more willing to take if I didn't have to move or drive 100 minutes a day to. (I love my 20 minute commute) I would expect that something like this would create population centers at each of the 2-3 stops between cities. Unfortunately, no one is going to justify the $50 billion price tag.
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Old 08-06-2010, 09:35 AM   #45
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If you fancy a trip, perhaps the Taggart Transcontinental Railway?
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Old 08-06-2010, 12:48 PM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fooger03 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mobius
Taking the train is not about getting to your destination in the quickest way possible.
To make train transportation viable as a method of commuting in the U.S., this ^^ has to be the starting point. Unless people can get to work faster on the train than in a car, rail is doomed to fail.
And there are, in fact, many places in the US where this is the case. If you live on the Kersey coast and work in Manhattan, then the PATH commuter train is your best option. If you live on Long Island and work in Manhattan, then the LIRR train is your best option. If you live in inland NJ and work in Manhattan, then NJTrans is your best option.

See a trend here?

The same is true in certain other major metro areas in the US- Chicago, Boston, DC and St. Louis come to mind. But there's a key difference here. These are services targeted specifically at commuters who work in the downtown area of a major city, and live in the outlying suburbs. It just doesn't work anywhere else.


It's the long-haul service that I don't understand. I'm pretty sure that there aren't too many folks who live in Laughlin, NV and work in Garden City, KS , so why the hell does Amtrack even expend the effort of running trains along that track?


That's really the key. I grok light rail and commuter trains in metro areas and their suburbs. I don't understand why they bother continuing to run long-haul passenger service.
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