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April 3, 2007 7:40 AM   Subscribe

One fast motherf#%*^@$ train warning: video and in french
posted by Stynxno (88 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
via stereo
posted by Stynxno at 7:40 AM on April 3, 2007


From what I can understand, they recently boosted the voltage on the overhead transmission lines, thus allowing this new high speed run... P=V^2/R and all.
posted by anthill at 7:48 AM on April 3, 2007


via bbc
posted by adamvasco at 7:48 AM on April 3, 2007


From a Reuters reporter on board:

From about 380 kph, vibrations in the train became more and more noticeable. At 490 kph passengers started to get slightly dizzy. At 540 kph it became difficult to remain standing up despite the stability of the train.

At 570 kph, the driver -- filmed on camera -- wore a very big smile. "We had no worries -- no birds, good weather, none of the troubles we had during the tests," said driver Eric Pieczak.

posted by Ljubljana at 7:49 AM on April 3, 2007


J'ai un TGV dans mes pantalons!
posted by azazello at 7:50 AM on April 3, 2007


The acceleration passing 450 km/h is still impressive...
posted by anthill at 7:51 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Takes a while to get impressive, but almost 600 kph (370 mph) is pretty great. I wish I had that on my commute.
posted by DU at 7:55 AM on April 3, 2007


If you were wondering, 574.8km/h is 357.2 mph. Yes, the bbc got their maths wrong.

It is also almost 160 metres/s, or 175 yards/s.
posted by stereo at 8:02 AM on April 3, 2007


The TV hosts mention that at > 500km/h the train pulls up the gravel from the train bed in its wake - the best scenes are at ~85% into the clip, when they have the first shot from the front.

The TGV got up to mach 0.48, not too shabby. Did you notice that just before the train sped under the spectators' bridge (at the end of the straight track section) they showed a split second clip of the overhead transmission pickup? Arcs and spatter all over the place, so they cut back to the inside of the train right away. :)

The TV hosts were also mentioning that the French very much want to sell TGVs to the Americans...
posted by anthill at 8:05 AM on April 3, 2007


Until they speak English, they're just ghetto trash.
posted by gcbv at 8:11 AM on April 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


gcbv: they probably do speak English. And Spanish. And your pick of a third language and fourth language. How many languages can you converse in?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:14 AM on April 3, 2007


They also mentioned that in 1955, when the pre-TGV speed record was set, an air crew that wanted to film the "most glorious derailment in the world" arrived late, not having factored in the speed of the train.
posted by anthill at 8:15 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can get slightly dizzy by spinning around in my officle. Or by sitting next to the homeless guy on the D train on my ride home. How much is it gonna cost me to get dizzy going from NYC to D.C. in less than an hour?
posted by spicynuts at 8:16 AM on April 3, 2007


motherf#%*^@$ that. On my daily commute I'd settle for a train with motherf#%*^@$ air conditioning that arrived on motherf#%*^@$ time that wasn't motherf#%*^@$ stand-only space.
posted by tellurian at 8:18 AM on April 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


I hope that one of the bridge spectators had a good sound recording setup with them... that would make one hell of a one minute vacation.
posted by anthill at 8:23 AM on April 3, 2007


The TV hosts were also mentioning that the French very much want to sell TGVs to the Americans...

Ohh please, please! Right now the 300 mile train ride from Pittsburgh to Philly takes almost 8 hours if nothing goes wrong. And something usually goes wrong.
posted by octothorpe at 8:24 AM on April 3, 2007


But can it get up to eighty-eight miles an hour pushing a Delorean? Get on that and call me when you are ready to do business.
posted by OldReliable at 8:25 AM on April 3, 2007


But can it get up to eighty-eight miles an hour pushing a Delorean? Get on that and call me when you are ready to do business.

What's the metric conversion of 1.21 Jigawatts?
posted by spicynuts at 8:28 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think that's 1.21 gigawatts in metric.
posted by anthill at 8:32 AM on April 3, 2007


Jiga-what? Jiga-who? Can I get a what what?
posted by spicynuts at 8:34 AM on April 3, 2007


300MPH? That's nothing when the Vactrain from the New York to LA gets built, it should peak somewhere around 1000MPH if I remember correctly. I wonder how that funding is coming along.
posted by geoff. at 8:36 AM on April 3, 2007


That's nothing when the Vactrain from the New York to LA gets built, it should peak somewhere around 1000MPH if I remember correctly. I wonder how that funding is coming along.

I'd like to see the Mythbusters put a penny on THAT track.
posted by spicynuts at 8:40 AM on April 3, 2007


European high-speed rail is IMPRESSIVE. I've gotten to experience the TGV and German ICE trains over the last 2 years, and they are just an amazing piece of engineering.

And, I have to ask, WHY THE BLEEDING FUCK DON'T WE HAVE SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN THE STATES?!?!?!
posted by deadmessenger at 8:43 AM on April 3, 2007


But seriously, the problem with trains in the US is the tracks. Espescially in the northeast, all the rights of way are ancient and windy, so even if they were upgraded, you couldn't get a train above sixty or seventy on them.

As far as I am concerned, this is what eminent domain should be used for. Carve us a straight line from Boston to Providence to New York to Philly and run trains down it at two hundred MPH.

Good luck finding the capital to do it.
posted by OldReliable at 8:44 AM on April 3, 2007


If I understand the French description of the overhead wires (which give the illusion of swaying at high speed)--they are strung in a narrow zigzag pattern to distribute the arc evenly across the pickup. Otherwise the 25,000 volts would melt the metal.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:48 AM on April 3, 2007


deadmessenger, probably because our rail network wasn't blasted back into the Stone Age during WWII. Anyone with a worthy rail network (re-)built the bulk of it in the 1950s.
posted by jet_silver at 8:54 AM on April 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


It would have been more believable if the French transit workers had been on strike.
posted by desjardins at 8:55 AM on April 3, 2007


Aside from finding the capital do to this in the US, and the work involved in upgrading ancient track and such, good luck finding the will. And fighting a car culture (even in most of the Northeast), and oil and auto lobbies, and a general-public perception of mass transit as being "downscale" (though the cool factor of such fast trains might offset that somewhat).

I dunno. Maybe it could be done, by folks a lot less jaded and more motivated than . . . you know . . . me.
posted by CommonSense at 8:56 AM on April 3, 2007


Anyone with a worthy rail network (re-)built the bulk of it in the 1950s

This train doesn't need a network. It needs one straight line.
posted by rocket88 at 9:00 AM on April 3, 2007


The TV hosts mention that at > 500km/h the train pulls up the gravel from the train bed in its wake

Isn't that a bit of a problem, what with degrading the track bed's integrity and flying gravel damaging things including the train?
posted by azazello at 9:01 AM on April 3, 2007


A few years ago I was on a TGV train from Paris to Lyon, with my head leaning against the glass. Just looking out the window is like looking out of a regular train's window on fast forward, but when another train paseed, coming in the opposite direction a few feet from my head, I think I peed myself a little - 600 km/h or so in relative speed is phenomenal. OldReliable, you're right. The tracks on the TGV lines are banked in the corners etc. such that you'd need a much higher construction standard than we currently have for tracks in North America. Maybe when fuel is more scarce long-distance train travel will become more viable here.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:01 AM on April 3, 2007




azazello, the normal passenger service runs at 320km/h, not a problem for the trackbed. This was a special occasion.
posted by anthill at 9:06 AM on April 3, 2007


Full 23 minute video of riding the German ICE train...
posted by anthill at 9:17 AM on April 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


The TGV lines are all new, or if not, they run at something like 160kph. (This is also true of a number of the German and British high-speed lines.) This line -- TGV Est -- won't be finished all the way to Strasbourg until 2014, so half of it is run at half-speed, anyway.

The problem with the US isn't the roadbeds, or the rights of way, or even the lack of investment (all of which are factors) -- it's that people just don't travel by train. This is largely a factor of limited transportation in-city. No point in taking the rails to get there, people think, if they have to walk across town to find a drink.

It was pretty impressive, although with recent events in mind I was glad they left nothing on the tracks accidentally, or the wheels didn't start disintegrating.

Pllus, my brother -- who's been an engineer for a year or so -- told us about his first really, really close call. Some old guy stopped on the tracks because he was apparently confused by the gate coming down on the other side. He finally pulled forward just seconds before my brother was going to pull the emergency stop. (And a colleague did hit someone a couple weeks ago. Even though everybody in the minivan walked away from that one, he was still too shaken to take the train back home that day.) So I was watching this with a bit more awareness than usual.
posted by dhartung at 9:27 AM on April 3, 2007


Even now I feel a sense of occasion getting on a TGV train. Somehow the French don't succumb to the crappiness we have in the USA when they have something routine going on: on every TGV train I've been on (and that is a bunch) the ride was comfortable, safe, clean and on time. The food's good and not unduly expensive on board, too.

There is a reason the trains are now double-decked: on part of the Paris-Lyon line a few years back, they were running a fully loaded TGV every three minutes. The service is deservedly popular and they have a neat way of advertising the TGV's speed: periodically you get near an autoroute and you see how much faster you're going on the train.
posted by jet_silver at 9:31 AM on April 3, 2007


That was quite something, though it took surprisingly long to look like something (I kept thinking, as the poles zipped by, "Hmm, looks like they're doing about 80..."). I love the guy who kept saying "extrèmement spectaculaire!" Thanks for the post, and I wish train travel were still a good way to travel—I crossed the country by train when I was a kid, and there's nothing like it.
posted by languagehat at 9:36 AM on April 3, 2007


I have no desire to speed down tracks that fast. We could possibly derail.
posted by TrolleyOffTheTracks at 9:40 AM on April 3, 2007


Cool! Congratulations France!
posted by homodigitalis at 9:44 AM on April 3, 2007


But seriously, the problem with trains in the US is the tracks. Espescially in the northeast, all the rights of way are ancient and windy, so even if they were upgraded, you couldn't get a train above sixty or seventy on them.

I used to commute from Philly to NYC daily via Amtrak. I got to following the politics of Amtrak funding, which, btw, was cut to $0 in the last budget with the help of the republican congressmen in the area. (Every one of those fools should be voted out of office next chance we get.) But even a semi-public institution like Amtrak is a huge target for 'free-market is always best' right-wing conservative crowd. Notice that the same conservative polititions demand that Amtrak keep open stations in money-losing low-traffic places like Jefferson City, MO.

Also, according to an old conductor I talk to on occasion, a long time ago the Reagan administration wanted to kill Amtrak, there was a public outcry, and the administration craftily gave away all their tracks to private companies, letting them charge what they wanted for track access. Then they set up Amtrak as a semi-private corporation, with a mandate to break even, knowing that they had just set it up to be impossible. Nice crowd, that.
posted by overhauser at 10:12 AM on April 3, 2007


Also, don't forget the recent amtrak head who was fired by the Bush administration because he was doing too good of a job.
posted by overhauser at 10:17 AM on April 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


spicynuts---
I usually charge about $75 USD/hour, but will negogiate for groups.
posted by Dizzy at 10:27 AM on April 3, 2007


And, I have to ask, WHY THE BLEEDING FUCK DON'T WE HAVE SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN THE STATES?!?!?!

Because we have highways and trucks (lorries).
posted by kalessin at 10:38 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Because we have highways and trucks (lorries).
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall there being highways and trucks in Europe, too. Nice, big, high-speed highways.

Plus, there's the fact that the US is hugely larger and more spread-out than Europe, which would, on the face of it, make something like this even more viable...or, at least, more reasonable.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:44 AM on April 3, 2007


Metafilter: We could possibly derail.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:48 AM on April 3, 2007


I did a large school project on the prospect of high-speed trains in North America (more specifically the Quebec-Windsor corridor), and the largest reason why real high-speed rail will never come to our shores is that people here just aren't interested. Basically, lowering taxes is much more important than providing fast, cheap, and reliable transport. Factor in the truck lobby, automobile lobby, and the airline industry lobby; and finding funding for such a large expensive project becomes impossible.

High-speed rail must be highly funded by the government, it is far too expensive to build and maintain for it to be profitable in the way we associate with free-market economy. The population is not interested in funding something they basically think they will never use, 12 hour road trips are a common and accepted part of North American life, the idea of taking the train and ending up at your destination sans car seems alien. Besides what would you do once you arrived in small town USA? Everything is too spread out for walking, and there is no public transport available.

Anyways, I could go on for hours. Basically if you want high speed rail, move to Europe, or Japan.
posted by Vindaloo at 10:51 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have no desire to speed down tracks that fast. We could possibly derail.

According to this wiki link, there hasn't been one fatality due to an accident at high speed.

"There have been several accidents, including three derailments at or above 270 km/h (168 mph), but in none of these did any carriages overturn. This is credited in part to the stiffness that the articulated design lends to the train."
posted by Bearman at 10:53 AM on April 3, 2007


The whole video was great - especially the shots of the messy-haired cub reporter standing with all the onlookers - and that they broke the record at THE EXACT SECOND when they flew under the crowded bridge near the end of the video.

Also, if this news was on a US station, instead of a sans-serif "direct" discreetly pin-striped across the bottom, we'd have had a triple-split screen with multiple anchors, a news ticker, and perhaps some experts joining us in the studio to discuss technicals or do a book promo.
posted by mdonley at 10:59 AM on April 3, 2007


This train -- it vibrates?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:04 AM on April 3, 2007


Good luck finding the capital to do it.

It's in Iraq.
posted by oaf at 11:08 AM on April 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


Plus, there's the fact that the US is hugely larger and more spread-out than Europe, which would, on the face of it, make something like this even more viable...or, at least, more reasonable.

No, that makes it less viable. It takes three days to get from coast to coast, and you pass a lot of very sparsely populated areas. If you could go an hour in any direction and arrive in a city of at least half a million people, everywhere in the country, it might be more viable.
posted by oaf at 11:12 AM on April 3, 2007


Vindaloo, I'd be interested in hearing you go on for a few minutes. Do you think there's any chance of a high speed rail Ontario link, at all? Any chance of federal political pressure changing anything?
posted by anthill at 11:13 AM on April 3, 2007


One of the comments on the video's link says that the goal of this high speed run was to try and break the 581km/h japanese maglev train record (set in a train carrying 12 people on a superconducting helium-cooled magnet test track).
Hence the muted enthusiasm in the TGV cabin and from the announcer.
posted by anthill at 11:21 AM on April 3, 2007


Apparently an American congressman was on board the TGV speed run... anyone know which?
posted by anthill at 11:23 AM on April 3, 2007


...the idea of taking the train and ending up at your destination sans car seems alien. Besides what would you do once you arrived in small town USA? Everything is too spread out for walking, and there is no public transport available.

This is an excellent point. In order to work properly, public transit needs to exist on a national and local scale.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:38 AM on April 3, 2007


Do you think there's any chance of a high speed rail Ontario link, at all?

Most GO Transit lines are single-track lines that run only in the peak travel direction, and only on weekdays. Until this is remotely better, I don't think they'll be able to get a high-speed rail link working.
posted by oaf at 11:43 AM on April 3, 2007


Anthill, there have been countless studies performed by the Canadian government on the viability of high-speed rail along the Quebec-Windsor corridor, and none of them ever mention electric high-speed rail as a feasability. They almost exclusively focus on the rehabilitation of existing tracks in order to allow for a new type of conventional diesel train (tilt trains), which in theory would allow speed close to 270 km/h. A plan like this would cost roughly 3 billion dollars, according to the latest study.

It is important to note that the state of New York has such trains, none of them ever exceed 240 km/h (on short straight sections only), and the trains themselves have been plagued by a series of problems (built by our very Bombardier). As such these trains are now limited to just under 200 km/h, the current VIA express can reach almost 170 km/h, so it's not that big an improvement.

True high-speed rail, european style, with fully electrified trains, would require completely new tracks; and in my estimate would cost roughly 9 billion dollars (this is by no means accurate, it could be much more) and would require incredible stubborness from the government willing to implement it. The plus side is that such a system could be powered completely with renewable energy (most likely hydro-electricity) or by nuclear, both of which are much greener than diesel locomotives. Additionally, electric trains are unaffected by the fluctuations in oil prices.

If you like, shoot me an e-mail and I can provide you with some references that you can look-up which would be able to provide you with much more information.
posted by Vindaloo at 11:46 AM on April 3, 2007


It is important to note that the state of New York has such trains, none of them ever exceed 240 km/h

Outside of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, high-speed rail in the U.S. never even goes above 220 km/h. The only track sections that support speeds that high are in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, and even then, the average speed of a trip will be well under 200 km/h.
posted by oaf at 12:08 PM on April 3, 2007


"According to this wiki link, there hasn't been one fatality due to an accident at high speed."
posted by Bearman at 6:53 PM


there was an accident with the german bullet train ICE in Eschede in 1998, costing 100 lives.

posted by kolophon at 12:13 PM on April 3, 2007


Aww, it’s pretty fast, I guess.

Also - ‘merican cities aren’t really set up for walking. For good long distance public transportation you need good urban public transportation. We really don’t have that. Although we do have cops that will just clock you for no reason, so...
posted by Smedleyman at 12:34 PM on April 3, 2007


I'd imagine that the power lines for an electric rail line wouldn't do well in a Canadian winter. In Chicago, the electric light rail has to run down the tracks at 1 hour intervals during winter weather to prevent the wires from freezing up coming down. I imagine this would pose problems for a trans-Canadian electric rail line.
posted by OldReliable at 12:51 PM on April 3, 2007


Frogs on a Train
posted by funkbrain at 1:04 PM on April 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Can't imagine that it is a problem with electric trains generally OldReliable, since the IORE train that runs in northern Sweden and Norway, is electrified, and it certainly doesn't run at 1 hour intervals.
posted by Catfry at 1:28 PM on April 3, 2007


I was just watching a documentary about the old Southern Pacific Daylight train (in the 30s-60s) up to San Francisco -- one old-timer told a story about how, when he was a kid, the train got held up for 45 minutes or so by a vehicle on the tracks, and when they got underway they were FLYING to make up time. After the run, he asks how fast they were going, and the engineer shouts down from his window "Ninety-nine plus!"

The whole run from LA to San Fran took about eight hours and fourty minutes, and that included a change of trains at San Luis Obispo -- and did I mention the engine was STEAM? Today, the Coach Starlight (the remnant of that original run) takes a hair over twelve hours!

Anyway, the reason we don't get trains like that in "the states" any more -- much less the TGV trains -- is that flights are cheap and speedy dedicated passenger service (even back in the Coast Daylight days) was unprofitable. Which is sad indeed.
posted by davejay at 1:50 PM on April 3, 2007


Well, I didn't know that existed, but I was reading this report a little while ago, and it says that there are relatively serious issues. I think speed also has something to do with it, as there is less stress with a forty MPH ore train than with a high speed passenger rail train.

As you can see from that report, there are a lot of challenges to high speed train operation in extremely cold weather, but even worse problems for electric trains powered by catenary wires.

The relevant portion of that document is on page 52.
posted by OldReliable at 1:51 PM on April 3, 2007


anthill, thanks for that link.
posted by creeptick at 1:54 PM on April 3, 2007


It's Supertrain!
posted by fandango_matt at 2:12 PM on April 3, 2007


You're welcome, creeptick (you mean the trainrider one?)... and thanks to OldReliable for the winter train booklet - sounds grisly, no wonder the Amtrack high speed trains aren't electric...
posted by anthill at 2:26 PM on April 3, 2007


Thank you for that response, OldReliable, it really is a topic of which I know very little, I just thought it useful to show that electrification is possible at high northern latitudes, and from a quick read of that pdf it seems you are right that there are problems and perhaps serious ones about high speed in colder climates.
Still, the x2000 train runs as far north as Luleå in Sweden (68º north) showing it's possible - although that train only runs at something like 200 km/h and some would dispute that that should be called high speed.
I guess the issues outlined in the pdf has been discovered from operation of that train.
posted by Catfry at 2:31 PM on April 3, 2007


If I were in charge of comming up with an interstate transport system for the U.S. I'd go with lots of smaller, computer controlled aircraft.

The problem, IMO, isn't the flight time, but the amount of time it takes to get from home to the airport. Driving from my house to Dallas, Texas takes 12 hours, and flying takes three. But it takes another two hours to get from my house to the airport, and then another 3 on top of that to get from the airport to my dad's house. I should be able to fly from Ames to Kansas City or Chicago, then fly to Dallas and then to Mesquite. And, smaller planes would make bombing less worrisome, and computer control would make hijacking impossible.
posted by delmoi at 2:39 PM on April 3, 2007


We took VIA rail from Kitchener to Ottawa last summer. Although it took all day (due to many stops), the train was faster than the expressway much of the time. the seats were comfortable, there was plenty of room, and you could "move about the cabin" to your heart's content.

And though we took taxis from the Ottawa station into town (had a youngster along), once we got there we were car-free for a week.

Loved the train. LOVED it.

Would be nice if it was cheaper, though. And faster.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:16 PM on April 3, 2007


The French have a special word for accidents at that speed: le squish.

But more seriously, I would love to have been on that train. What a rush that would be. :)
posted by Malor at 3:28 PM on April 3, 2007


Frogs on a Train

HA!!!
posted by derbs at 3:28 PM on April 3, 2007


azazello, the normal passenger service runs at 320km/h, not a problem for the trackbed. This was a special occasion.

Yeah, but I still wonder if it's dangerous for the train, and how many passes like that would degrade the track bed.

I'm holding out for maglev trains on elevated track with inductive power delivery, myself. Imagine if all the tracks got replaced by treetop level, premanufactured concrete viaducts, consisting of nothing but a concrete shell with cables and coils inside, and supporting pillars every 30 meters. The maglev train would hug it on 3 of the 4 sides. Simple, beautiful, and an absolute minimum disruption to the environment.
posted by azazello at 3:43 PM on April 3, 2007


kolophon, I was referring to the TGV service.
posted by Bearman at 3:50 PM on April 3, 2007


French On A Train

starring Samuel L Jackson as a prejudiced tourist.

"I want these motherf#%*^@$ french off this motherf#%*^@$ train!"
posted by ZachsMind at 5:02 PM on April 3, 2007


Um, funkbrain made that joke earlier. And funnier.
posted by languagehat at 5:08 PM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


High speed rail in the US will not happen, short of a revolution, despite the huge number of workable corridors in the East and Midwest.

Why?

1) Freight lines.
2) Airlines
3) Trucking lines.

Freight lines won't give up trackage. Trucking lines fight anything that makes freight trains move faster. Airlines fight anything that makes passenger trains faster. Both fight anything that diverts money from highways and airport/airway spending.

Despite the stupidity of trucking from Mexico to Canada, despite the stupidity of flying 737s 300 miles. Nothing will change unless something very, very dramatic changes, and really, there's only one thing.

$200/bbl oil for an extended time. Trucking and Airlines fail if oil products -- in particular, motor diesel and Jet-A -- aren't cheap. Trains, however, can run on non-oil power sources.

However, we won't be able to afford train tickets in the face of $200/bbl oil for an extended time, so really, it won't happen.
posted by eriko at 5:34 PM on April 3, 2007


eriko, why would a high speed rail line, closed to freight, make freight trains move faster?

You could make the point that local rail is necessary as a complement to high speed rail in order to provide a more complete transportation solution, and that local rail has to share track with freight, but it's tangential to your original point.

Also, weren't there laws in this country at one point to guarantee that freight lines always have to yield (in a number of ways) to passenger rail?

Finally, isn't the deeper problem the comparatively huge subsidies to airlines and automotive industries that the government is making both overtly and via policy?
posted by azazello at 5:41 PM on April 3, 2007


eriko finally makes the point that others should have considered earlier - trains are inherently more efficient and therefore significantly less carbon intensive than the alternatives. A carbon tax or carbon trading scheme (that included air travel) would rapidly change the economics of trains v roads and air. I predict good things for train travel this century.
posted by wilful at 6:05 PM on April 3, 2007


Also, weren't there laws in this country at one point to guarantee that freight lines always have to yield (in a number of ways) to passenger rail?

I have been on trains that have had to wait for freight trains to pass, but that was on trackage owned by CSX.
posted by oaf at 6:21 PM on April 3, 2007


I love me some TGV. Fast (well yes!), comfortable, virtually silent. Great way to travel.
posted by Wolof at 7:06 PM on April 3, 2007


c'est une excrement spectaculaire
posted by phaedon at 8:58 PM on April 3, 2007


Freight lines won't give up trackage. Trucking lines fight anything that makes freight trains move faster. Airlines fight anything that makes passenger trains faster. Both fight anything that diverts money from highways and airport/airway spending.

So Europe gets high-speed trains and dirt cheap airlines and we are stuck driving everywhere or risking our lives on ChinaTown buses!!
posted by pwedza at 9:10 PM on April 3, 2007


574,8 km/h - That's Mach 0.5- about half the speed of sound at sea level (1225 kph)
posted by marvin at 11:01 PM on April 3, 2007


"Apparently an American congressman was on board the TGV speed run... anyone know which?"

Probably McCain, getting the hell out of Dodge... Perhaps this was the "American interested in buying"? Straight-talk Express 2.0!
posted by anatinus at 12:21 AM on April 4, 2007


We just got our high speed rail working here in Taiwan. Though some of the stations are located too far out from the downtowns of the cities they serve, the trains are smooth and stable and cut down on travel time so that a weekend in Kaohsiung if you live in Taipei is a lot more feasible for those of us who dislike checking in at airports.

The fastest train I've been on is the 430kph maglev in Shanghai, but it only goes from the airport to the suburbs of Shanghai. It was impressive in its speed, but the interior was crudely done. I guess they figure you're not going to be on it that long; why waste money on real seats?
posted by Poagao at 1:55 AM on April 4, 2007


I think infrastructure is also a tremendous problem, I mean even without the subsidies, operating a small airline that you can cancel flights on, reroute easily, and most importantly, fly in and out of small municipal airports will beat servicing a few hundred miles of track any day.

The train gets cheaper with more service faster than the plane, because the line maintenance costs are relatively flat as usage goes up, and dwarf the running costs of the trains.

Also, the train has to have scheduled service, which removes all logistic flexibility, and raises the running costs.

Long story short, the economics of planes and trains are different. Beyond the barriers to entry being higher for the train(both political and economic), there are more than enough economic reasons to make small budget airlines competitive in a given market.
posted by OldReliable at 7:12 AM on April 4, 2007


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