Today’s Headlines

  • LaHood Predicts a Short-Term Stop Gap Instead of a New Bill September 30 (National Journal)
  • Nate Silver Warns Democrats Could Lose the Senate This Year (538, Slate)
  • Driver of Derailed Chicago Train Was “Extremely Tired” From Too Much Overtime (ABC)
  • America’s First 32 High-Speed Rail Cars Will Be Built By Siemens and Cummins (DW)
  • Raleigh Mayor Calls for Transit Connection to Durham, Chapel Hill (WRAL)
  • Toronto Rider Group Hands Out “Sardine” Awards for Overcrowded Transit (Sun)
  • Council on Foreign Relations: USA Needs an Infrastructure Advisory Office Like It Has In Other Countries
  • DC Moves to Require Indoor Bike Parking (Biz Journal)
  • Would Your City Do a Pedestrian Safety Sting Like This One in Alameda? (Cyclicio.us)
  • Would Bike-Share Work in St. Louis? (St. Louis Public Radio)
  • Bolwerk

    Diesel locomotives capable of 125mph? America’s “First 32 High-Speed Rail Cars” barely meet a generous definition of HSR.

  • Two years ago on a family trip in Europe I didn’t want to pay the higher fares for “high speed” trains, so we took the cheaper “low speed” trains that went only 125mph. They zipped along in the Netherlands and Germany quite nicely; however, literally the second we crossed the Czech Republic border (with the same train and same crew) the trains slowed down in anticipation of less than smooth tracks ahead (which we soon felt.) And no train we took in Austria or Italy seemed to go much over 80 mph either. My conclusion is that track quality is a limiting factor in speed as much as the locomotive is.

    All that said, I would be giddy with delight if Amtrak could even manage 100 mph average on the West Coast. A four hour train ride between SF and LA would be a dream. (It currently takes 11 hours to ride the Coast Starlight 420 miles from San Jose to Los Angeles.)

  • Bolwerk

    In Austria and Italy, the terrain can be pretty mountainous, which will limit speed regardless of track quality.

  • Bolwerk

    Oh, and I agree: speed isn’t everything. American speeds can be a joke outside the NEC, but getting average speeds and reliability above buses and highways would probably be enough to broaden the appeal of regional/medium-distance rail travel significantly. And it shouldn’t be a tall order.

  • I was just perusing a 1958 California Zephyr schedule. In 1958 it took 43 hours to go from Chicago to Oakland, 2438 miles. 57 mph average. Today the Amtrak California Zephyr takes 50 hours to go from Chicago to Emeryville (next to Oakland). Same route. 49 mph average. Sigh.

  • Bolwerk

    Even with transit, the American emphasis seems to be more on providing the service for the sake of having the service than it is for the sake of serving the riders who need it. I don’t get the impression planners care that much if a commute by train is two hours when it could be 1.5.

    Are we afraid of offending highway users by having more convenient service than them or what? :-