US Rail System Transportation?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Modern Imperialism, Apr 30, 2019.

  1. Simon Thread Killer Extraordinaire

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    For Chicago at least I'd want to see what if any price difference there was between the construction/running of maglev and regular electric trains. I could definitely support a dedicated tunnel between O'Hare and downtown Chicago–likely the most expensive part of any scheme–due to how bad the traffic can get at times, but unless maglev wasn't much more expensive I'm not sure it would be worth it at that distance.
     
  2. Mark E. Well-Known Member

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    Consider where the money has and has not gone. This is where the BNSF (originally Santa Fe) double-track trunk line crosses the Mississippi River in Fort Madison, Iowa on its run between Chicago and Los Angeles. It is 92 years old. It is a swing span draw bridge that opens for river traffic. The top deck is a 2-lane highway. Some 100 trains pass each day, two being the Amtrak Southwest Chief. (Remember the 1976 movie Silver Streak?) Now, wouldn’t it seem logical to take a vital link like this and elevate the bridge as Huey Long did in Louisiana? Go north and go south and there is no shortage of 4-lane highway bridges that are high enough not to require tenders to open them.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
  3. vl100butch Well-Known Member

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    I'd be curious to know what the speed limit is on this bridge. CN is building a new bridge on the east end of the Bonnet Carre Spillway north of New Orleans, it looks like a process that will take several years to complete, but a new bridge that should have a higher speed limit than the present one will be coming soon (now to get one on the west side as well)
     
  4. Mark E. Well-Known Member

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    I don't know, but since it dumps onto a congested area (photo on right), I would guess it is not very high. That's why I thought a higher bridge a few miles south might make sense. But there is no shortage of bridges on the upper Mississippi. There is a double-track lift span just north in Burlington, Iowa. There is a less-used single track in Keokuk, Iowa to the south. The next one down is the single-track elevated bridge in Quincy, Illinois that connects east to Chicago but only to a north-south line on the west side.
     
  5. phx1138 Bocagiste troll

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    I did say "brief".:rolleyes: (I'd say no more than a few seconds.) And I'd happily settle for less, if it could get a maglev to top speed in a reasonable distance (& back to zero in one). Call it the tradeoff for high speed. (Kind of like the tradeoff of security theatre for flying.)

    I wonder if your passenger was experiencing that much, or actually more; I'd have guessed more.
     
  6. Devvy Idiot. Donor

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    I don't normally bother posting in threads like this, as both camps are so firmly set in their ways and neither side will give way, but to help inform the debate...

    Experts and analysts conceptual Mid-West network looked like this in 2009, as a result of a lot of research, and calculations over actual data, by people far smarter then myself, or probably most people on this board.

    [​IMG]

    10 years to build that network, with further phases planned afterwards, with trains running at 200mph on each of the routes (outside the urban areas where station stops are). Services would be roughly hourly from Chicago to Minneapolis, St Lous, Cincinnati, Cleveland/Detroit. Roughly 2-hourly services would bypass central Chicago and call at O'Hare instead (the map does not reflect the airport loop well I know).

    Capital costs for all construction, trainsets, everything to get going was $68.5 billion (2009 US$).

    Planned times:
    Chicago - Milwaukee (inc. 2 stops): 2:45
    Chicago - St Louis (inc. 2 stops): 1:45
    Chicago - Detroit (inc. 1 stop): 1:55
    Chicago - Cleveland (inc. 1 stop): 2:10
    Chicago - Cincinnati (inc. 1 stop): 1:45

    Those kind of travel times would blow the short distance feeder airlines out of the water as the system includes an airport stop at O'Hare as well to act as a feeder "airline".

    Operating revenue would be an average of $4b per year after a 10 year slow rise as people adjusted to the new system. Roughly half would be customers switching from car, and about a quarter / a fourth would be switching from air transit. Adding in reduced CO2 emissions from cars and planes, congestion reduction, etc etc, the benefit to cost ratio was 1.46%, and a socio-economic rate of return at 6.9%. The system would be profitable (EBIT) after 5 years, in terms of operating of several billion dollars per year, thereby able to provide a repayment to capital costs if required, and able to be net profitable in the long term even after capital costs.
     
  7. Mark E. Well-Known Member

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    You mean Chicago to Minneapolis, don't you?
     
  8. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    Are these the same people that calculated the costs for CA HSR at a fraction of the cost before the next inevitable estimate hikes?
     
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  9. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    The 1938 Milwaukee Road Hiawatha
    1:00pm depart Chicago
    2:15 arrival Milwaukee, 85 miles 2min stop
    3:41 arrival Portage,WI, 177.9 miles 1min stop
    4:18 New Lisbon WI, 221 miles no stop
    5:09 arrival La Crosse,WI, 280.8 miles 3 min stop
    5:45 Winona, MN 307.5 miles no stop
    6:43 Red Wing, MN 369.9 miles no stop
    7:30 St. Paul, 410miles no stop
    8:00 Minneapolis arrival 421 miles

    7 hours, 60.1mph average speed.

    This is with few controlled crossings and much was APB (Absolute Permissive Block signaling) , not CTC. Steam Power, but streamlined. Nothing fancy for track, just mainline weight with some curves with superelevation.
     
  10. Riain Well-Known Member

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    True, even in the face of good evidence.
     
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  11. AJE Well-Known Member

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    That is actually an example of the route not being long enough. It only had enough distance to maintain top speed for about 1 minute, not that much faster than a slower and cheaper train. Anything longer, though, maybe 25+ miles (40 km), would probably be enough to take advantage of a 430 kph/268 mph maglev.

    I don't know if that would be accepted, and even then there is no real "top speed" on a vactrain of any reasonable distance. It's just whatever speed the train can accelerate up to before it has to start slowing down. That's why Planetran's top speed was 8,300 mph with 1/3 g and 14,000 mph with 1 g acceleration.

    I'd wait until SpaceX's point-to-point suborbital transport is in service before deciding on higher acceleration. If that is successful, then I would say that 2-3 g acceleration is acceptable to passengers and they'll take it (as they would have on Starship by then). If it's not, then I'd stick with 1/3 g acceleration. Until then I have no way of knowing if passengers would accept high accelerations in a TL with vactrains.

    Depends on which type of maglev is being built, in which era during a TL. Transrapid, SCMaglev, and other older maglevs are hopelessly expensive. Inductrack and others based on it from about 2000 onwards are much simpler in design and it was theoretically possible to make them cheaply, though testbeds were apparently still almost as expensive as those of older maglevs, so the lower cost wasn't achieved in practice. The maglevs from Hyperloop in 2013 onwards so far appear to have realized the potential Inductrack had, and they may be close or equal to regular trains in cost.
     
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  12. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    Don't hold your breath on that one
     
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  13. phx1138 Bocagiste troll

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    I'm thinking conventional, so maybe 0.7 Mach; vactube is a railway bridge too far for me.:openedeyewink:
     
  14. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    It must be nice to ignore realities like the fact there are things like budgets. :biggrin:
     
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  15. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    And regulations
     
  16. Devvy Idiot. Donor

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    I'm not sure if they are the same analysts, but I believe the CA system was proposed to be a straight SF-LA run, with costs calculated on that. When stations started being requested in the central valley, then costs started increasing for the large added cost to build the stations, divert the line accordingly if necessary, and it reduces the journey time & business case for the core SF-LA run. The very hilly regions at both end of the valley also are difficult to cross, with little scope for comparison against other HSR routes, as most run along rather flat regions.

    The Mid-West terrain is, in comparison, extremely flat, so much easier to build on. And as long as the plan isn't changed, then the plan financial plans stay the same. And as long as the private sector is building it; does it matter if it might go over estimates - it's a free economy/world right?
     
  17. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    No, the California HSR was always intended to go through the Central Valley. It's the flattest and straightest way to get from LA to SF. The residents of the Central Valley most certainly didn't request stations there. They didn't want it going through there at all.
     
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  18. Devvy Idiot. Donor

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    Just to clarify; the CA-HSR I was alluding to was always running via the Central Valley for exactly the reasons you mention. However, the addition of Central Valley stations, and rerouting of the line slightly to make the station stop in whatever position is what increased the price.

    I stand by the comments with regards to geography though; the terrain at each end of the Central Valley to access LA and SF themselves are extremely challenging, unlike the Mid-West which planned to use existing rail corridors.
     
  19. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    Not as flat as you think
    [​IMG]
    Anytime you have a more than 1% grade, it's a problem.[​IMG]
    Union Pacific was the Chicago and NorthWestern, Canadian Pacific took over Soo Lines, that had the Milwaukee track where both of those railroads had fast passenger service between Chicago and Twin Cities, along with the CB&Q(now part of BN-SF), but they followed the Mississippi after Prairie du Chein
    [​IMG]


    SE Minnesota and NE Iowa are similar. There's no new routes to use, you have to pick existing Right of Way
     
  20. Mark E. Well-Known Member

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    I noticed how many light rail systems are connecting cities to airport, many constructed fairly recently. Chicago had a subway/el-train network for decades but it did not connect to O’Hare Airport until after 1980. Since 1990, several new light rail systems have emerged, two very successful ones in Minneapolis and St. Louis. They link the airports, universities, Amtrak stations, downtowns, etc. very coherently. They don’t use maglev or high tech, they combine new construction with older rail lines, many unsuitable for modern trains (best example is the Eads Bridge in St. Louis, built 1874). They were built on local transit and bond issues, not billions in Federal outlay. More such links are opening up in Denver, Dallas, etc.

    I know the railroads in the fifties saw more profit in heavy freight than in time-critical passenger travel. But as I see it, the travelers, largely WW2 veterans, made the choice to abandon public ground transportation. Current generations seem to be doing otherwise with the light rail networks. This year, the Baby Boomers celebrate birthdays 55-73 and are thus still in positions of control, but the Xers and Millennials seem to be supporting the same logic.
     
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