Will Amtrak ever bring out proper high speed trains?

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by MaiaLover186, 20 Aug 2015.

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  1. MaiaLover186

    MaiaLover186 New Member

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    I live in the UK but read a lot of Amtrak. We have proper 125mph high speed trains but the only high speed train in the US is the Acela express. Where as we have Class 390, Class 220, Class 221, Class 222, Class 395, Class 800 and 801 (in service 2018/9) will Amtrak get there foot down and do proper high speed trains and not slow trains that can only go 75mph? Amtrak say they are fast but I do not know if it is just me but they are awfully slow. I will give you links to Wikipedia on long distance Amtrak.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMD_AEM-7

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki
    /GE_Genesis


    The GE P42DC goes between Miami and New York. I do not know why people would not rather fly from MIA to JFK, EWR OR LGA

    Journey time between Miami and New York
    Amtrak: 28 Hours
    Plane: 3 Hours And 5 Minutes (Direct Operated by Frontier Airbus A320 Jet)

    So as you can see it is quicker.
     
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  3. Bungle965

    Bungle965 Established Member

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    You need to remember that before they can buy new trains they will need to make sure that the line can handle the sort of speed that you are talking about.
     
  4. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

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    America has a freight railway first and foremost, though there are ambitious plans for the west coast
     
    Last edited: 20 Aug 2015
  5. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    They're making very very slow progress but they are making progress:

    Source

    All that being said I'm still firmly in the 'believe it when the first trains run' camp when it comes to High Speed Rail and California (let alone anywhere else in the USA).
     
  6. Harlan Cage

    Harlan Cage Member

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    I travelled on the ACELA from Boston to New York a number of years ago and it was not a good experience with only a few miles running at 125 miles an hour. The ride was poor and catering abysmal, far worse than anything in the UK I guess one day the USA will get it right!
     
  7. philabos

    philabos Member

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    Diesel locomotives.on the Miami New York route only go as far as Washington northbound where they change to electric power. The railway south of Washington is owned by CSX, not Amtrak. I can assure you they would not allow high speed trains on their railroad, which primarily handles freight and is pressed for capacity even now.
    Amtrak has no money, and even if by some miracle billions appeared from heaven, they would have to build a new railway and that is frankly an impossible dream in this country.
     
  8. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    Amtrak probably could be quite successful but suffers from a severe case of politics. The majority of Republicans would happily remove it's subsidy (and therefore basically kill the whole enterprise) whilst the majority of Democrats want to see it stay but don't seem to be willing to fund it any more than the bare minimum.

    A project to build proper dedicated high speed rail services in the Northeast Corridor (Boston - New York City - Philadelphia - Baltimore - Washington DC) and California (Sacramento/San Francisco - Los Angeles/San Diego) along with possibly some routes between major conurbations in Florida and Texas could be successful and possibly even profitable.

    The legacy routes (mostly the long distance cross country services like the Empire Builder or the California Zephyr) could continue their focus on being a tourist attraction rather than a legitimate form of transport (outside of major disasters causing disruption to air travel).

    However, until there is a major cross-party agreement that the US needs to invest, heavily, in it's infrastructure (the whole nine yards of roads, rail, air and water) then outside of California (and that's perilous) passenger rail is hanging in there by a thread and is very unlikely to see major investment.

    Which is a shame.
     
  9. talltim

    talltim Established Member

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    The Acela has a higher top speed than anything except trains on HS1
     
  10. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    Yeah but how often does it actually reach that speed?
     
  11. duncanp

    duncanp Member

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    There is a project to upgrade the line between Chicago and St Louis, Missouri to 110mph.

    http://www.idothsr.org/

    Chicago to St Louis is just under 300 miles, and the journey currently takes 5.5 hours.

    I will be travelling this route next month, as part of a journey all the way to Dallas, so hopefully it won't be disrupted due to engineering work.

    I don't think there will ever be high speed rail as in France, Japan or the Eurostar line in the UK, mainly because railways in the US are primarily for freight traffic, and passenger services are often an afterthought.
     
  12. jopsuk

    jopsuk Veteran Member

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    Supposedly the double-decker Superliner long distance carriages, and the derived California cars, are rated for 125mph. The problem is lack of routes that allow speed- as explained, most of the Amtrak network is owned by freight railways over which Amtrak has limited running rights.
     
  13. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Over most of the USA the cities that are large enough to generate worthwhile passenger numbers are too far apart for rail to be competitive with air even if new high speed lines were built. Also most of the cities themselves have much lower density (more urban sprawl), therefore most parts are easy to drive to and park at but may not have the sort of public transport network that would be needed to feed passengers to high speed rail.

    There are some exceptions, including the places mentioned above where high speed rail is being considered, but this basically means intercity rail travel is irrelevant to the lives of most American people and politicians. Flying and driving are also seen as not requiring public funding (despite the amount that goes into freeways and airports) in a country where many believe the government should do as little as possible especially where spending is concerned.

    For these reasons getting government commitment to pay for high speed rail schemes is always going to be an uphill struggle. By contrast light rail and "commuter rail" over shorter distances are quite widespread and Federal funding is relatively easy to obtain for these.
     
  14. alex17595

    alex17595 Member

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    I think there is only a few sections of 150mph (Kingston being one).

    It has an average speed of 64 MPH between Philadelphia and Boston. (They would do better with express pacers!)
     
  15. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

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    I have read in a German newspaper (Rheinische Post Aug. 1990) that the German Maglev "Transrapid" was ordered for the lines from LA / San Francisco to Las Vegas in 1990.

    The order most obviously have been cancelled. Does anybody know what happened?

    Martin
     
  16. Groningen

    Groningen Established Member

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  17. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    This is very true. I have, however, visited some American cities where public transport provision is at least as good as Carmarthenshire, and far more reasonably priced. There seemed a pretty good bus network in Albuquerque a few years back, and I was also delighted to see that I could get to Morro Bay from San Luis Obispo quite easily and cheaply.

    Again, you are correct. The two problems you have outlined are the biggest obstacles facing Amtrak. Demographics and geography work against rail for passenger travel, and the politics of the majority of US citizens, being against government interference, don't help matters either.
     
  18. 47802

    47802 On Moderation

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    I think the Americans are starting to see the value of rail on commuter and medium distance routes though

    The 110mph Amtrak services have already been mentioned, there is also the all aboard Florida project which is going to offer a regular service between Orlando well a new Orlando Airport Transport Hub to be exact and Miami using new and existing track with some 125mph running. The new Sunrail Orlando commuter service also started last year.

    I travelled from Orlando to Washington and Washington to New York last year, yes Orlando to Washington isn't exactly fast but then unless you had a very high speed line between the two it doesn't make much odds whether it takes 14 hours or 17 hours really. I went on it because I wanted to experience an Amtrak trip and I don't really like flying although obviously I had to fly to get to America in the first place. The chap I sat next to for the journey was a native who also didn't like flying he used to make the journey by car but didn't fancy the car journey now he was getting on a bit. There are 2 trains a day between Florida and Washington/New York the one I was certainly busy throughout the journey.
     
    Last edited: 21 Aug 2015
  19. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I think you're right. Where there are urban centres within more European style distances of each other, there seems to be a growing acceptance of the role that rail can play. Speed, of course, is less important for commuter lines, but can certainly help on flows such as San Diego to LA.
     
  20. jopsuk

    jopsuk Veteran Member

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    From some reading, it does appear that in various places operators that had been running just inbound in the morning, outbound in the evening commuter services are moving to all-day, and all-week, operation
     
  21. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    And much of that route is shared with other companies. When I went from NYC to Boston last year, the Guard said that we would catch up time when we got off the New Haven tracks at somewhere in Connecticut and onto the Amtrak lines to Boston. We then had a wait in Providence so that a delayed Acela could pass. I think our maximum speed on the fast track was 125mph which didn't seem that fast in the superliner coaches.
    One thing that indicates the attitude to high speed rail in the US is that trains must have end vehicles strong and heavy enough to reduce the chance of derailment in the (not that unlikely) event that they hit a freight vehicle.
     
  22. Western Lord

    Western Lord Member

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    Amtrak own all of the NE corridor except Stamford to New Rochelle which is owned by Metro North who limit speed to 75mph for capacity reasons. Back in the early diesel days, US railroads had some of the fastest start to stop schedules in the world, but Federal Railroad Administration rules and the decline of passenger receipts put a stop to them. In the US, if you want to go above 79mph, you need cab signalling and few freight railroads are interested in running at speeds above this. Many routes were rationalised (i.e. singled) meaning fewer paths for fast passenger trains and then there is the question of grade crossings (level crossings). It is simply staggering how many level crossings there are on most routes outside of the major cities. Some towns might have 20 or so in the space of a few miles. This is one of the reasons that US trains have to be built like tanks, they are designed to hit things as it is more than likely that they will sooner or later.
     
  23. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    That may be so for cities, but if you go to parts of America that are more comparable with Carmarthenshire you would find that the public transport was as bad or worse!
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Starting to, and only some Americans. They still have to persuade enough of the others, who see no benefit whatever to themselves, to support any rail proposal.
     
  24. Caravanman

    Caravanman Member

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    I have enjoyed many thousands of miles aboard Amtrak, but high speed was never a feature.
    The North East corridor apart, the long distance trains run on freight owned lines. Almost unbelievably, some states have no Amtrak train service at all, and for many it is one Amtrak train every two or three days, or just one train a day, maybe at 3am.

    Delays are very common, even though there is massive padding in the schedules. Delays tend to be put down to the freight railroads giving priority to their own trains, as well as many single and slow track sections.

    Each year there are Congress efforts to cut back on fiscal losses... the free coffee for sleeping car passengers is now just in the mornings, and no free newspapers... Those items will save billions of $, no doubt.

    Nope, no proper high speed trains, methinks...

    Edwin

    ps Although I am in Nottingham, I am not an alter ego for the main Nottingham Edwin M!
     
    Last edited: 21 Aug 2015
  25. Sunbird24

    Sunbird24 Member

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    Most Amtrak long-distance services are painfully slow, with lengthy stops at many stations. On one service from Chicago to Williams (Az) the train stopped every couple of hours for what the conductor announced was a smoking cum coffee break which would be about 20 minutes to half an hour each time. On most occasions we did not cross any other traffic. At Albuquerque the scheduled stop was about 2½ hours to allow for shopping, dining etc., while the locomotives went off for servicing!
    On an earlier occasion our train to Chicago from Buffalo was severely delayed by a level crossing accident between New York and Buffalo, finally arriving about 4 hours late so we expected to miss our 3-hour connection at Chicago. We were surprised to be woken up and told we were arriving in Chicago just a few minutes late! Added bonus for me as I did get to see a huge amount of Freight traffic in Buffalo during the course of the evening and also had time in Chicago to visit the Metra station (formerly C&NW and Hiawatha lines).
    As stated earlier by others, most of those lines will never see high speed passenger services as they will always be used for slow, heavy freights. On the long single line sections the traffic will often all run one way for several hours at a time with the slowest train controlling the average speed!
    The huge distances involved will likely never see dedicated high speed lines being built until they can compete with airlines by running at 500MPH+.
     
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