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  #1  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2010, 4:46 AM
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Quote:
Ohioans wonder whether new rail line will be too slow, underutilized

By Stephen Koff, The Plain Dealer
February 06, 2010, 8:55AM

With Sabrina Eaton, The Plain Dealer

WASHINGTON -- Seventy-nine mph is not high speed.

Yet that's the fastest that passenger trains between Cleveland and Cincinnati will go when they start running, possibly as soon as 2012. This puzzles and disappoints some Ohioans, especially because President Barack Obama announced new rail lines on Jan. 28 as cogs in a national "high speed" network.

A week later, a number of Ohioans, including lawmakers from both parties, are describing the eventual three-hour trip between Cleveland and Columbus as life in the slow lane. The $400 million-plus Ohio railroad would be slower than car travel, because the 79 mph top speeds cannot be reached consistently on a line that shares rails with freight trains.


"Why are we bothering with something that's low-tech?" asked congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Democrat of Toledo, in an interview with The Plain Dealer.

...
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  #2  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2010, 5:00 AM
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Has anybody ever proposed building a dedicated power plant for an HSR system? Unlike public networks, there is no massive peak time for HSR systems, since the trains run on a regular schedule... right?
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  #3  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2010, 5:22 AM
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""Why are we bothering with something that's low-tech?" asked congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Democrat of Toledo, in an interview with The Plain Dealer."

Uh, OK. So let's stop building highways. They are very low tech.

As someone who has taken AMTRAK's Lake Shore Limited, I can tell you that right now train CREEP through Cleveland (and frequently come to a halt due to congestion). Anything that can allow trains to achieve a consistent and reliable 79 mph in that area is a near miracle, no matter what Ohioans who've never taken a train think.
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  #4  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2010, 5:33 AM
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Quote:
The $400 million-plus Ohio railroad would be slower than car travel, because the 79 mph top speeds cannot be reached consistently on a line that shares rails with freight trains.
Well it *can*, if the political will is there to require freight trains to yield to passenger trains and with some careful planning of schedules. But I agree, 79mph is way too low for a main line, it's more a speed appropriate for a rarely used branch line to some remote area.
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  #5  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2010, 2:58 PM
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Nexis4Jersey Nexis4Jersey is offline
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Thats really sad that the so called " High Speed Rail line" will only get up to 79mph , extremely slow and a waste , in comparison the line near me hits 80mph , but thats a commuter line. And ppl aren't stupid these days , i thought they've would have at least pushed 110mph or 130mph , like Empire Corridor calls for.

~Corey
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  #6  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2010, 7:50 PM
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hammersklavier hammersklavier is offline
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The real question is, why are they only planning for a max speed of 79mph in the first place? Would it be following freight rails? Congestion may be a fair point, but Chicago is even more congested and manages to juggle significant commuter and Amtrak operations along with the freight ones--no Ohio city, to the best of my knowledge, has any commuter rail operations; only Chicago and the Northeastern cities managed to keep them, it seems, through the contraction from the thorough nationwide network to the miserable excuse we have for intercity passenger rail today...

And remember through all this, that most, if not all, of the major American cities prior to WWII had significant commuter rail networks!
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  #7  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2010, 7:57 PM
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Originally Posted by hammersklavier View Post
The real question is, why are they only planning for a max speed of 79mph in the first place?
There are federal regulations that limit speed to 79 mph unless certain track improvements are done including, I believe, elimination of all manual switches and electronic sensors providing the exact location of all trains to dispatchers and fail-safe controls on trains that bring them to a stop if they erroneously go through a signal they should not have.

To quote Wikipedia, which may put it better than I can, "Passenger trains are limited to 59 mph and freight trains to 49 mph on track without block signal systems. Trains without "an automatic cab signal, automatic train stop or automatic train control system" may not exceed 79 mph." ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_l...d_States_(rail) ).

I don't believe the existing rolling stock has these systems and it may be that either AMTRAK doesn't have the money to install them or the freight railroads don't want to spend the money limiting the speed of all trains using the same rails.

In any case, retrofitting all this equipment will take lots of money and time, but it can and should be done--gradually. I'm guessing 79 mph for the line in question is not the ultimate goal, simply the initial goal.
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  #8  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2010, 7:58 PM
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there's nothing about the ohio plan that says it will only be 79 mph. everything I see says they're planning for 110 - 220 mph but with limited money and no established ridership you have to start somewhere.
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  #9  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2010, 8:01 PM
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Exactly.

And I'll say once again--a consistent and reliable 79 mph through this congested corridor would be OK with me because the trains through there right now are a lot slower than that.
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  #10  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2010, 9:37 PM
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What trains? This is providing new service. You can argue about the cost, but keep in mind that anything is an upgrade over the current situation in the corridor.

Ohio's plans will offer 3 daily trains, in each direction, at every point along the corridor. Two trains between Cincinnati and Columbus, two between Columbus and Cleveland, and one that does the whole length between Cincinnati and Cleveland, for a grand total of 5 trains.

This is almost the exact same situation that Illinois has on the line between Chicago, Champaign-Urbana, and Carbondale - which is essentially our "College Express", with 3 round trips a day. Those lines have been extremely popular with students, which provide much of the ridership. They have shown themselves very willing to ride the trains back home to Chicago if the tickets are priced low and the departure times aren't in the middle of the night. Driving may be a bit faster, but quite a few of the college students do not have cars, or if they do, chose not to bring their cars to campus for various reasons.

Now, the Carbondale Amtrak station is kind of an ugly, small building, but it's far better than the glorified bus shelters that some towns have. And Champaign's Amtrak station is integrated with a bus terminal for city buses, Greyhound, Trailways, etc - it's a generous building. It looks like Ohio is preparing to build several stations of this magnitude, which may explain part of the $300m.
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Last edited by ardecila; Feb 7, 2010 at 9:53 PM.
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  #11  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2010, 9:58 PM
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I split this off from the old HSR thread, which is getting way, way too cluttered now that there are a bunch of rails projects pending around the country.

We really need to start spreading this out, like I've been saying for months. Each corridor should have its own thread, instead of everyone trying to talk about a bunch of topics and sub-topics all at once. It's suppressing a lot of follow-up discussion.
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  #12  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2010, 1:59 AM
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The concern I have with the Ohio 3C line is that it can get people to Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati, but once they get there they'll need to be willing to ride the bus (or possibly train in Cleveland) if their plans don't involve whatever happens to be within walking distance of the rail station. I think the vast majority of Ohioans will not want to take the time to figure out the bus system of the city they're traveling to, particularly since I would ventue to say that most Ohioans do not hold a favorable opinion of buses. And considering they'll be able to travel to the other cities just as quickly via automobile (if not more quickly), I think they'll view taking the train as more of a hassle than a convenience. Unlike the other high speed rail lines being developed in the Midwest which will feed into pedestrian friendly Chicago, as well as service reasonably pedestrian friendly downtowns like St. Louis, Milwaukee & Minneapolis, the Ohio 3C line is essentially independent of the Chicago connection (save for Columbus residents who might ride the rail to Cincy to catch a future high speed train through Indy to Chicago). In California, SF is certainly a destination where a car isn't needed and Los Angeles is increasingly becoming one due to their continued efforts to expand their rail system. And in the Northeast, Boston, New York, Philly, and DC all offer visitors a relatively easy non automobile experience. I'm a hardcore rail fan and I certainly hope rail can succeed in Ohio, but I definitely have my doubts.
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  #13  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2010, 3:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OhioGuy View Post
I think the vast majority of Ohioans will not want to take the time to figure out the bus system of the city they're traveling to, particularly since I would ventue to say that most Ohioans do not hold a favorable opinion of buses. And considering they'll be able to travel to the other cities just as quickly via automobile (if not more quickly), I think they'll view taking the train as more of a hassle than a convenience.
Well, maybe that's still true in Ohio but I wonder how non-city folks will enjoy driving in downtown traffic and paying downtown rates for parking (or parking on the street only to have their car vandalized or broken into).

Personally, I'd find it far more pleasurable and convenient to take a train downtown, then, if necessary, a cab to my ultimate destination. However, most urban transit systems now have route maps on a web site and when I'm going to an unfamiliar city I usually take a few minutes to download a copy (often a PDS file) to my iphone. That usually makes using local transit doable even if I've never used it before.
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  #14  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2010, 3:07 AM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
What trains? This is providing new service.
The particular service in question may be new, but AMTRAK has always run trains through this area (including Cleveland) which is notoriously congested and where schedules presently mean almost nothing because of the condition of the track and the congestion. In the general area their trains can't do anything like 79 mph and, without improvements, I doubt any other trains using any tracks in the general area of Chicago east to Cleveland and beyond will either. On the other hand, for the third time, if they can increase speeds to that level, it's a major accomplishment.
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  #15  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2010, 2:19 PM
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1. New intercity rail starts are always great. Especially in Ohio, where only three passenger trains (Lake Shore Limited, Capitol Limited, Cardinal) run.
Cleveland and Cincy both need commuter systems. Ohio has a lot of tracks and almost certainly a lot of unused ROW as well.

2. Calling 79mph service "high-speed" is an insult to "high-speed" service. Although the fact that, if reliable, it would still competitive within its corridor mitigates this somewhat...hey, I'm all for high-speed service as well as middling-speed intercity service, but let's not call a cat a dog, okay?
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2010, 3:43 PM
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  #17  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2010, 3:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexis4Jersey View Post
Thats really sad that the so called " High Speed Rail line" will only get up to 79mph , extremely slow and a waste , in comparison the line near me hits 80mph , but thats a commuter line. And ppl aren't stupid these days , i thought they've would have at least pushed 110mph or 130mph , like Empire Corridor calls for.

~Corey
There was. But they didn't get the $$$.

Quote:
there's nothing about the ohio plan that says it will only be 79 mph. everything I see says they're planning for 110 - 220 mph but with limited money and no established ridership you have to start somewhere.
Exactly.

Quote:
Cleveland and Cincy both need commuter systems. Ohio has a lot of tracks and almost certainly a lot of unused ROW as well.
Agreed completely, but then again we do need the $$$. So this $400 million is certainly a start.
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  #18  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2010, 8:56 PM
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This sounds much like the Seattle-Portland route, which is also getting money to speed up slightly and add a couple more trains per day (to six), but also maxes out at 79. The current four/day each way fills up and a foregone conclusion that the six will too.

Many people are heading for the other city's downtown. In their home city they might take transit, get dropped off, or walk. At the other end they can often walk, and if they can there are taxis, transit, or getting picked up by friends.

It doesn't have to be about speed. For many people, as long as the train isn't significantly slower than driving or the bus, it's the way to go, because it's comfortable, you can work or sleep, you can walk around, etc. For some, even if it is slow it's still preferable.

Future improvements can add more speed.
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  #19  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2010, 10:03 PM
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this reminds me of the lightrail vs streetcar argument that has been going on in columbus forever. the people there are ridiculous when it comes to trains.
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  #20  
Old Posted Feb 9, 2010, 1:30 AM
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Originally Posted by hammersklavier View Post
I'm all for high-speed service as well as middling-speed intercity service, but let's not call a cat a dog, okay?
Seriously, the argument over what it's called is ridiculous. The "stimulus" money was intended to BOTH seed new "high speed" service and to improve speed and reliability of "regular" service. Both are needed and both are good. And 79 mph, whatever it's called, can be a useful service depending on distance and other factors. Since the distances between these Great Lakes area cities isn't that great, I'd say it's a plus and better that what exists. I'm tired of the b*tching (not from you hammersklavier--from those doing it).
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