• Foreign High Speed Rail Companies in the U.S.

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by Pensyfan19
 
This is an interesting development in potential high speed rail in the U.S. FS, the Italian high speed rail operator, just joined the United States High Speed Rail Association to ¨support bringing high speed rail in America¨.

https://www.globalrailwayreview.com/new ... sociation/
FS Italian Railways USA Inc. has joined the U.S. High Speed Rail Association (USHSR) to support bringing high-speed rail to America.

FS will be participating in tenders announced in this market to be executed in cooperation with FS International, for promoting distinctive integrated offers based on the expertise and multidisciplinary products and services portfolio of the FS Group.

The new relationship with USHSR proves the strong interest of FS USA for the North American mobility market, particularly in regard to the Californian high-speed programme, in the belief that America deserves a state-of-the-art rail network.
Since there are other foreign high speed rail companies (DB, SNCF, JR, Renfe[?]) which are within the U.S. and are focusing on certain corridors such as California and Texas, are any of these lookig at starting their own high speed rail corridor in the U.S. other than the existing and well-known corridors, such as CA, Texas Central, and the Pacific Northwest?
  by electricron
 
LA to LV Brightline West is just about it, and that is not with much foreign investment.

To really invest with private funding into HSR you really need higher densities than what is present in most of America. And where there are high densities, HSR proposals are already known.

About the only city large enough to host a HSR hub left is Chicago, which has invested instead into 110 mph higher speed rail projects where almost all trains still go 79 mph or less. It has been expensive just to maintain 79 mph speeds on freight railroad tracks that are happy going 60 mph or less. There are just too many spokes leaving the Chicago hub to invest in HSR speeds on just one spoke.

Look at the political and legal hurdles Texas Central and Brightline Florida have had to jump through, with projects entirely within one state. Just about every other proposed projects advocates push for involve the regulators and courts of two or more states. I’m afraid no private entity is willing to fight these fights. Just about all the projects moving forward involve mostly one state; Cascades = Washington, Brightline = Florida and California, CHSR = California, and Texas Central = Texas.
  by Literalman
 
I agree that a network is necessary to make full use of high-speed rail, but I don't think that the whole network has to be high speed. If there are frequent connections between lines and passengers can easily transfer at Chicago from, say, a 110-mph train from St. Louis to a 150-mph train to Minneapolis, and not have to wait more than an hour connecting either way, that should be marketable. Existing commuter rail systems connecting to Acela Express or, for that matter, rail lines to airports, are working networks where not every part of the network is high speed.
  by John_Perkowski
 
A company must decide on a city pair.

They must find and buy the land.

They must clear environmental impact.

They must find the funding.

Those are significant economic barriers to entry.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
electricron wrote: Wed Oct 21, 2020 10:55 am About the only city large enough to host a HSR hub left is Chicago, which has invested instead into 110 mph higher speed rail projects where almost all trains still go 79 mph or less. It has been expensive just to maintain 79 mph speeds on freight railroad tracks that are happy going 60 mph or less. There are just too many spokes leaving the Chicago hub to invest in HSR speeds on just one spoke.
Literalman wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:33 pm If there are frequent connections between lines and passengers can easily transfer at Chicago from, say, a 110-mph train from St. Louis....
Gentlemen, the funding for the so-called "HSR" Chicago-St Louis - the former GM&O, was obtained under ARRA09 (Obama Stimulus), and when all is said and done, was simply an excuse to build "MY company", the Union Pacific (hold long position), an additional line from the St Louis Gateway to Chicago.

Yes, the funding did "play charades" of HSR. Grade X-ings were fitted with four gates to stop "beat the train runarounds", concrete ties and new rail were laid, and in certain segments, such as Dwight-Pontiac, 110mph was operated "experimentally".

But the line remained single track, and operating practices developed during the period of IC ownership of running a, say, NB passenger in behind an NB freight on a siding, both waiting for the SB traffic, be it freight and/or passenger, backing the NB passenger on to the line, then running around the NB freight, remain in place.

"Uh not exactly" HSR.

True, UP built a large "Intermodal Center" near Joliet and that Center did create jobs, albeit non-railroad, non-Agreement, with the results showing up in the worker's pay envelopes. UP already had a freight only line, the former C&EI, Stl-Chi. Oh but to rebuild that to handle anticipated traffic growth would have come from "my" (and Col. Perkowski's) pocket, and not the "feddies" under ARRA09.

Meanwhile, back on the former GM&O, within my memory, the line was double tracked, which was torn up during '69, so sufficient ROW was there on which to relay the double track. But oh!, that would "cost too much" and the UP needed only single track to run their freights. So the line is single tracked, and passenger only operates 79 - well, "between meets".

All told, if there is to be serious investment in HSR using existing Class I ROW, watch out. For there are plenty of proposals now out there for such. If such is from overseas interests, watch out for your € and ¥.

Finally, I must report that Amtrak has lost a customer. Seems like my next door neighbor's daughter was "adequately content" using the "Lincolns" from St. Louis University to Summit (I told Mom about that stop; she was driving into CUS to collect her). But now, with twin Brother having transferred to Bradley in Peoria, it's time to get behind the wheel of the Audi Q5, run MTY to Peoria, part-LD, then to St Louis for add LD, and finally PAX and LD to home.

Sorry bout that, Amtrak, but really should those kids, and by extension Mom and Dad, be exposed to COVID?
  by west point
 
CHI IMHO is not the only city that HSR can work. How about Atlanta ? From north to north ATL - CLT - RGH - RVR - WASH.:
ATL - Athens Columbia - East. ATL - Augusta - Savannah. : ATL - Macon - JAX: ATL - Columbus - Tallahassee - west coast Florida: ATL - Montgomery - Mobile - New Orleans Potentially faster than Present Crescent can ever be : ATL - BHM - MEM ; Could reduce Crescent's time of 4 hours to one hour: ATL - Chattanooga - Nashville - Louisville :

ATL - Knoxvville - Cincinnatti just ot enogh passenger potential for HSR Maybe HrSR ?

Will any of these routes happen in y lifetime. No way !!!!
  by electricron
 
west point wrote: Sat Oct 31, 2020 1:01 am CHI IMHO is not the only city that HSR can work. How about Atlanta ? From north to north ATL - CLT - RGH - RVR - WASH.:
ATL - Athens Columbia - East. ATL - Augusta - Savannah. : ATL - Macon - JAX: ATL - Columbus - Tallahassee - west coast Florida: ATL - Montgomery - Mobile - New Orleans Potentially faster than Present Crescent can ever be : ATL - BHM - MEM ; Could reduce Crescent's time of 4 hours to one hour: ATL - Chattanooga - Nashville - Louisville :

ATL - Knoxvville - Cincinnatti just ot enogh passenger potential for HSR Maybe HrSR ?

Will any of these routes happen in y lifetime. No way !!!!
Atlanta is a possibility for a future passenger HSR train hub, but not now. Why, there is no existing passenger train hub facilities in Atlanta. As for potential HSR service, where would the train go? True HSR requires city pairs at most 300 miles apart.
Take the Cascades higher speed train as an example, you have the Seattle and Portland city pair base. Seattle MSA has 3,979,845 population, Portland MSA has 2,753,168 population. They are 173 highway miles apart on I-5.
Take Texas Central true HSR train as another example, you have DFW and Houston city pair base. Dallas-Fort Worth MSA has 7,573,136 population, Houston MSA has 6,997,384 population. They are highway 239 miles apart on I-45.
Chicago MSA, just by itself, has 9,458,539 population.
Atlanta MSA, just by itself, has 6,020,364 population.
What Atlanta needs is another city of nearly the same size to pair up with it within 300 miles for a true HSR train to work. Here are the possibilities today:
Birmingham MSA has 1,130,047 population
Charlotte MSA has 2,636,883 population
Chattanooga MSA has 547,776 population
Jacksonville MSA has 1,504,980 population
Savannah MSA has 393,353 population
The possible city pair potentially large enough for true HSR is Atlanta-Charlotte. They are 246 highway miles apart on I-85, well within 300 miles. While Atlanta is up there in size for true HSR, Charlotte is not. Charlotte size is more akin for the Cascade higher speed trains. Let's agree to a maybe. It would definitely be a great city pair if Charlotte was twice as large. Never-the-less, there is a present study looking at both options presently, they have yet to choose between true HSR or higher speed rail as the preferred alternate.
  by mtuandrew
 
eolesen wrote: Sat Oct 31, 2020 8:13 pm Where's the need for HSR in a post-COVID business environment?
Yes, this is true. Business travel will stay depressed from its heights.

But also, American HSR has a future for leisure and personal travel (see Brightline east and west, neither is predicated fully on business travel and both will recover their market share in a few years.) Foreign companies understand this and will account for the lower proportion of business travel before announcing American projects.
  by electricron
 
mtuandrew wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 11:38 am
eolesen wrote: Sat Oct 31, 2020 8:13 pm Where's the need for HSR in a post-COVID business environment?
Yes, this is true. Business travel will stay depressed from its heights.

But also, American HSR has a future for leisure and personal travel (see Brightline east and west, neither is predicated fully on business travel and both will recover their market share in a few years.) Foreign companies understand this and will account for the lower proportion of business travel before announcing American projects.
Privately ran HSR companies could contract with airlines and their business travelers frequent traveler programs far easier than Amtrak. First, smaller scale of region and airlines hubs are in different cities. For example, if Texas Central American Airlines for Dallas and United for Houston are obvious choices, no need to contract with the other airlines. Business travelers rely upon frequent award programs, and if they could take the train between Dallas and Houston instead of flying, and at the same time get the same rewards, they will be hooked. Amtrak’s national scale make this much harder to do.
  by Albany Rider
 
While HIGH SPEED RAIL has been the discussion focus for a number of years, too often overlooked is the potential for HIGHER Speed Rail. Just boosting the MAS from 79 to 90 would improve intercity passenger options as would better frequency and relaxing outmode safety standards, More foreign company involvement in both HIGH and HIGHER passenger rail would benefit the American transportation system.
  by electricron
 
Albany Rider wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 5:19 pm While HIGH SPEED RAIL has been the discussion focus for a number of years, too often overlooked is the potential for HIGHER Speed Rail. Just boosting the MAS from 79 to 90 would improve intercity passenger options as would better frequency and relaxing outmode safety standards, More foreign company involvement in both HIGH and HIGHER passenger rail would benefit the American transportation system.
It is very difficult to raise enthusiasm for a 10 mph increase in passenger trains maximum speeds to 90 mph. To do so in America the FRA requires more expensive “in-cab” signals along the entire corridor usually owned by freight railroad companies that compete with their competitors on moving a massive amount of stuff as cheaply as possible. They do not need to run their trains aster, so any investment into “in-cab” signals infrastructure is a complete waste of resources to them.

What advantages will states subsidizing regional trains get after investing on 90 mph maximum speeds. Looking at the best case, NYC to Buffalo, a distance of 431 rail miles, the maximum time savings would be 1.25 hours or 75 minutes.
Supporting math assumes a 10 mph increase in the existing schedule’s average speed obtained from https://juckins.net/amtrak_timetables/a ... 160424.pdf
Existing time is 8.25 hours.
431 miles / 8.25 hours = 52 mph average.
431 miles / 62 mph = approximately 7 hours
8.25 - 7 = 1.25 hours.

Remember, that was the savings for a train taking over 8 hours to travel 431 miles.
The time saved for half that distance would be half that, so over 215 miles the time savings would be 37-38 minutes. Why half the distance, because that is the distance most states subsidize trains have. Why spend all that money to save around a half hour in elapse time?
  by electricron
 
Let’s add 90 mph maximum speeds argument to another potential rail corridor that has a state subsidize train running today, with much of the rail route to soon be in various state’s hands. I’m specifically targeting the D.C. to Charlotte “Carolinia” route that is presently limited to 79 mph maximum speeds. The existing route is 477 rail miles in length, and Is scheduled to take 10.1 hours of elapse time. So the existing average speed is 47 mph. A 10 mph increase in max speed will raise the average speed to 57 mph, at most. The elapse time will now take 8.33 hours, a savings of around 1.75 hours, or around 105 minutes.
Basically, with a 11:00 am departure from D.C., you now arrive in Charlotte around 7:30 pm instead of 9:00 pm. I am not sure the taxpayers or passengers will jump with joy with that amount of time savings.
But, if instead of targeting the maximum speed to 110 mph vs 90 mph, the time savings will change more dramatically. By increasing the maximum speed by 30 mph, the average speed will now rise to 77 mph, at most. The elapse time will now be as low as 6.2 hours, for a time savings of up to 4.1 hours. That 11:00 am departure from D.C. will now arrive in Charlotte around 5:00 pm.
Now you know why passenger rail proponents desire reaching maximum speeds of 110 mph vs 90 mph as their goal. I would like to add here that the math in my last two posts assume increasing the maximum speeds by a certain amount will increase the existing average speeds by the same amount. Well, that is not what will happen in reality, these math exercises show the very best results possible. Conditions that slowed the trains speeds down along the route now will also happen, but by using the existing average speeds I hope to account for them. But by how much? That is why I wish to repeat the results reflect the best possible ideal results.
  by daybeers
 
While high speeds are flashy and give politicians the PR and grand ribbon-cuttings they so dearly enjoy because it's a tangible showing of their commitment to their constituents, it's really not what we should be focusing on first. Average speed is the real measure, and to increase that, you need to spend less time not moving or going slow. All-door, level boarding, superelevating curves, double/triple/quad tracking, passing sidings, replacing bridges & tunnels. Reduced travel time lets you run more frequencies with the same amount of equipment, thereby increasing ridership, which means more revenue to fund higher speeds in the future. These are not new ideas; frankly they're the opposite. We've known where the answers are all along, they're just not flashy and sometimes don't get a project to the criteria needed for certain grants/bonds/commitments from both government & the public. Replacing a tunnel that's crumbling to increase the speed through it by 15-20 mph isn't sexy, but if you present it as an increase in reliability and decrease in delays & travel time and pair it with other similar small improvements along the line, that is where you get interest.

That's where the U.S. needs to focus: holding freight companies accountable for causing delays to passenger trains and making small, relatively inexpensive, incremental improvements that when combined together reduce travel times & increase reliability significantly. High-speed rail is fantastic and there are definitely corridors where that is viable, but it's ridiculous that it takes nearly 7 hours to go from Philly to Pittsburgh by train, and that's not even a particularly bad example.
  by electricron
 
daybeers wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 3:23 pm While high speeds are flashy and give politicians the PR and grand ribbon-cuttings they so dearly enjoy because it's a tangible showing of their commitment to their constituents, it's really not what we should be focusing on first. Average speed is the real measure, and to increase that, you need to spend less time not moving or going slow. All-door, level boarding, superelevating curves, double/triple/quad tracking, passing sidings, replacing bridges & tunnels. Reduced travel time lets you run more frequencies with the same amount of equipment, thereby increasing ridership, which means more revenue to fund higher speeds in the future. These are not new ideas; frankly they're the opposite. We've known where the answers are all along, they're just not flashy and sometimes don't get a project to the criteria needed for certain grants/bonds/commitments from both government & the public. Replacing a tunnel that's crumbling to increase the speed through it by 15-20 mph isn't sexy, but if you present it as an increase in reliability and decrease in delays & travel time and pair it with other similar small improvements along the line, that is where you get interest.
It is difficult to criticize freight railroad companies for not adding more tracks when Amtrak has not done so on every track they own.
The problem the freight railroad companies have with adding more tracks to any corridor to accommodate more passenger trains is the cost to maintain the extra tracks. Even if the government pitches in the entire costs to add the tracks, will they pitch in more funds to maintain those tracks? I do not think the government will.
Brightline in Florida has added tracks to the FEC mainline, willing to pay to build and maintain them. Ideally, I believe it would have been better for Illinois to have paid to build the second track to the line between St. Louis and Chicago, instead of paying to rebuild the single track line. But Illinois was not willing to pay to maintain the tracks, leaving that cost to the UPRR. So, the UPRR replaced the tracks in the existing single track line and upgrading the signaling.

In Europe and other countries around the world, the rail corridors are owned by the government. Not true for most of the USA, the freight railroads own the tracks, pays the entire costs to maintain them, and also pays taxes to the government for the equipment on their property. They are competitive with their competitors on price. Anything that increases their costs makes them less competitive. Adding more tracks increases their costs. Maintaining their tracks to a higher standard required by passenger trains increases their costs. Paying more property taxes for the additional value of their property increases their costs. That is why adding tracks to the existing corridors has not happen!