A more realistic (IMO) AHC: US Metro/Regional Transit as good as in Europe.

More importantly, though, whether or not Congress will appropriate money for HSR is completely irrelevant considering that I was discussing the prospect for HSR in the 1950s and 1960s, when passenger operations were mostly privately run and Amtrak didn't yet exist. The PRR had a lot of problems, but whether or not Congress would appropriate funds for it to buy new railcars was not really one of them, and they certainly did not face Congressional mandates on where services would or would not run. Again, the Metroliners, developed in the 1960s and put into service in 1969, were intended to operate at 150+ mph in regular service, which is HSR under any definition, and they were funded (50%) and operated by a private company until the formation of Amtrak. That type of thing will probably look more attractive to the railroads if passenger railroading is at least approximately holding its own due to high oil prices suppressing air travel and (to a lesser extent) car travel instead of falling apart.
Even then it better be much, much cheaper than today in real dollars. I can't see Congress handing out 50,000 2021 real dollars per passenger per year so Michael in NJ can see his kid 1/2 hour more a day.
 
Actually in sense they did have to get goverment approval for many things like abandonment's of lines and where limited in how much they could charge for services. It wasn't until 1980 with a major relaxation of regulations that railroads had full control over their operations.
 
Actually in sense they did have to get goverment approval for many things like abandonment's of lines and where limited in how much they could charge for services. It wasn't until 1980 with a major relaxation of regulations that railroads had full control over their operations.
Yeah, doing that earlier would have helped.
 
Not too much regret by the average person otherwise it would have been changed. We are talking a half century or so to fix it if a significant number of people cared enough. Part of the problem is that a lot of the elites pushing for it are massively hypocritical.

The most obvious one IMO is Al Gore. He likes to talk about the environment and yet shows up to these environmental conferences after flying in by private jet as does Robert Kennedy Jr. though these events are made months in advance. They could easily go by Amtrak. They could even go in first class or business class for all I care. The fact they don't gives the message "Amtrak is for the little people, important people like us use private planes." People like Al Gore or Robert Kennedy Jr being seen to go to their Green conferences on Amtrak would give it a boost in prestige. When you complain about people driving SUVs you can't go everywhere by private jet. Having the Green Glitterati being seen using Amtrak and other public transportation would give it some glamour.

Al Gore is a hypocrite and an asshole in many other ways, but I honestly don’t blame him for the private jet use. The simple truth is that he is not just like us, he’s the former Vice President of the United States and a national figure who has security threats the rest of us just don’t have to worry about. Trains are great for the public, but they’re also easy to derail/stop/ambush in isolated locations, they’re full of unsecured people and luggage, and they pass the exact same areas time after time down to the minute. I do understand why Al Gore might say yes, people should generally go on public transit, but I genuinely have special circumstances that the vast majority of people don’t, and I have the ability to effect systemic change at a level most people don’t, so it’s better that I do my work creating things like An Inconvenient Truth and publicly campaigning even if I have to travel in private jets that I pay for. Ditto for DiCaprio; rich Hollywood people have too many weirdos, stalkers, and scammers after them. If you wanna know what can happen to those sorts of people when they don’t pay enough attention to their security, see John Lennon, Sharon Tate, Rebecca Schaefer, Selena, Enya’s stalkers, Jodie Foster’s close calls...

The fact that Gore’s house uses like thirty times more electricity than the average American’s on the other hand, yeah that’s pretty indefensible.

This is exaggerated. Distances in the Eastern United States really aren't so bad--the part of the country east of the Mississippi covers some 850 000 square miles, fairly comparable to Western and Central Europe. The overall population is lower, of course, but still comprises (today) about 180 million people and 58% of the U.S. population; in the 1950s this probably would have been just as or even more true (since the Sunbelt states hadn't taken off yet and a greater proportion of the population lived in the Northeast and cis-Mississippi Midwest). Certainly electrification of those areas is feasible, and the Milwaukee Road electrified substantial portions of their Pacific Extension so it's not wholly out of the question for even some Western areas to be electrified. Of course, the economic value of that was...questionable, but it shows that it was possible, and it would probably have been more economically feasible if diesel locomotives were less competitive. Actually, there were a number of electrified segments that were dismantled in the 1950s due to the advent of diesels that may have been retained or expanded if diesels were economically infeasible or less competitive, though many of those were for special purposes (e.g., going through a tunnel).

This also sort of answers the comment about HSR, i.e. it's actually quite feasible in the U.S. context if you look at where the possible markets are. Since we're discussing a pre-Amtrak, (somewhat) private-led system, there is not really any political pressure to create an "everywhere" network, and upgrades to the existing system are quite capable of reaching true HSR speeds, as with Acela...or, more relevantly, the Metroliners of OTL, which were intended to be able to reach 150 mph speeds, just as high as the Acelas and faster than the contemporary Shinkansen Series 0 transets (which could "only" reach maximum speeds of about 130 mph). Alas, they proved to be unreliable in practice and between that and infrastructure conditions only ran at 100-120 mph for a decade and a half before being replaced by slower locomotive-drawn trains. Still, they show that it was possible to achieve high-speed rail in the United States even IOTL with relatively minor changes (fixing up the track and catenary and introducing a more reliable Mark 2 version are not enormous changes), and with airlines taking a hit Metroliner-type projects are certainly going to look more feasible. This is not as irrelevant as it might seem to a thread specifically about commuter systems, since most of the commuter systems were run by mainline railroads and so there would not be a sharp distinction between HSR and commuter systems (in addition to the fact that many HSR systems get a fair amount of their traffic from long-distance commuter travel anyway, i.e. consider someone living in Providence and riding the HSR to Boston or New York).

(Also in this connection, note that the Metroliners were originally procured by the PRR, a mainline railroad, and SEPTA, Philadelphia's transit agency...)

Pushing it back 20 years (i.e., the craze taking off basically in the early/mid-50s) is a bit much. There was a lot of interest in commercializing nuclear power, but it took and will take time to build test reactors, weed out bad ideas (like organic-moderated reactors), and get a sense of what works and what doesn't, not to mention that there will be ongoing shifts and realizations about plant safety that will gum up the works. Additionally, in the 1950s and even the 1960s there was a big concern about the world not having enough uranium that only really got alleviated by ongoing discoveries of new resources that could be developed. That might be sped up somewhat, but there was a lot of interest in finding more uranium even IOTL, so probably not that much. Given that coal isn't going to directly be affected by oil prices, accelerating the nuclear boom quite so much is unlikely. It will probably still take off earlier than OTL, though, but more in the mid-1960s than the 1950s.

Big cable car expansion is unlikely, if only because the infrastructure burden is a little weird and cable cars are not really very good for many applications. But the Key System is unlikely to go anywhere if oil prices are 3-5 times higher in the 1950s and may be directly transformed into BART (as in, the land and some of the infrastructure reused to build a heavy rail system) instead of being dismantled and then BART built over the next fifteen years. You're also unlikely to see Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Clara withdraw or decline to participate in *BART, since the approach of expressways and cars everywhere is obviously not as workable.

Yeah, that’s why I specified commuter lines. I acknowledge it could work in the northeast and a couple other places, but outside of that, no. The most populous areas of Europe are really small compared to the U.S. The entire nation of the UK with a fifth of the population of the U.S. is smaller than Utah. Fifty six million of its inhabitants live in England specifically, an area the size of Mississippi (one sixth of the U.S. population). Germany has a quarter of the U.S. population in an area the size of New Mexico. France has about a fifth of it in a space about 20% smaller than the state of Texas. You get the idea. It’s not just land area, it’s population, specifically having a ton of it in a very tight space. It’s not a coincidence that the vast majority of HSR in Europe is in the west where it’s really dense. If you look at a map of the lines, it pretty much totally peters out east of Berlin (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hig...ia/File:High_Speed_Railroad_Map_of_Europe.svg ). There is very little of it in central and Eastern Europe; there are trains go 100-120 miles an hour, but not true HSR.

There’s exactly one place in the U.S. that can really match those density conditions: the Northeast Megalopolis. I agree with you that HSR is a good and viable option there. Outside of that, with very few exceptions, no. Electrification is too expensive and maintenance intensive to cover pretty much anything west of the Mississippi that isn’t shorter distance local stuff like Caltrains and BART, and it’s the same even in most places east of it.

If Chinese and Indian sources can be exploited though, that really opens it up because they had quite a bit. I’m not sure if it couldn’t be pushed that far back. Calder Hall was producing electricity commercially in 1956, and the navy had nuclear reactors miniaturized enough that they were putting them on submarines years before that. The main reason it seems to have happened was that they were short of uranium as you say, they needed available reactors to produce weapons grade plutonium, and fossil fuels were so cheap that they didn’t need to bother with the extra expense of building plants primarily for power generation in the 50s. You saw how quickly that changed as soon as the oil crisis happened; push it back 20 years, and you can push the incentive to build a lot of Calder Halls back 20 years.

Yeah, cable cars are probably too antiquated at this point to compete even with SF’s rolling elevation. An earlier BART would be interesting, it might be easier to build at this point in time. The OTL construction was a total shitshow and makes it look pretty smart for those counties to have opted out. Probably be better if it was done by the state.
 
Al Gore is a hypocrite and an asshole in many other ways, but I honestly don’t blame him for the private jet use. The simple truth is that he is not just like us, he’s the former Vice President of the United States and a national figure who has security threats the rest of us just don’t have to worry about. Trains are great for the public, but they’re also easy to derail/stop/ambush in isolated locations, they’re full of unsecured people and luggage, and they pass the exact same areas time after time down to the minute. I do understand why Al Gore might say yes, people should generally go on public transit, but I genuinely have special circumstances that the vast majority of people don’t, and I have the ability to effect systemic change at a level most people don’t, so it’s better that I do my work creating things like An Inconvenient Truth and publicly campaigning even if I have to travel in private jets that I pay for. Ditto for DiCaprio; rich Hollywood people have too many weirdos, stalkers, and scammers after them. If you wanna know what can happen to those sorts of people when they don’t pay enough attention to their security, see John Lennon, Sharon Tate, Rebecca Schaefer, Selena, Enya’s stalkers, Jodie Foster’s close calls...
I'm not saying that they should leave their bodyguards behind.
 
Yeah, that’s why I specified commuter lines. I acknowledge it could work in the northeast and a couple other places, but outside of that, no. The most populous areas of Europe are really small compared to the U.S. The entire nation of the UK with a fifth of the population of the U.S. is smaller than Utah. Fifty six million of its inhabitants live in England specifically, an area the size of Mississippi (one sixth of the U.S. population). Germany has a quarter of the U.S. population in an area the size of New Mexico. France has about a fifth of it in a space about 20% smaller than the state of Texas. You get the idea. It’s not just land area, it’s population, specifically having a ton of it in a very tight space. It’s not a coincidence that the vast majority of HSR in Europe is in the west where it’s really dense. If you look at a map of the lines, it pretty much totally peters out east of Berlin (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail_in_Europe#/media/File:High_Speed_Railroad_Map_of_Europe.svg ). There is very little of it in central and Eastern Europe; there are trains go 100-120 miles an hour, but not true HSR.
Central and Eastern Europe are also the poorest portions of the continent for various historical reasons, so I'm not sure this proves much. In any case, while your analysis sounds plausible at some level, more thorough analyses I've seen (that attempt to model ridership between city pairs rather than use estimates of feasibility based on population density) have indicated that there are in fact significant regions of the country (not the whole of it) where HSR is reasonably feasible (Texas, California, Florida--more so nowadays, of course--and pretty good chunks of the Midwest and Southeast, too, besides the NEC). (You should also note that I went to the trouble of pointing out that there is a substantial population east of the Mississippi as well, not just citing land area)

This is getting rather afield from the subject of discussion, though.

Electrification is too expensive and maintenance intensive to cover pretty much anything west of the Mississippi that isn’t shorter distance local stuff like Caltrains and BART, and it’s the same even in most places east of it.
The reason I brought up land area at all earlier was to point out that the parts of the country that are east of the Mississippi are roughly similar in land area to the portions of Europe that are almost 100% electrified, including (and particularly) the non-HSR lines that carry a fair amount of freight. Thus, it does not seem ipso facto unreasonable to me that this part of the country could similarly be 100% electrified. That is, your earlier statement that "the distances are so crazy long" is not really true in the eastern part of the country, where the distances are in fact comparable to those in Western Europe.

I agree that electrifying most of the West is at least not obviously feasible, but if the right combination of circumstances comes into play it's not unimaginable. And this scenario has a lot of those circumstances; oil is expensive, steam is aging, electricity might actually be cheap...the great unknown is the relative magnitude of those factors. Certainly electrification is something that might receive a bit more study than IOTL, east or west of the Mississippi.

If Chinese and Indian sources can be exploited though, that really opens it up because they had quite a bit. I’m not sure if it couldn’t be pushed that far back. Calder Hall was producing electricity commercially in 1956, and the navy had nuclear reactors miniaturized enough that they were putting them on submarines years before that. The main reason it seems to have happened was that they were short of uranium as you say, they needed available reactors to produce weapons grade plutonium, and fossil fuels were so cheap that they didn’t need to bother with the extra expense of building plants primarily for power generation in the 50s. You saw how quickly that changed as soon as the oil crisis happened; push it back 20 years, and you can push the incentive to build a lot of Calder Halls back 20 years.
Sources of what, coal? Uranium? India and China don't have a lot of uranium AFAIK (India does have a lot of thorium), that's more Australia and Canada (among non-Communist countries). I guess this could incentivize thorium plants, since there was never any question of there being a lot of thorium around, but those require a lot of complicated chemistry and resulting R&D to ensure that (for instance) thorium salts aren't going to corrode their way through the reactor vessel, so I suspect that they'll end up falling before PWR/BWR.

And I think you're misinterpreting some of the historical data. First of all, the Navy's reactors weren't "miniaturized" in a nuclear sense; they were of a similar scale to other contemporary reactors (the Hanford "B" reactor had been 250 MWt, whereas the S2W reactor installed in Nautilus was 70 MWt; by contrast, the Chicago Pile had a power of about 1-200 W--yes, just watts). This is important, because it turns out that commercial power reactors are much more economical when they're built larger--significantly larger--than the Nautilus reactor, usually at the scale of a few gigawatts of thermal power (ergo 500-1500 megawatts of electrical power output), and that scaling up a nuclear reactor is not trivial. Second, while the Navy did build several nuclear-powered submarines in the 1950s, it took some time and quite a bit of experimentation with different reactor and submarine designs before they had a good handle on what they wanted from a nuclear submarine. The USS Nautilus was commissioned in 1954, but the first production nuclear submarines, the Skipjack-class boats, didn't enter service until 1959, about five years later (there was a similar gap between when the Nautilus was ordered, in 1951, and when the Skipjack was ordered, in 1956). It took more like a decade for the civilian nuclear power program to move from small-scale prototypes into large-scale operating plants, but while that could probably be compressed it couldn't be eliminated. Five years (so, "production" plants being built by about 1962-63 instead of 1967-68) would probably be a good estimate if it was a top-tier national priority like nuclear submarines were and you ended up with a bunch of different demonstration and test plants being built simultaneously.

Also, the need to produce plutonium wasn't really that big a factor, at least not in the United States. The Hanford Site and Savannah River Sites were already turning out all of the plutonium the bomb program could possibly want. It was really more about resolving what designs would be built and getting "lessons learned" so that commercial plants could be cost-effective (not that this worked particularly well for multiple reasons, but the pattern of activity is fairly clear). There was also a lot of interesting AEC politics involved, particularly around the choice of operating cycle, which is why you had some pretty weird plants built in the first 5-10 years after Shippingport. Again, this could be sped up if it was a national priority (you already had certain figures in the AEC idolizing Rickover and taking a similar tack of simply declaring what designs would be adopted), but it couldn't be totally eliminated.

And the cheapness of fossil fuels was, in a perverse sense, a benefit to nuclear power. See, a lot of the justification for nuclear power came from the constant, significant increases in per-capita energy demand that had occurred during the 1950s and 1960s (as I said earlier, "8% per year"). The idea was that per-capita demand for electricity was going to go up forever, so you needed a ton of new capacity, and, well, nuclear is the new shiny. Critically, this means that nuclear was not directly competing with existing power plants, since demand was going up so fast that you would need both. For this reason, nuclear power actually started taking off in a big way around 1966-1967. But then 1973 happened and abruptly per-capita energy use stopped going up; in fact, it actually started going down because of all of the efficiency measures people were taking, so that nowadays U.S. per capita energy usage is about as high as it was in 1967-1968 and considerably lower than the 1973 peak. This meant that, first, demand was much lower than forecast and, second, that new nuclear would be displacing existing plants, instead of supplementing them, which is a much harder economic row to hoe...especially since (unrelatedly) nuclear plants were also getting much more expensive for various reasons. For this reason, nuclear power actually started to decline after 1973--it took a while to play out, of course, but the rate of new plant orders decreased and eventually many plants began to be cancelled. Efficiency really matters! Of course, China and India taking off in the 1950s instead of the 1990s and driving oil prices up will have something of the same effect in driving people to look for efficiency, so I could see the same kind of thing happening earlier, possibly much earlier.

Now, in China and India energy usage is going to be exploding no matter what, so they're not going to have this issue, and surely will build a lot of nuclear power plants...but in the United States, a focus on higher efficiency, for example through wider use of mass transit (or, more directly relevantly, more efficient appliances, more insulation, better-designed buildings, etc.) is likely to lead to a massive slowdown in energy demand growth, as OTL. It really can't be overstated how significant the effect of the 1970s on overall energy demand was. Such a slowdown could very well have a significant chilling effect on nuclear power, as OTL, especially if plants start getting more expensive as they did IOTL (which is reasonably likely to happen, since they have in most countries). On the other hand, there could also be a push to switch to electricity for various applications that used oil (or gas) IOTL, like heating, and there are new electricity-using appliances that people want, and mass transit is more likely to use electricity, so for electrical grids the situation could still benefit nuclear. But despite my earlier statements I really could see either nuclear booming like crazy, or completely sputtering out because there's plenty of coal and no expectation that demand is going to skyrocket now.
 
So this thread seems to have been hijacked back to HSR. As JohnRankins said, HSR is useless without the local rail net being in place. That said, we had that rail net back in the first half of the 20th century with the interurban lines. I case in point, from fiction, is in Ragtime Tateh and his daughter took interlinked interurban trains from NYC to Boston as an alternative to high-priced mainline trains. The point is not that interurbans could replace mainline trains but that the local networks had the infrastructure to move people across and between metro areas and surrounding suburbs and small towns. IIRC Indiana had one of the best interurban systems linking Indianapolis and the surrounding area. So the key is constructing a POD to conserve these networks along with passenger traffic on the mainlines. I don't know if I buy the consporacy theory that GM made deals with devils to force the abandonment of lite rail for buses, but that process clearly spelled doom for the interurbans. IIRC the interurban systems were local and popular, but the mainline RR's were hated by much of the population, especially in the Midwest and West, because of their arrogance and shady practices in the late 19th century. That's why they were so tightly regulated and anything the mainlines would propose would be instantly opposed by much of the population. I am not sure what the specific POD would be, but that is the target: Preserve the pre-WWI and inter-war interurban systems through the 1960's and on. We had it, and we lost it.
 
Robert Moses embracing mass transit so the poors didn’t clutter up his streets because he learns of and understands induced demand theory is a plausible turning point. Moses was the foremost influence on American highway and city planning for nearly half a century. If he builds all his roads/bridges with integrated subways & commuter rail that will result in massive American uptake. Los Angeles and Seattle probably get those lovely monorails to boot.

Ideally as noted in the thread WWII is avoided straight up, or at least is a lot shorter. That keeps oil prices higher and the world quite a lot richer. So more roads sure, but now with Moses in the USA having built a ton of rail (also pushing down prices on equipment for other operators looking to copy) they’re thinking networks as they develop suburbs.
 
No no no no no...
The car helped creat our suburbs (not sure why so many folks have issues with them) but it was our huge amounts of land that truly caused them. pe prefer houses and land to apartments and sidewalks. This is true in Europe and it is true in Great Britain and it is true in North and South America. Give folks some money and inexpensive land and the WILL move to it if they can. So short of eliminating the car (ASB) or making land in the US to expensive to own (also ASB) you are going to get the suburban spread, (and I know not everyone wants land but not every lives in a suburb)
But this is besides the point. A good local mass transit system has nothing to do with HSR. It slightly helps that you don’t need a car on the other end but if you use Avignon as an example the TGV station is well out in the sprawling part not close to the city center of the old town and has no subway connected to it, but it does have at least 4 different car rental offices attached to it. And Tours France while in the old town has several rental locations close buy as well. So you do not need local mass transit to have HSR. What you need are several things that the US has but in limited amounts,
Cities close enough together to form a practical route. NY to Chicago is frankly to far, for example.
Cities with enough folks wanting to travel between them.
A government willing to pay to build the system
A government willing to pay to subsidize the system (many if not most lines do NOT pay for themselves)

This is the problem the US is Huge. It is basically the EU and our states are close to be individual counties. This is the problem. In Europe France and Germany (to name two) build up HSR slowly in there own country, they didn’t ask Finland or Spain or England to pay for it. In the US our States want other states to help pay for a system that will NEVER be of use to them. Why should Montana or Alaska pay for HSR between SD and LA? So logically the states NOT getting the HSR vote no. In order to get them on board you would need to pay them off with something so you now need to give almost half the country something of equal worth to what California or whatever state is getting HSR so you just increased the cost by 4 to 20 times. And it was extremely expensive to start with,
And you need to keep giving them something so they pay to run it unless you happen to have one of the somewhat rare profitable lines.

And no we come to the real rub... Frankly HSR is way way way over hyped. I have been on it in 5 different countries in Europe and I was not impressed. The only route that was good was the EuroStar. The rest of them we ok at best. Some lines were just not good and about half the time I was late by 10+ minutes and 20 of the time by more then half an hour, And twice by more then an hour, And yes this includes Germany. (35 minutes late departing on a train that arrived at my destination 75 minutes late.
The stations are not friendly to handicapped and elderly. (Even the new ones) several times the cars were not that well kept (mostly the TGV) and I am talking 1st class cars.
And in more then a few cases I would have been better off driving as it would have been just as fast and worked on my schedule. But either I didn’t have a car because was a tourist or I drank the coolaid and dropped my car on one end and rented another at the other end, In that case I should have drove. Would have been faster (even before the 1.5 hour delay) would have not left me stranded in my destination because the rental placed closed and my train was late and I would have been on my schedule and had better views (the TGV routs are not selected for views)

The better question for an Alt history is what if the myth of how wonderful HSR is never got traction on this board.... what other topics would we have?
 
So this thread seems to have been hijacked back to HSR. As JohnRankins said, HSR is useless without the local rail net being in place. That said, we had that rail net back in the first half of the 20th century with the interurban lines. I case in point, from fiction, is in Ragtime Tateh and his daughter took interlinked interurban trains from NYC to Boston as an alternative to high-priced mainline trains. The point is not that interurbans could replace mainline trains but that the local networks had the infrastructure to move people across and between metro areas and surrounding suburbs and small towns. IIRC Indiana had one of the best interurban systems linking Indianapolis and the surrounding area. So the key is constructing a POD to conserve these networks along with passenger traffic on the mainlines. I don't know if I buy the consporacy theory that GM made deals with devils to force the abandonment of lite rail for buses, but that process clearly spelled doom for the interurbans. IIRC the interurban systems were local and popular, but the mainline RR's were hated by much of the population, especially in the Midwest and West, because of their arrogance and shady practices in the late 19th century. That's why they were so tightly regulated and anything the mainlines would propose would be instantly opposed by much of the population. I am not sure what the specific POD would be, but that is the target: Preserve the pre-WWI and inter-war interurban systems through the 1960's and on. We had it, and we lost it.

What happened with GM is it bought up a lot of light rail that was already dying and shut that down and replaced it with buses . One of the problems is that a lot of that light rail was price controlled by the local government and they never seemed to want to raise the price over a nickel ( a reasonable price when the systems started) though the cost of running them kept going up and up. One way of saving light transit might ironically be letting the price go up.
 
Exactly. Government really made mess of mass transit in the US in many places. The railroads had so many problems that by the 50's it's probably too late to save many of the railroads that would go bankrupt. In my view the 1920's are latest any kind of national planning had a chance. After that too many other things took precedence for all. The main issues in my opinion was a lack of vision by all concerned at what they needed to do.
 
Can we end the myth that GM destroyed light rail? The truth if you look into it is that usually the local trolly system was dying and the local government took it over when it was about to go belly up. The pay ran it for a while. And if it lived long enough it may have gotten a boost by WW2 gas and rubber restrictions. But ultimately the cost was to much for the local government to keep up so they looked at cheeper options. GM had its busses but buying a fleet of busses is not cheep, So GM took various parts of the trolly system as a sort of trade in for the busses.
But even without GM those systems were dead they just didn’t know it yet.

As for the idea of starting off HSR in the time when for profit comp ran the railroad passenger bit.... Well that is an utter joke. From the 20s in Local passenger trains were on the way out. The car was just a better option for too many people and as such the local passenger train was losing money. In a few cases the mail system helped with the cost but that was typically only one train a day. And local trains need to run more then once a day,
As for long distance that started getting in trouble from airlines who could get you there faster. Not that most railroads made much (if any) money from long distance passenger trains. The truth is most used them as advertising and just want to not lose a lot on them. So you are NOT getting private railroads to spend a fortune building HSR for passengers. They moved freight and that is where the profit was,

And if you think a HSR can turn a profit show me a system that isn’t propped up by the government, Either they maintain the right of way or they built it out he subsidies it somehow....

And as I have said repeatedly in the US you are not getting a line here and a line there paid for by the federal government as the vast majority of states that get nothing won’t vote for it
 
As for long distance that started getting in trouble from airlines who could get you there faster.
And, very significantly, considering that the entire premise of the discussion we were having was significantly higher oil prices at the time due to more rapid development of India and China, for a similar price. For example, the best information that I can find shows that TWA charged $33 for a flight from New York to Chicago in 1955, versus $32.70 for the 20th Century Limited (connecting the same pair of cities) in 1912. Presumably, the latter fare was at least as high in 1955, so you're paying the same fare for a trip that's 66% shorter. Not hard to see why airplanes might have been attractive.

But, if oil prices are 4-5 times higher (as was the premise of the discussion), then airlines are not going to be able to charge only $33 for that flight given how sensitive they are to fuel prices. In fact, the fare is likely to be a few times higher, as it seems to have been in the 1930s. Sure, airplanes are still faster than taking the train, but that kind of price premium will limit them to business and luxury sectors where the time factor outweighs the cost factor. That's what led me to consider the possibility of railroads investing in any kind of high-speed rail at all, since their main competitors would be totally kneecapped and it's actually somewhere in the realm of conceivable that it could be attractive unlike IOTL.
 

marathag

Banned
. That's what led me to consider the possibility of railroads investing in any kind of high-speed rail at all, since their main competitors would be totally kneecapped
Higher prices on jet fuel, are linked to higher prices on Diesel.
Higher prices hurt both industries when fuel prices go crazy
 
One thing we could do is eliminate funding to airports that have less than 100 passengers a day on average and put that money into metro transport. I don't know how much money it would be , but it would be at least something of a start.
 
Higher prices on jet fuel, are linked to higher prices on Diesel.
Higher prices hurt both industries when fuel prices go crazy
First, railroads are much less sensitive to fuel prices than aircraft, since railroad engines are more efficient than aircraft and generally speaking fuel costs are responsible for a lower share of operating costs than for airlines. True, diesel engines in the 1950s were less efficient than they are now...but airplanes were also (considerably) less efficient than they are now, so this is something of a wash.

Second, we were discussing the 1945-1960 period, when diesel was a smaller (but rapidly growing) share of rail motive power and steam (mostly) was a far larger share of motive power (though rapidly declining, to virtually vanish by the end of the period). In fact, there was a large and closely related discussion over whether such a large increase in fuel prices would kill dieselization by making switching to diesel power uneconomical. Even if it didn't, though, railroads would be more sensitive to coal prices than to oil prices early on, shifting later towards being more sensitive to oil and less sensitive to coal prices; and if it did, they mostly would only be indirectly sensitive to oil prices at most (with some exceptions for oil-fired steam locomotives). Therefore, they have a substantial advantage over airlines in fuel prices, even more so in places such as the NEC that were partially electrified.
 
No no no no no...
The car helped creat our suburbs (not sure why so many folks have issues with them) but it was our huge amounts of land that truly caused them. pe prefer houses and land to apartments and sidewalks. This is true in Europe and it is true in Great Britain and it is true in North and South America. Give folks some money and inexpensive land and the WILL move to it if they can. So short of eliminating the car (ASB) or making land in the US to expensive to own (also ASB) you are going to get the suburban spread, (and I know not everyone wants land but not every lives in a suburb)
Except countries in Europe kept more mass transit than the US in their suburbs, and having neighborhoods that are only usable by car created a huge amount of traffic congestion and other problems. So no, that does not mean it will always be preferred or that mass transit (or walking, or biking) is doomed in much of the US.
 
From my own ignorant perspective if there was a POD of 1945 when the effects of the massive overuse of the rail system because of WW II became too much of strain for the existing railways there was a program for the federal government to help finance the rebuilding of the rail network and in return the government gets right of way for passenger rail.
The railways basically were losing money on passenger traffic and were forced to carry them as part the granting of right of ways.
What should have been done is to think of the transportation system as a whole that integrates highways, airports, and trains in to an interconnected model.
In a return for a direct cash infusion the federal government buys certain tracks that can be turned to a dedicated passenger rail network.
The major problem of passenger rail is the sharing of tracks with freight rail and many times the passenger trains are shunted aside in favor of freight trains and throws off the timetables.
I think that having a national passenger rail network along side having commuter and regional rails that connects with each other as an example having a national rail network that has a stop in Denver, CO that connects directly with a Front Range regional rail system that goes from Cheyenne, WY to Pueblo, Co could be popular.
 
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