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(Washington Post)   Passenger rail might actually be commercially-viable somewhere outside the Boston-DC corridor   (washingtonpost.com) divider line 81
    More: Florida, rail lines, train stations, Florida East Coast, hassles, toll roads  
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3852 clicks; posted to Main » on 03 Apr 2012 at 10:31 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-04-03 10:32:46 AM
And monkeys might fly out my butt.
 
2012-04-03 10:33:19 AM
Can passenger rail ever be profitable? Florida's about to find out.

Japan knows it can. So does Europe. And China.
 
2012-04-03 10:33:34 AM
What do you do when you get to the destination? You have to rent a car. Might as well drive.
 
2012-04-03 10:35:31 AM
It works great up here, but we also have a bunch of cities with their own decent-to-good public transportation systems (Boston, NYC, Philly, DC). I think the issue in other places would be that you'd then be dropped off in the middle of, say, Orlando with no car.
 
2012-04-03 10:38:14 AM

BurnShrike: Can passenger rail ever be profitable? Florida's about to find out.

Japan knows it can. So does Europe. And China.


Is passenger rail profitable in those places, or just government subsidy funded (new window)?
 
2012-04-03 10:38:17 AM
Should work fine.

4.bp.blogspot.com
 
2012-04-03 10:38:26 AM

BurnShrike: Can passenger rail ever be profitable? Florida's about to find out.

Japan knows it can. So does Europe. And China.


Passenger rail service only became unprofitable when people quit riding trains and switched to the airlines. I'd gladly take a train if time permits. Flying has become a major pain in the ass.
 
2012-04-03 10:38:49 AM
If Amtrak can't provide reasonable passenger service at a reasonable price despite massive public subsidies, I don't see how a private company could profitably operate a railroad barring some massive proprietary technology. I've never even heard of these guys. They're going to have a hell of a time attracting several billions of dollars in capital with a 100-year-old business model.
 
2012-04-03 10:40:18 AM

TravisBickle62: What do you do when you get to the destination? You have to rent a car. Might as well drive.


Presumably, you go to Disney, where you stay on the resort, and take the monorail or bus everywhere.
 
2012-04-03 10:40:34 AM
It's profitable in the Boston-DC corridor? News to me.
 
2012-04-03 10:41:06 AM
No nothing can ever work unless it is run by the government I dont even
 
2012-04-03 10:41:10 AM
Meanwhile the federal government has spent over $50,000,000 on an airport (new window) in rural Pennsylvania that averages about twenty people a day. And we all remember the Big Dig, the Bridge to Nowhere, and the dozen or so interstate overpasses outside of New Orleans that don't even have roads connected to them.

/All sides are bad, boycott rail.
 
2012-04-03 10:41:58 AM

FreakinB: It works great up here, but we also have a bunch of cities with their own decent-to-good public transportation systems (Boston, NYC, Philly, DC). I think the issue in other places would be that you'd then be dropped off in the middle of, say, Orlando with no car.


This.
 
2012-04-03 10:44:47 AM

BurnShrike: Can passenger rail ever be profitable? Florida's about to find out.

Japan knows it can. So does Europe. And China.


Once Japan stopped heavily subsidizing rail, a lot of those smaller towns watched their rail link dry up and go bankrupt, and many of those little towns formerly connected via rail became ghost towns.

As it turned out, really only the urban regional rail and the high-speed lines were profitable -- like in the US.
 
2012-04-03 10:45:18 AM

jigger: It's profitable in the Boston-DC corridor? News to me.


I'm pretty sure it is - that's also one of the few routes where they own the tracks too.
 
2012-04-03 10:45:31 AM

Fano: FreakinB: It works great up here, but we also have a bunch of cities with their own decent-to-good public transportation systems (Boston, NYC, Philly, DC). I think the issue in other places would be that you'd then be dropped off in the middle of, say, Orlando with no car.

This.



Also the cities are close enough that even the slowest train is comparable time wise to air travel, add in the fact that trains have wifi, and you can actually use your cell phone en-route you can still get some work done.
 
2012-04-03 10:45:37 AM

EngineerAU:

/All sides are bad, boycott rail privately owned for profit toll roads are racist (new window).


FTFY

/we'll happily pay for our roads with our own money
//you just won't let us
 
2012-04-03 10:46:10 AM

jigger: It's profitable in the Boston-DC corridor? News to me.


Yea, Accella and the metroliner(I know it isn't called that anymore) are one of amtraks few profitable operations.

The reason it works is you have 3 major destinations that have extensive same day travel between them, and the distances are perfect for a train to compete with a plane or car. The same holds true on many of japans routes.

Most other places in the US it won't work, because even at 200+MPH, a plane is still going to crush a train in terms of time and cost.
 
2012-04-03 10:46:21 AM

EngineerAU: And we all remember the Big Dig


The Big Dig was hugely late and over-budget, but was a needed infrastructure installation in a high-use area.
 
2012-04-03 10:46:32 AM
Personally, I love train travel. Living in Detroit, it's the best way to get to Chicago or Toronto (although with Toronto you have to drive across the border to Windsor first). For cities like those with great pubic transit systems, trains are awesome. Otherwise? Not so much.
 
2012-04-03 10:48:15 AM

LineNoise: The reason it works is you have 3 major destinations that have extensive same day travel between them, and the distances are perfect for a train to compete with a plane or car. The same holds true on many of japans routes.


The other factor is that most destinations are within the city limits and reach of local transportation once you get there. Florida is neither sufficiently urbanized nor closely positioned for the same to be true.
 
2012-04-03 10:48:30 AM

jigger: It's profitable in the Boston-DC corridor? News to me.


Yes. The east coast is well-suited to trains - lots of big cities packed close together and a populace that it accustomed to train travel.
 
2012-04-03 10:49:26 AM
And also I say 3 because nobody really takes the train all the way from Boston to DC. That is still a long ride even on accella, and a plane will cut the time in half, even factoring in airport time. But between NYC and BOS, or NYC\PHIL\DC, the train is usually the way to go.
 
2012-04-03 10:49:32 AM

beta_plus: EngineerAU:

/All sides are bad, boycott rail privately owned for profit toll roads are racist (new window).

FTFY

/we'll happily pay for our roads with our own money
//you just won't let us


It'll never be profitable to build a road to your suburban cul-de-sac. I'm not sure why people get such a hard-on over this pipe dream.

But I'm all for toll expressways. Make them all tollways so people in the sticks are forced to pay their fair share. I'm tired of my tax dollars going to build roads out in BFE.
 
2012-04-03 10:50:03 AM

indylaw: If Amtrak can't provide reasonable passenger service at a reasonable price despite massive public subsidies, I don't see how a private company could profitably operate a railroad barring some massive proprietary technology. I've never even heard of these guys. They're going to have a hell of a time attracting several billions of dollars in capital with a 100-year-old business model.


Government subsidies are absolutely essential for public transportation infrastructure. Only the US refuses to accept this. We demand that "the market" takes care of everything. Well, Amtrak gets subsidies, but not enough. And that precious market has refused to invest in rail line expansion and in some cases even maintenance. So me of our rail lines are dangerous.

It's funny that we accept airports and an air traffic control system that is 100% publicly funded, but we don't want to do this with any other form of transportation.
 
2012-04-03 10:51:33 AM

LineNoise: Yea, Accella and the metroliner(I know it isn't called that anymore)Northeast Regional are one of amtraks few profitable operations.


FTFY.

This thing in TFA is different than Amtrak in that the company already has its own rails. If they were vying for use of Norfolk Southern rails, they'd have the same problems Amtrak has. Any of the big railroads could re-implement passenger service if they had under-used high-speed freight rails. Problem is that virtually nobody has under-used freight rails.
 
2012-04-03 10:52:26 AM

LineNoise: Yea, Accella and the metroliner(I know it isn't called that anymore) are one of amtraks few profitable operations.


Apparently not. (new window)
 
2012-04-03 10:53:39 AM

Jerkwater: BurnShrike: Can passenger rail ever be profitable? Florida's about to find out.

Japan knows it can. So does Europe. And China.

Is passenger rail profitable in those places, or just government subsidy funded (new window)?


Is any form of transportation in America NOT heavily subsidized?

Hint: those roads, airports and FAA don't pay for themselves.

TFA says 30 Billion in subsidies since 1971. Sounds like a big number, but that's 40 years. That's 750 Million per year. How's that compare to what we've spent on roads?
 
2012-04-03 10:55:18 AM
People should move on market priced highways and planes.

Coal and New Cars are for trains.

/libs sure are obsessed with an early 19th century technology
 
2012-04-03 10:55:51 AM

This text is now purple: Florida is neither sufficiently urbanized nor closely positioned for the same to be true.


It might work in Miami and Tampa. I never took public transit in Orlando, but I'd imagine they do have a decent bus system. I don't know the Orlando station is; proximity to the parks is probably important.

Jacksonville is a sprawling mess. Imagine a filthier version of Houston.
 
2012-04-03 10:55:58 AM

She comes in colors everywhere: Jerkwater: BurnShrike: Can passenger rail ever be profitable? Florida's about to find out.

Japan knows it can. So does Europe. And China.

Is passenger rail profitable in those places, or just government subsidy funded (new window)?

Is any form of transportation in America NOT heavily subsidized?

Hint: those roads, airports and FAA don't pay for themselves.

TFA says 30 Billion in subsidies since 1971. Sounds like a big number, but that's 40 years. That's 750 Million per year. How's that compare to what we've spent on roads?


One more thing: Rail fails in this country BECAUSE it has to compete against other forms of transport that receive government money.
 
2012-04-03 10:58:11 AM

hurdboy: LineNoise: Yea, Accella and the metroliner(I know it isn't called that anymore)Northeast Regional are one of amtraks few profitable operations.

FTFY.

This thing in TFA is different than Amtrak in that the company already has its own rails. If they were vying for use of Norfolk Southern rails, they'd have the same problems Amtrak has. Any of the big railroads could re-implement passenger service if they had under-used high-speed freight rails. Problem is that virtually nobody has under-used freight rails.


I'll occasionaly take the train up to rochester. I go up there a few times a year. Drive wise its a little over 6 hours. Plane wise it is about 3 hours door to door. train wise it is about 7 hours door to door. Cost wise its pretty much the same.

But that is about as far as you can put someone on a train. Internet, bar car, scenery or not, nobody is going to want to sit on a train longer than that when they can do it in a fraction of the time on a plane, even if the plane costs more.

MAYBE you would have a shot at a bullet train between NYC and Chicago if you could do the trip in 4 hours, but even then I wonder if you would have the ridership to maintain that kind of infrastructure. If you aren't running trains every hour or so, planes will still win out even if the time is the same simply because of the ease of leaving whenever I want vs one or two trains a day. And if those trains aren't close to being full every time you run them, the economics of rail travel fall apart.

People overlook the distances involved and density of europe and japan whenever they make their argument for high speed rail in the US. Are there a few more places outside the NE where it could work? Perhaps. But most of those are already served by regional systems, and at best all you are doing is shaving a little time off them.
 
2012-04-03 11:00:40 AM

hurdboy: It might work in Miami and Tampa. I never took public transit in Orlando, but I'd imagine they do have a decent bus system. I don't know the Orlando station is; proximity to the parks is probably important.


Orlando is building a commuter rail system. Tampa has a piss poor bus system and is building an inadequate BRT. Transit is a nightmare there.
 
2012-04-03 11:00:44 AM

She comes in colors everywhere: TFA says 30 Billion in subsidies since 1971. Sounds like a big number, but that's 40 years. That's 750 Million per year. How's that compare to what we've spent on roads?


Let's put it in perspective. The Department of Homeland Security's FY 2012 budget is $57 billion. They spend more on paperwork that we spend on Amtrak.
 
2012-04-03 11:03:52 AM

TravisBickle62: What do you do when you get to the destination? You have to rent a car. Might as well drive.


This

Unless every major city in California gets some kind of decent public transit, it's not a viable idea.

San Diego was on the right track with the trolley (ha ha) but it doesn't run late enough and needs to expand it's coverage.

San jose has a nice lightrail and the Bart also works well too. Again they both need to expand their coverage.

Also, buses are great if you like seeing homeless people washing their ass
 
2012-04-03 11:06:01 AM

hurdboy: This text is now purple: Florida is neither sufficiently urbanized nor closely positioned for the same to be true.

It might work in Miami and Tampa. I never took public transit in Orlando, but I'd imagine they do have a decent bus system. I don't know the Orlando station is; proximity to the parks is probably important.

Jacksonville is a sprawling mess. Imagine a filthier version of Houston.


I could see this working in Tampa and maybe Miami, but Orlando, I doubt. Orlando is pretty sprawling, and Disney isn't that close to Orlando proper. The public transit in Orlando is ok, from the few times I've used it. What would be sweet is if Disney would link up their monorail system to the station in Orlando, giving a direct link to Disney from Orlando.

And you are exactly right about J-ville.
 
2012-04-03 11:07:31 AM

SoCalSurfer: Also, buses are great if you like seeing homeless people washing their ass


MARTA?
 
2012-04-03 11:07:44 AM
Passenger rail doesn't need to be profitable. Trucking companies wouldn't be profitable, either, if they had to build their own infrastructure. Passenger rail is incredibly fuel-efficient, which helps drivers in terms of cheaper gas and less congestion, so it deserves the subsidies.
 
2012-04-03 11:07:58 AM
So why couldn't other private freight companies in the United States - many of which own their own tracks - do the same thing and set up their own passenger rail systems? Paul Druce of Reason & Rail lists a few reasons why FECI is unique in this regard. The company's freight network doesn't rely on slower bulk trains, as many other rail companies do. Most of FECI's freight is reasonably fast and light. That means passenger trains that share the tracks won't have to pull over and stop for hours at a time while the cargo passes by, as happens on many parts of Amtrak. (The Northeast Corridor is one of the few exceptions here - which helps explain why this is Amtrak's only line that operates at a profit.)

Odd. When I worked at Union Pacific, Damtrak had priority on all lines. They even beat out UP's Z trains (IIRC).

One night, a pretty bad storm knocked out power in Kansas City. I got the following call:

"Yeah. This is (Amtrak). I need my consist and your (string of profanity) printer aint coughin' it up (more insults - questions my pedigree)." The guy is upset that he can't get his paperwork from a UP terminal/printer. A common complaint. Sometimes a previous user will make multiple requests of the same system and load up the queue. Before I clear the printer (lata(?)) which will enrage him even more (Why do I have to put my request in again!?), I ask him a simple question:

"Yes sir. Is the power on where you're at?

"No! I have a train full of passengers waiting (This means in an hour, he'll get in a van and go out to where ever the train's parked). (More cursing).

"Sir, the printer requires electricity to print. In a situation lie this, you are allowed to take the consist from the other crew and you'll be able to update at a different location."

Actually, the guy slammed the phone down when I said 'electricity to print'. He called back and complained to a couple of other Hell Desk people. I used to have his name, date of birth and SSN just in case I wanted to ruin his life financially. But I never did.
 
2012-04-03 11:10:32 AM
That bad boy stops in Ft. Lauderdale, I'm on it.
 
2012-04-03 11:14:35 AM

She comes in colors everywhere: TFA says 30 Billion in subsidies since 1971. Sounds like a big number, but that's 40 years. That's 750 Million per year. How's that compare to what we've spent on roads?

One more thing: Rail fails in this country BECAUSE it has to compete against other forms of transport that receive government money.


Rail received a vast amount of public financing during its development. The interstate system sprang up because of the limitations of the transcontinental rail system for moving vast quantities of people and material cross-country.
 
2012-04-03 11:15:41 AM

LineNoise: I'll occasionaly take the train up to rochester. I go up there a few times a year. Drive wise its a little over 6 hours. Plane wise it is about 3 hours door to door. train wise it is about 7 hours door to door. Cost wise its pretty much the same.

But that is about as far as you can put someone on a train. Internet, bar car, scenery or not, nobody is going to want to sit on a train longer than that when they can do it in a fraction of the time on a plane, even if the plane costs more.


Pretty much. I take the train to places northeast pretty regularly. To/from DC, it's teh way to go. Yes, it can take ~45 minutes longer than driving. But it can also be hours shorter when the traffic is bad (think I-95 on a summer weekend....). Throw in the security time, a flight takes almost as long.

My wife and I took the Crescent from DC to New Orleans for our honeymoon. It worked, but I wouldn't want to make it a regular sort of thing. Even having to change planes in Atlanta, Charlotte, or Houston, it's a half-day trip on the plane. It's 25 hours stright on the train.
 
2012-04-03 11:15:48 AM

BurnShrike: Can passenger rail ever be profitable? Florida's about to find out.

Japan knows it can. So does Europe. And China.


High-density social-welfare state.
Region of high-density social-welfare states.
Giant totalitarian state with many high-density regions.

Here's how it works folks. If you can drive without lots of traffic volume delays, beat-to-shiat infrastructure and scarce parking, you pretty much have to drive.
 
2012-04-03 11:16:23 AM
Having lived my entire life in Florida, including Tampa, Sarasota, Gainesville, Miami, New Smyrna Beach, and Orlando...

i.imgur.com
 
2012-04-03 11:16:24 AM
I've always enjoyed the separate success conditions for public transportation projects that rely at least partially on fares and general road projects.
General road projects are justified by enabling more people to travel more efficiently. Whereas fare-inclusive projects need to be individually 'profitable'.

It is damned entertaining to see people's psychological shift in their positions and arguments.
 
2012-04-03 11:19:21 AM

EngineerAU: Meanwhile the federal government has spent over $50,000,000 on an airport (new window) in rural Pennsylvania that averages about twenty people a day. And we all remember the Big Dig, the Bridge to Nowhere, and the dozen or so interstate overpasses outside of New Orleans that don't even have roads connected to them.

/All sides are bad, boycott rail.


Vegas rail plan seeks $4.9 billion federal loan (new window)

"The vast park-and-ride project hinges on the untested idea that car-loving Californians will drive about 100 miles from the Los Angeles area, pull off busy Interstate 15 and board a train for the final leg to the famous Strip."

"It's insanity," says Thomas Finkbiner of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver. "People won't drive to a train to go someplace. If you are going to drive, why not drive all the way and leave when you want?"
 
2012-04-03 11:25:05 AM

jigger: LineNoise: Yea, Accella and the metroliner(I know it isn't called that anymore) are one of amtraks few profitable operations.

Apparently not. (new window)


Did you read your link? That year, the Acela Express cleared all its costs with $220 million to spare, and the other NEC trains cleared their costs as well, with $149 million left over. That adds to $369 million, or a million bucks more than the corridor's normal capital needs. That's an important fact and worth remembering
 
2012-04-03 11:25:36 AM

BurnShrike: Can passenger rail ever be profitable? Florida's about to find out.

Japan knows it can. So does Europe. And China.


Yep if they have express trains then there is no reason this can't work, the eurorail was farking excellent, paris to Amsterdam in about 3-4 hours while we drank/slept/surfed.

Just don't fark it up, I always thought a rail line from metro atlanta to savannah would be great, they just need to crack down on all the thugs trying to take over savannah.
 
2012-04-03 11:25:40 AM

This text is now purple: Rail received a vast amount of public financing during its development. The interstate system sprang up because of the limitations of the transcontinental rail system for moving vast quantities of people and material cross-country.


Not so much on that. The first rail lines built were financed by the railroads themselves. The railroads still maintain the vast majority of the tracks in the US, which is why so many of them are in bad shape.

The original purpose of the Interstate Highway System was military. It just happened that it would also be an improvement to our already existing US highway system. This is how Eisenhower spun it to get public support for what many were criticizing as a big government boondoggle.
 
2012-04-03 11:40:07 AM

This text is now purple: The interstate system sprang up because of the limitations of the transcontinental rail system for moving vast quantities of people and material cross-country Detroit auto industry.


FTFY

Remember, "If it's good for General Motors, it's good for America?"

See where that's brought us.

/and now we are so entrenched in that mindset that we have to actually bailout the car companies, too.
 
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