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(Salon)   Amtrak, the Prius of long-distance travel   (salon.com) divider line 220
    More: Cool, Prius, Amtrak, ejector seats, Metra, Swiss Army  
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8077 clicks; posted to Main » on 19 Feb 2014 at 11:31 AM (35 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-02-19 02:42:04 PM  

PleaseHamletDon'tHurtEm: Ridden the Amtrak to Chicago a few times. Wouldn't be so bad except it's late getting there to pick you up, and freight traffic is priority so you get to sit around wishing you'd driven. The rural scenery is nice but is sort of ruined by riding past many buildings whose backyards are choked with scrap and junk.

Nowadays since we got the service it's Megabus all the way. Faster, with wifi on board. No driving. Whee!


Where are you guys getting that "freight has priority"? I work for a railroad and can tell you, you couldn't be more wrong.
 
2014-02-19 02:42:21 PM  

Tom_Slick: Pretty much, except for long distance trains with baggage cars for oversized items these are handled by Amtrak personnel so in theory you should keep contraband out of that . Your personal stuff you are taking to your seats is not checked, although now that all trains are completely non-smoking don't toke up on board.


The TSA has been known to search everyone getting off of a train when they feel like it.

Where could you hijack a train to?  Where could you hijack a train to once you get off?
 
2014-02-19 02:42:30 PM  

Mikey1969: meyerkev: Mikey1969: redmid17: Train would be OK by me in that case if you can get the tickets cheaper. I'd be glad to take a train if I had a decent schedule.

Then there is another issue... Sadly, trains only go where the tracks are... In this part of the country, it's east-west, I can't go form Salt lake to Phoenix, or I would in a heartbeat. Hell, Amtrak won't even let me fark around and plan one where I go through somewhere like Sacramento first, I have to make it 2 separate trips, which increases the cost. It's a self-perpetuating loop, trains cost money, nobody wants to put money into rail systems unless they see a profit, they can't make a profit if they don't have an infrastructure, etc....

The basic problem is that airplanes have a MUCH higher startup cost (because you have to build the multi-billion dollar airport.), while trains have a much higher per-MILE cost because you have to build tracks everywhere.

So if you're in Europe, and you have that nice central population corridor only a few hundred miles across with towns every couple of day's ride on horseback, yes, go nuts with trains.

[cache.eupedia.com image 643x643]

Whereas if you have the entire Mountain West time zone with less people in the entire time zone than NYC, AND the stupid thing is covered in mountains (and all your major cities are a couple hours drive apart at minimum once you leave the East Coast, and they're much more spread out cities to boot, which makes city center to city center mass transit less useful*), which are apparently their own special class of pain...  That's not to say that rail in America is useless, just that outside of few corridors, it makes a lot LESS sense than it would in say Europe.

[www.mapofusa.net image 608x346]

[i.imgur.com image 850x619]


*Seriously, did a cross-country drive from Detroit to SF via OKC.  When the biggest city you pass through on the third day is Flagstaff, your country is empty.

Yeah, I know... It's funny... To us, a 6 hour trip is ...


A six hour tip has the potential to be an 8 hour trip and that is why people hate it.  Two hours of gridlock is not fun.

I am from RI where most lots of people dont go to the beach because it is in the southern part of the state (30 minutes away).

Long trips dont bother me though.
 
2014-02-19 02:43:19 PM  
cdn2.business2community.com
 
2014-02-19 02:44:13 PM  

Zavulon: I don't think it's per person. I think the 2.4 tons is just for the flight itself. The author doesn't say anything to indicate that she's referring to a per person figure. Although, I tried plugging a single 733 mile flight into the carbon calculator the author linked to and it said 0.3 tons, so something fishy is going on.


If the figure isn't per-person then the entire article is bullshiat.  Who would even consider the entire carbon footprint of the airplane due to just themselves?  What kind of f'n idiot is this author?

Well, Al Gore, sure, but he flies alone in a private jet.  But no one else should be that stupid.

And if the trip is 733 miles, then 19 hours on Amtrak seems more reasonable.  They don't go really fast, and that's < 40 MPH average.

But an airplane only burns up to 2 gallons per mile, call it < 10 tons of CO2.  I guess it was just the author and the crew on the airplane.  Der.
 
2014-02-19 02:49:01 PM  

redmid17: I have yet to meet someone from the midwest who'd freak out over a 6 hour drive.


Originally from the Midwest.

I don't know if I'd freak out, but I'd certainly ask what we were doing and why we were doing it.

Because 6 hours from my old place gets you to the Soo heading North, Chicago traffic heading west, somewhere past Pittsburgh heading east, and somewhere in KY heading south.  LOTS to do there.

Whereas in WA, I drove 7 hours to Idaho and back because those were the nearest roller coasters (and then honestly had more fun driving the Eastern approach to Snoqualmie than riding the coasters.  Mountain Passes FTW).  And then I drove 2 hours each way out of my way to go see Mt. St. Helens.  And Tahoe's 4-6 hours to my Northwest where I am now, and I've done that once or twice.

/Did a 9 hour drive from Madison back to home once.  My god, that was boring.
//Out west is more scenic.
 
2014-02-19 02:55:39 PM  
We really need to upgrade Amtrak to magnetic bullet trains, and then add stations all across the US... Then trains would actually be a more cost effective and more time efficient way to travel - more people would want to take them...

It takes money to make money, and upgrading our trains would generate a lot of public interest.

Personally, I hate flying... These seem to be a much more enjoyable way to travel, and they obviously would be better for the environment!

assets.inhabitat.com
 
2014-02-19 02:57:52 PM  

Iszael: Zavulon: I don't think it's per person. I think the 2.4 tons is just for the flight itself. The author doesn't say anything to indicate that she's referring to a per person figure. Although, I tried plugging a single 733 mile flight into the carbon calculator the author linked to and it said 0.3 tons, so something fishy is going on.

If the figure isn't per-person then the entire article is bullshiat.  Who would even consider the entire carbon footprint of the airplane due to just themselves?  What kind of f'n idiot is this author?

Well, Al Gore, sure, but he flies alone in a private jet.  But no one else should be that stupid.

And if the trip is 733 miles, then 19 hours on Amtrak seems more reasonable.  They don't go really fast, and that's < 40 MPH average.

But an airplane only burns up to 2 gallons per mile, call it < 10 tons of CO2.  I guess it was just the author and the crew on the airplane.  Der.


Google says the shortest air link between NYC and Chicago is 733 miles. Rail is probably a bit longer.

Since I can't figure out how the author arrived at the 2.4 ton figure using the calculator that she herself cited, I'm going with "article is bullshiat".
 
2014-02-19 03:02:57 PM  
Gentoolive:
Where are you guys getting that "freight has priority"? I work for a railroad and can tell you, you couldn't be more wrong.

I had heard this before as well, always wondered if it was true.  Outside of the NE corridor, I believe Amtrak is only using trackage rights, no idea what that means as far as priority goes or what the arrangement is.
 
2014-02-19 03:04:25 PM  
I've taken a few trips on the Amtrak, and I've enjoyed them all. However, you have to be a pretty patient person. A couple trips east to Minneapolis (starting from Montana) took 20+ hours due to various delays like unruly passengers, cows on tracks, etc. I joked that Amtrak should change their slogan to "Amtrak: We'll Get You There. ... Eventually. Some Day." But I had either good company, a good book or two, and the scenic car is always good for passing the time. Also, the slow bobbing of the train cars is like Lunesta for me.

Also, the Amtrak folks seem generally nice. I hadn't slept in a few days when I stumbled onto the platform in Minnesota and I asked which car my seat was in and the Amtrak worker gestured to a line of ten different cars, so I climbed into the first one, found an open seat, and went to sleep. I woke up a few hours later to the ticket man asking me, "Where's ya ticket? Where's ya ticket?" I handed him mine and he frowned and told me I wasn't supposed to be there. I said sorry, stood up and promptly almost fell over. He let out an exasperated sigh and told me, "That's fine. Just stay here. Stay right here." I sat down and fell back asleep.

If you have the time, I'd say hop on the Amtrak for a bit. Bring a bag of food, though. Train food is super expensive. I just packed like I was going hiking for a couple days, basically.
 
2014-02-19 03:06:31 PM  

OOBE Juan Kenobi: We really need to upgrade Amtrak to magnetic bullet trains, and then add stations all across the US... Then trains would actually be a more cost effective and more time efficient way to travel - more people would want to take them...

It takes money to make money, and upgrading our trains would generate a lot of public interest.

Personally, I hate flying... These seem to be a much more enjoyable way to travel, and they obviously would be better for the environment!

[assets.inhabitat.com image 728x386]


Not that I disagree that train travel is far more enjoyable, the scalability of the solution is somewhat suspect. On top of the fairly impressive startup costs it would take to implement it, it would take pretty massive subsidies to make it break even. After that, you have to factor in that a cross country trip will still take half a day versus 4-5 hours on a plane.
 
2014-02-19 03:16:00 PM  
You know what's a cheap way to get from A to B?  Common carrier.

I deadheaded from Iowa to Boston once in the passenger seat of a semi.  Cost: 0, it was going that way anyway.  I don't think my weight added significantly to the 40 ton truck.  And it took less than 19 hours, that was back when the truckers could work until they got tired, then sleep, then work some more.

Really, as much wasted space as there is in the cabs of trucks, you'd figure someone would have "an app for that" and let people chip in a couple bucks or a meal to get wherever they needed.  I think you'd be pretty safe, most drivers just want to get where they're going.  If you got on a particular truck through a public database, it'd be pretty obvious who did what to whom if there was any trouble.

And you have someone to talk to.  Truckers are funny guys...
 
2014-02-19 03:16:52 PM  

redmid17: OOBE Juan Kenobi: We really need to upgrade Amtrak to magnetic bullet trains, and then add stations all across the US... Then trains would actually be a more cost effective and more time efficient way to travel - more people would want to take them...

It takes money to make money, and upgrading our trains would generate a lot of public interest.

Personally, I hate flying... These seem to be a much more enjoyable way to travel, and they obviously would be better for the environment!

[assets.inhabitat.com image 728x386]

Not that I disagree that train travel is far more enjoyable, the scalability of the solution is somewhat suspect. On top of the fairly impressive startup costs it would take to implement it, it would take pretty massive subsidies to make it break even. After that, you have to factor in that a cross country trip will still take half a day versus 4-5 hours on a plane.


In all fairness, we subsidize the crap out of air travel... between the law enforcement, airports themselves, subsidies to manufacturers, and subsidies for airlines themselves (including both capital and non-capital subsidies), taxpayers contribute billions of dollars a year to making air travel work.
 
2014-02-19 03:30:20 PM  

firefly212: redmid17: OOBE Juan Kenobi: We really need to upgrade Amtrak to magnetic bullet trains, and then add stations all across the US... Then trains would actually be a more cost effective and more time efficient way to travel - more people would want to take them...

It takes money to make money, and upgrading our trains would generate a lot of public interest.

Personally, I hate flying... These seem to be a much more enjoyable way to travel, and they obviously would be better for the environment!

[assets.inhabitat.com image 728x386]

Not that I disagree that train travel is far more enjoyable, the scalability of the solution is somewhat suspect. On top of the fairly impressive startup costs it would take to implement it, it would take pretty massive subsidies to make it break even. After that, you have to factor in that a cross country trip will still take half a day versus 4-5 hours on a plane.

In all fairness, we subsidize the crap out of air travel... between the law enforcement, airports themselves, subsidies to manufacturers, and subsidies for airlines themselves (including both capital and non-capital subsidies), taxpayers contribute billions of dollars a year to making air travel work.


Also very true. However I think you'd get a better argument for the utility of air travel versus train travel over long distances (short ones not withstanding). Much of the reason people utilize air travel is because their reason to travel, be it business or pleasure, is time sensitive in nature. If I have 5 days of vacation scheduled for a trip to Miami, I am not going to take the train as it removes 2 days from my 5 day vacation and one leg takes 2x long as a roundtrip flight.
 
2014-02-19 03:32:58 PM  

HeartBurnKid: bdub77: And being on a train for 19 hours sucks balls.

Depends on the train.  If you're going to a con, I heartily recommend taking the train.  I've been to PAX twice, and taken Amtrak both times.  38 hours each way, surrounded by fellow nerds and their favorite games... tons of fun.


img2-3.timeinc.net
 
2014-02-19 03:35:52 PM  

OOBE Juan Kenobi: We really need to upgrade Amtrak to magnetic bullet trains, and then add stations all across the US... Then trains would actually be a more cost effective and more time efficient way to travel - more people would want to take them...

It takes money to make money, and upgrading our trains would generate a lot of public interest.

Personally, I hate flying... These seem to be a much more enjoyable way to travel, and they obviously would be better for the environment!

[assets.inhabitat.com image 728x386]


Yeah, but you still hit all of the other problems.

Namely, you're LITERALLY on rails.

A car is convenient.  Goes door to door, lets you stop off at the World's Biggest Spoon, and is capable of going anywhere there's a dirt track at any time of day* (while having a trunk) which has the nice advantage of cutting the corner so my 75 MPH car at least ties your 200 MPH train.  It's SLOW, but for all those (sort of) local trips, nothing beats it.  I mean, there's a reason why people still drive in NYC, despite having a nearly world-class transit system.  And if NYC is driving, Detroit's going to laugh at your fat ass.  Toledo to South Haven by car is about 4 hours, Toledo to Ann Arbor train to Kalamazoo drive to South Haven is about 5 IF you get the timing right.  Which you don't because there's like 3 trains a day,

A plane is fast.  Once you get over the "Fark the TSA" section, you're out maybe 2 hours, and another half hour picking up your baggage at the other end.  And then you get to go 500 MPH, so any flight more than about 2 hours long is STILL faster.  And you're automagically connected to every OTHER station in the world, which lets you cut the corner.

Mind you, density CAN overcome these problems, BUT.

Look, let's look at Ann Arbor to Chicago.  I've done all 3 of these, and I'll even give the train a boost by going from station to station.

Ann Arbor to Chicago is about a 4-5 hour train ride.  The buffer is if nothing goes wrong in Gary (which is for geographical and historical reasons THE bottleneck in America's rail system).  Both ways, something went wrong and it was actually about 6.

Ann Arbor to Chicago takes a little under 4 hours driving if nothing goes wrong.  It's probably more like 5 because traffic sucks ass in Chicago.  You also have the minor issue of figuring out what to do with the car because it's a major downtown and yeah (I only did it because I had to be in Madison, WI later that night and the bus timings didn't line up and then I had to be BACK in Ann Arbor the night after that which was difficult).

Ann Arbor to Chicago takes about 5 hours by air.  30 minute drive/taxi, 2 hours of airport tomfoolery,  a 45 minute flight, 30 more minutes of airport tomfoolery, and a 45 minute transit ride into downtown.

So they're all sort of tied, and your Bullet train is honestly the fastest.

Ok, now change Chicago to South Bend.  Now your bullet train sucks (though flights also suck).  I mean it's a 3 hour drive, but EITHER WAY, I'm looking at an hour drive to Toledo and hoping that my schedule lines up with the 3-4 trains/day that run through there.  So car is slower, but WAY more convenient.  Heck, Michigan to anything is inherently slow with our current rail network because you're staging through Chicago (which is fine if you're headed to St. Louis, but sucks if you're headed to Cleveland or the East Coast, which has mountains in the way, so your 200 MPH bullet train wouldn't be running 1/5th that fast anyways).

And keep in mind that that's a 250 MPH trip.  I'm headed out to the West Coast on a 2000 MPH trip.  Hey, your 200 MPH bullet train doesn't do mountains because it's a train.  And then it STILL takes me a day, probably with a transfer in Chicago.  Door to Door from home (Mt. View) to Mom (Bay Village, OH) on a plane is 10 hours (with a transfer in Chicago.  Doing it straight's an extra $100 and cuts 2 hours off).  And 2 of THAT is dealing with the farked up mass transit in the Bay Area.  Driving to the airport and parking (for $20/day, which is why I don't do it) cuts an hour off that time.  So a direct flight with minimal stupidity is 7 hours.  Can YOU do burb to burb in 7 hours?

TLDR: Your bullet train would cost trillions and be inherently limited in ways that only get resolved by density that the USA doesn't have.

*And while I'm not an engineer, the impression I get is that shoving roads through mountains is easier than shoving rails through mountains because of the grading issues.  (Rail gets maybe 2%, roads get like 9% if needed).
 
2014-02-19 03:51:50 PM  

meyerkev: Your bullet train would cost trillions


I don't think you know how much money a trillion dollars is.
 
2014-02-19 03:54:31 PM  

ikanreed: meyerkev: Your bullet train would cost trillions

I don't think you know how much money a trillion dollars is.


Freeways cost $425 Billion in today's money.

/So half a trillion.
//Seriously, if we can't do 1 LINE up CA for under $100 Billion, your plan will cost trillions.
 
2014-02-19 03:56:30 PM  

meyerkev: ikanreed: meyerkev: Your bullet train would cost trillions

I don't think you know how much money a trillion dollars is.

Freeways cost $425 Billion in today's money.

/So half a trillion.
//Seriously, if we can't do 1 LINE up CA for under $100 Billion, your OOBE Juan Kenobi's plan will cost trillions.


FTFM
 
2014-02-19 03:57:04 PM  

Iszael: You know what's a cheap way to get from A to B?  Common carrier.

I deadheaded from Iowa to Boston once in the passenger seat of a semi.  Cost: 0, it was going that way anyway.  I don't think my weight added significantly to the 40 ton truck.  And it took less than 19 hours, that was back when the truckers could work until they got tired, then sleep, then work some more.

Really, as much wasted space as there is in the cabs of trucks, you'd figure someone would have "an app for that" and let people chip in a couple bucks or a meal to get wherever they needed.  I think you'd be pretty safe, most drivers just want to get where they're going.  If you got on a particular truck through a public database, it'd be pretty obvious who did what to whom if there was any trouble.

And you have someone to talk to.  Truckers are funny guys...


Only hard part is stuff you have to do to "pay" for the ride.

i1.ytimg.com
 
2014-02-19 04:04:24 PM  

MaudlinMutantMollusk: So, Amtrak can't drive for sh*t, either?


Gets in that one lane and hogs it all the way across the damn country!
 
2014-02-19 04:24:50 PM  
I ride Amtrak all the time these days... if your trip is between two 'hubs' I think its great, and much cheaper than flying. I bring some food, my own booze and some books. I like the interaction with passengers, and crew...plus everybody is drunk half way through the trip. It is a little slow, but that is part of the appeal for me, I just make sure to have a day or so to get where I'm going. I travel out of NYC to Cincinnati or New Orleans, they are both direct routes, no transfers and you are let off in mostly downtown so no need to take a bus (maybe a city bus or subway). I would be really supportive of increasing our rail travel in this country.
 
2014-02-19 04:33:27 PM  
"Hello, airplanes?  It's blimps Amtrak, you win."
 
2014-02-19 04:35:13 PM  

dogawful: I ride Amtrak all the time these days... if your trip is between two 'hubs' I think its great, and much cheaper than flying. I bring some food, my own booze and some books. I like the interaction with passengers, and crew...plus everybody is drunk half way through the trip. It is a little slow, but that is part of the appeal for me, I just make sure to have a day or so to get where I'm going. I travel out of NYC to Cincinnati or New Orleans, they are both direct routes, no transfers and you are let off in mostly downtown so no need to take a bus (maybe a city bus or subway). I would be really supportive of increasing our rail travel in this country.


Much cheaper?   I did an amtrak search for NYC to NOLA a couple months in advance - round trip is $416 for a total of 19 hours each way.

Expedia has the same flight dates at $390 for a 2 layover 7 hour trip to NOLA or $421 for a 1 layover 5 hour trip..

Is there a way to make Amtrak even cheaper?   Because $5 cheaper isn't worth 14 more hours..
 
2014-02-19 04:55:58 PM  

lilplatinum: dogawful: I ride Amtrak all the time these days... if your trip is between two 'hubs' I think its great, and much cheaper than flying. I bring some food, my own booze and some books. I like the interaction with passengers, and crew...plus everybody is drunk half way through the trip. It is a little slow, but that is part of the appeal for me, I just make sure to have a day or so to get where I'm going. I travel out of NYC to Cincinnati or New Orleans, they are both direct routes, no transfers and you are let off in mostly downtown so no need to take a bus (maybe a city bus or subway). I would be really supportive of increasing our rail travel in this country.

Much cheaper?   I did an amtrak search for NYC to NOLA a couple months in advance - round trip is $416 for a total of 19 hours each way.

Expedia has the same flight dates at $390 for a 2 layover 7 hour trip to NOLA or $421 for a 1 layover 5 hour trip..

Is there a way to make Amtrak even cheaper?   Because $5 cheaper isn't worth 14 more hours..


Hmmm... maybe they like me better... plus, I like trains...

http://youtu.be/1hlNXtMUYCw
 
2014-02-19 05:04:22 PM  

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: Tom_Slick: Pretty much, except for long distance trains with baggage cars for oversized items these are handled by Amtrak personnel so in theory you should keep contraband out of that . Your personal stuff you are taking to your seats is not checked, although now that all trains are completely non-smoking don't toke up on board.

They frown on drinking at your seat too. Now on the other hand, if you have a berth, feel free to get hammered.


Huh?  The few times I've been on the train, usually Washington to NYC or Philly, I've gone up to the café car, gotten a drink, and headed back to my seat.  Or in one case I had half a fifth of Tullamore Dew in my tote bag and kept refreshing with that.  I'm also a quiet drinker and not annoying to other people.

This was on the Northeast Regional though - may be different for the trans-continental trains.
 
2014-02-19 05:05:59 PM  

dogawful: Hmmm... maybe they like me better... plus, I like trains...

http://youtu.be/1hlNXtMUYCw


Can you get cheaper than that round trip to NOLA ever on Amtrak?   Not sure if there are ways to get discounts or wahtever - I wouldn't be morally opposed to getting belligerantly drunk on the way to NOLA to get more belligerantly drunk..
 
2014-02-19 05:06:27 PM  

GameSprocket: I checked out Amtrak for a family trip (My spouse, 2 spawn and myself). The tickets would cost as much as taking a plane (plus food and beverages) and would take as long as driving. The only benefits over driving would have been that I could sleep during the trip and the kids could move around a bit. Of course, then I would need to rent a car at the destination.

I am anxiously awaiting any real competitive alternative to airlines. I really hate air travel at this point.


So, you live where I do.  We took the kids to Chicago via the Empire Builder last year.  We went into it knowing the schedule was a crap shoot.  It was awesome.  The kids can move around a lot within reason (Lounge car ftw!) and there is as much room in coach on the train as most first class areas on a plane.  We had three checked bags and the wife and I each had a backpack with a couple of small pillows, coloring books and a tablet each with videos, games and most importantly headphones.  And plug ins were not a issue. My son sat with this mom, my daughter with me.  It was glorious.  No trying to herd them past the jack booted idiots TSA, no fighting in the back seat.  They could look out the window, take naps, go to the lounge.  They thought eating in the dining car was the greatest thing on Earth. "Dad, our restaurant is going over a river!".  One of them begs to go again about once a month.

Earlier this year I took the train from here to San Antonio.  Again I knew the schedule was a bit of a wash but I planned for that.  The biggest change was that I was on the Texas Eagle for what was supposed to be 32 hours so I went for Sleeper which is == first class.  It was ~$380 which the sleeper (hotel room) and 5 meals.  We ended up ~2 hours late because I happened to do this when the tornado's were doing their thing in Illinois this spring.  Again, it was glorious.

We could have first class rail service that would rival airlines in almost every way if they were better funded.  The FAA alone got $19 Billion which I am not complaining about.  But you are fooling yourself if you think that is all that is subsidized in air travel.  It is however a nice concrete dollar amount if not remotely close to the total.  It would be nice if Amtrak got 5% of that.  For 2012 Amtrak got $466 million.  To compete and be a real offering they need to have a level playing field. Don't like the poor way Amtrak runs, talk to your congress critter.

/Amtrak looks wistfully at the NASA ($17 billion)  budget which is farking sad.
 
2014-02-19 05:09:13 PM  

China White Tea: "Hello, airplanes?  It's blimps Amtrak, you win."


img.fark.net
 
2014-02-19 05:24:04 PM  

fst_creeper: We could have first class rail service that would rival airlines in almost every way if they were better funded.  The FAA alone got $19 Billion which I am not complaining about.  But you are fooling yourself if you think that is all that is subsidized in air travel.  It is however a nice concrete dollar amount if not remotely close to the total.  It would be nice if Amtrak got 5% of that.  For 2012 Amtrak got $466 million.  To compete and be a real offering they need to have a level playing field. Don't like the poor way Amtrak runs, talk to your congress critter.


We aren't going to invest in rail because the time frame is not realistic for enough travellers to make it economical.  If you are on a business trip, your company doesn't want you wasting that much time on the clock travelling.

Meanwhile, most Americans get comically low allotment of vacation days a year, and most are not going to sacrifice their pittance on extending travel that long.
 
2014-02-19 05:48:08 PM  

The My Little Pony Killer: Not having to go through security-molestation theater ALONE is worth the cost and time of taking Amtrak.


maybe

but I took an Amtrak from Minneapolis, MN to Portland, Oregon & even with a bottle of rum I still wanted to jump the fark off the train at full speed to end the misery.
 
2014-02-19 06:04:09 PM  
How does it save carbon if the train is almost empty?
 
2014-02-19 07:36:37 PM  

lilplatinum: We aren't going to invest in rail because the time frame is not realistic for enough travellers to make it economical.  If you are on a business trip, your company doesn't want you wasting that much time on the clock travelling.

Meanwhile, most Americans get comically low allotment of vacation days a year, and most are not going to sacrifice their pittance on extending travel that long.


It depends on the endpoints.  Granted, high-speed rail will never compete with air travel for e.g. trips between Los Angeles and New York, but for shorter distances such as Los Angeles to San Jose (which several of my coworkers frequently travel), a high-speed train without any TSA stupidity would actually save time over flying.
 
2014-02-19 08:16:12 PM  
I'm a huge (HUGE) supporter of rail, but Amtrak is kinda hopeless. I took them down the CA coast once, as an alternative to a drive I had made many, many times, and it took twice as long (and cost twice as much). I actually left the train early and had someone pick me up.

The one train trip I took that was totally worth it was Sacramento to Reno - you pass through parts of the Sierras you can't see from the highway. One day I want to try the same from Grand Junction to Denver.

Even in Europe, where rail travel is so much better, I really didn't enjoy an overnight train in a sleeper compartment. I won't likely do it again, and can't imagine 3 days going cross-country.
 
2014-02-19 08:26:42 PM  
the california zephyr should roll by my office window in...oh....4 hours unless she's running late

over the past 6 or 7 years that train has grown from just a couple of cars to a whole bunch. no, it's not a mile long coal train but folks are riding it.
 
2014-02-19 09:00:14 PM  
I love taking the train. Even the long distance trips. But I have family that lives in Vegas and there is no route from the east that goes directly there. You have to disembark in Kingman, AZ and continue by bus from there. Considering that Amtrak owns outright almost no rail right-of-way and runs on leased rail from the various Big 4 railroads, and that there is a UP mainline that runs -directly- through the middle of Las Vegas parallel to the Strip, you'd think that some arrangement could be made to connect both Chicago [where almost all East Coast traffic routes through] and LA to Las Vegas. Might take a little burden off McCarran as well. Hard to beat less than seven hours door-to-door instead of closer to thirty-six, and I certainly would not do it for every single trip, but if you've got the time there's nothing like looking at the world from the window of a train.
 
2014-02-19 09:10:27 PM  

Top Geezer: I love taking the train. Even the long distance trips. But I have family that lives in Vegas and there is no route from the east that goes directly there. You have to disembark in Kingman, AZ and continue by bus from there. Considering that Amtrak owns outright almost no rail right-of-way and runs on leased rail from the various Big 4 railroads, and that there is a UP mainline that runs -directly- through the middle of Las Vegas parallel to the Strip, you'd think that some arrangement could be made to connect both Chicago [where almost all East Coast traffic routes through] and LA to Las Vegas. Might take a little burden off McCarran as well. Hard to beat less than seven hours door-to-door instead of closer to thirty-six, and I certainly would not do it for every single trip, but if you've got the time there's nothing like looking at the world from the window of a train.


or the view of vegas after you exited the UP passenger depot

farm9.staticflickr.com
 
2014-02-19 09:19:35 PM  
meyerkev:

 OOBE Juan Kenobi's plan will cost trillions.

FTFM


utownblog.files.wordpress.com


--------------------------------------------------------------------- - ---------------------------------------------
In all seriousness and fairness, it's time human beings thought out things and planned ahead just a little more... We can't rely on fossil fuels forever... The money saved just from abstaining from FF long term would pay dividends in the future - not just in terms of economics, but also in terms of environment...

And who is to say that the traveling aspect of vacations cannot be part of the actual vacation? Trains are a lovely way to travel... Maybe it's time we actually slowed down a bit anyway... You can't take all of this STUFF with you when you die.

I would hope in the future human beings would have figured out more ways to live joyfully, while still being productive. Computers and other technology make this possible. Working and being productive is all fine and dandy - but happiness and joy hardly ever translates to always being busy. That comes with balance.
 
2014-02-19 09:27:30 PM  
If you have time to write an article about taking a 19 hour train trip instead of a 2-hour flight, your time isn't that valuable.  Or maybe you sucker Salon into paying you for it.  And, as she accurately pointed out, it was 24 hours door-to-door, which was still better than average service for that route.

The Lake Shore Limited has a 36.2% on time rating.  For the last 12 months.  At that point it's not a delay, it's your expected time of travel, except they don't publicize how long it actually takes.  What Amtrak also doesn't tell you is how much they missed the arrival time by - anything over 30 minutes is just considered "delayed."  So back when I was taking Amtrak in its best performing corridor - the Northeast corridor - when a coal train derailed and there was an 8 hour delay for a two hour train ride - that's just recorded as a "delay."  Bonus?  They can't let you off the train until you're at a station, so you're there for the duration, even if you can call someone to get you, because someone could walk to the train in the time it took them to get it back to a goddamn station.

You can go over the byzantine reasons that passenger rail travel is farked up in this country, but at the same time it's idiotic to push it as some green solution unless your need to be somewhere at a given point in time is worth absolutely nothing.  That might work for a freelance author or even a computer programmer if you can live without a high speed internet connection, but there are severe tradeoffs she's blithely ignoring because, I assume, she had all the time in the world to get to Chicago.  Wait until she misses a funeral because her train was a whopping 24 hours late.

I love the idea of rail travel, and I've dragged plenty of family members to a trip on this, but the point is the trip itself.  As a realistic means of long distance transportation in the US right now, Amtrak isn't it.  Without building out an entirely new rail network, there's no point.  We tore out the old lines (probably not a bad thing - they wouldn't support passenger trains today) and didn't build new ones.  Freight companies took what was left and built it out to support extra freight, but Amtrak has to share those lines.

Also, since she doesn't strike me as the kind of person who is good at math, I doubt her carbon calculations included or even assumed a train that starts, stops, idles, and accelerates on a normal route, much less the low speed idling the train does while waiting for a freight train to pass by.
 
2014-02-19 09:41:20 PM  

Gentoolive: Where are you guys getting that "freight has priority"? I work for a railroad and can tell you, you couldn't be more wrong.


Really?  You want to tell Amtrak, the Amtrak VP I used to ride with, or the porters that?  Amtrak has a few select routes they control, everything else is leased from the freight lines.

Their on-time tables even reference delays due to freight lines.
 
2014-02-19 10:09:42 PM  
However, when I needed to go to the Ragdale Artists Colony in Lake Forest, Ill. (an hour outside of Chicago) to finish my novel,

I'm pretty sure that nobody in human history ever needed to do this.
 
2014-02-19 10:14:48 PM  

OOBE Juan Kenobi: meyerkev:

 OOBE Juan Kenobi's plan will cost trillions.

FTFM




--------------------------------------------------------------------- - ---------------------------------------------
In all seriousness and fairness, it's time human beings thought out things and planned ahead just a little more... We can't rely on fossil fuels forever... The money saved just from abstaining from FF long term would pay dividends in the future - not just in terms of economics, but also in terms of environment...

And who is to say that the traveling aspect of vacations cannot be part of the actual vacation? Trains are a lovely way to travel... Maybe it's time we actually slowed down a bit anyway... You can't take all of this STUFF with you when you die.

I would hope in the future human beings would have figured out more ways to live joyfully, while still being productive. Computers and other technology make this possible. Working and being productive is all fine and dandy - but happiness and joy hardly ever translates to always being busy. That comes with balance.


Nothing wrong with travel being but of tthe vacation, but trains are going to cost as much time as the vacation unless you're going somewhere close or going someone for over a week, which most people can't or don't swing.
 
2014-02-19 10:15:36 PM  
Nothing wrong with travel being but of tthe vacation, but trains are going to cost as much time as the vacation unless you're going somewhere close or going someone for over a week, which most people can't or don't swing.
 
2014-02-19 10:27:36 PM  

flondrix: Tom_Slick: Pretty much, except for long distance trains with baggage cars for oversized items these are handled by Amtrak personnel so in theory you should keep contraband out of that . Your personal stuff you are taking to your seats is not checked, although now that all trains are completely non-smoking don't toke up on board.

The TSA has been known to search everyone getting off of a train when they feel like it.

Where could you hijack a train to?  Where could you hijack a train to once you get off?


Team VIPER knows but can't tell you because it's a secret. Now open your bag!
 
2014-02-19 11:08:31 PM  

redmid17: Nothing wrong with travel being but of tthe vacation, but trains are going to cost as much time as the vacation unless you're going somewhere close or going someone for over a week, which most people can't or don't swing.


It only takes 4 days driving from coast to coast in a car, going 70 - 80 MPR average... A maglev goes 3X as fast...

History of maglev speed records:
1971 - West Germany - Prinzipfahrzeug - 90 km/h (56 mph)
1971 - West Germany - http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=TR-02&action=edit&redlink=1"
1972 - Japan - ML100 - 60 km/h (37 mph) - (manned)
1973 - West Germany - TR04 - 250 km/h (160 mph) (manned)
1974 - West Germany - EET-01 - 230 km/h (140 mph) (unmanned)
1975 - West Germany - Komet - 401 km/h (249 mph) (by steam rocket propulsion, unmanned)
1978 - Japan -
1978 - Japan - HSST-02 - 110 km/h (68 mph) (manned)
1979-12-12 - Japan-ML-500R - 504 km/h (313 mph) (unmanned) It succeeds in operation over 500 km/h for the first time in the world.
1979-12-21 - Japan-ML-500R - 517 km/h (321 mph) (unmanned)
1987 - West Germany - TR-06 - 406 km/h (252 mph) (manned)
1987 - Japan - MLU001 - 401 km/h (249 mph) (manned)
1988 - West Germany - TR-06 - 413 km/h (257 mph) (manned)
1989 - West Germany - TR-07 - 436 km/h (271 mph) (manned)
1993 - Germany - TR-07 - 450 km/h (280 mph) (manned)
1994 - Japan - MLU002N - 431 km/h (268 mph) (unmanned)
1997 - Japan - MLX01 - 531 km/h (330 mph) (manned)
1997 - Japan - MLX01 - 550 km/h (340 mph) (unmanned)
1999 - Japan - MLX01 - 552 km/h (343 mph) (manned/five-car formation).
2003 - China - Transrapid SMT (built in Germany) - 501 km/h (311 mph) (manned/three formation)
2003 - China - Transrapid SMT 476 km/h (296 mph) (unmanned)
2003 - Japan - MLX01 - 581 km/h (361 mph) (manned/three formation). Guinness authorization.[60]
 
2014-02-19 11:10:56 PM  
 
2014-02-19 11:13:27 PM  
"Maglev trains float on a cushion of air, eliminating friction. This lack of friction and the trains' aerodynamic designs allow these trains to reach unprecedented ground transportation speeds of more than 310 mph (500 kph), or twice as fast as Amtrak's fastest commuter train. In comparison, a Boeing-777 reach a top speed of about 562 mph (905 kph).
 
2014-02-19 11:13:29 PM  

jrkeenan65: The laws of phisics would say that it would take the same expenditure of energy to get you from point A to point B no matter how you do it. The same amount of fuel would be used weather or not your on a plane or train.


Not really. Drag increases as the square of velocity, so that counts drastically against a plane. Also, you're forgetting that a train isn't lifting you, everything you brought, and itself 40,000 feet in the air. That all takes energy.
 
2014-02-19 11:14:11 PM  
"
 
2014-02-19 11:19:27 PM  

OOBE Juan Kenobi: redmid17: Nothing wrong with travel being but of tthe vacation, but trains are going to cost as much time as the vacation unless you're going somewhere close or going someone for over a week, which most people can't or don't swing.

It only takes 4 days driving from coast to coast in a car, going 70 - 80 MPR average... A maglev goes 3X as fast...

History of maglev speed records:
1971 - West Germany - Prinzipfahrzeug - 90 km/h (56 mph)
1971 - West Germany - http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=TR-02&action=edit&redlink=1"
1972 - Japan - ML100 - 60 km/h (37 mph) - (manned)
1973 - West Germany - TR04 - 250 km/h (160 mph) (manned)
1974 - West Germany - EET-01 - 230 km/h (140 mph) (unmanned)
1975 - West Germany - Komet - 401 km/h (249 mph) (by steam rocket propulsion, unmanned)
1978 - Japan -
1978 - Japan - HSST-02 - 110 km/h (68 mph) (manned)
1979-12-12 - Japan-ML-500R - 504 km/h (313 mph) (unmanned) It succeeds in operation over 500 km/h for the first time in the world.
1979-12-21 - Japan-ML-500R - 517 km/h (321 mph) (unmanned)
1987 - West Germany - TR-06 - 406 km/h (252 mph) (manned)
1987 - Japan - MLU001 - 401 km/h (249 mph) (manned)
1988 - West Germany - TR-06 - 413 km/h (257 mph) (manned)
1989 - West Germany - TR-07 - 436 km/h (271 mph) (manned)
1993 - Germany - TR-07 - 450 km/h (280 mph) (manned)
1994 - Japan - MLU002N - 431 km/h (268 mph) (unmanned)
1997 - Japan - MLX01 - 531 km/h (330 mph) (manned)
1997 - Japan - MLX01 - 550 km/h (340 mph) (unmanned)
1999 - Japan - MLX01 - 552 km/h (343 mph) (manned/five-car formation).
2003 - China - Transrapid SMT (built in Germany) - 501 km/h (311 mph) (manned/three formation)
2003 - China - Transrapid SMT 476 km/h (296 mph) (unmanned)
2003 - Japan - MLX01 - 581 km/h (361 mph) (manned/three formation). Guinness authorization.[60]


Great now if we can actually get a decent maglev proposal going outside of DC to NYC, then we can start talking about cross country. The ones you listed are also relatively short runs. Nothing wrong with that. Gotta start somewhere but when we're talking about 2500-3000 miles here.
 
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