• Washington to Baltimore: maglev or hyperloop?

  • 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 electricron
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:10 am Guess who would be taking it? It won't be me (I live near by). It won't be the average Baltimoron or DC resident (too expensive). It won't be any business person (ether taxi, hotel shuttle, car, or regular transit). Any politician taking it would risk raising a political stink over it. No, the only people who will take it are businessmen who have access to the corporate credit card, the uber rich, and lobbyists. That's it.

It's doomed to fail.
I'll agree with you that as the project is proposed today that it will probably fail financially. Fare prices would probably be over priced as an airport express service. But what if this was just the first leg of a much larger project extended all the way to New York City or beyond?
300 mph speeds with limited station stops would probably put Amtrak's Corridor services out of business. Acela today averages around 70 mph, imagine if the Maglev averages over 150 mph - and travels DC to NYC easily within 90 minutes!!!!!!!! Built mostly in tunnels under the density along the corridor eliminates most of the difficulties faced by Amtrak improving the NEC. A nice what if.

People suggest this is just a technology demonstration - suppose it is just the first leg of a real longer range project. Many more city pairs further apart would meet that three hour sweet spot I keep harping about trains need to compete with planes.

What is important is that this demonstration project demonstrates reliability and affordability service, with on time and on budget construction. If it turns into a poorly managed financial boondoggle, it would turn America away from maglev for at least the next century.
  by scratchyX1
 
Since it's so much tunnels anyway, why not build the demonstration line in Cascade, where there isn't so much competition?
  by electricron
 
scratchyX1 wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:46 am Since it's so much tunnels anyway, why not build the demonstration line in Cascade, where there isn't so much competition?
Per https://www.narprail.org/
Cascades trains ridership in 2019 (pre-pandemic) was 817,944
Acela train ridership was 3,537,065
NEC regional trains ridership was 8,824,469
Putting those statistics into perspective, some math follows:
(817,944 / (3,537,065 + 8,824,469)) x 100 = 6.6%
Are there enough paying customers for private enterprise to make that financial risk in the Pacific Northwest? NO!
Meanwhile, there are 16 times as many Amtrak passengers riding on its NEC as on the Cascades trains. 16 times!!!

Using your argument about having less competition, McDonalds could open a new take out restaurant in a town of 1000 or a small city of 16,000, and you would suggest they do so in the smaller town. Reallllllllllllllly?
  by STrRedWolf
 
electricron wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 8:27 am I'll agree with you that as the project is proposed today that it will probably fail financially. Fare prices would probably be over priced as an airport express service. But what if this was just the first leg of a much larger project extended all the way to New York City or beyond?
300 mph speeds with limited station stops would probably put Amtrak's Corridor services out of business. Acela today averages around 70 mph, imagine if the Maglev averages over 150 mph - and travels DC to NYC easily within 90 minutes!!!!!!!! Built mostly in tunnels under the density along the corridor eliminates most of the difficulties faced by Amtrak improving the NEC. A nice what if.
Okay, lets play the "what if."

As the bird flies, Baltimore is roughly 40 miles out from DC. New York is 205 miles. This is obviously much longer "on the ground" due to track layout. Amtrak takes 3 hours max on a good day.

Continuing the track from Cherry Hill... you have to tunnel so deep to clear all the existing tunnels and parts of rivers that the price goes past "through the roof" and into "astronomical." Assuming Acela-like stops...

Lets be honest. I'm having a hard time keeping stations in all the cities, with New York being the worst offender. I can't imagine the EIS for the entire project, and I'm having doubts it'll get built and running in my life time. I even tried to find equivalent maglev systems and all of them that are running now are:
  • Shorter than 50 km
  • Not going between major cities (one goes to an airport)
  • Sucking up a ton of power
  • Running at a constant financial deficit
People suggest this is just a technology demonstration - suppose it is just the first leg of a real longer range project. Many more city pairs further apart would meet that three hour sweet spot I keep harping about trains need to compete with planes.

What is important is that this demonstration project demonstrates reliability and affordability service, with on time and on budget construction. If it turns into a poorly managed financial boondoggle, it would turn America away from maglev for at least the next century.
It's turning me away now. And a demonstration project? Really? If it was a demo project, it would be between Dallas and Houston, be above ground, and be MUCH cheaper because of that.
  by electricron
 
You are assuming they will have to tunnel under every river, but that is not so. They could return to the surface and bridge across most of the rivers.
But finding an acceptable station location in New York City will be the most difficult issue to address. That would be several steps away if they extend north from Baltimore. But suppose they decide to build the rest of the corridor from the north to the south, then finding a station location under New York City might be the next step.
Yes, the EIS for the entire corridor would be a massive undertaking, but it certainly would not be as massive if they piecemeal it out like CHSR has done.
Never-the-less, I can not see a shorter corridor vision of maglev ever being financially viable. Private enterprise usually does not wish to build and operate a financial loser, so that is why I see a longer maglev corridor is in the works. We are just not publicly informed of it yet.
Yes, Dallas to Houston would make a great corridor for demonstrating maglev. But realize it is the same Japan Central RR supporting the HSR corridor there. Maybe, just maybe, they do not need maglev to travel between Dallas and Houston within 90 minutes, maybe they can do so with just HSR.

Which brings us back to the high ridership NEC. How would you build a train that travels between NYC and DC within 90 minutes there? Would quad tracking the entire corridor do that? Would finishing all of Amtrak's state of good repair check list do that? I suggest the answer would be no. What is needed is an entire new dedicated corridor without other slower commuter and freight trains on it. Where? Obviously the only solution would be mostly underground in tunnels. Well, if you are stuck building long stretches of tunnels, should you build a 200 mph train or a 300 mph train? Obviously, Japan Central bigwigs think the 300 mph solution is better.
I am usually very wary of huge government derived boondoggles built for political reasons. But when private enterprise with a record of running a financially profitable business wishes to build something, they usually expect to turn a profit and I am not as wary. I am sure they will expect lots of government financial backing - in guarantee loans and with grants. It certainly will not be a cheap undertaking. I'm sure there will be those politicalizing this both ways, USA should lead the way in rail and it would be a huge boondoggle. That is life.

As for building demonstration projects, private enterprise usually does them in hopes of increase profits in the future. A demo for maglev between DC and Baltimore is a demo for what? How about for a longer line DC to NYC? it would not be a demo if they stopped at DC to Baltimore.
  by STrRedWolf
 
electricron wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 6:20 am You are assuming they will have to tunnel under every river, but that is not so. They could return to the surface and bridge across most of the rivers.
But finding an acceptable station location in New York City will be the most difficult issue to address. That would be several steps away if they extend north from Baltimore. But suppose they decide to build the rest of the corridor from the north to the south, then finding a station location under New York City might be the next step.
Yes, the EIS for the entire corridor would be a massive undertaking, but it certainly would not be as massive if they piecemeal it out like CHSR has done.
Actually, I'm looking at their current EIS for Baltimore. How in hell are they going to get across Baltimore, even by tunneling? That's got to be some awfully deep tunnels there, which may be prohibitively expensive, even for Japan Central.
Never-the-less, I can not see a shorter corridor vision of maglev ever being financially viable. Private enterprise usually does not wish to build and operate a financial loser, so that is why I see a longer maglev corridor is in the works. We are just not publicly informed of it yet.
Yes, Dallas to Houston would make a great corridor for demonstrating maglev. But realize it is the same Japan Central RR supporting the HSR corridor there. Maybe, just maybe, they do not need maglev to travel between Dallas and Houston within 90 minutes, maybe they can do so with just HSR.
And have done quite well, at the same speeds, with conventional track mind you. Japan Central has at least four high speed lines reaching 300 mph, using a third of the power as maglev, and they're still building out the maglev line in Japan out from the test tracks.
Which brings us back to the high ridership NEC. How would you build a train that travels between NYC and DC within 90 minutes there? Would quad tracking the entire corridor do that? Would finishing all of Amtrak's state of good repair check list do that? I suggest the answer would be no. What is needed is an entire new dedicated corridor without other slower commuter and freight trains on it. Where? Obviously the only solution would be mostly underground in tunnels. Well, if you are stuck building long stretches of tunnels, should you build a 200 mph train or a 300 mph train? Obviously, Japan Central bigwigs think the 300 mph solution is better.
I'm not ready to consign the NEC to replacement, especially when there are cheaper ways to improve speeds, and that France has the TGV that we can learn off of. Switching the catenary to a constant tension system, system-wide, will raise the speed to 165 MPH. Eliminating bottlenecks and local traffic via 4-tracking and station reconstruction (BWI for instance) will raise speeds and capacity. Straightening out the line itself will shave off more minutes. Lightening equipment while keeping crash-worthyness will do even more.

After we've exhausted all of that, would I consider putting in a maglev train.
I am usually very wary of huge government derived boondoggles built for political reasons. But when private enterprise with a record of running a financially profitable business wishes to build something, they usually expect to turn a profit and I am not as wary. I am sure they will expect lots of government financial backing - in guarantee loans and with grants. It certainly will not be a cheap undertaking. I'm sure there will be those politicalizing this both ways, USA should lead the way in rail and it would be a huge boondoggle. That is life.

As for building demonstration projects, private enterprise usually does them in hopes of increase profits in the future. A demo for maglev between DC and Baltimore is a demo for what? How about for a longer line DC to NYC? it would not be a demo if they stopped at DC to Baltimore.
Agreed, but I'd like to see those plans up front. The complete DC-to-NYC plans. Doesn't have to be an EIS, but something EIS-like that describes possible routes and stations. Sell me on the entire line, not just the teaser appetizer. All I have is the latter and I'm not liking how it's been cooked.
  by electricron
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 9:00 am Actually, I'm looking at their current EIS for Baltimore. How in hell are they going to get across Baltimore, even by tunneling? [...]
They will get under Baltimore the exact same way Amtrak plans to, with a new tunnel in a completely different location.
The existing NEC is mostly government owned by Amtrak or MTA. Private enterprise in competition will need to provide a better and faster service, or not compete at all. They want to build it, they want to compete, not me nor you. They do not have to provide anyone what their plans for 20 - 30 years into the future are, just what their plans are today, for today's project, to meet today's environmental laws. They should not have to beg you or me for the opportunity to compete nor provide a service.
Last edited by nomis on Sat May 01, 2021 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by west point
 
If I had Buffet's billions I would not invest in this tom foolery. Any tunneling will require 2 bores with a cross connection every 800 feet. Way too expensive!.

Just remember how expensive the Gottard tunnel per foot or in this case by meter and how long it has taken to be completed.
  by electricron
 
west point wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 2:09 pm If I had Buffet's billions I would not invest in this tom foolery. Any tunneling will require 2 bores with a cross connection every 800 feet. Way too expensive!.

Just remember how expensive the Gottard tunnel per foot or in this case by meter and how long it has taken to be completed.
If you had taken the time to read the EIS, even glanced at it, you would know that they are boring a single huge tunnel.
Yes, tunnels are expensive, yet where would you build a relatively straight line needed for 300 mph trains between DC and Baltimore, and other future cities to the north, on the surface?
  by Literalman
 
Kitchin mentioned "free money" as a benefit. "Free money" is how we ended up with Interstate Highways through city centers. Accepting "free money" isn't necessarily a good idea.

Electricron cited an EIS mention of Amtrak expresses stopping at Odenton. If they stop at Odenton, they're not expresses, says I. :grinning: Maybe Amtrak stopping at Odenton is a maglev plot to slow down the competition. :wink:
  by kitchin
 
Just to be clear, I meant "free money" from Japan Rail. Of course, the strings attached are the vendor lock-in. And if it soaks up local, state and federal dollars, then I can see the project needs to be evaluated on its merits, its benefit to riders.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Literalman wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 11:25 am Electricron cited an EIS mention of Amtrak expresses stopping at Odenton. If they stop at Odenton, they're not expresses, says I. :grinning: Maybe Amtrak stopping at Odenton is a maglev plot to slow down the competition. :wink:
I doubt Amtrak stopping all the time at Odenton(ODN).

There was a mention of four-tracking Odenton with a center platform so that MARC could do proper expresses given Odenton's (pre-pandemic) load: Baltimore, BWI, Odenton, New Carrolton, DC. It *would* allow for some cross-honoring on Amtrak if Amtrak stopped there for a limited set of trains... but then, if you're 4-tracking from WINANS past GROVE to BOWIE... you're 4-tracking BWI anyway and putting in that center platform.

Lets be honest. I can only see Amtrak stopping at Odenton only if the station was shut down, and there was bus bridging service between the airport and Odenton. Even then, it would require a parking garage to be built at Odenton... and I can't think of it being able to handle BWI's load.
  by GojiMet86
 
https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/b ... story.html

D.C.-to-Baltimore maglev would only benefit rich, Amtrak chief says
By LUZ LAZO
WASHINGTON POST |
MAY 06, 2021 AT 10:58 PM


Amtrak CEO William J. Flynn on Thursday took a shot at the proposed maglev train line for the Northeast Corridor, telling Congress the technology is vastly more expensive and environmentally disruptive than conventional and high-speed rail — and once built, it would serve only the rich.

“The huge public expenditures required to construct a maglev line would benefit only a small number of affluent travelers,” Flynn said during prepared testimony to the House subcommittee on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials.

“Constructing a maglev line is much more expensive than building a new high-speed rail line, and vastly more costly than upgrading an existing rail line for higher speeds,” Flynn said while making the case for investments in Amtrak. “Construction of a maglev line through heavily populated areas would also be much more environmentally disruptive. … Maglevs are also not as energy efficient as Amtrak trains.”

Flynn’s comments at a congressional hearing on the benefits and challenges of high-speed rail preceded testimony from Wayne Rogers, chief executive of Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail, which is proposing the maglev line.

............

“Very few Amtrak NEC [Northeast Corridor] or MARC commuter rail passengers would be able to use, and even fewer could afford to use, the proposed Washington-Baltimore maglev,” Flynn said...........
  by STrRedWolf
 
A few choice quotes:
The maglev trip time would be 15 minutes faster than an Acela train, which takes about 30 minutes. Flynn said that Acela trip could be cut to 21 minutes if federal investments are made, with the planned replacement of a Civil War-era tunnel south of Baltimore and other track improvements. Enhancements in the Northeast also would allow for D.C.-to-New York trips in two hours, he said.

“Very few Amtrak NEC [Northeast Corridor] or MARC commuter rail passengers would be able to use, and even fewer could afford to use, the proposed Washington-Baltimore maglev,” Flynn said.

The cost to ride the maglev would be higher than using Amtrak. According to a federal analysis, the expected average fare would be $60 for a one-way trip to Baltimore, although it could vary between $27 and $80 per trip. Amtrak’s Acela costs about $46 one way, and a coach seat on a regular train can cost as little as $8.
Flynn is on the same page as I am.
  by electricron
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Fri May 07, 2021 10:59 am Flynn is on the same page as I am.
Yet we never see the poor riding Acela trains either - because there are cheaper alternatives - both on and off rails.

Here's a line the other CEO stated.
"The 40-mile superconducting magnetic levitation train system” is planned as the first leg of a system that would carry passengers between Washington and New York in an hour. The D.C.-to-Baltimore trip would take 15 minutes at speeds up to 311 mph."

DC to NYC in less than an hour!
FYI. Acela usually takes almost 3 hours, on the one daily non-stop takes slightly more than 2.5 hours - in both cases plus or minus 3 to 5 minutes.

Of course it will be expensive, there is nothing new there. But upgrading the existing NEC is expensive too, which the Amtrak CEO played down. Amtrak in the past has stated the NEC has over $28 Billion of work needed just to get it into a state of good repair. That was Amtrak's share of the costs, that sum does not include what Amtrak expects the States to pitch in. Just as examples, Amtrak does not expect to pay all the costs associated with the Gateway or Baltimore tunnels nor replacing the Portal Bridge.

FYI #2. Texas Central projects to spend less money to build a brand new HSR line between Dallas and Houston than Amtrak needs to fix the NEC. Think about that one a little bit, no, think about that a lot!

Which would be cheaper for the US taxpayer, spending $28 Billion+ to fix the NEC or spend "zero" for private enterprise to build a maglev line? Well, to be honest I do not expect the final contribution of taxpayers wallets to be zero with Maglev, or with HSR projects elsewhere either, none of them have stated they would refuse FRA or FTA grants that may arise. I'm so much skeptical with future government expenditures.