Guest Post: Getting On The Train - The Rail Resurrection Gets Underway

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Submitted by Gregor McDonald, a PeakProsperity.com contributing editor

Getting On The Train

Given emerging data in 2012, it's becoming increasingly clear that the post-war automobile era in the United States is now in well-articulated decline. Accordingly, it makes sense to note the beginning of a long-term supertrend that is just getting started: the resurrection of America’s rail system.

At Seattle’s historic King Street Station (a classic example of early 20th Century railroad architecture), a nasty looking dropped-tile ceiling – which hung above travellers for decades – was removed late last year to reveal ornate plasterwork as the building undergoes extensive renovation. These cosmetic (and structural) alterations are part of a wide-ranging upgrade to the entire Cascades passenger rail service that runs from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Eugene, Oregon.

In Tacoma, for example, a new station will either be built or renovated, and part of the Cascades line will be re-routed from its current shoreline path more directly through that city. Elsewhere, bridges are being rebuilt, track is being upgraded, and other infrastructure improvements are underway as part of the $500 million program to resurrect more efficient, faster inter-city rail in the 466-mile Amtrak route through this part of the Pacific Northwest.

These changes will not bring European-style high-speed rail to the United States. Indeed, in many similar projects across the country, top speeds of 125 mph will characterize new system capability, rather than the average speed actually maintained from city to city. However, the incremental improvements now underway will become the platform for the next phase of investment, as Americans are increasingly persuaded to limit their car ownership and make rail transport part of their lives once again.

What America Lost

Up until World War II, rail transport of all kinds – intercity, light rail, and commuter rail – dominated transportation in America. Los Angeles had the largest light-rail system in the entire world, connecting the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach, and San Bernardino County to central L.A. and the northern reaches of Orange County. As the old saying goes, however, the car killed America. And the following 40 years from 1945-1985 saw a relentless decline of all forms of rail in the United States.

To get a sense of what the country lost as it eagerly built out a vast highway infrastructure and foolishly stopped investing in rail, let's look at two historical maps showing a veritable collapse of passenger route miles over just a ten year period. The first map shows that in 1962 intercity passenger rail network still covered 88,710 route miles.

Just ten years later, however, with intrusive highways bisecting American cities and ruining the integrity of their downtowns, the number of passenger route miles had collapsed by over 75%(!), to just 19,366 miles.

Laughing at Amtrak

Most people born after World War II have regarded Amtrak as a kind of joke, with its routine dysfunction and massive annual operating losses. The economics of national rail transport, however, deem that your railway system will only be as efficient as the proper mix of investment and operational fitness allows. If you starve your railways of upgrades, make them share tracks with freight rail, and divert national infrastructure spending to other modes of transport, the results will be quite predictable.

One of the great misunderstandings of public rail transport is the mistaken belief that it should run at an operating profit. Not so. The purpose of commuter rail, light-rail, or intercity rail is to harvest economy-wide efficiencies and to ensure that wasteful expenditures spent collectively on transportation can be directed elsewhere. These "savings" were not an issue and were harder to determine during the cheap oil era, when much of the national highway system was built during the era of $14/bbl oil. Now, however, the impact on household budgets and monthly cash flow from much higher oil prices is pushing U.S. transportation demand rather dramatically away from roads and highways – and instead to rail.

In Los Angeles, for example, where the aggressive Measure R has been restoring L.A.'s lost light-rail system, annual ridership has made extraordinary gains. A recent piece from LA Observed reports that "[a]verage weekday ridership on Metro's rail lines in September soared to 357,096, up nearly 12 percent over the same time last year and 16 percent over 2010." Similar restorations of commuter rail in cities like Boston and improvements in either infrastructure or rolling stock in the NY Metro region have emerged in the past decade. Indeed, some U.S. regions took the signal of oil's price revolution early and began work on local rail systems long before federal spending began to shift, ever so slightly, to rail transport.

Meanwhile, on the national level, Amtrak just announced that ridership hit an all-time high and has climbed nearly 50% in the past decade. From its October 2012 press release:

Amtrak carried more than 31.2 million passengers in Fiscal Year 2012 ending September 30, marking the highest annual ridership total since America's Railroad started operations in 1971 and the ninth ridership record during the last ten years. A year-over-year comparison of FY 2012 to FY 2011 shows ridership grew 3.5 percent to a new record of 31,240,565 passengers and ticket revenue jumped 6.8 percent to a best ever $2.02 billion. In addition, Amtrak system-wide on-time performance increased to 83 percent, up from 78.1 percent and its highest level in 12 years. During FY 2012, ridership on the Northeast Corridor is up 4.8 percent to a record 11.4 million, state-supported and other short distance routes is up 2.1 percent to a record 15.1 million and long-distance services is up 4.7 percent to their best showing in 19 years at 4.7 million. Also, FY 2012 produced other ridership achievements including new records for 25 of 44 Amtrak services, and 12 consecutive monthly records with July being the single best month in the history of Amtrak.  Since FY 2000, Amtrak ridership is up 49 percent.

Rationalizing the Rail System

Many will decry the fact that Amtrak and the United States as a whole are still not in a position to offer European- or Asian-style high-speed-rail, where sustained traveling speeds routinely average above 150 mph. However, five to six decades of neglect necessitate that the U.S. undertake its resurrection of rail in phases. Two of the many projects around the country (The Vermonter & The Cascade Line) demonstrate exactly the type of initial heavy-lifting that must be done, in which fundamental changes are made in route selection and in the separation of tracks between freight and passenger rail.

The Vermonter: New York City to Burlington

Three states, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, are currently in partnership with Amtrak to upgrade tracks, bridges, and stations along the route between Burlington and New York City. The state of Vermont has just completed its part by upgrading track with new, very long, continuously-welded rail, which will increase speeds. Work in Connecticut and Massachusetts is now underway, but one of the more significant transformations occurs in the switching of 60 miles of track from Palmer and Amherst back to the other side of the Connecticut River. This is actually a restoration of the original route between Vermont and New York, and means that trains from Springfield, MA will now travel north to Holyoke, Northampton, and then Greenfield before joining up again with the current route through Brattleboro in southern Vermont. Below is one of the new train stations, located in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

In bringing The Vermonter back to the west side of the Connecticut River, Amtrak is rationalizing the route in several ways, but most importantly it is reducing the passenger train's exposure to freight traffic. Shared tracks, in which passenger service and freight traffic run on the same routes, is actually an enormous problem in the United States and accounts for a tremendous amount of the dysfunction that many users of Amtrak services experience. The biggest change in the Vermont-New York City trip, therefore, will come via on-time reliability as the transfer away from Palmer, MA will greatly reduce overlap with freight rail. Completion of this project is currently set for 2014.

The Cascades Line

The twin ports of Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon – straddling each side of the Columbia River – have seen very strong growth the past few years as increasing volumes of lumber, potash, and wheat are shipped to Asia. Accordingly, on the north side of the river at the Port of Vancouver (Washington), a large freight rail project has been underway to help increase loadings.

But one of the little-noticed initiatives is the construction of new track to alleviate congestion for passenger trains as they head out of Portland toward Seattle. Finally, these trains will be able to steer clear of freight traffic at the Vancouver, Washington side of the river.

As usual, these are not the types of splashy, high-profile infrastructure improvements that garner headlines. But the Portland to Seattle route typically has had very poor on-time reliability, which invariably reduces ridership. As mentioned in the start of this essay, Cascades Line improvements are quite wide-ranging, with the Federal Government having awarded over $800 million to multiple projects. The upgrades will continue for several years, with noticeable differences in on-time reliability already in force.

Aiming for the Virtuous Circle: Reliability and Ridership

Amtrak's 50% increase in ridership the past decade certainly began as a result of rising oil prices, and not because of any notable service improvements. However in the latter part of the decade and especially in the past 3-4 years, Amtrak (and other rail networks) have started to deliver substantial improvements to riders as the upgrade cycle gains momentum.

Deep skepticism has greeted just about every major rail project in the country over the past twenty years. But a virtuous circle, in which riders are persuaded to reduce car-miles driven, has started to unfold as heavier demand comes online for rail services. This has been especially true in cities such as Los Angeles which started its light-rail project twenty years ago, greeted initially greeted by a fearful public. Now however, L.A. is laying track down along many of the same routes from its pre-war light-rail system. It is finally becoming possible to live in Los Angeles without a car.

Continuing the Virtuous Circle

Various trends are already coming together that will support the resurrection of rail and possibly strengthen it as we move out towards 2025. In Part II, Reducing Your Exposure to Oil, we explore ways to take part in the U.S. rail renaissance. I also offer a case study how much savings a household can capture by moving to a city that is served by extensive rail transport. Finally, I give a brief update on energy transition, as the developed world continues to move away from high-priced oil and pursues economic development along the contours of the powergrid.

Click here to read Part II of this report (free executive summary; paid enrollment required for full access).

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Thu, 11/01/2012 - 18:49 | 2939197 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

Cornelius Vanderbilt would like to approve this message... But as the "Commodore" found out, there is no profit in moving "people"... The profit is in moving what people need, to them...

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 18:49 | 2939212 CPL
CPL's picture

Look!  It's a return to states rights!

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 18:58 | 2939223 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

The whole idea will be dead & buried the minute the TSA perverts decide to start shaking down train stations...

People don't fucking buy 90' TV screens so they can go hop on a train along with other cattle to go visit their grandmothers that they stuffed into retirement facilities...

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 19:07 | 2939261 CPL
CPL's picture

How do you think the states exerted so much power during foundation?

 

Rail.  They even had a name for them in Washington.  The fourty thieves.  It's huge piece of Pac NW history, great stuff to read, good stories in there.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 19:17 | 2939285 Manthong
Manthong's picture

Yes indeedy do..

A return to the rails is in store for everyone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-xDtPzDTI8

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 19:42 | 2939346 Doubleguns
Doubleguns's picture

Not going to happen until the rails can commute everyone to work. No I am not moving to the city. Just look at NY and Jersey and 60 million suffering. So essentually IT AINT HAPPENING!!

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 19:54 | 2939369 SafelyGraze
SafelyGraze's picture

OT: watch and puke with me

The Economy and the Election panel with Yale President Richard C. Levin

The final panel on the economic issues relevant to the presidential election will be held on campus November 1 from 7:30--9:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live online on Yale's YouTube channel.

The discussion, moderated by President Richard C. Levin '74 Ph.D. and focused on macroeconomy, the recession and recovery, will feature
Michael Woodford '80, The John Bates Clark Professor of Political Economy at Columbia University;
John Geanakoplos, the James Tobin Professor of Economics at Yale, and a leader in the study of financial crises and leverage cycles;
William Nordhaus, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale, president-elect of the American Economic Association, and one of the nation's most influential macroeconomists;
Robert Shiller, the Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics at Yale, and a world-renowned behavioral macroeconomist;
Aleh Tsivinski, Professor of economics at Yale, and an authority at the intersection of macroeconomics and public economics.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 23:32 | 2939979 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Attractive as it may seem at first blush (LaRouche would agree whole-heartedly), the time for Rail transport is far gone.

Too much instability (literal, earthquakes are known to devestate rial systems, and they are on the rise), too easily disruptable (just like their eminent domain pipeline cousins).

Got to be find a new way folks. New thinking. Going back to the old is recidivist, short-sighted and downright stupid.

ori

http://squareandc.net

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 23:42 | 2940010 boogerbently
boogerbently's picture

Wanna bet the "six times a day" Washington to NY/Conneticutt circuit is "subsidized"!!

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 00:44 | 2940072 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

I point out that the NY to DC part of that trip is one of only a couple of Amtrak runs that turns a profit.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 20:17 | 2939424 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

moving people by rail is VERY expensive...one needs an already large "economy of people" in order to make it so (New York City.) Obviously there is a substantial banking interest in projects like this because they are so capital intensive and in need of massive borrowing authorities in order to effect....and yield massive amounts of borrowings forever after. What happens once the borrowing authority is effected of course matters a lot. If there is a massive scandal involving public transportation in say...(insert Every City here)...then we shall see just how much support rail actually has. (cough, cough...Federal Government cover-up...cough cough.) Obviously "you want to own real estate in an around wherever there is passenger node." But still...there simply is no more efficient mode of transportation for moving people than the plain old automobile. The fact that a railroad locomotive is STILL more advanced (direct drive engines) than any decades of backward cars from the entire Planet is of course very frustrating. There is no more fuel efficient manner of moving cargo over long distances than rail..not even a ship comes close to rail...because of that drive technology. Hopefully we will do better with what we already have tho and simply make a car/truck/commercial vehicle/ship that only needs fuel to power a battery "just in case"...and for nothing more. And i wish to continue my protest at not having a solar powered I-phone as well. I DEMAND AN END TO BATTERY WASTE AND WORTHLESS RECHARGING CABLES THAT ARE ONLY USED TO CAUSE SEIZURES. thank you very much for letting me waste you time on this "we are made to have mind fail" comment.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 21:18 | 2939592 Ned Zeppelin
Ned Zeppelin's picture

Huh?

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 11:54 | 2941382 Matt
Matt's picture

Don't be afraid to use paragraphs.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 20:44 | 2939484 boooyaaaah
boooyaaaah's picture

UN Agenda 21 requires that all but the elite luve near rsil hubc.
The UN is monitoring or election.
They are the planners
We are the planees

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 19:41 | 2939343 Larry Dallas
Larry Dallas's picture

Agree with Francis_Sawyer.

We are a nation of consumers fueled unequivocally by our lust for materialism (myself included).

Even worse we are trying to look good and distinguish ourselves from everyone else. Just look at the back window of every car in CA. All of them are Tapout, Vivid wannabe's. With rims too!

Even back in the 50s it was the size of your car. In the 70s it was the muscle in your car.

We Americans are hardwired for consumption and any country that hands out iBamaPhones is not going to have a communal rail system. No 47%'er is going to use the rails. They will wait for a gov't handout Chevy Volt first.

 

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 20:04 | 2939392 Imminent Crucible
Imminent Crucible's picture

I get the feeling you don't spend much time in our larger cities. People ride the buses, trains and subways by the millions every day. I live in the mountains outside Asheville, NC but I recently took a flight into Los Angeles (via Ontario Airport) and was pleasantly surprised by the Foothills transit system. For $4.50 I bought a ticket that allowed me to ride the trains and buses all day long, the entire length and breadth of the system. Los Angelenos were extremely friendly and helpful at getting me pointed in the right direction and on the right buses and trains. Had a great time.

I've wished for a return to an efficient passenger train system for a many years. Anyone who's ever bought a Swiss Rail pass knows how much more pleasant a train ride can be than the grueling, 80 mph bumper-to-bumper ordeal the eastern interstates have become. I can't sleep and drive at the same time (well, I shouldn't any way) but the train can keep doing 65 all night long while I snooze. Airplanes and airports absolutely suck; I don't care if I never do that again.

Bring on the bullet trains. Or at least bring back the smoke-belching, coal-burning steam locomotives. We can shoot the Washington Redskins out the windows. There's no danger of them shooting back.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 20:30 | 2939455 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

Lived in DC for a couple of years...rode the subway there almost everyday. LOVED it. Still...i don't know what "choked highways" you are speaking of...other than the one's caused by "Rail Fail." If New York City banned all cars after the Hurricane and only allowed City buses/taxi cabs and livery drivers in Manhattan would New York City be in the Dire Straits it is in right now? I say no. Clearly we can be a slave to GOVERNMENT consumption too can we not? Anywho nothing beats travelling the highways these days because basically "they're empty." that seems like a very valuable asset that is being under-utilized to me. But hey..."if i'm the only guy driving on this Interstate Thingy you built why can't i do 190 miles per hour?"

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 21:33 | 2939625 Don Draper
Don Draper's picture

I guess Interstates are like politics - it's all local.   I travel extensively and I can tell you that our interstates are NOT empty.  There is extreme over-crowding, delays, idiot drivers and now with everyone with a smartphone - many pay attention to the road while they text.   NYC is a unique animal - not like most if any other US city.  Public transportation is a must - but that's not the case in today's world in most cities. 

 

 

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 21:54 | 2939692 Larry Dallas
Larry Dallas's picture

I spent 20 years in Manhattan and still have a place there. Right now I'm in the southwest most of the time and it sucks.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 20:05 | 2939397 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

francis_sawyer

http://www.infowars.com/tsa-expands-invasion-to-ca-train-stations-bus-te...

 

TSA Expands Invasion To CA Train Stations & Bus Terminals

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/27/union-station-tsa-agents-_n_171...

Union Station TSA Agents: Journalist Recording Their Activity Accused Of 'Terrorism' (VIDEO)

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/dec/20/nation/la-na-terror-checkpoints-...

TSA screenings aren't just for airports anymore Roving security teams increasingly visit train stations, subways and other mass transit sites to deter terrorism. Critics say it's largely political theater.
Thu, 11/01/2012 - 20:29 | 2939450 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

I was boarding an Amtrak train and the TSA was there on the platform as observers only.  I gave them the finger and boarded,

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 21:24 | 2939596 nofluer
nofluer's picture

The non-airport TSA units are known as "Viper Teams". They have invaded bus stations and worked their magic, and occasionally held highway blockades in cooperation with State HWY Patrols and local police - but I understand the Railroads told the TSA where to get off when they wanted (demanded?) to roam around at will in rail yards. Part of the reason was that rail yards are DANGEROUS places, and not just because of the rolling stock. Rail yards have their own specially trained police. So for now, I'm thinking that railroads are somewhat immune... for now...

Another aspect of this is the extremely tight scheduling that railroads require. Since the laws of physics require that only one train may be on a given piece of track at one time, each individual train is part of a huge and complex network of interlocking routes and access timing. Train movement is controlled from computerized control centers - and a slight delay in one place mushrooms into a HUGE and expensive "fustercluck" throughout the system.

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 10:02 | 2940915 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

Unlike flying, taking Amtrak is somewhat discretionary.  Introducing a TSA-style regimen would crush Amtrak's economic model.

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 16:36 | 2942674 Imminent Crucible
Imminent Crucible's picture

Well, that would be a terrible thing, if Amtrak actually had an economic model. I don't think "Burn through whatever Congress will appropriate for us" is really a model.

Works for Amtrak, though.

Sat, 11/03/2012 - 08:41 | 2943882 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

From Orville Wright up to the present day the airline industry has never made a dime.  Railroads at least can point to profitability at some point in their history.  Remove all subsidies and let the chips fall where they may.

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 11:59 | 2941400 glenlloyd
glenlloyd's picture

That's be my biggest concern as well. As rail use increases TSA would begin to assert their 'authority' over checking passengers before boarding. It could become a nightmare unless the states put a stop to it...which in turn would make access to the all mighty federal subsidy an issue. We all know how high states will jump to get the carrot.

My father always believed that the loss of the comprehensive US rail system was the biggest mistake we could have ever made. He and I always agreed that the interstate highway system was nothing more than putting all your eggs in one basket.

Although we've only heard a little about states abandoning highways and reverting to crushed surfaces we will hear more about this in the future as the funds needed to maintain the huge infrastructure just aren't there. As people abandon the vehicle as no longer affordable the dollars via registrations / fuel taxes will continue to shrink. Suggestions of increasing fuel taxes to compensate will only fail miserably as consumers alter their behavior in response.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 19:31 | 2939319 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

It's time to pull a dirty chavez on uncle Warren and the rest of the railroad robber barrons.

Commuter rail is a localized solution (urban, suburban, exurban), the long-haul issue revolves around the movement of materials and goods not people, and the very existence of an entire long-haul trucking industry (in addition to FedEx and UPS) is a testament to the breakdown of integrated logistics in US and the failure of the privately owned rail networks.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 22:15 | 2939740 Pool Shark
Pool Shark's picture

 

 

Roundtrip airfare from LAX to Seattle (SeaTac): $175.00

Total ellapsed travel time: 5 hours and 15 minutes

 

Roundtrip Amtrak ticket from Los Angeles (Union Station) to Seattle: $212.00

Total ellapsed travel time: 63 hours and 35 minutes

 

Resurrection indeed...

 

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 20:00 | 2939386 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

Trains equate with hipster steam punk romanticism.

Trains equate with contry wild west romanticism.

Trains equate with Woody Guthrie and Jack Kerouac and a romantic poetic fellaheen past.

Trains equate with criminals that hop off to rape/rob/kill then hop on to repeat the act down the line.

Arlo Guthrie /City of New Orleans

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfxoM6trtZE

The City of New Orleans by Steve Goodman Riding on the City of New Orleans, Illinois Central Monday morning rail Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders, Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail. All along the southbound odyssey The train pulls out at Kankakee Rolls along past houses, farms and fields. Passin' trains that have no names, Freight yards full of old black men And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles. CHORUS: Good morning America how are you? Don't you know me I'm your native son, I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans, I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done. Dealin' card games with the old men in the club car. Penny a point ain't no one keepin' score. Pass the paper bag that holds the bottle Feel the wheels rumblin' 'neath the floor. And the sons of pullman porters And the sons of engineers Ride their father's magic carpets made of steel. Mothers with their babes asleep, Are rockin' to the gentle beat And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel. CHORUS Nighttime on The City of New Orleans, Changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee. Half way home, we'll be there by morning Through the Mississippi darkness Rolling down to the sea. And all the towns and people seem To fade into a bad dream And the steel rails still ain't heard the news. The conductor sings his song again, The passengers will please refrain This train's got the disappearing railroad blues. Good night, America, how are you? Don't you know me I'm your native son, I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans, I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.
Thu, 11/01/2012 - 20:30 | 2939459 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

There is no comparison between Amtrak and any airline.  Amtrak beats the stuffing out of them.  It's not close.  Bravo, Amtrak.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 22:30 | 2939802 DollarMenu
DollarMenu's picture

I like the personal space you can get on a train.

It's really great to be able to walk around, go get something to eat, talk with other people.

Rather than fighting for your piece of a rain soaked freeway, you can have dinner and a snooze.

Yeah, you might take a bit longer, but it's all the rushing to nothing that's got us in this mess.

Decades of air travel, and I rarely spoke to the person(s) next to me.

Can't help but chat on a train.

 

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 22:32 | 2939810 Pool Shark
Pool Shark's picture

 

 

Hogwash.

See above post.

Two years ago, took the family to Seattle/Vancouver from Los Angeles. I wanted; really WANTED to travel by train. My daughter had never been on one, and I thought it would be really fun to 'see the coast' on our trip.

Tried to book a private car on Amtrak (knowing that I didn't want my family sleeping on bench seats for the entire 25-35 hour trip). Cost? a mere $1,600.00 for the three of us. While plain old seats would have been only $600.00. And we still would have lost nearly three full days of vacation time just getting to/from Seattle. 

So, I looked into plane tickets. Non-stop flight from Burbank to SeaTac: $550.00 for all three of us. Travel time: 2 hours 45 minutes each way.

A real no-brainer.

 

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 10:05 | 2940928 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

I ride in the Northeast corridor where the trains have a long history and make the most sense economically.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 22:36 | 2939825 hairball48
hairball48's picture

Great song!!! I like Willie Nelson's rendition the best :)

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 18:49 | 2939206 JPM Hater001
JPM Hater001's picture

This will all be made obsolete shortly as the government finally discloses levitation technology and (I'm only guessing here at the correction description) and dark matter energy.

This is Kookie stuff but just read this little bit on Project Serpo.  Part way through they describe a machine that draws energy from null-space (the vacuum that hides behind matter) which has been scientifically proven to exist.

God bless the Ebens...

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 19:52 | 2939362 rtalcott
rtalcott's picture

Part way through they describe a machine that draws energy from null-space (the vacuum that hides behind matter) which has been scientifically proven to exist.

 

Casimir Effect?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_energy

I think this is not just around the corner...whole lot of bullshit flying around about this stuff.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 20:47 | 2939489 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

 

 

"... as the government finally discloses levitation technology ..."

 

Right. The 'government'.

 

Presently they are holding off on releasing a 'balanced' budget', or any budget whatsoever.

 

Therefore, I won't hold my breath on 'levitation technology'.

 


Thu, 11/01/2012 - 19:05 | 2939208 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

Amtrak> The U.S.P.S.s', 'redheaded stepchild'...   Both co-dependants of each other, and endless Federal Bailouts.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 20:32 | 2939461 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

Of course the airlines receive no subsidies what-so-ever.  Baloney.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 20:58 | 2939530 Offthebeach
Offthebeach's picture

Jet engine way more efficient then train diesel. Track maintenance vs what, air molecules? Amtrak Boston to W. Palm Beach,days and double the cost vs hours for air.
End all subsidies and discover price.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 21:12 | 2939550 akak
akak's picture

 

Jet engine way more efficient then train diesel.

What the Hell are you smoking?

Do trains have to climb several miles into the sky before making their cross-country runs?  And the cargo on a large train can be a substantial fraction (>80%) of the total weight of the vehicle(s) hauling it, whereas for an aircraft it is never even 50% of the total weight of the aircraft itself. 

A jet engine may be theoretically more efficient than a diesel locomotive, but that says nothing about the total relative costs between the two modes of transport --- there is a reason why here in Alaska we call it "air fright".  You have obviously never had to price cargo costs for long-distance air freight vs. rail.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 22:35 | 2939817 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Freight doesn't have to eat, drink, pee, poo, breath, maintain homeostasis, occupy its neurons, look out windows, listen to stewardess' directions, etc.   You can stack it up, a lot of it, with zero space in between.    Advantage(for freight):  Trains.    People on the other hand cannot be packed densely for long rides.   The longer the ride the more space and amenities they need.   Shorter ride means higher density of passengers and less amenities are both possible.   Airplanes are much faster than trains, so for long distance trips the density of people on them can be higher.

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 04:11 | 2940272 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

JKC, one could wonder how 'americans' managed to put their slaves transportation up if you cant pack up people like that.

There's something more to it, probably.

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 12:32 | 2941549 Matt
Matt's picture

So, what you are saying is, someone would make a great deal of money if they perfected a means of quickly and safely putting human beings into stasis and then bring them back again. Once we can load people up in little boxes like freight, we can transport humans at land freight rates ... and since the people will be in stasis, they won't notice that it took them 3 days to get where they were going.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 21:11 | 2939566 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

 Jet engine runs off cheap diesel @ 40K' , "criss cross" Amerika!

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 22:39 | 2939836 hairball48
hairball48's picture

If jet engines are so efficient, why do the airlines loose so much money?

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 23:09 | 2939917 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

If jet engines are so efficient  " lack of respect".  Lack of good "fuel hedging" traders. I could make any Airline profitable, with Insulation, and ex/reserves.

   Running an Airline, requires forward thinking on costs.

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 00:51 | 2940082 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

You owe the traveling public to take on that responsibility. Since no major airline stock has been a money maker over its history, you could be the first intelligent CEO at an airline. This would be a boon to all of us.

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 22:56 | 2939874 Lord Koos
Lord Koos's picture

Benefits of the train

1) You don't have to leave your house 3 hours ahead of departure to catch a train.  

2)You aren't forced to breathe an oxygen-starved, dehydrated atmosphere while sitting on top of thousands of gallons of kerosene.  

3)No landings, no wind shear, weather not much of a factor

4)Your efficiency arguement does not take into account that per unit of energy, a train can move more people far more cheaply than can an airliner. As the volume of rail passengers increase, so will the cost/benefit of trains.

You want to end subsidies?  Who do you think paid for all those airports and freeways?  That's right, the gubmint did it.

 

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