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#21 Natanel

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 08:07 AM

the nyc - montreal train route is horrendously long. If they would make a high speed that would be amazing. Alas I doubt that will ever pass.
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#22 Diogenes The Cynic

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 10:01 AM

Where the cities are relatively close to each other, but just a little too far to make driving inconvienent, thats where it makes sense to add high speed commuter rail - while it might be fun to get to Chicago by train, its too far away to make sense. Adding high speed service from Chicago to Detroit and Milwaukee probably would make sense


If it made sense, and was affordable, why hasn't the free market already done it?
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#23 TimeRebbe

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 11:20 AM

If it made sense, and was affordable, why hasn't the free market already done it?


75% of the intercity and interstate railroads in the US date back to pre WWI in some form, most still use the old Right Of Ways, even if the track is newer. Purchasing the ROW = buying land. Very expensive. Building track is also very costly. Operating the rolling stock? also very expensive. Infrastructure costs a boatload of money, often more than the free market is willing to spend - hence governement subsidies. If commercial aviation relied solely on free market, with no government involvement, air travel as we know it wouldnt exist. Airports, flight corridors and airplanes are all built with some level of government involvement and money. Even amtrak doesn't turn a profit - and its been operating for years.
The best example is the NYC subway, half of which was built privately by the IRT and BMT in the early century. After a few decades, mass transit stopped being profitable, and the city had to take it over through the IND company (later the MTA) and build new, unprofitable routes. Why did they have to do that? because the economy relies heavily on people being able to get to and from work everyday, and relies on tourist shopping for tax revenue. In 2005 the MTA strike shutdown the subway for three days, which cost the city nearly a billion dollars in tax revenue - not including the income and payroll taxes from companies. Yet, the operating cost is probably well over a million dollars a day, maybe even 10 mill, and its government funded.

For heavy infrastructure, the free market will be largely absent from the equation since its just not profitable enough. but its still necessary.
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#24 Eliyahu

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 03:41 PM

75% of the intercity and interstate railroads in the US date back to pre WWI in some form, most still use the old Right Of Ways, even if the track is newer. Purchasing the ROW = buying land. Very expensive. Building track is also very costly. Operating the rolling stock? also very expensive. Infrastructure costs a boatload of money, often more than the free market is willing to spend - hence governement subsidies. If commercial aviation relied solely on free market, with no government involvement, air travel as we know it wouldnt exist. Airports, flight corridors and airplanes are all built with some level of government involvement and money. Even amtrak doesn't turn a profit - and its been operating for years.
The best example is the NYC subway, half of which was built privately by the IRT and BMT in the early century. After a few decades, mass transit stopped being profitable, and the city had to take it over through the IND company (later the MTA) and build new, unprofitable routes. Why did they have to do that? because the economy relies heavily on people being able to get to and from work everyday, and relies on tourist shopping for tax revenue. In 2005 the MTA strike shutdown the subway for three days, which cost the city nearly a billion dollars in tax revenue - not including the income and payroll taxes from companies. Yet, the operating cost is probably well over a million dollars a day, maybe even 10 mill, and its government funded.

For heavy infrastructure, the free market will be largely absent from the equation since its just not profitable enough. but its still necessary.

I'll expand on this a bit. Most current US railroads were built prior to 1900 with no environmental regulation and heavy government subsidy in the form of land grants. The railroads were granted X number of acres per mile of track laid.
Compare to today with excessive environmental regulation and NIMBYs, and it would cost millions of dollars per mile largely in litigation costs. At $3 million per mile (a realistic low-end estimate) it would cost over $750 million to run the rails between Houston and Dallas. Then you have to buy the equipment and maintain everything, and pay the property taxes on it, it would be a money pit.
Contrast this with Europe, where the rail lines are government owned (leased to private companies to operate), 'private property' is owned by the government and leased to the 'owners', and cities are MUCH closer together.

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#25 Diogenes The Cynic

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 04:30 PM

75% of the intercity and interstate railroads in the US date back to pre WWI in some form, most still use the old Right Of Ways, even if the track is newer. Purchasing the ROW = buying land. Very expensive. Building track is also very costly. Operating the rolling stock? also very expensive. Infrastructure costs a boatload of money, often more than the free market is willing to spend - hence governement subsidies. If commercial aviation relied solely on free market, with no government involvement, air travel as we know it wouldnt exist. Airports, flight corridors and airplanes are all built with some level of government involvement and money. Even amtrak doesn't turn a profit - and its been operating for years.
The best example is the NYC subway, half of which was built privately by the IRT and BMT in the early century. After a few decades, mass transit stopped being profitable, and the city had to take it over through the IND company (later the MTA) and build new, unprofitable routes. Why did they have to do that? because the economy relies heavily on people being able to get to and from work everyday, and relies on tourist shopping for tax revenue. In 2005 the MTA strike shutdown the subway for three days, which cost the city nearly a billion dollars in tax revenue - not including the income and payroll taxes from companies. Yet, the operating cost is probably well over a million dollars a day, maybe even 10 mill, and its government funded.

For heavy infrastructure, the free market will be largely absent from the equation since its just not profitable enough. but its still necessary.


Why do you think that is? Why do you think so little investment has been made by businesses in rail? If it was worth it, wouldn't they do it? After all, they are supposed to seek a profit.

If it wouldn't be worth it for a business, how could it for a government? One way or the other, the capital allocation for the rails, train cars, work, and land.
Yes, land. Its a hidden expense, but it exists as an expense nonetheless.

Its not like businesses lack money to do this either. A stable enough company can issue bonds, and use them to build the infrastructure. Why don't they?

One problem is that the government of NYC forcibly took over the independent companies that used to run what is now the MTA.

http://www.mta.info/...acts/ffhist.htm

You can't expect people to make investments in things that would draw a small profit if at any time the government could come in, and take it away. If mass transit becomes "unprofitable" then why do it? Why?

How is it justified to use everyones money to subsidize anything for the few?

You're wrong about aviation. Since people WANT to fly, planes will fly. The desire by itself creates the demand that puts planes into the air. What you should have said is that aviation wouldn't exist as it is today were it not for the government. You're right if that's what you meant. As it is now, poor people subsidize the cost of flights for the middle class, and wealthy through the FAA. They themselves have to take the Greyhound everywhere. Congrats, you're advocating taking money from the poor to give to the rich.

I once did try to see what the cost of aviation would be without the government, and couldn't account for the inevitable "laffer curve" type growths in costs, and their inevitable drops in service. Closest estimate I could come to is a tripling in the cost of air travel. That's what it costs after hidden expenses are removed.

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#26 rvn2590

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 04:47 PM

Why do you think that is? Why do you think so little investment has been made by businesses in rail? If it was worth it, wouldn't they do it? After all, they are supposed to seek a profit.

If it wouldn't be worth it for a business, how could it for a government? One way or the other, the capital allocation for the rails, train cars, work, and land.
Yes, land. Its a hidden expense, but it exists as an expense nonetheless.

Its not like businesses lack money to do this either. A stable enough company can issue bonds, and use them to build the infrastructure. Why don't they?

One problem is that the government of NYC forcibly took over the independent companies that used to run what is now the MTA.

http://www.mta.info/...acts/ffhist.htm

You can't expect people to make investments in things that would draw a small profit if at any time the government could come in, and take it away. If mass transit becomes "unprofitable" then why do it? Why?

How is it justified to use everyones money to subsidize anything for the few?

You're wrong about aviation. Since people WANT to fly, planes will fly. The desire by itself creates the demand that puts planes into the air. What you should have said is that aviation wouldn't exist as it is today were it not for the government. You're right if that's what you meant. As it is now, poor people subsidize the cost of flights for the middle class, and wealthy through the FAA. They themselves have to take the Greyhound everywhere. Congrats, you're advocating taking money from the poor to give to the rich.

I once did try to see what the cost of aviation would be without the government, and couldn't account for the inevitable "laffer curve" type growths in costs, and their inevitable drops in service. Closest estimate I could come to is a tripling in the cost of air travel. That's what it costs after hidden expenses are removed.

If people want anything enough, there will be someone to sell it to them.


While I can be counted as one of those cynical about massive investments to promote railroads, I do want to point out that building roads is not done for a profit either (with few exceptions). Government subsidizes those driving in cars by building roads and other infrastructure to support it. Yes mass transit is unprofitable, as are government spending in other transportation options. Perhaps train routes that can be close to being profitable is enough to merit receiving a subsidy. Since many train routes can't even meet this test, I remain opposed to massive investment in rail preferring limiting rail investment to more viable routes.
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#27 TimeRebbe

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 07:27 PM

On the contrary, there has been massive investments by businesses in rail and aviation over the decades. private businesses pioneered the railroad, (with the land graciously provided by the union government) and it was private industry that invented the locomotive. Modern interstate rail has relatively little government investment, other than some tax breaks and a few fairly minor subsidizes. In fact, freight rail is quite profitable, theres a line that goes from the Port of Los Angeles to Chicago in under a week - half the stuff you buy in target or best buy comes into the US via PoLA and is transhipped by rail all across the country. Its passenger rail thats uneconomical - because people aren't willing to pay a train fare thats close to an airfare if it takes more time. A rail corridor (like the Northeast Corridor) that runs through a few heavily populated metropolises is far more likely to benefit from faster service and gain more annual riders if it offers a bargain over air.
But yes, running train lines just to gloat about high speed rail is stupid and wastefull.

While I can be counted as one of those cynical about massive investments to promote railroads, I do want to point out that building roads is not done for a profit either (with few exceptions). Government subsidizes those driving in cars by building roads and other infrastructure to support it. Yes mass transit is unprofitable, as are government spending in other transportation options. Perhaps train routes that can be close to being profitable is enough to merit receiving a subsidy. Since many train routes can't even meet this test, I remain opposed to massive investment in rail preferring limiting rail investment to more viable routes.


Since most mass transit allows a metro-area's economy to function properly, even though its fare-collection is unprofitable, the indirect returns make it feasible. Amtrak is essentially a private company owned by uncle sam, and while most of its routes offer little return, routes like the acela and the other heavily-used lines should be the first, not the last, to get an upgrade to HSR. This is of course defining HSR as diesel/electric locomotives and rolling stock built to handle 100mph+ sustained speed on compatible, durable track. It should require very little investment in new tech, more like refining and upgrading current tech. HSR =/= MagLev in this argument.

its also worthy to note that HSR will most likely not be significantly faster than the acela, as the law requires trains running at grade to be slower than 50mph inside city limits, i think. Above grade has a higher allowance, but building elevated lines to carry HSR through a city would be prohibitively expensive.
Its really a lose-lose situation unless its planned very carefully
"10 a.m. - We begin our descent. On the way down, Chief of Landfills Thorne informs us that Mount Trashmore contains - I am not making this up - human body parts AND dead whales." -Dave Barry
"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination."
"I guess the problem is that I think most people are idiots (granted, WELL MEANING idiots)" --KR

#28 TimeRebbe

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 07:27 PM

...
"10 a.m. - We begin our descent. On the way down, Chief of Landfills Thorne informs us that Mount Trashmore contains - I am not making this up - human body parts AND dead whales." -Dave Barry
"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination."
"I guess the problem is that I think most people are idiots (granted, WELL MEANING idiots)" --KR

#29 mediabias

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 05:40 AM

i think its dead in the water. many states rejected ObamaRail, and dems and republicans are fighting each other tooth and nail just to keep the govt running. no1 is rooting for this.
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#30 Eliyahu

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 03:18 PM

i think its dead in the water. many states rejected ObamaRail, and dems and republicans are fighting each other tooth and nail just to keep the govt running. no1 is rooting for this.

Good! It needs to die, and take 'positive train control' with it!

Eli
"This, for the pogroms; this for the massacres, this for the victims." - Sholom Schwartzbard, as he shot the Jew-killer Simon Petlyura to death in Paris, 12 Sivan, 5686


#31 mediabias

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 11:21 AM

happy purim! :)
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